Way Back 2018

November 3, 2018 - On TV: Peggy and Jo Jo - In Movies: Satchmo, Tokens, Belafonte, Cole, Conniff, Simone, Morrison, Evans, Clovers, Blue Jays and More

Talk about an unexpected song showing up in an unexpected place: "I Want to Love You Baby," a solidly funky 1969 single by Peggy Scott and Jo Jo Benson, was the song of choice for a teen party in The Walking Dead's mid-season finale on AMC. On larger celluloid viewing screens, vintage tunes are prevalent: Ralph Breaks the Internet features Louis Armstrong's pillar of positivity, "What a Wonderful World," The Tokens' jungle favorite from '61, "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," Elvis Presley's bigger-now-than-it-was-then crowd pleaser "A Little Less Conversation" and '61 calypso classic "Jump in the Line" by Harry Belafonte.

Christmasy treats abound in Dr. Seuss' The Grinch: "My Favorite Things," The Supremes' Sound of Music homage from '65, Nat "King" Cole's definitive telling of Mel Torme's chestnut-roasting experience "The Christmas Song," Jose Feliciano's joyous greeting "Feliz Navidad," The Ray Conniff Singers' elaborate 1962 gift-giving guideline "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and "Deck the Halls," a point well made in one minute and 15 seconds by Jackie Wilson circa '63.

And there are more songs from simpler times in current films. In Oscar winner Steve McQueen's latest drama Widows you'll hear Nina Simone's version of a previous movie theme, "Wild is the Wind." Also there's "A Whiter Shade of Pale," the huge 1967 hit by Brit band Procol Harum, Van Morrison's '68 Astal Weeks track "Madame George" and the inspired 1962 piano rendition of "My Foolish Heart" by the Bill Evans Trio. The Green Book stars Viggo Mortensen and recent Oscar winner Mahershala Ali (the latter playing the part of Don Shirley, the jazz pianist best known for his 1961 hit "Water Boy") and includes some interesting R&B selections: The Clovers' 1951 smash "One Mint Julep," "Pretty 'Lil Thing" by Sonny Boy Williamson from '61 and "So Long Lover's Island" by The Blue Jays, a near-identical reprise of the group's hit "Lover's Island."

October 18, 2018 - Stones Sell Acuras While a Wealth of Vintage Material Upgrades Entertainment Value of Current Movies

Current TV spots for Acura feature a seldom-used Rolling Stones hit, "She's a Rainbow." Meanwhile, two current movies are piling on the oldies. Fantasy-comedy The House With a Clock in its Walls, starring Cate Blanchett and Jack Black, gets into some rare '50s tunes: "Must Be Fallin' in Love," an early single by Little Anthony's group The Duponts, "Doggone That Moon," a snappy pop tune by country duo Johnny and Jonie Mosby, "What'll You Do Next," a breezy 1954 folk blues song by the usually-somber (and incarcerated) Sun Records quintet The Prisonaires, "Hey Lolly Lolly" by Oscar McLollie and the Honey Jumpers and one bona fide hit, "Long Tall Sally" by Little Richard.

A Simple Favor, the latest crime comedy involving housewives, asserts an international preference with "Laisse Tomber Les Fille," a fab 1964 track by the following year's Eurovision winner France Gall, "Les Cactus" by Jacques Dutronc from '66, "Ca S'est Arrange" by Jean Paul Keller (in the U.S. we know it as the '67 instrumental hit "Music to Watch Girls By" by The Bob Crewe Generation), Francoise Hardy's catchy "Comment te Dire Adieu" from 1968, and three by Brigitte Bardot, "Une Histoire de Plage," "La Madrague" and "Bonnie and Clyde" with Serge Gainsbourg. Plus, Lou Donaldson fits in there somewhere with his instrumental cover of Bobbie Gentry's notorious "Ode to Billie Joe."

October 10, 2018 - Fall Offerings Enhanced by Gene Allison, Dino, Etta, the Isleys, Deep Purple, Valli, Redding and Franklin

Hit songs from the 48-plus-years past are plentiful right now. On TV, an ad for Under Armour sportswear features Gene Allison's 1957 gem "You Can Make it if You Try," while Applebee's tempts the tastebuds with its new "Neighborhood Pastas" set to "That's Amore" by Dean Martin and "At Last" by Etta James. Corona Premier keeps the bottled beer flowing while "I Turned You On" by The Isley Brothers plays. At the movies another Isley hit, "This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak For You)," moves the action forward in Bad Times at the El Royale starring Jeff Bridges, Dakota Johnson, Jon Hamm and a slew of suspicious character actors; also included are the hits "Hush" by rockers Deep Purple and "Can't Take My Eyes Off You" by Jersey's Frankie Valli. Across the multiplex hallway, Otis Redding's "Mr. Pitiful" has a moment in the "bad times trying to get a high school GED" comedy Night School. Meanwhile, the big broadcast networks continue offering far less interesting recycled fare: Candice Bergen is back as Murphy Brown; promos for the series have latched onto the Aretha Franklin classics "Respect" and "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman."

I Want to Love You Baby The Lion Sleeps Tonight Lover's Island She's a Rainbow This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)