Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Diane Ray wanted the lifeguard; Diane Renay wanted the sailor.

(updated November 29, 2014)

"Please Don't Talk To the Lifeguard" was a #31 hit in 1963 for Diane Ray of North Carolina. It was one of the staples of 1960s oldies but is not common now. A great catchy tune. Diane followed it up with more singles, which were not hits. The album "The Exciting Years" collects some of these, but is very rare.

Diane Ray samples:
Please Don't Talk To the Lifeguard
Just So Bobby Can See
Tied Up With Mary

Diane Renay wanted the sailor. Born Renee Diane Kushner and working out of Philadelphia and produced by Bob Crewe, she hit big in 1964 with "Navy Blue", reaching #6. The followup was "Kiss Me Sailor", #29 nationally. Diane had a strong zesty voice
and the songs were energetic.
An album titled Navy Blue was
a success. It contained the song
Bell Bottom Trousers, which
was not released as a single, but
which I think could have made
a successful trio of hits. As it
was, this was the extent of her fame.
By the way, Bell-Bottom Trousers was a pop hit in 1945, and is based on an old sea shanty.

These two Dianes with the confusing names are good examples of the early 60s solo girl sound, along with Joanie Sommers, Leslie Gore and others. Then there were the "girl groups" like The Ronettes in addition. Those are other stories.
Speaking of Joanie Sommers, you've got to hear her 1960 nonhit Ruby Duby Du (press).

Song samples for Diane Renay:
Navy Blue and Kiss Me Sailor parts
Bell-Bottom Trousers

Bell-Bottom Trousers by Connie Boswell 1945 (edited)
Bell-Bottom Trousers - part of the bawdy sea shanty, sung by Oscar Brand

Diane Renay has her own website at: http://www.dianerenay.com

Anyone is welcome to leave comments - press comments below.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The first Jay and the Americans

(Updated April 20, 2014)

Jay and the Americans were one of the greatest groups of the 60s. The main lead singer was Jay Black. But in their first couple of years the lead was Jay Traynor. He sang on their first classic hit "She Cried" in 1962, and on the resulting album. Jay Black came in starting with "Only In America" and "Come a Little Bit Closer".
Each of them was asked to use the name Jay. The real names were John Traynor and David Blatt. They were from the New York area.
Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller were the producers in the early years of The Americans. They had been working at Atlantic Records with The Drifters. When they left, they retained some rights to their productions. Only In America had been meant for The Drifters, and that recording exists, but was not released at the time. The instrumental backing was then used for The Americans' recording with Jay Black. Similarly, "Yes" was recorded by Ben E.King, and the backing track was reused for this terrific recording by Jay Traynor and the Americans. It was on the album, and also on a non-hit single in 1963, and it deserves more attention.
The next Americans' album, Come A Little Bit Closer, contained songs by both Black and Traynor. At Jay Traynor's website he lists exactly which songs he sang.
After about four singles, only one of which was a hit, Traynor left the group. He recorded some sol0 songs, most notably "I Rise I Fall" on the Coral label in 1964. It was not a hit, but is one of those that when you hear it, you say it could have been and should have been. You get mad at the radio stations for not playing it. The song was good enough for Johnny Tillotson to have a minor hit, and for Rick Nelson to include on his Decca "For You" album.
Someone should reissue Jay's rendition.
Jay Traynor is currently part of the East coast Tokens revival group, Jay Siegel and the Tokens.
Jay had one of the best voices of that era, perfectly suited for the time, and made She Cried an irresistible treasure.

Here Jay Traynor is at the Coral recording studio in 1964.
The flip side of this single was "How Sweet It Is",
also a good song.

The She Cried album with the original members, with Jay Traynor in the middle top.

To hear song samples press the title:
I Rise I Fall
How Sweet It Is
She Cried

John "Jay" Traynor died on January 2, 2014 and no longer has a website at: http://home.nycap.rr.com/jtraynor/index2.htm