Archive for the ‘1965’ Category

Four At Random

Thursday, July 15th, 2021

Here are four for a Thursday. We’re going to let the computer do the work, drawing from the 2,900-some tracks I keep in iTunes for the iPod.

First up is the Bee Gee’s string-laden “To Love Somebody.” Released in June 1967, it was the second hit for the group to reach the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 17. (“New York Mining Disaster 1941,” released a couple months earlier, had reached No. 14.) What got to me when I first heard it a few years later was the harp in the intro, the feather-light vocals, and the light touch of the horns in a few places, all leading to the forceful “You don’t know what it’s like!”

And when the track plays, I still see the yellow cover of Best of Bee Gees, as that’s pretty much always been the source of the song for me. It actually came out on Bee Gees’ 1st, which was really the group’s third album but the first to be released internationally.

And that first time I heard the record – across the street at Rick’s, where a borrowed copy was residing for a few days – I thought the “No, no, no, no!” and the lush orchestration and the near wailing leading to the end of the record was all a bit overdone. But then I thought back to the previous school year and a certain violinist of my acquaintance and thought, “That’s about right.”

Then pop up the insistent horns announcing Chicago’s “Free,” a 1971 single from Chicago III. I recall it coming out of my radio in the early months of 1971 and not being overly impressed. (“Make Me Smile” was – and still is – my Chicago fave.) And then much later that year – after high school ended and college life began – I heard the track as part of the long “Travel Suite” from the album. And I liked it better in that setting.

But there was still something about the record that never quite felt right to me. It went to No. 20 in the Hot 100 – a disappointment, as three of the group’s four previous charting singles (“Make Me Smile,” “25 or 6 to 4,” and “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is”) hit the Top Ten.

I wrote long ago about my love for Chicago’s early work at the time it came out and my perception that the group soon ran out of ideas and energy, becoming stale and not much fun to listen to. That happened during the mid-1970s by my reckoning, but as I think of “Free” and Chicago III this morning, I think the signs were beginning to show. Or maybe my admiration for the silver album – whether you call it Chicago or Chicago II – still overpowers anything else the band did.

Don’t get me wrong: I like “Free” and Chicago III, but as I ponder them this morning, they seem to be just on the wrong side of the divide from the group’s earlier work.

And we drop back to 1964 and an early version of a tune the Youngbloods would make famous five years later: “Get Together” as recorded by Hamilton Camp. With an austere guitar backing and a harmonica solo, Camp’s October 1964 performance, included on his Paths Of Victory album, fits into a folky aesthetic that was already being overtaken and would not emerge again until the rise of the singer-songwriter in the early 1970s.

Even as I write that, though, I think to myself that the arrangement would have fit very nicely on Bob Dylan’s 1967 album John  Wesley Harding. But then Dylan always creates a problem when one tries to categorize styles and slide those styles into any kind of chronological pattern.

Camp’s performance is nice enough, pleasant as background, but his thin voice and the subdued arrangement aren’t enough for the song. Maybe if Jesse Colin Young had never found the song, I’d find Camp’s version more compelling. But I wouldn’t want to make that trade.

Last up for the day – having skipped a couple, the first because it’s too new and I haven’t really listened much to it yet and the second because it was “25 or 6 to 4” – is Lefty Frizzell’s “She’s Gone Gone Gone” from 1965. One of Frizzell’s last hits, it went to No. 12 on the Billboard country chart. I don’t know when I first heard it, but it was decades later, and all I really need to say about it is that it’s classic country.

‘Ages ago, last night . . .’

Friday, May 21st, 2021

Keeping to a theme begun a few posts ago, I checked out the data bases and found that just seven years ago today, I brought home the CD of one of Frank Sinatra’s greatest albums, September Of My Years.

It’s a melancholy album, filled with longing, doubt and reverie, recorded in 1965 when Sinatra was forty-nine and perfect for how I often feel these days. I’m some years older than Sinatra was when he recorded the album, but the record still speaks to me; I feel as if I’ve invested a great deal of my entire life in reverie, doubt, and longing. Fine. I am who I am.

Whatever else I might say about the album – or how I feel these days – was said much better by Stan Cornyn in his liner notes for the album in 1965:

He sings of the penny days. Of the rose-lipt girls and candy apple times. Of green winds, of a first lass who had perfumed hair. April thoughts.

He sings with perspective. This vital man, this archetype of the good life, this idolized star . . . this man pauses. He looks back. He remembers, and graces his memory with a poet’s vision.

