John’s Chronological List Of Personal Chart Number Ones – Part 6: The Teenies

OK it’s not all totally chronological but I thought it might appeal more to those of less advanced years:) The second decade of the 21st Century…

2010 

3 WORDS – Cheryl Cole/ will.i.am (2 weeks)

A new decade, and I started it on holiday in Gran Canaria, and in a club that showed the video this hit follow-up to Cheryl Cole’s monster 2009 debut Number One (in the UK charts). I really loved this, dancey, yet touching emotionally. Cheryl had already featured on 2 Girls Aloud Number Ones, will.i.am on 1 Black Eyed Peas Number One, but this was even better. Minimal, and as always with will.i.am songs, structured in an unorthodox, but effective build. Both acts of course reality TV judges, my greatest admiration is for will.i.am, the man is likeable, quirky, puts his money where his mouth is, is prolific (but talented), and supports the space programme and underprivileged youth charities.

MORNING AFTER DARK – Timbaland/ Nelly Furtado (2 weeks)

Timbaland’s 2nd Number One, and Nelly Furtado’s 4th, and another wonderfully produced dance hit. Timbaland had lost his top-rank by 2010, but was still great, and had by this point strings of big dance chart hits with a multitude of acts. Mystifyingly this was more of a club hit (although it went Top 10 in the UK), radio seemed to shun it, which is criminal (preferring instead the great follow-up with Katy Perry “If We Ever Meet Again”). Timbaland had recently helped Russia’s Dima Bilan to win Eurovision with one of the great Eurovision songs – maybe it was payback for that!

STARSTRUCK – 3oH!3/ Katy Perry (1 week)

The current generation of pop stars seem incapable of releasing singles without dragging in fellow singers or rappers. Look at the first three Number Ones in my chart here…! I’m sure it’s all down to artistic integrity and nothing to do with maximising sales spurred on by manipulating record execs. Katy Perry usually manages on her own thankfully, but this is an exciting uptempo pop chanter to join in on. She had already had a string of great singles, Hot’n’Cold in particular had a long run in my chart but peaked at 2 so she was owed a number one. 3oH!3 have so far gone on to nothing much else. Hey ho…

ROCKET – Goldfrapp (1 week)

Consistently good throughout their career, Goldfrapp specialised in beautiful new-age-y type albums and singles, and 80’s synth retro-pop albums and singles. I love both versions, Alison Goldfrapp is cool, and I love all of the singles over the 10 years preceding this track, and was especially chuffed when Suzi Quatro did a glamrock cover of Strict Machine and phased it into Can The Can, as both of those deserved to be (but weren’t) number ones in my chart. Suzi criminally has never had one, despite many fab hits, but Goldfrapp managed one at last with this singalong pop retro number. Commercially they had peaked a few years earlier (pop fans are SO fickle!) but this is my favourite single of theirs (and the album it’s from), even if no-one else bought them but me!

TELEPHONE – Lady Gaga/ Beyonce (1 week)

OK, Gaga exploded onto the scene in 2009, and quickly notched up 3 great dance Number Ones in my chart (and the UK singles chart). The 4th one to do it drafted in Beyonce, just as Beyonce had drafted in Jay-Z for her epic mega-2003 Number One “Crazy In Love”. The Fame Monster, although I object to the practice of selling the same album twice, at least was virtually a brilliant double album for the price of one, the new tracks being the equivalent of a new album, so I forgive Gaga. This was a romping insistent singalong fab popsong, the video didnt hurt, and it made a nice change to hear Beyonce to do something great. Most of her post-Destiny’s Child career had disappointed me, bar half a dozen good singles. OK she’s gorgeous, a lovely person, fabulous live, married to Jay-Z and all that but her recorded output is sometimes annoying, and her singing … well she wasnt even the best singer in Destiny’s Child. Kelly is. Sorry Beyonce fans! Gaga, on the other hand, is a major talent. I regularly hear comments such as “Oh Madonna was so much better and she’s just ripping her off” to which I point out at this age and stage in her career Madonna hadn’t written a decent song or had a hit. That all came when she matured. Gaga is still very young.

