The Human Perkulator

 Posted by
Aug 142021

Although Mr Mod lives only a few blocks from here, he won’t trust his hair to anyone but a guy named Richard at Ovations, in Philadelphia.

Ah, how great to see cdm’s reference to Billy Harner and to see Billy aka The Human Perkulator aka Perk appear on a recent thread.

I love Billy Harner and have for 50+ years now. Such fond memories of hearing his “hits” on WFIL-AM and WIBG-AM – the two top 40 stations in Philly for all of you non-Philadelphia Townsfolk.

“Hits” is in quotes because he never charted nationally but he was a hit locally and for a long long time. I never was lucky enough to see him live nor to get my haircut at his shop. Once, probably 25 years ago, I did make a trip from Connecticut down to Upper Darby to see him play in some nothing little restaurant or bar or something only to find that the gig had been canceled.

Anyway, his catalog isn’t very big. A lot of singles, many of which are highly valued among Northern Soul fans, one LP proper, and a couple of CDs most of which are grey area “reissues” of his LP and singles and a 2000 CD with lots of remakes. I have the latter, inscribed and signed, a copy of the LP, and about 20 singles, mostly purchased from old Goldmine ads and from Val Shively’s R&B Records. Memories…

Billy had three local “hits”. Please you should listen to them all.

His biggest was “Sally Sayin’ Somethin’”

My personal favorite has always been “Homicide Dresser.”

The other was the title track from his LP She’s Almost You.

There are a lot more for you to find on YouTube if you are inclined, including live versions of the three above. They are from 40 years after the fact but I enjoyed them enough to wish that gig hadn’t been canceled.

I think Billy is in bad health in recent years and his Website no longer exists. Anyone who knows more details, please let me know.

Oh, and one more song, this especially for Mr. Mod, Perk doing “Magic Carpet Ride.”


  3 Responses to “The Human Perkulator”

  1. Happiness Stan

    I’ve never heard of him before, those tracks are rather fun.

    Northern Soul has always felt to me like a really weird genre, music from thousands of miles away forever associated with a suburb of Manchester known only for a universally inland pier, the title of a depressing book by George Orwell and white kids dancing to Sam and Dave records.

    I grew up in an English seaside town about ten years too late and nearly five hundred miles from the action, but Northern Soul and Motown were still the big floor fillers at the small, unbelievably sticky and rundown function rooms under hotels and over pubs which still pass for most British night clubs and music venues today. At the height of disco, punk, the mod revival, two tone, new romantics, you’d never go to even the feeblest school disco without hearing Harlem Shuffle, There’s a Ghost in my House and Needle in a Haystack. I can still name any of those tunes in one, and probably remember all the words. The exception was heavy metal discos, where the only crossover with music the likes of us recognised were the equally ubiquitous his of Quo.

    The Wigan Casino may sound like Shangri-la transported to the North West, but I can imagine what it was probably like. I wasn’t even shocked when I went backstage at our town’s main music venue a couple of years ago to find the dressing rooms are closer to a back alley in a midlands slum with a temporary roof banged over the walls than anywhere you’d want to visit twice. And goodness knows I’m not fussy.

    You’ll hear this music, and it’s friends and relations, anywhere music is played and performed in the UK, as if we’ve all had DNA transplants that call us like salmon returning home to spawn.

    Mrs H and I went to a field nearby to pick blackberries the other afternoon and the social club nearby was blasting out what sounded like deep cuts by the Supremes while we enjoyed the sunshine and thought about crumble.

  2. Happiness Stan

    Universally derided inland pier…

  3. What a perkuliar way to spell “percolatator.”

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