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Top 40 program formatting, based on 45 RPM single records, drove popular music on the radio.
Few stations played cuts from record albums, so radio was, in effect, "selling" single records for the record companies.
The only thing James and his new Shondells were aware of when they entered the recording studio for the first time is that whatever they recorded should sound similar to "Hanky Panky", although the two songs sound nothing alike.
Mack played The Fireballs record for the group, and they decided to record their version of the song.
James said, "We didn't know what in the world was going on, and finally Jerry Wexler over at Atlantic leveled with us and said, 'Look, Morris Levy and Roulette called up all the other record companies and said, "This is my freakin' record." (laughs) and scared 'em all away – even the big corporate labels.'" Their only option would be to sign with Roulette.
Mack made his dance club bands available to James, but nothing seemed to fit until one of the bands' guitarists took James to the Thunderbird Lounge in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. The Raconteurs became the new Shondells, After a few comings and goings of members, the classic lineup of James, Eddie Gray (guitar), Mike Vale (bass), Ron Rosman (keyboards) and Pete Lucia (drums) was formed.
James realized he and the Shondells needed to become an album-oriented group if they were to survive in the business, necessitating a change in their style.
After working out a marketing strategy for their new sound, James visited WLS when the group was in Chicago to play a concert, bringing along a rough cut of "Crimson and Clover" to the station.
The men made the rounds of the major recording labels, getting initial potential offers from most companies they visited.
James, who co-wrote all three of those songs, and his band did well enough with the transition to be invited to perform at Woodstock.
James describes Artie Kornfeld's invitation like this: "Artie was up and asked if you could play at this pig farm up in upstate New York." I said, "What?!?
James and Cordell set out to create a party rock single, working out everything except the song's title, which eluded them even after much effort.
When they took a break from their creative endeavors on James' apartment terrace, they looked up at the Mutual of New York Insurance Company's large neon sign bearing the abbreviation for the company: M-O-N-Y, which provided the song's name.