ROCK THAT BODY – The Black-Eyed Peas (2 weeks)

will.i.am’s 3rd, and The Black Eyed Peas 2nd Number One, this is one that didnt actually get to the top in the sales charts. Following on from the monster 3-in-a-row chart-toppers Boom Boom Pow, I Gotta Feeling, Meet Me Halfway, (all good) for my money this was the best track, and what a great sci-fi “transformers-styled” video. As always, unorthodox song structure, as always, building throughout the song, this is just a wonderful, exciting dance track with the chipmunk effect well in force and effective on the hookier segments. Probably my fave BEP track ever, and theyve had quite a few goodies!

A HOUSE IS NOT A HOME – Glee Cast (2 weeks)

well, who would thought a TV show would throw up one hundred plus chart hits, almost all of them covers? It’s a great show, though, well-written and amusing, and sometimes also moving. Like this cover of the Bacharach-David classic, and their umpteenth chart-topper as songwriters. As sung by the sympathetic gay character, Kurt (Chris Coweth), this could have come over as overly-sentimental, but it’s strikes just the right balance with a great vocal performance. In fact, just ahead of the other great Bacharach-David song in the same show, from Kristen Chenoweth which peaked at 2: One Less Bell To Answer. Neither tracks made the actual charts, probably because the Glee cast core fans prefer poppier numbers. They don’t always do great versions of oldies, but sometimes, such as Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dreams” they do great alternate versions, or in the case of fun.’s “We Are Young” they made the original a hit!

IN A MOMENT LIKE THIS – Chanee & n’evergreen (2 weeks)

There have been more Eurovision Song Contest Number Ones In the 21st Century so far (4) than in the whole of the 20th Century (3) in my charts, which reflects how seriously most of Europe and beyond takes it – except the UK, who still think it’s the bland out-of-date joke that it had deteriorated into in the late 80’s and early 90’s. It isn’t. Modern Eurovision is fab, exciting and packed with great pop singles. The modern era, for me , started with Katrina & The Waves in 1997 and peaked with the fabulous French entry (and quirky non-hoper, but otherwise proper pop star) Sebastien Tellier’s sublime Divine in 2008, neither of which managed to top my chart. This 2010 Runner-Up did though. The engaging Lena won with Satellite for Germany, a bit more modern-sounding than this old-fashioned but supremely melodic boy-girl duet. It’s a great tune, and Chanee & n’evergreen gave a good performance, and ended runner-ups for Denmark.

PLAYING WITH FIRE – Paula Seling & Ovi (1 week)

Speaking of Eurovision. The only back-to-back Eurovision Number One’s from the same Contest, this was a great dance track, done well. Certainly more clubby than the one I preferred on the night (see above!) but it was a grower (and as I habitually buy the contest CD each year I get the chance to hear them more than once, which pays off with well-produced pop tracks like this). This duo did a great performance on the night for Romania, but they also had the distinct advantage that Romania had been producing world-wide dance hits over the years immediately prior to 2010 and after – so it had credibility too. Hooray! I’m constantly having to defend Eurovision to casual non-current-pop-buying viewers or musos sniffing down their nose. Nothing new there then, they did the same with an obscure Swedish group called Abba who I adored from the moment I saw them. Who definitely had the last laugh there then…?J

ALL THE LOVERS – Kylie Minogue (5 weeks)

Kylie’s 6th Number One, and a comeback big hit from terrific album Aphrodite, her best since Light Years in 2000. The video was memorable and fabulous (a mountain of semi-clothed writhing lovers), the tour was brilliantly produced, varied visually and entertaining, and this proved to be one of Kylie’s best-ever singles. Kylie might not be the strongest singer in the world, but she sure knows how to pick songs and producers, and put on a stunning live show. That’s why she’s still around! The previous album X had a run of traditional dance-Kylie top 10 singles on it, notably Wow which peaked at 2, and The One at 3 (in the real world this mysteriously stiffed though!), but didn’t include a chart-topper. More-cutting-edge-dance Aphrodite more than made up for that though…

CROSSFIRE – Brandon Flowers (7 weeks)

A solo album from the Killers front man and main-man produced this chart-topper (for me that is, they haven’t had a Number One hit anywhere. Yet). I just didn’t get bored with this epic-sounding earnest pop rock 7-week classic. The Killers tend to flirt with Pet-Shop-Boys synth-sounding albums, and Bruce-Springsteen-rock-sounding albums, both of which are fabulous, as are the singles. Since their first Number One in 2005, they’d had tracks that should have topped, like, Human and When You Were Young, but Brandon emphatically put that right with this brilliant hit. Even more impressive, since bursting onto the music scene from Las Vegas (via the UK initially) the influence of well-dressed guitar bands had at long last spread to young Americans. Grunge and Rap collectively sent (largely male) kids into a 15-year hideous baggy clichéd fashion-nightmare journey that even infiltrated into Europe for a time. Bless The Killers and other American young bands for rebelling against it. Kids dress well again now, hooray!

