Zero to 180 – Three Minute Magic

Discoveries of a Pop Music Archaeologist

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Category: Mercury Records

"Spooky"
Zeroto180

George Barnes’ Halloween Guitar

George Barnes recorded a boss guitar instrumental – “Spooky” – that should be part of everyone’s Halloween soundtrack: “Spooky”     George Barnes     1962 Billboard conferred three stars (“moderate sales potential) upon this B-side, as well as its A-side “Trainsville,” in their June 23, 1962 edition.  Exactly fifty years later, in 2012, someone would pay $126

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"Desiree"
Zeroto180

“Desiree”: 30 Hours in the Making

I met John Simson around the time Zero to 180 had first hung out a shingle and was grappling with its mission and scope.  After explaining the website’s concept to Simson, I remember asking if he might suggest any overlooked songs worthy of celebration.  Much later, I would learn the

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Earliest Recording of a Melodica?

July 2020 Update:  Click here for the latest info One of Zero to 180’s earliest pieces (from 2012) concerned itself with documenting the earliest recording of a melodica (i.e., keyboard version of a harmonica), and 1966 seems to be year to beat in this regard, with the composer, Steve Reich,

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Ian McLagan’s Reggae Bump

I still wish I had those post-it notes my brother Bryan made when I was 11 that helpfully pointed me to (1) which Jimi Hendrix albums to seek out (e.g., Electric Ladyland) and (2) which ones to avoid (e.g., Midnight Lightning).  Decades later I would make the accidental and hilarious

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“Operation X”: Top-Secret Trucker Tune

Dave Dudley’s earliest recordings go back to King Records, interestingly — six sides altogether, with three written by Dudley and one co-written with Louis Innis.  Dudley would record for a handful of small labels before being signed to Mercury in the wake of “Six Days on the Road” and its

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“Summertime’s Another Name for Love”: Pizzicato in Pop

Chicago’s New Colony Six released seven singles on the Mercury label from 1967-1970. “Summertime’s Another Name for Love,”  from 1968’s Revelations album, sounds like an obvious A-side to me – and yet it ended up being the B-side to “Can’t You See Me Cry.”  I especially enjoy the tantalizingly brief

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“BluEmmons”: Landmark Steel Guitar Jazz

Just as Louis Jordan’s pairing of jump blues with country-style steel guitar was seen as a radical move in 1947, Buddy Emmons‘ decision to feature his masterful steel guitar stylings within a modern jazz context was considered equally bold in 1963 when Mercury released groundbreaking album, Steel Guitar Jazz.  “BluEmmons”

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