DEAR JERRY: You have been quite successful at digging up the details on records from the past, so I'm hoping you can accomplish something on my behalf.
Just before the British Invasion turned everything upside down, one of the big fads was folk music. Among the great folk hits in 1963 was "Hootenanny," by the Glencoves.
Their next record, though not quite as popular as "Hootenanny," had something to do with Ball Mountain. Whether that is part of the title or not I don't know.
If it helps to identify it, I am almost positive it made the charts here in Lansing.
Maggie O'Grady, East Lansing, Mich.
DEAR MAGGIE: Strictly from what one would hear on the record, the location in question could easily be construed as Ball Mountain, but it really is Bald Mountain. The audible difference is very subtle.
The exact title is "Devil's Waitin' (On Bald Mountain)" (Select 727).
Your recollection of this folk tune being a regional hit is accurate. In December 1963, "Devil's Waitin' (On Bald Mountain)" was among Lansing's Top 30, according to the WMRT Silver Dollar Survey.
This record was actually the Glencoves' third, following "Hootenanny" (Select 724) and "Don't Knock" (Select 726).
All three came out in 1963, and they added one more in early '64, "Keep Away from My Gal" (Select 729).
The four Glencoves were: Don Connors (lead vocals and banjo); Brian Bolger (vocals and guitar); Bill Byrne (vocals and guitars), and John Cadley (vocals).
In just 1963, I know of over 50 individual releases with "Hootenanny" in their titles.
DEAR JERRY: The rock and roll recording featured in the current TV ads for Southern Comfort liqueurs has me mystified.
I know I have never heard it before, so if it was ever a hit record then it's one I somehow missed.
It sounds as much like what the Stray Cats were doing in the 1980s as it does something Eddie Cochran would have done in the '50s.
It's not easy to understand the lyrics, but one line I did catch is "don't hesitate, I can't wait."
All I need to know is who, what, and when?
Conrad Gessler, Kodiak, Alaska
DEAR CONRAD: In the order asked, the singer is Jerry Lott but he was billed as The Phantom. His song is "Love Me," and it was recorded in 1958 but didn't come out until Feb. 1960 (Dot 16056).
Surprisingly, Dot even issued Lott's single with a picture sleeve, definitely uncommon for the first record by an unknown artist.
To put this in perspective, Dot's biggest star by far was Pat Boone. His first 10 singles were all big hits, including six million-sellers, yet not until his 11th single, "Love Letters in the Sand," did they splurge and produce a custom record sleeve for their No. 1 cash cow.
In the Phantom's case, however, his first record would also be his last.
How, 54 years later, the makers of Southern Comfort came up with this obscure piece of fuel-injected rock and roll is in itself a mystery.
Though revered by R&R and rockabilly collectors, "Love Me" never appeared on anyone's chart at the time, and didn't really become a hot item in the record collecting world until the mid-1970s.
The Phantom only rated two stars, indicating "moderate sales potential," from Billboard in their Feb. 29, 1960 Pop Record Reviews. They opined "A wild vocal that attempts to outdo Presley at his wildest." "Love Me," featuring the kind of reverberation reminiscent of 1950s recordings made in Memphis at the Sun Studio, with the original photo sleeve can now fetch $600 to $800.
IZ ZAT SO? Couldn't help being amused by the unidentified Billboard reviewer of "Love Me," who made this erroneous and misleading comment about the custom picture cover: "Sleeve shows the Phantom with a blindfold over his eyes."
As the word implies, a blindfold does indeed cover the eyes; however, what the Phantom is wearing in that photo is a mask pretty much the opposite of a blindfold.
His black mask, nearly identical to those worn by the Lone Ranger, covers most of the facial features but has slits that allow the eyes to do their job.
Imagine how much less effective the Lone Ranger would have been, especially when riding and shooting, while wearing a blindfold.