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Hits You Never Heard Of, Pt. 16

by Chuck Eddy

Hits You Never Heard Of, Pt. 16

About this playlist

For the past couple years and then some, Napster's Hits You Never Heard Of has trudged painstakingly -- and alphabetically -- through hundreds of pages of Joel Whitburn's Top Pop Singles 1955-1999, in search of Hot 100 records that have slipped through the sidewalk cracks of history. This 16th chapter carries the series deep into the "artists whose names start with S" realm, and features a few forgotten follow-ups by acts better known for much bigger hits that topped the chart or came close: Dutch garage-psych band Shocking Blue, comedic satirist Allan Sherman, and German Eurodisco machine Silver Convention, for instance.

Small but scrumptious solo hits from Ashford and Simpson's Valerie Simpson, The Doobie Brothers' (surprisingly disco here) Patrick Simmons and Styx's (surprisingly New Wave here) Tommy Shaw also make the playlist, as do nostalgic footnotes from TV cheeseballs Sha Na Na (managing not to destroy doo-wop oldie "[Just Like] Romeo and Juliet" in 1975) and Paul Shaffer (whose star-studded, partly Fresh Prince-rapped 1989 "When the Radio Is On," like Allan Sherman's Petula Clark parody "Crazy Downtown," lists lots of different dance steps).

Probably half the mix this time is old-school R&B of some form or other, from dancefloor-stomping (The Show Stoppers' ultimately J. Geils-covered 1968 "Ain't Nothin' but a House Party," Timmie Shaw's South-dissing 1964 "Gonna Send You Back to Georgia," Ray Sharpe's Duane Eddy-guitared 1959 African American rockabilly "Linda Lu," The Sherrys' sailor-man-titled 1962 "Pop Pop Pop Pie") to sugary sweetness (The Shells, The Shields, Sam Cooke-produced Sims Twins, blue-eyed Detroit soulsters Shades of Blue, all from the pre-hippie '60s).

Brooklyn sister duo The Singing Belles swipe a "Kumbaya" melody for their 1960 girl group march; Long Island torch belter Roberta Sherwood sets a minstrel-flavored 1932 Hoagy Carmichael classic aflame in 1956; Jamaican American jazz pianist Don Shirley revives a traditional 1800s prison work song in 1961. But eventually early '90s rap from Shyheim and rave from The Shamen usher in more recent marginalia. Then a 1981 prog pop Bach cover from John Williams' Sky serves as a bridge to a whole lotta wimp rock, with former Undertone pop-punk Feargal Sharkey in 1986 out-schlocking just about everybody else. Shakespear's Sister's 1992 "I Don't Care" contains a brief zany rap about Queen Victoria, which leads to bush-league AOR in droves: '73 Allmans wannabes Skylark; '80 Foreigner wannabes Shooting Star and Geils wannabes The Silencers; '81 R.E.O. wannabes Silver Condor; '98 4 Non Blondes (!?) wannabes Sister 7. All fairly fun or at least pleasant, in their own ways, if occasionally sorta sexist.

There are also four country crossovers on the playlist, three of them at the finish line concerning breakups (including SHeDAISY taking the Buddha statue and TV but leaving you the VCR in 1999), and the fourth more quiet-storm lovely than you ever knew T.G. Sheppard could be. If you have no clue who he is, don't worry -- with this series, that's part of the point.

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