DEAR JERRY: In a box of old 45s I picked up at a yard sale is a record that belongs on the "How Could This NOT Have Been a Hit" list: "Ain't Nothin' But Love," written and recorded by Baker Knight.
Since I had never heard of this song, I assume it flopped. But how is that possible? It has everything going for it.
Did Baker Knight ever have any hits?
Noel Corvallis, Milwaukee
DEAR NOEL: Baker had many memorable hits, but more about that in a moment.
Unfortunately, "Ain't Nothin' But Love" was a miss. Lyrically and musically, this is a perfect rock and roll record, and deserving of a place on our fictitious list.
"Ain't Nothin' But Love" (Jubilee 5342) got off to a good start when Billboard named it a Spotlight Winner and Billboard Pick one of the most promising new releases for the week of Oct. 13, 1958.
For the record, of the 11 Picks in that issue, only three graduated to their Hot 100.
With peak position noted, they are:
No. 21 "The World Outside" (Four Coins)
No. 44 "Cimarron (Roll On)" (Billy Vaughn and His Orchestra)
No. 63 "Light of Love" (Peggy Lee)
Beyond the Spotlight Picks, there were another 100 singles reviewed and rated that week. Of that bunch, a mere six eventually ranked among the Hot 100, though none were particularly hot. Not a one went higher than No. 45:
No. 45 "Pledging My Love" (Roy Hamilton)
No. 48 "Try Me" (James Brown)
No. 63 "The World Outside" (Four Aces)
No. 67 "Come Prima" (Polly Bergen)
No. 75 "The Fool and the Angel" (Bobby Helms)
No. 98 "Flamingo L'Amour" (Gaylords)
To the reviewers' credit that week, there isn't a single example of a song getting a low score in the magazine that then went on to be a big hit.
Now, you ask if Baker Knight had any hits, and my quick reply was yes he did, but not as a singer.
All of his big money makers are songs he wrote that were recorded by other artists.
His all-time sales champ is Elvis Presley's 1970 million-seller "The Wonder of You," one that also sold well in 1959 for Ray Peterson.
Baker was a good friend of Ricky Nelson's, and Rick waxed several of his tunes, including "Lonesome Town"; "I Got a Feeling"; "Never Be Anyone Else But You"; "Mighty Good"; "I Wanna Be Loved"; "Sweeter Than You"; "I Need You"; "One Minute to One"; and even "Ain't Nothin' But Love," the one that brought us down this path.
Another fan of Knight's writing was Dean Martin, who recorded 11 from Baker's catalog: "Somewhere There's a Someone"; "Nobody's Baby Again"; "Not Enough Indians"; "One Cup of Happiness"; "If You Ever Get Around to Loving Me"; "One Lonely Boy"; "The Right Kind of Woman"; "If I Ever Get Back to Georgia"; "A Place in the Shade"; "That Old Time Feelin'"; and "Sneaky Little Side of Me."
Three country tunes from Baker's pen also come to mind: Dave & Sugar's "I'm Gonna Love You"; Joe Stampley's "You Lift Me Up"; and the 1976 CMA Song of the Year, Mickey Gilley's "Don't the Girls All Get Prettier at Closing Time."
Listen to "Ain't Nothing But Love" here.
DEAR JERRY: I've always been intrigued by the song "Cherry Pie." What are the relevant versions and when did they come out?
Hannah Foster, Escondido, Calif.
DEAR HANNAH: Contrary to what probably appears to be premeditated, our coupling of a Baker and a cherry pie is purely coincidental.
The first pie out of the oven was by Marvin and Johnny in September 1954. It seems odd now, but on this single (Modern 933), "Cherry Pie" was the B-side, with "Tick Tock" designated the plug side. No matter, the black music stations played both and the record wound up in the R&B Top 10.
In February 1958, the Tri-Lads revived the tune (Bullseye 1003) and though they didn't chart nationally it made the Top 40 in scattered markets, San Francisco-Oakland being one of the biggest.
Perhaps because of interest in the Tri-Lads record, Kent (part of the Modern family of labels) reissued the Marvin and Johnny original in May, but without success.
The next time around for "Cherry Pie" provided the best-known version, a March 1960 issue by Skip and Flip. Their pie (Brent 7010) was a nationwide smash, peaking at No. 11 on both Cash Box and Billboard.
IZ ZAT SO? Passionate collectors in most fields of interest covet items with errors, and here's a dandy for record buffs.
The Brent labels for both "Cherry Pie," and the flip side "(I'll Quit) Cryin' Over You," were supposed to credit "Skip and Flip," but not all of them do.
Before someone on the production line caught the flub, a few copies got out with the duo named "Slip and Slip."
One might say this was indeed a Slip-up.
Records with the blunder can sell for about $50, roughly five times that of correctly labeled ones.