He has lived enough for two lives, and can sing now of September. Of the bruising days. Of the rouged lips and bourbon times. Of chill winds, of forgotten ladies who ride in limousines.

September can be an attitude or an age or a wistful reality. For this man, it is a time of love. A time to sing.

A thousand days hath September.

Here’s the melancholy (what else?) plaint, “Last Night When We Were Young.”

Saturday Single No. 733

Saturday, April 24th, 2021

We’re almost back to full operations here. GoDaddy continues its work on a backup database of my work since February 2010, and there are other updates that need to be done. So I hesitate to lay too much out here in fears that those operations will wipe away my efforts.

So, here – from 1965 – are the Kinks with “Tired Of Waiting For You.” (We might talk about the Kinks next week, maybe.) It’s today’s Saturday Single.

‘Friday’s Child . . .’

Friday, January 29th, 2021

So I went looking for songs with “Friday” in their titles, and there were about twenty of those in the RealPlayer. Some were obvious, like “Friday On My Mind” by the Easybeats. And then I spotted “Friday’s Child” by Nany Sinatra, a 1966 release on Reprise.

As the tune played, I checked Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles: The record hit the Billboard Hot 100 in early July of 1966, the follow-up to “These Boots Are Made For Walkin’,” which went to No. 1 in February of that year, and to the No. 7 hit from spring of that year, “How Does That Grab You, Darlin’?”

“Friday’s Child,” written and produced by Lee Hazelwood (who was either Nancy Sinatra’s Svengali or her Henry Higgins), didn’t fare nearly as well, topping out at No. 36. That’s not surprising, as it’s an odd and unsettling piece of work:

Friday’s child hard luck is her brother
Friday’s child her sister’s misery
Friday’s child her daddy they call hard times
Friday’s child that’s me

Friday’s child born a little ugly
Friday’s child good looks passed her by
Friday’s child makes something look like nothing
Friday’s child am I, yeah

Friday’s child never climbed no mountain
Friday’s child she ain’t even gonna try
Friday’s child whom they’ll forget to bury
Friday’s child am I

Friday’s child am I

Sinatra’s version, perhaps not surprisingly, turns out to be a cover. Hazelwood recorded the song himself in March 1965, according to the website Second Hand Songs, and used it as the title track for his own album in 1965. The album didn’t chart, and if there were any singles pulled from the album, they didn’t chart either.

Hazelwood’s version of the song is a little busier than Sinatra’s but is disquieting, too, though perhaps a little less so:

No. 55, Fifty-Five Years Ago

Friday, August 28th, 2020

We’re going to play a game of Symmetry today, checking out the Billboard Hot 100 from August 28, 1965, fifty-five years ago today. We’ll start with a look at the Top Ten and then check out No. 55. Here’s the Top Ten:

“I Got You Babe” by Sonny & Cher
“Help!” by the Beatles
“California Girls” by the Beach Boys
“Unchained Melody” by the Righteous Brothers
“It’s The Same Old Song” by the Four Tops
“Like A Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan
“Save Your Heart For Me” by Gary Lewis & The Playboys
“Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me” by Mel Carter
“Down In The Boondocks” by Billy Joe Royal
“Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag” by James Brown & The Famous Flames

Well, the first six of that set is brilliant. I don’t know that much of anything has to be said about any of them. From there, it gets a little spotty. “Save Your Heart For Me” is a record I tend to forget about; when I think of Gary Lewis & The Playboys, it’s “This Diamond Ring” that pops into my head. I don’t think I’m the only one, and that may be a bit unfair. “Save Your Heart For Me” is a decent record that went to No. 2, as did the group’s “Count Me In.” And a couple other singles hit the Top Five as well.

But even when I think about it, “Save Your Heart For Me” doesn’t grab me. Nor does the Mel Carter single. Nor, really, does “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag,” despite its great groove. As to “Down In The Boondocks,” I remember it fondly, but it’s kind of dwarfed by the brilliance of those first six records.

And five of those six are in my current listening in the iPod. The only one that isn’t is “Unchained Melody,” for reasons of the heart.

But what do we find when we head to our other business of the day, at No. 55? We find the second of two Top 40 records for an R&B group from Brooklyn: “I’m A Happy Man” by the Jive Five. A fun bit of stuff (though the almost incessant “happy man” does get a bit tiring), the record would peak at No. 36 (and at No. 26 on the magazine’s R&B chart).

The record wasn’t quite as big a deal as the group’s first hit, “My True Story,” which went to No. 3 in the Hot 100 and topped the R&B chart for three weeks in 1961. But it’s pretty good.