GREEN GRASS – I Am Arrows (1 week)

I Am Arrows is a post-Razorlight project for Andy Burrows. Razorlight had a Number One in my charts with Somewhere Else in 2005, but Andy seemed unhappy with the set-up there and moved on to some good solo pop singles in 2012 (Light The Night and Hometown, as played on Radio 2, where 7 years earlier they were Radio 1 material – albeit in those days Rock was the new chartpop, in 2012 rnb/dance was the new chart pop. Sound familiar? It should – pop music is very circular and renews itself every 5 years or so as the next batch of 14-year-olds look for something new musically). This record, returning to the point, is a melodic rockpop goodie, and harmony/melody is something Andy Burrows is good at, with some interesting bleep sounds in amongst the chugging rhythm and snappy guitar solo. In 2005 this would have been a hit, in 2010 singles chart times had changed sadly for poprock.

GET OUTTA MY WAY – Kylie Minogue (1 week)

2nd single off Aphrodite, and another dance pop gem from Kylie. As tastes changed in the young download singles chart Kylie’s singles started to peak lower than they would have a few years earlier, this one case in point: not a big hit, but a great record anyway, certainly up there with her best dance-oriented tracks, and her 7th topper in my charts. The album has a mix of songwriters, all of them good, so credit to Kylie and producer Stuart Price for being able to spot a good song when they hear it, and then present it in a perfect pop package. She’d come a long way from I Should Be So Lucky!

THE FLOOD – Take That (7 weeks)

The unthinkable suddenly happened. Gary and Robbie made up. Take That reformed on equal footing, both Take That and Robbie Williams were huge though Take That were on the upswing and Robbie had been sliding for a few years. My support had always been for Robbie’s much more satisfying albums and singles and body of work in general (11 number ones spread throughout his career up to 2009) than the boys (2  90’s chart-toppers, both with Robbie still there). After Robbie’s sudden departure it looked like that was it for Take That, they split up, and Gary Barlow had a fairly forgettable solo career, while Mark Owen turned out to be a surprisingly dab popsong writer (1 number one). When they reformed, minus Robbie, Gary and Mark shared a run of great big hit singles like Patience, Greatest Day, Shine and Up All Night, and most of all Rule The World which peaked at 2 in my chart. It took Robbie to combine with the lads to add that extra something, though, both for the great album Progress, and this fab lead single, arguably one of the best things any of them have done, and all democratically jointly credited to all of the band. Hooray! Sounds like a Robbie/Gary effort, but I applaud the democracy. Well done lads, you did good!

Advertisements

John’s Chronological List Of Personal Chart Number One’s…1959 to Now: Part 1 The Sixties

OK, I’m old but not THAT old – I wasn’t making charts in 1959! I did my first one in 1968, became regular in 1971 and went comprehensive in 1975 (Top 50) and 1978 (Top 75). Along the way old records made the UK British Singles charts (and so became eligible for mine), or more recently (like the real download charts) album tracks and oldies can also chart (providing they make the various album or archive charts on the Official Charts Company site and haven’t charted before). The net effect is…lots of oldies have got to my Number One over the years, but I don’t like listing them in the year they peaked if they came out years before in the real world. So, I’ve listed by year of original release or chart entry in the real world, all that’s different is I list them within each year in the order they first charted and with total weeks at the top in brackets.

Phew! Hope that’s clear, and here’s the Year By Year list of tracks I loved more than any other tracks for at least one week, with musings, facts, trivia attached to avoid it being just a dull list. I hope!

