Ask Mr. Music


Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne

FOR THE WEEK OF FEBRUARY 17, 2020

DEAR JERRY: As one who enjoys the folk music of the Kingston Trio, I have long been plagued by a tiny piece of trivia.

Whenever I hear their hit, "Reverend Mr. Black," my mind can't help but flash back to a song I heard in the '50s — one that mentions a Reverend Mr. Black.

Unfortunately, other than it is by a male singer, I cannot remember any others details about this song.

Can you possibly fill in the missing particulars?
—Andy Raleigh, Lisbon, Ohio

DEAR ANDY: I can think of only one pre-Kingston Trio song with a mention of a Reverend Mr. Black, but it's just a tad earlier than the '50s. How about "Mule Train," a 1949 hit for Frankie Laine & the Muleskinners (Mercury 5345)?

In this whip-crackin', hard ridin', adventure tune, Frankie refers to "a bible in the pack for the Reverend Mr. Black."

DEAR JERRY: When I was a kid, I found a record in my uncle's hi-fi rack called "Scratchy." It most certainly came out in either the '50s or '60s. Is this obscure recording available?
—Scott Malberg, Cudahy, Wis.

DEAR SCOTT: Surprisingly, "Scratchy," by Travis Wammack, is available. Apart from the original 1964 single (Ara 204), there is a CD compilation titled "Guitar Player Presents: ROCK, Vol. 2" (Rhino 70562).

This zany instrumental is not quite as obscure as you might think. It did manage to ride the nation's charts for about six weeks, in late '64.

DEAR JERRY: Please help me find out something about a song that no one I know seems to remember. The phrasing in it is so odd that my friends probably think I'm joking when I mention it, and that there is no such song.

When I was a teenager, in the late '60s and early '70s, a friend had an album that had a track which I think is titled "Frank Mills."

It is a really a strange little song, which, for some reason, I knew every word of.

Now, years later, I can't recall what album it was on. I know that it was sung by a female.
—Kathy Harmon, Seminole, Fla.

DEAR KATHY: "Strange" appropriately describes "Frank Mills," one of the tunes from "Hair."

You'll find "Frank Mills" on at least three albums of "Hair:" the 1968 Original Cast (RCA Victor 1150), the 1969 Original London Cast (Atco 7002), and the 1979 movie soundtrack (RCA Victor 3274).

Shortly after the late '60s "Hair" eruption, a Canadian singer named Frank Mills scored big with "Love Me, Love Me Love," "Peter Piper," and the No. 1 instrumental smash, "Music Box Dancer."

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