A Quick Look at No. 100 (July 1970)

Friday, July 3rd, 2020

Having been sidetracked by household duties this morning, I was going to let things slide here, but I nevertheless took a look at the Billboard Hot 100 from the first week of July 1970, fifty years ago.

And, as I do, I took a quick look at No. 100, and I was startled to see “Eve Of Destruction” by the Turtles. Really? In 1970?

I mean, the world wasn’t puppies and roses in 1970 by any measure, but Barry McGuire’s No. 1 hit with the song came in 1965, and five years in pop music and radio terms is an eternity. And things got even more strange when I looked at versions of the song at Second Hand Songs because the Turtles were among the first to record the song in 1965.

The website lists songs by release and lists McGuire’s version as the first released in August 1965. Then comes P.F. Sloan in September, and in October, the Turtles’ version came out on their It Ain’t Me, Babe album (as did a version by a Danish group called Sir Henry & His Butlers).

So the question hangs in the air: Why release an album track from 1965 as a single in 1970, especially of such a topical (and idiosyncratic) song? Whatever the reason was, it didn’t work, as the record spent two weeks at No. 100 and then sank from sight. (It was the Turtles’ last record to hit the Hot 100. In November 1970, “Me About You” bubbled under for three weeks, peaking at No. 105).

Here’s the Turtles’ “Eve Of Destruction.”

And I’m going to offer here the heavily accented cover from 1965 by Sir Henry & His Butlers. I’m especially amused by the enunciation of the letter “v” with a “w” sound (“wiolence” and “woting” instead of “violence” and “voting”). It reminds me of life with my host family in Denmark; during the autumn of 1973, my host mother Oda would see me reading the International Herald-Tribune on Tuesdays and – knowing of my interest in Minnesota’s professional football team – would ask me, “How did the Wikings do this week?”

Four At Random

Friday, May 15th, 2020

We’re wandering through iTunes today, landing on four of the 3,900-some tracks I keep there and on my iPod.

First up is “I Want Candy” by the Strangeloves. The Strangeloves were a goof perpetuated in 1965 by Brill Building writers Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gotterher. As Dave Marsh notes in The Heart of Rock ’n’ Soul, they decided in the wake of the British Invasion that “if the public wasn’t interested in domestic acts, they’d reinvent themselves as foreigners.” So they became the Australian brothers Miles, Giles, and Niles Strangelove, claiming to “have taken their rhythmic ideas from aborigines and to have added Masai drums after hearing them while on an African safari. The goof worked, with the Masai drums – actually tympani – helping “I Want Candy” to get to No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100.

We jump ahead to 2019 and “Moonlight Motel,” the most effective track on Bruce Springsteen’s Western Stars:

There’s a place on a blank stretch of road where
Nobody travels and nobody goes
And the Deskman says these days ’round here
Two young folks could probably up and disappear into
Rustlin’ sheets, a sleepy corner room
Into the musty smell
Of wilted flowers and
Lazy afternoon hours
At the Moonlight Motel . . .

Last night I dreamed of you, my lover
And the wind blew through the window and blew off the covers
Of my lonely bed,
I woke to something you said
That it’s better to have loved, yeah it’s better to have loved
As I drove, there was a chill in the breeze
And leaves tumbled from the sky and fell
Onto a road so black as I backtracked
To the Moonlight Motel

She was boarded up and gone like an old summer song
Nothing but an empty shell
I pulled in and stopped into my old spot

I pulled a bottle of Jack out of a paper bag
Poured one for me and one for you as well
Then it was one more shot poured out onto the parking lot
To the Moonlight Motel

As regulars here know, I love Springsteen’s work, but I have to admit that most of Western Stars left me unaffected, its subdued mood not really grabbing me. It held together thematically, but most of the tracks were just okay. I did, however, think that “Moonlight Motel” worked, and worked well.

Great Speckled Bird was a Canadian county band put together in 1969 by folk performers Ian and Sylvia Tyson. Named after the 1938 recording by Roy Acuff, the group released a self-titled album in 1970, You Were On My Mind in 1972 (billed as Ian & Sylvia & The Great Speckled Bird), and was credited on Ian Tyson’s 1973 album, Ol’ Eon. Wikipedia notes that the band continued to back the duo until their break-up in 1975. What we get this morning is a track from the 1970 album, “Long Long Time To Get Old.” The song is a series of vignettes, most of which end with the advice, “Remember this, children: If the good lord’s willing, live a long, long time to get old.” I guess it sounded profound in 1970.