1959:

Incredibly, after 44 years of charting, only one track pre-dating the 60’s has ever made it to my Number One. No Elvis, no Cliff, no Buddy Holly, no Nat King Cole! That was back in 1972, when it made the British charts again, and kick-started a second career for the artist, newly-relocated to the UK…

OH CAROL – Neil Sedaka (1 week)

This is a fifties pop gem written by one consistently great classically-trained pop songwriter about his crush on the greatest female pop songwriter of the era (and probably of all-time), Carole King. Brill Building jobbing song-writers, and popstars, I was 14 when I noticed this one, while 50’s rock’n’roll was getting a second-wind during the glamrock era. These days it sounds sweetly period-piece, like most of Neil Sedaka’s hits of that time, but it’s arguably the Seventies that produced his best work, and incredibly, gems like Laughter In The Rain, Bad Blood and The Immigrant didn’t quite make it to the top of my charts despite links to heroes like 10CC, Elton John and John Lennon! Ah well, at least two of them got to the Top in the States! I saw Neil Sedaka in concert around 2008, still in fine voice, and thoroughly charming. What a lovely man and there can’t be many fifties acts still touring in 2012!

1960:

And into the sixties, more of a fifties vibe still going on, so not only the odd few entries till things started kicking off in 1964 (or more tellingly, perhaps, from when I first became obsessed by pop music, Dr Who and comics age 6, so I have memories attached to the songs of the period that aren‘t there for these earlier ones).

APACHE – The Shadows (1 week)

Most-successful instrumental band of all-time, Cliff’s backing band ruled in the early 60’s. They were always on TV with their suits and synchronised guitar-movements, had a string of number ones, and were inspirational to many guitar-wannabees. Boys could like the Shads where girls tended to prefer Cliff. As The Drifters, they backed Cliff on his early “first proper British rock’n’roll” hits and carried on hitting into the 80’s. Apache was a cover, I think, but what a great romping early guitar anthem, even if it had to wait until 2005, 45 years to reach my Number One after it had already done it in the UK!

AT LAST – Etta James (2 weeks)

Etta James has become pretty well-known over the last few years, after decades of critical success, but not much commercial success since the early 60’s give or take the odd advert-related re-issue. A soul great, this song over the last 3 or 4 years has popped in and out the charts after use on reality singing shows like the X Factor, and finally made the Top 40 after her death in early 2012. It had already been a big hit in my charts but that was enough to give it the extra push to hit the top, I downloaded it, loved it, and it now holds the record for longest gap between release and hitting number one in my charts: almost 52 years! Or at least it did until 2013….

COME RAIN OR COME SHINE – Ray Charles (1 week)

2013, a TV advert, and a record I’d never heard before hits my Number One, to become the oldest recording to top my chart at 53 years from release to peak. Ray Charles’ 2nd topper chronologically, and with a sophisticated strings-heavy blues-style version of a 1946 movie song (musical St Louis Woman). Taken from the modestly-titled The Genius Of Ray Charles (well, he was, so it’s OK) 1959 album, it was a minor US Hot 100 hit in 1960 and 1968, but somehow I’d managed to avoid hearing it (that I recall) till that advert gave it a modern boost. Sultry, sophisticated, and what a great Charles vocal performance, it’s sublime, and high time it made the UK charts! Gorgeous.

THEME FROM A SUMMER PLACE – Percy Faith (1 week)

Percy was an orchestra leader born in the early 20th century. Around 100 years later this gorgeous instrumental was used as a Butlins TV ad in the UK and re-introduced it to older music fans old enough to remember it being everywhere growing up. Theme tune to a now-forgotten movie, the strings-based melody remains memorable and delightful, and the ad gave me an excuse to chart it at long last in 2014, and take the record (54 years) for longest-gap from release to top of my charts. So good, even Jasper in The Simpsons sings it and adds his own lyrics: “Theme From A Suuummer Place theme from a summer place”. And so on. Fabulous.


1961:

STAND BY ME – Ben E. King (1 week)

Singer with The Drifters during their greatest period of success, and classic tracks, Ben stepped out solo for this all-time great. Not initially a huge UK success (cover versions diminished it) the Stand By Me film got it widely-known in 1987, and it finally reached Number One in the UK charts and mine. Despite other great solo hits like Spanish Harlem, this remains his main claim to fame, and what a great vocal performance. Others have come close (and some have made my Number One with it! See 1975 when it comes) but not surpassed the original. Still think of the movie now though!

