There’s been some hoopla in recent weeks about the fiftieth anniversary of the release of the Beatles’ Revolver album. (And it’s been deserved hoopla at that: I’d put Revolver second among the Beatles’ oeuvre behind only Abbey Road and somewhere in the top dozen of the greatest albums of all time.) So I thought I’d check a few radio station surveys from August 20, 1966, and see what a few of the hits were fifty years ago today, when kids who bought Revolver the day it came our had been listening to it for a couple weeks.
(Of course, American kids were listening to an abridged and diminished version of the album, as Capitol sliced three tracks from the album and scrambled the original order of the ones remaining, which means that most listeners in the U.S. didn’t hear the album as it was originally envisioned until the group’s catalog was reissued on CD.)
So what was on the radio fifty years ago, based on a limited look? We’ll check out three station surveys and look at No. 8 and No. 20 (based on today’s date) and also take a look at No. 1.
First up is the WCTC Sound Survey out of New Brunswick, New Jersey, not all that far from New York City. The No. 8 record there was Donovan’s “Sunshine Superman,” which at the time was sitting at No. 10 in the Billboard Hot 100. At No. 20 in New Brunswick was the Mamas & The Papas’ “I Saw Her Again,” which Billboard had at No. 24. The No. 1 record on the Sound Survey fifty years ago today was the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer In The City,” which also topped the Hot 100.
Not far away from me during that week fifty years ago – about 140 miles – WEBC in Duluth, Minnesota, offered “The Northland’s Original and Only Fabulous Forty Survey.” Parked at No. 8 was “Somewhere, My Love” by the Ray Conniff Singers (No. 19 in the Hot 100), while the No. 20 record on WEBC was Bryan Hyland’s “The Joker Went Wild” (No. 21). The top record in the Northland during that long-ago week was “Little Red Riding Hood” by Sam the Sham & The Pharaohs (No. 3 in the Hot 100).
In southern California, some listeners were taking their cues from the KIST List sent out by KIST of Santa Barbara. Sitting at No. 8 in the KIST List that week was “Guantanamera” by the Sandpipers (No. 27 in the Hot 100), while the No. 20 spot was occupied by “Tar & Cement” by Verdelle Smith (No. 38). The No. 1 record on KIST fifty years ago today was “Psychotic Reaction” by Count Five, which would not enter the Hot 100 for another three weeks.
Looking at the three records from those three surveys brings something that’s rare and possibly unique. Usually, when I do these survey digging posts, I have some repeat records listed among the three to five stations I choose pretty much by whim. Today, we have nine different records. I don’t think that’s happened before, but if it has, it’s been rare.
We usually drop the No. 1 records, but I’m pretty impressed with the folks at KIST, who had “Psychotic Reaction” at No. 1 before it entered the Hot 100, so that one will be considered for today’s spotlight. Among the other eight records, most are familiar. I don’t remember hearing Hyland’s “The Joker Went Wild” before today, and I thought it was pretty slight. The rest I know, most of them well. The least-known of those in these precincts is probably “Tar & Cement.”
And there’s something else to consider this morning: In more than ten years of blogging about popular music, I have never once until today mentioned either Verdelle Smith or Count Five. And given that I want something with a little more bite to it this morning, here’s “Psychotic Reaction” by Count Five, today’s Saturday Single.