Our final stop brings us one of those sappy things that I carry close to me and always will: “Somewhere My Love (Lara’s Theme from ‘Dr. Zhivago’)” by Ray Conniff & The Singers. The 1966 single went to No. 9 on the Billboard Hot 100 and spent four weeks on top of the magazine’s Easy Listening chart. I heard it, no doubt, on WCCO from the Twin Cities and on KFAM from St. Cloud’s south side, and it became one of my favorite records from the mid-1960s. The song itself is also one of my favorites: there are twenty versions of the tune on the digital shelves by performers like Roger Williams, Ramsey Lewis, Ferrante & Teicher, along with – of course – the Conniff version and several versions by Maurice Jarre, who wrote the soundtrack for the film.

Saturday Single No. 686

Saturday, April 25th, 2020

Here’s what the top ten “Middle-Road” singles looked like in Billboard on April 24, 1965, fifty-five years ago yesterday:

“The Race Is On” by Jack Jones
“Cast Your Fate To The Wind” by Sounds Orchestral
“King Of The Road” by Roger Miller
“Red Roses For A Blue Lady” by Vic Dana
“Baby The Rain Must Fall” by Glenn Yarbrough
“Red Roses For A Blue Lady” by Wayne Newton
“And Roses And Roses” by Andy Williams
“Crazy Downtown” by Allan Sherman
“I Can’t Stop Thinking Of You” by Bobby Martin
“Goldfinger” by Shirley Bassey

That’s a half-way familiar clutch of records. I recall hearing Nos. 2 through 5 on the radio regularly at home, either on WCCO from Minneapolis or St. Cloud’s own KFAM. And I liked all four of them. I also remember hearing Bassey’s “Goldfinger,” but I never cared much for it (despite my burgeoning James Bond fixation), and later in the year, when I got the soundtrack, I wholly embraced John Barry’s pulsating instrumental version of the tune.

Bassey’s version peaked at No. 2 on the Middle-Road chart (and at No. 8 on the Hot 100), while Barry’s own release of the instrumental got to No. 15 on the MR chart and to No. 72 on the Hot 100.

As to the top record in that mid-Sixties chart, I’ve heard Jack Jones’ “The Race Is On,” but it pales in comparison with George Jones’ 1964 No. 3 country original. Of course, George Jones’ record was never going to get middle of the road airplay, so if someone were going to get non-country chart success with the song, it might as well have been the inoffensive and bland Jack Jones. (Looking at Jack Jones’ listing of twenty-six chart hits in Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles, I can’t recall hearing a single one except for “The Race Is On,” which I’ve listened to a couple of times at YouTube while researching posts here.)

As to Nos. 6 through 9, I’m not familiar with them, which kind of surprises me, given my affection for mid-Sixties middle of the road stuff. Sherman’s record is, of course, a parody of Petula Clark’s massive hit “Downtown,” and Newton’s record is, like Dana’s, a cover of John Laurenz’ 1948 release. (According to Second Hand Songs, Dana and Newton released their versions in January 1965; theirs were evidently the first covers of the song in sixteen years.)

(Also parenthetically, Dana’s version of “Red Roses For A Blue Lady” was one of the records I got from Leo Rau, the jukebox jobber who lived across the alley from us back in those years. I have a hunch the record’s still here.)

Martin’s weeper sounds almost like it could have been a country hit (it wasn’t), but perhaps that’s because the title phrase is so similar to the opening of “I Can’t Stop Loving You” as recorded by (among others) Kitty Wells and Don Gibson in 1958 and Ray Charles in 1962.

Then there’s the Andy Williams record, which starts with a nifty bossa nova intro only to collapse into a languid and saccharine ending.

So, I like four of those ten. How many of them are in the iPod, indicating they’re still part of my day-to-day listening? Only two: “King Of The Road” and “Baby The Rain Must Fall.” I’m a little surprised by the absence of “Cast Your Fate To The Wind,” given that I’ve got almost thirty tracks by Sounds Orchestral on the digital shelves. And that’s the direction we’re going this morning.

Here’s “Cast Your Fate To The Wind” by the English pop orchestra Sounds Orchestral. Sometime after mid-April 1965, the record spent three weeks on top of the Middle-Road chart, and it peaked at No. 10 on the Hot 100. It’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 680

Saturday, March 7th, 2020

This will be quick and easy this morning, as I am late getting going. I’ve not said much – if anything – about it, but both the Texas Gal and I have been battling colds pretty much since the beginning of the year, feeling fine for two days and then feeling utterly miserable for the next two. Anyway, miseries led us to sleep in today, and I have an appointment very soon with bacon and pancakes.