(MARIE’S THE NAME) HIS LATEST FLAME – Elvis Presley (2 weeks)

Logic dictates that with all the regular Elvis chart reissues over the years, and bearing that Elvis was huge fixture in everybody’s life in the 60’s and 70’s and a family favourite, that the King Of Rock’n’roll would have hit the top at least once with rock classics like That’s Alright Mama, Heartbreak Hotel or Jailhouse Rock, or one of his early pop biggies like Wooden Heart. He hasn’t yet though, this is the earliest one to do it: a romping catchy pop ditty, often looked down on by purists, but it’s a great pop song so boo hoo to you! It may be purely that his 60’s stuff was familiar to me growing up and his 50’s stuff wasn’t till I got a bit older, but we had Elvis singles and albums in the house, and we saw his movies like Fun In Acapulco and Speedway on TV and at the cinema, they were of the time, but the music spots sometimes had stuff to commend them… This track had 2 runs at the top, first in 2000, then in 2005 again, for one week each time.

SURRENDER – Elvis Presley (1 week)

Elvis’ Second Number One is another from his purple pop patch, an upbeat almost-Italian-flavoured belter, and like the last one Number One during the 2005 “one re-issue a week” campaign for Elvis Number Ones, after a previous Top 10 appearance in 2001. I actually had a vinyl picture cover re-issue of this I bought in 1977, so it was more of a 70’s nostalgia trip than 60’s. While these may not be Elvis’ greatest vocal moments (they came later), or influential (like his Sun Records and early RCA stuff), or interesting (as, say, Blue Moon was), hey I still say they are great pop toons…J

RUNNIN’ SCARED – Roy Orbison (1 week)

The Big ‘O’ for me is the greatest male vocalist of all-time, another huge family favourite as I was growing up, and his songs…well no-one could turn out quite a heart-wrenching dramatically-building ballad like Roy. Seemingly tragic in real-life, his songs seemed to hint at the dramas ahead. This was his early classic, after a few years of Elvis-styled rock’n’roll flavoured stuff, this defined his appeal and sound. In life we all like different types of music, we all have our favourites, but if these leave you unmoved, well you need to sit and listen to them until the judgement faux pas is blindingly clear! Hit my Number One in 2006.
1962 

OK, it’s 1962, and The Last Year Before The Beatles changed everything, worldwide. Stars that were having hits, suddenly found they were yesterdays news, and British music was to conquer the world for the next few years. So, tail-end of an era and still a few records managed to hit my Number One:

NUT ROCKER – B. Bumble & The Stingers (4 weeks)

Novelty records. Usually that’s a dirty word, but in the 60’s there were plenty of good, and even amusing, examples of the genre. As a kiddie I loved them all, from A Windmill in Old Amsterdam to Right Said Fred. This one was semi-serious, and one I was introduced to in spring 1972 when it seemed positively ancient but made the UK Top 20 all over again, soooo catchy. What is it? It’s a 1962 UK Number One manic instrumental rock’n’roll version of The Nutcracker Suite. When the music teacher invited us to have one end of term “play your favourite singles” lesson, I brought this one in, cos it was sort of classical, but it turned out not so cool to the other kids who brought in stuff like Chicory Tip “Son Of My Father”. Hey ho, it’s a rocking bit of fun, and has been revived, against all the odds, by Radio One in 2012, for “It’s Friday and I’m Going Home” slot. Hey, waddya know, I was 40 years ahead of my time!

THE LOCOMOTION – Little Eva (1 week)

Another kiddie favourite from 1962, another Top 20 re-issued hit in 1972, and the first of many classic pop songs from Goffin & King songwriters. Who? That’ll be husband & wife pop hit machine Gerry Goffin and Carole King. Carole wrote the melodies, the same Carole who Neil Sedaka wrote Oh Carol for (see 1959), and the same one who had a UK hit with It Might As Well Rain Until September, a truly fab pop song that almost made the Top 30 again in 1972 – a certain Number One if it had done so, in my chart! Carole King had a stunning 10 years of songs, including this one, sung by her teenage babysitter. Yes, true! Little Eva became a pop star for a while, The Locomotion became regularly covered (and hits for the likes of Grand Funk Railroad – awful – in the States, and Kylie everywhere). Love Kylie, but her twee version isn’t a patch on the fun party railroad train dancing original.

