Pop Archives

Booka Hyland - Sweet Thing (1960)

(John Marascalco - Scott Turnbull)
Australia Australia
#33 Sydney

Charted 29 July 1960; probably released in July 1960, possibly in June. Grady Chapman's US Mercury release was reviewed in Billboard on 20 June 1960 and by 1 July was appearing on at least one US radio playlist. The numbers seem to favour Grady Chapman's version as the original, but it would be a close thing.

Single on Lee Gordon, Booka Hyland's first, "with orchestra and chorus directed by Eddie Cash Jr", an alias of Hyland's mentor Johnny O'Keefe who produced the record.

Sweet Thing was the only charting single out of three released by Booka Hyland. He also released a four-track EP, Booka At The Police Boys Club, featuring the three A-sides plus a B-side (Right Thing). See also the B-side, I Dig Girls and the other two singles, both from 1960, We've Got Something Going and Transistor.

Although I'm leaning towards Grady Chapman's version as the earlier release, it's not implausible that Hyland's Sweet Thing could have been the original version. O'Keefe had connections with the writers. Turnbull, co-writer of She's My Baby (1959), first met O'Keefe on tour in Australia and participated in O'Keefe's recording of She's My Baby in Los Angeles. O'Keefe's Don't You Know (Pretty Baby) (1960), also recorded in LA, was another Marascalco-Turnbull composition. Booka Hyland's second single, We've Got Something Going (1960), was also written by Marascalco.

Booka Hyland (b. John, c.1940) was an established pub singer when he was heard by Warren Williams and his band who urged him to contact Johnny O'Keefe. He endedup a regular on O'Keefe's TV show Six O'Clock Rock and joined O'Keefe on tour.

At this time O'Keefe was an active A&R man and producer for the Lee Gordon and Leedon labels. He often used the name Eddie Cash Jr because, as he put it, I think the disc jockeys got a bit sick and tired of hearing my name all the time [quoted in The Wild One, see below]. The "Eddie Cash" vocalists and musicians covered a studio roster that included many well-known Sydney performers.

"Booka" was a childhood nickname. Until his first record showed his surname, Johnny O'Keefe had billed him simply as Booka.

References: 1. Booka Hyland tells his story in a YouTube interview posted by Sallie6. 2. Damian Johnstone, The Wild One, 2001, on O'Keefe's role at Leedon. Johnstone also mentions Hyland several times and includes his reminiscences about his days with O'Keefe. 3. Singles discography for Lee Gordon label and Sweet Thing listing at rateyourmusic.com. 4. Chris Spencer et al, The Australian Rock Discography 1956-1969 (2000 edition) which has the release in February 1960 but this seems unlikely. 5. Gavin Ryan's chart book for Sydney. 6. ARSA charts for Grady Sutton's version.

Grady Chapman - Sweet Thing (1960)

(John Marascalco - Scott Turnbull [credited here as Turner])
Original version?

Single on Mercury. Grady Chapman was lead singer of Los Angeles vocal group The Robins (Riot In Cell Block #9, Sleepy Joe’s Café), two of whom followed Leiber & Stoller to Atlantic Records in New York in the mid-50s to form The Coasters (see Poison Ivy).

This was reviewed in Billboard 20 June 1960. It appears to have been released around the same time as Booka Hyland’s Australian version but may have a slight edge as original version.

The co-writer credit is to Turner, a name also used by Graham “Scott” Turnbull, co-writer of Johnny O’Keefe’s She’s My Baby.

Grady Chapman also released an earlier version of Starlight, Starbright, another John Marascalco composition that was a hit in Australia for Lonnie Lee.

Other songs written or co-written by John Marascalco and recorded in Australia or NZ include We’ve Got Something Going (Booka Hyland), Don’t You Know (Pretty Baby) (Johnny O’Keefe), and Opportunity (Mr Lee Grant).

The Ding Dongs - Sweet Thing (1960)

(John Marascalco - Scott Turnbull)
Red herring

Same title – and co-writer – but not the same song as "Sweet Thing" by Booka Hyland.

Single on Eldo, B-side of Ding Dong.

Released in November 1960. Both songs were co-written by John Marascalco, but they are different songs, with different co-writers, in this case Tommy Boyce, later of songwriting and recording partnership Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart.

 Some other red herrings from around this time:

Billy BlandSweet Thing (Jack Hammer)
USA 1960 Single on Old Town.
Trini LopezSweet Thing (Buddy Starcher)
USA 1960 Single on King.
Cowboy CopasSweet Thing (Buddy Starcher)
USA 1961 Single on King, same song as Trini Lopez, also on King.
Cleveland Crochet & His Band Of Sugar B'sSweet Thing (Eddie Shuler)
USA 1961 Single on Goldband, Eddie Shuler's Cajun & R&B label in Charlesville, Louisiana.
Lindy CurtisSweet Thing (Bert Keyes – Ollie Jones)
USA 1961 Single on Mala.

The Spinners - Sweet Thing (1964)

(William "Mickey" Stevenson - Ivy Jo Hunter)
Red herring

Same title but not the same song as "Sweet Thing" by Booka Hyland.

Single on Motown by group also known as The Detroit Spinners.

One of numerous songs entitled Sweet Thing, this one was notably covered by Georgie Fame (1966) on Sweet Things and as a single.

Van Morrison - Sweet Thing (1968)

(Van Morrison)
Red herring

Same title but not the same song as "Sweet Thing" by Booka Hyland.

Track on Van Morrison's breakthrough solo album Astral Weeks, also on single (1971), B-side of Blue Money.

Rufus, Featuring Chaka Khan - Sweet Thing (1975)

(Chaka Khan - Tony Maiden)
Red herring
#5 USA

Same title but not the same song as "Sweet Thing" by Booka Hyland.

Single on ABC by Chicago funk band Rufus, vocals by Chaka Khan (b. Yvette Marie Stevens). December 1975 release, charted in 1976.

Also known through the version by R&B singer Mary J. Blige (1992, #28 USA #48 NZ).

Mick Jagger - Sweet Thing (1993)

(Mick Jagger)
Red herring
#84 USA #24 UK #26 Sydney #4 Melbourne #25 Brisbane #9 Adelaide #32 Perth #18 NZ

Same title but not the same song as "Sweet Thing" by Booka Hyland.

Single on Atlantic by Rolling Stones frontman, from the album Wandering Spirit.