So I’m going to head to the Airheads Radio Survey Archive and look at the “Fabulous Forty” survey from the Twin Cities’ KDWB for the first week in March 1965, fifty-five years ago. We’ll look at the top five, and then play Games With Numbers on today’s date – 3-7-20 – and fall onto the No. 30 record in the survey for our listening this morning.

So, fifty-five years ago this week, here was KDWB’s top five:

“This Diamond Ring” by Gary Lewis & The Playboys
“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” by the Righteous Brothers
“King Of The Road” by Roger Miller
“Downtown” by Petula Clark
“The Jolly Green Giant” by the Kingsmen

I was in sixth grade at the time, and I recall hearing all of these coming out of various radio speakers. I wasn’t really listening, but I couldn’t help hearing. And I liked them all except for the Kingsmen’s record, which I thought was really dumb. And all of those top four are among the 3,900-some tracks on the iPod, which puts them in my day-to-day listening even after fifty-five years.

Okay, so let’s head to No. 30 on that long-ago survey. And we find a record that, to be honest, should be among my regular listening: “Hurt So Bad” by Little Anthony & The Imperials. I first knew the song via the 1969 cover by the Lettermen. (Their album, Goin’ Out Of My Head, was one of my sister’s records.) And as I sit here more than fifty years removed from both versions, I have to say that Little Anthony takes the song to levels of despair that the Lettermen likely couldn’t approach. Still, I prefer the cover. (It could be that I want my suffering to be at least a little stoic and not so demonstrative.) But there’s no denying that the original is a great record.

I’m not going to sort out where the Little Anthony record peaked on KDWB, but it went to No 10 in the Billboard Hot 100 and to No. 3 on the magazine’s R&B chart. And it’s today’s Saturday Single.

What’s At No. 100? (January 1965)

Tuesday, January 28th, 2020

I thought that today we’d venture fifty-five years back and look at the Billboard Hot 100 from the last week of January 1965, checking out the Top Ten and then dropping down to the last spot in the chart.

Here’s the Top Ten:

“Downtown” by Petula Clark
“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” by the Righteous Brothers
“The Name Game” by Shirley Ellis
“Love Potion Number Nine” by the Searchers
“Hold What You’ve Got” by Joe Tex
“How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You” by Marvin Gaye
“This Diamond Ring” by Gary Lewis & The Playboys
“Come See About Me” by the Supremes
“Keep Searchin’ (We’ll Follow The Sun)” by Del Shannon
“All Day And All Of The Night” by the Kinks

Well, I was eleven and in sixth grade when these records ruled, and there are only three of those ten that I can say with certainty I remember from the time: “Downtown” was pervasive; whether one liked it or derided it, you knew the hook. “This Diamond Ring” for some reason wended its way into my memory. I still like both of those. And I recall “The Name Game,” which I detest. I suppose I heard “Greg, Greg, Popeg . . .” once too often (though I have no direct memory of the event).

Six of the other seven, I’ve learned about over the years. The one exception, the one record I had to seek out today to see if it were familiar, is “Keep Searchin’ (We’ll Follow The Sun).” It turns out to be on the digital shelves, and it’s not an awful record, but it’s not at all familiar, except for the sound of the cheesy organ solo.

So, using as our measuring stick the 3,900-odd tracks in the iPod, do any of those records matter today?

It turns out that four of them do: “Downtown,” “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’,” “This Diamond Ring,” and “Come See About Me.” And I don’t see that I’d add any of the other six to the device.

But what about our other business here? When we drop to the bottom of the Hot 100 from the last week of January 1965, what do we find?

Well, we find a version of a favorite tune that I did not know about until this morning: “Goldfinger” by Jack La Forge, His Piano & Orchestra. The record was in its first week on the chart, and it would hang around for another four weeks, peaking at No. 96 (and reaching No. 20 on the magazine’s easy listening chart).

It was the only charting record for LaForge, though it wasn’t for lack of trying. His entry at discogs.com lists eighteen singles, most of them on the Regina label. Joel Whitburn tells us in the 2009 edition of Top Pop Singles that LaForge was born in 1924 in Manhattan. Neither Whitburn nor discogs list a death date, and a little bit of digging this morning yielded nothing. The man would be ninety-five today.

It’s a decent easy listening version of the song.