I CAN’T STOP LOVING YOU – Ray Charles (1 week)

A blind Soul/blues singer covers a country & western classic ballad from the then late Hank Williams (I think) and delivers a strings-laden classic. Ray Charles was a great singer, and carried on having hits throughout his life, but he crossed genre boundaries and had a UK Number One with this gorgeous lament. Sadly, some of his other greats like Georgia On My Mind and Hit The Road Jack never qualified for my charts. At least not yet, they would be chart-toppers for sure. This one was on a charting hits album package, which meant I could chart one track off it. I chose the best one in 2001.

WONDERFUL LAND – The Shadows (3 weeks)

The Shads second chart-topper, chronologically, but the first to chart as best track on their charting hits package in 2004. A theme is already starting to emerge: I love songs with sweeping strings, and this has one of the best examples on an instrumental (second only, perhaps, to Theme From A Summer Place). The melody is just magic, Hank Marvin’s twanging guitar lead is restrained, and in 50 years I have never ever stopped being moved by this beautiful record. Loved it at 5, loved it at 25, love it at nearly 55. The Shadows had loads more hits, many of them fun, one of them even a catchy Eurovision vocal pop hit, Let Me Be The One in 1975, but they never bettered this big UK seller and Number One.

1963 

BE MY BABY – The Ronettes (1 week)

In 1966 we got our first record player, dad was back from Aden and we lived in a Liverpool slum flat at a time when Liverpool had been ruling the world, pop-wise. A batch of singles dad bought would easily have had weeks at my number one, had I been compiling charts then, including The Beatles I Want To Hold Your Hand and Can’t Buy Me Love, The Tornadoes Telstar, and above all this pop gem, Phil Spectors greatest girlgroup moment (fittingly with his wife in it). Long before he was a convicted murderer, Phil S was an immaculate pop producer of perfect pop confections like this. The Wall Of Sound became famous, Brian Wilson rated this the greatest pop record ever made and became inspired to do the same for The Beach Boys, and it’s certainly up there with his greatest records too. The beat, the song, the singing, it’s pop perfection. More famous these days from Dirty Dancing, to me it’s still a golden 1960’s pop memory, and one week at number one during a crowded 1974 chart full of golden oldies doesn’t do it justice. 10 weeks is more like it!

UP ON THE ROOF  – The Drifters (1 week)

One of the early great black vocal groups, of what sort of merged into what became known as soul music, the Drifters had an ever-changing line-up of singers from the fifties to the present day. A Sugababes template, if you like. Their greatest era had Ben E King on lead vocal for goodies like Save The Last Dance For Me, and after his solo career took off (see Stand By Me) with Johnny Moore for goodies like At The Club, Saturday Night At The Movies and a pop chart career that stretched into the late 70’s. This is their greatest moment though, what a fabulous song, and another Goffin/King triumph. Even UK cover versions at the time which hogged the chart action, and subsequent ditties like Robson-Jerome (who at least got the song a deserved Number One chart position at long last), can’t dim this glorious definitive version which hit the top in 2003.

(YOU’RE THE) DEVIL IN DISGUISE – Elvis Presley (1 week)

Elvis’ 3rd Number One in my chart, and like the other two, thanks to the reissue singles campaign which resulted in Elvis getting more returns to the top spot (I still maintain he has 18 Number Ones, the last 3 were just returns to the top spot, albeit via reissues on cd single). Anyway, another romping pop gem from The King with a great tempo change for the gentle melodic “angel” segments building to the fast chorus belting out the title. Had I been compiling charts in 1966 there would have been two more (Crying In The Chapel, a gospel monster hit) and a very minor hit from 1968 from the film “Speedway” You’re Time Hasn’t Come Yet Baby – both of which I loved as a child. Speedway is Elvis’ best cheesy film because it has Nancy Sinatra in it, doing her own Groovy song (well, Lee Hazelwood’s).

IN DREAMS – Roy Orbison (1 week)

One week at the top doesn’t do this epic building ballad justice – it became one of my 80’s retro favourites, although Roy’s hits album was always on the turntable in our house when we were younger. This chart run though had to wait for a 21st Century Greatest Hits UK album chart entry to qualify to make my chart in 2008, belatedly. This is another perfect record, Roy’s brilliant vocal performance, the epic power-finale, and the journey from mellow towards that final note. What a fab Orbison song, what a singer. Brilliant.

