Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne

FOR THE WEEK OF March 15, 1999

DEAR JERRY: I was a U.S. Embassy Marine guard, stationed in Canberra, Australia from January 1976 to March 1977. Around October or November of '76, they frequently played a song titled “Mississippi.”

I have no idea who sang it, or if it was ever released in America. I do know that I can't find it anywhere.

Can you give me any information about this song? It has a lot of sentimental value to me.
—Jim Patrick, Bartow, Fla.

DEAR JIM: With only a title and timeframe I can't be certain, but I have a hunch you are thinking about a September 1976 issue by a band named Pussycat.

While Pussycat had no American hits, “Mississippi” reached No. 1 in England, and stayed there for three weeks in October and November of '76. Australian radio no doubt would have paid attention to such a big U.K. hit. “Mississippi” did come out here, in December 1976 (Private Stock 45091), though U.S. stations ignored it.

Let me know if this is your mystery “Mississippi.”

DEAR JERRY: “The Great Speckled Bird” and “The Wild Side of Life” are two songs to essentially the same tune.

Isn't there a third song to this music?
—Phyllis Hanson, Clark's Grove, Minn.

DEAR PHYLLIS: You likely refer to “It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels,” by Kitty Wells, an answer song to Hank Thompson's “The Wild Side of Life.” Both reached No. 1 in 1952.

Musically, “It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” is identical to “The Wild Side of Life.” Lyrically, for those unfamiliar with these tunes, Hank says “I didn't know God made honky tonk angels, I might have known you'd never make a wife. You gave up the only one who ever loved you, and went back to the wild side of life.”

Kitty countered by singing “It wasn't God who made honky tonk angels, as you said in the words of your song. Too many times married men think they're still single, that has caused many a good girl to go wrong.”

And so it goes — the perpetual conflict of the genders.

DEAR JERRY: I have a 45 of “Suspicion,” by Terry Stafford, on the Lana (No. 139) label. Your record reference and price guide indicates the label for this song is Crusader (No. 101). Is my Lana disc a rare record? Any idea on its value?

Also, some lyrics from a '60s summer song are driving me crazy. It's about a “beach party going on,” with “beer cans, pots and pans, cigarette butts and paper cups,” etc.

Do you know the artist and title of this one.
—John Voigt, West Seattle, Wash.

DEAR JOHN: The original of Terry Stafford's remake of Elvis Presley's “Suspicion” is on Crusader. Lana is merely a reissue label and its value is just three or four dollars.

You are not the first to write about “Beach Party,” a summer 1962 release by Dave York and the Beachcombers (P-K-M 6700)

What's it Worth? Get fast appraisals by e-mail!

DEAR JERRY: Our local paper recently ran a “Celebrity Birthdays” feature. On that day in January, a musician named Mr. Acker Bilk was mentioned.

I have never heard of him. Have you?

Also, I have seen a lot of James Darren recently on “Star Trek — Deep Space Nine.” Is there any chance he'll release an album of the songs he has been singing on the show?
—Kathy Luck, Milwaukee, Wisc.

DEAR KATHY: Luck is with you. (Sorry, couldn't resist.) Mr. Acker Bilk is remembered on his birthday for just one recording — a No. 1 hit instrumental, from 1962, “Stranger on the Shore.”

As for a James Darren/Vic Fontaine album of songs sung on Star Trek, Neil Norman, executive producer at GNP/Crescendo Records, tells us such a collection is now planned. I will let you know more about this project in the weeks ahead, so stay tuned.

April 24, Southern California Trekkers and science fiction music lovers will be interested in the Neil Norman Cosmic Orchestra concert in Pasadena. Among the scheduled guest stars are Tim Russ (“Lieutenant Tuvak”) and Robert Picardo (the ship's unnamed “Doctor”), both of “Star Trek Voyager.” For concert ticket information, contact the folks at Creation: (818) 409-0960.

For more about GNP/Crescendo, including the just-released “Star Trek Insurrection” soundtrack, call them at (800) 654-7029.

IZ ZAT SO? For nearly half of 1952, either Hank Thompson's “The Wild Side of Life” (15 weeks) or Kitty Wells' “It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” (six weeks) rested at No. 1 on the nation's country and western charts.

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