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Cool Cuts
Thursday May 11th, 2017 with Chris Sharp
An exploration of producer Bert Berns career 1960-1967

Bert Berns, born November 8, 1929 was a songwriter/producer who was involved in the making of several of the best remembered pop/soul hits of the 1960's. Songs like Hang On Sloopy, Piece Of My Heart, Twist and Shout and many others are directly attributable to the talents of Bert Berns. Berns heart was weakened as a child from contracting rheumatic fever, later in life many of his lyrics would be driven by the specter of an early death which hung over Berns like a shroud in the last year of his life (as he continued to drink, smoke and work long hours).Berns developed an interest in mambo and salsa music in his late teens, worked in the music business in the early 50's (with little success) relocating to Cuba during the mid 1950's and returned to New York after the Cuban revolution to work at the Brill Building as a songwriter. Incorporating Cuban rhythms and Bo Didley drumbeats with gospel influences he was soon working as a producer and scored a hit under the name of Russell Byrd in 1961. He worked with an incredible number of artists and also started up a few record labels including Bang Records. He wrote or produced (or both) all the songs listed below between 1960 and 1967 before his death on December 30, 1967 of heart failure. Many of his pop/soul songs went on to become hits for performers in mainstream rock and pop. Bert Berns was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2016.
Berns started working in 1960 as a staff writer for fifty dollars a week at the Brill Building in New York and his first hit was written for the Jarmels. He had a top fifty hit under the name of Russell Byrd (his only hit) and was soon writing and producing for major acts like Solomon Burke. He wrote future standards such as Twist and Shout, Cry baby, and Tell Him among many others during this period.
A little Bird Told Me So
Lavern Baker - See See Rider(1963)
A Little Bit Of Soap
The Jarmels - VA: The Bert Berns Story: Twist and Shout Vol 1 (2008)
You'd Better Come Home
Russell Byrd - same
Cry To Me
Solomon Burke - Rock 'n Soul(1964)
Twist and Shout
The Isley Brothers - VA: Grandson of Frat Rock! Vol. 3 (1991)
If I Didn't Have A Dime To Play The Juke Box
Gene Pitney - Only Love Can Break A Heart(1962)
Hitch Hike pt 1
Russell Byrd - VA: The Bert Berns Story: Twist and Shout Vol 1 (2008)
Tell Him
The Exciters - Tell Him(1963)
Cry baby
Garnett Mimms and The Enchanters - Cry baby(1991)
Berns often recorded early versions of his songs with New Jersey born Hoagy Lands and wrote some of his best material for Solomon Burke. He replaced Leiber and Stoller as Atlantic Records house producer and worked with the Drifters and Ben E King in the mid 60's.
Come On and Stop
Marv Johnson - VA: The Bert Berns Story: Twist and Shout Vol 1 (2008)
I'll Be A Liar
Betty Harris - VA: The Bert Berns Story: Twist and Shout Vol 1 (2008)
Baby Come On Home
Hoagy Lands - 7 inch single(1964)
My Girl Sloopy
The Vibrations - VA: The Bert Berns Story: Twist and Shout Vol 1 (2008)
Linda Laurie - 7 inch single(1964)
Baby Let Me Take You Home
The Animals - The Best of The Animals(1987)
Let The Water Run Down
Ben E. King - Seven letters(1965)
Under The Boardwalk
The Drifters - The Drifters Golden Hits(1968)
Everybody Needs Somebody To Love
Solomon Burke - The Best of Solomon Burke(1991)
Berns was one of the first American producers to recognize the talent to be tapped in the United Kingdom. Using session guitarist Jimmy Page and the riff from Come On and Stop (the first song of the second set) he produced a monster hit with Them's Here Comes The Night. Berns also produced Van Morrison's first album.
Here Comes The Night
Lulu - Something To Shout About(1965/1989)
Here Comes The Night
Them - Them Featuring Van Morrison(1990)
Down In The Valley
Otis Redding - Otis Blue(1965)
I'm Gonna Run Away From You
Tami Lynn - VA: The Bert Berns Story: Twist and Shout Vol 1 (2008)
I Want Candy
The Strangeloves - VA: Grandson of Frat Rock! Vol. 3 (1991)
Hang On Sloopy
The McCoys - VA: Grandson of Frat Rock! Vol. 3 (1991)
It Won't Hurt Half As Much
Them - Them featuring Van Morrison(1990)
You Forgot How To Love
Patti Labelle and The Bluebells - VA: The Bert Berns Story: Twist and Shout Vol 1 (2008)
One of the last songs Bert Berns wrote was Piece of My Heart, which it seems he literally gave to the rest of the world before passing away at the age of 38. For more information on Bert Berns the autobiography "Here Comes The Night: The Dark Soul of Bert Berns and The Dirty Business of Rhythm and Blues" is highly recommended.
Better Not Believe Him
Barbara Lewis - VA: The Bert Berns Story: Twist and Shout Vol 1 (2008)
Up In The Streets of Harlem
The Drifters - 7 inch single(1966)
Are You Lonely For Me Baby?
Freddie Scott - The Best of Freddie Scott(1998)
Got To Go Back And Watch That Little Girl Dance
The McCoys - You Make Me Feel So Good(1966)
Mojo Mamma
Wilson Pickett - The Sound of Wilson Pickett(1967)
Goodbye Baby(Baby Goodbye)
Van Morrison - Blowin' Your Mind(1967)
Heart Be Still
Lorraine Ellison - VA: The Bert Berns Story: Twist and Shout Vol 1 (2008)
Piece Of My Heart
Erma Franklin - VA: The Bert Berns Story: Twist and Shout Vol 1 (2008)
Thank you for listening. Next show broadcasts May 25.
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