 TWIST AND SHOUT – The Beatles (1 week)

At last, The Fabs feature. My all-time favourite band, and the greatest pop act of all-time. There is no point arguing they ain’t, because no other act has any real substantial critical, creative, influential AND commercial basis to make a convincing alternative case. I daresay people will love other acts of their time more, and many may have the same or greater commercial success over the course of a long career (though none have come close to the intensity of success of those 7 years), but the Beatles did it all and did it first, and continue to remain relevant 50 years on. They only ever did one cover version which turned out to be the definitive version, and this is it: The Isley Brothers hit given a Liverpool frantic beat, and John Lennon’s manic vocals were so over the top that his voice packed in after trying for this take. A great party record to this day, this 2009 Number One in my chart would have charted in the UK in 1963 had EP’s qualified for the singles chart, but in any case it finally entered when The Beatles were released onto itunes and this turned out to be one of the four Beatles oldies to hit the download era charts. Not that The Beatles needed others songs, from this point on they had their own increasingly sophisticated songs to draw on.

YOU’LL NEVER WALK ALONE – Gerry & The Pacemakers (1 week)

A modern UK anthem, thanks largely these days to football club supporters and charity events, but originally this Liverpudlian-band cover from the musical “Carousel” was a huge pop hit in 1963. Gerry Marsden, still going strong, and his band were the first to manage 3 debut Number Number Ones in the UK charts, but this is the claim to fame, the definitive version guaranteed to give you shivers down the spine. Ferry Cross The Mersey and Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying were fine, Gerry’s very likeable, but this track is still charting well into the 21st Century, including the year it hit No.1 2010 and a chart entry again in 2012!

E O MUITE ARUKO (SUKIYAKI) – Kyu Sakamoto (1 week)

A famous debut for world music atop the US charts in 1963 and a big hit in the UK, the Japanese-language MOR-strings-based jolly pop-song had a famous melody, even if no-one knew what the words meant. It didn’t matter. Kyu had a great singing voice, full of conviction and emotion, and the tune was classic. It still pops up in pop culture, such as Malcolm In The Middle TV sitcom, but it’s influence is more important as the first real non-European-language international hit. I like to think it was the birth of world music. Kyu sadly never followed it up, and died tragically as one of the passengers on the world’s biggest single airliner crash in Japan in 1985.

1964  

LEADER OF THE PACK – The Shangri-Las (2 weeks)

We move into the period when I was getting into pop music now. We lived in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, and journeyed on the Tube into London sometimes, when it was Swinging! Oddly, this wasn’t one I knew – this became a big British hit in 1972, and I loved it then, for it’s first week at the top, and then again in 1976, when it made the UK Top 10 yet again. The ultimate consummate motorcycle tragedy record, the production is Spector-esque in stature (Shadow Morton) and the vocals superb – you believe every aching note is sincere! Great song, great use of sound effects in pop, and bonafide classic that never hit the top anywhere, I think. Scandalous! They had other great emotional pop hits in the States, but this is the one everyone knows.

BABY LOVE – The Supremes (1 week)

Everyone knew this song in the 60’s, and it’s still well known even today. This was the song that launched The Supremes to pop stardom, and Diana Ross to international success. Why? It’s so catchy! Simple enough melody and lyrics, fairly laid-back uptempo Motown dance pop, and nowhere near their best record, but it’s fun. There were many more to come, but the first single “Where Did Our Love Go” got to the top as a cover in 1972, and this one did it for the original in 1974, when it was re-issued and hit the UK charts again. This was the first time a record I knew first time round made my charts 2nd time round. The floodgates had opened!

