Kip had a great suggestion for a Battle of the Bands, and I was going to use it this week, but then thought of another song that had exciting possibilities, and decided on that one instead. I’ll use Kip’s suggestion next time around.
Barbara Lewis wrote and recorded the song “Hello Stranger” in 1963. It was inspired, according to Wikipedia, by working with her father in Detroit nightclubs, when people would say to him, “hello, stranger, it’s been a long time.” She recorded it at Chess Studios in Chicago, and her producer, Ann Arbor DJ Ollie McLaughlin, hired the Dells to do backup vocals and Riley Hampton, Etta James’s arranger, to write the arrangement. Atlantic Records was hesitant to release it as a single until Ruby & The Romantics had a hit with “Our Day Will Come,” a song with a similar groove. It entered the charts in April 1963, and it spent five weeks in the Top Ten starting in June. Here is Barbara’s original, which is not one of the contestants this week.
There have been several covers, including one by Queen Latifah, who recorded it for her The Dana Owens Album, as well as our two contestants for today.
CONTESTANT #1: The Capitols Ollie McLaughlin also discovered The Capitols when they were playing at a dance with Barbara Lewis in 1963. They recorded one song for him, then went their separate ways until 1966, when they recorded “Cool Jerk,” their one hit, which went as high as #7. McLaughlin convinced them to record “Hello Stranger” as the B side of that record.
CONTESTANT #2: Yvonne Elliman I first heard of Hawai’i-born Yvonne Elliman in 1969, when she sang the role of Mary Magdalene on the original cast album of Jesus Christ Superstar and had a Top 40 hit with “I Don’t Know How To Love Him.” She had a number of hits in the Seventies, including “Hello Stranger” in 1977. It charted at #15 on the Hot 100, #1 on the Adult Contemporary, and #57 on the R&B charts that year.
So, you’ve heard the contestants. Now it’s time to vote. Which version did you like better, that of The Capitols or of Yvonne Elliman? Please cast your vote in the comments below and, if you’re so inclined, tell us why you chose that one over the other. I’ll announce the winner next Friday, July 22, so be sure and vote. Then, how about visiting the blogs of other Battle of the Band-itos and seeing what they have going?
Tossing It Out
StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands *
Your Daily Dose
Curious as a Cathy
DC Relief – Battle of the Bands
Evil Pop Tart
Alex J. Cavanaugh
Shady Dell Music & Memories
Debbie D. at The Doglady’s Den
Jingle Jangle Jungle
Janie Junebug Righting and Editing
Cherdo on the Flipside
Holli’s Hoots ‘n’ Hollers
J. A. Scott
* Check Stephen’s blog for further updates to this list!
The lines are now open. Best of luck to our contestants!