YOU’RE MY WORLD – Cilla Black (3 weeks)

Cilla was a 60’s British pop icon who got her break because she knew The Beatles in Liverpool’s Cavern club. Long before she became a loveable TV family favourite, and in the process inadvertently gave her 60’s run of hits a bad press, she was a loveable young pop princess with an unusual nasal upper register belting out choruses and alternating with gentle lower register sweet verses. I was 6 when this came out and I loved it, an English-language version of an Italian dramatic ballad, Cilla did good. A UK Number One, (and it would have been a few weeks topping my chart had I been doing them then) it finally got its 3 weeks at the top in John’s 2003 charts following an album chart entry for her hits package. This remains a brilliant, heartfelt performance and arrangement and it is still great fun to singalong to after a pint in a pub (that would be Centre Stage bar in Gran Canaria thenJ)

SHOUT – Lulu & The Luvvers (1 week)

Another 60’s pop princess who often has had an unfair critical reception, Lulu was still a schoolgirl when she covered this Isley Brothers goodie and turned it into a classic, definitive version (at least in the UK). Such a powerful, and soulful voice seemed out of place for a youngster. To this day a party staple, “Shout” was a hit all over again in 1986 (when it peaked in my chart for one week at the top), by which time Lulu had already had a varied, chameleon-like career, on numerous record labels. Annoyingly none of the style changes managed to bag her a solo UK Number One, but I loved her follow-up Mickie Most-produced 60’s pop hits like Neil Diamond’s The Boat That I Row, and Me The Peaceful Heart, even if these days hardly anyone remembers them!

MOVE OVER DARLING – Doris Day (1 week)

Until Doris made the Top 10 UK album chart with a new album in 2011, breaking all sorts of records for oldest act to chart, gap between new material and the like, it almost seemed as though this was her last chart gasp after a career stretching back to the 40’s, and including greats such as the “Calamity Jane” soundtrack gems “Secret Love”, “Black Hills Of Dakota” and “The Deadwood Stage”. A voice like honey, Doris was also a wonderful light comedienne, and featured in a long run of romantic comedies, including this favourite of mine. The theme song was a hit, and a hit again in 1987 when it hit my top spot. Always under-appreciated, a classic vocalist, and a loveable personality on film, and in real-life dedicated to good causes, what’s not to admire!

DOWNTOWN – Petula Clark (3 weeks)

Like Doris, a film and vocal veteran dating back to the 40’s (as a British child star) Pet really got into her stride in the 60’s starting with a run of great Tony Hatch songs. This is the classic, a hit all over again in remix form in 1988 (when it got two weeks topping my chart) and then again in 1999 (for another week), but the original version remains the best, a joyous melodic ode to the excited draw of the Big City. The template was a good one, and subsequent goodies like Don’t Sleep In The Subway and The Other Man’s Grass were nearly as delicious, while her 1967 UK Number One, written by Charlie Chaplin (yes, honest!) This Is My Song was a lovely harkback to older-style ballads, and would have probably been near my top spot given the opportunity in 1967. Sadly her chart/pop career never really moved past 1971, but she continued to delight on stage after the films also dried up.

YOU REALLY GOT ME – The Kinks (1 week)

The Kinks are a British institution of the 60’s and (to a lesser extent) subsequent decades. Ray Davies is widely regarded as an influence on later pop movements such as Britpop and punk (Jam, Pretenders, Blur etc) and is a great songwriter. This UK number one was not just a breakthrough for the band, it’s regarded as a singles chart breakthrough as a sort of template for heavy rock with a punky mood, with it’s hypnotic insistent manic riffs, and soaring vocals. It’s a fab song, a timeless poprock gem, and happily is still fairly well-known and referenced. It certainly doesn’t sound almost 50 years old, and subsequent hits following on from it, such as All Day And All Of The Night, sound pretty good too. Then The Kinks changed style…of which more to follow:) This got to my Number One for a week as part of an EP in 1997.

GOLDFINGER – Shirley Bassey (1 week)

Bond. James Bond… Shaken, not stirred. No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die!

Yes, James Bond hit global superstardom with this film, and Shirley Bassey became the theme diva of choice. John Barry, composer, was a great talent, and Shirley was tops for belting out a melodramatic ballad (and she still can!), put them together and you have the template for the perfect start to a Bond movie. You also have a great pop song. Amazingly, this classic was never a big hit, but it’s still well-known. Miss Bassey was big favourite of my dad, the first album we ever had in the house featured many of her 50’s hits like Kiss Me Honey Honey Kiss Me. Her rather OTT vocal style wasn’t really my cup of tea on the whole, but I still loved the Bond themes, and liked the odd hit from the 70‘s like For All We Know, carrying right on up to her most recent album, and the Pink cover of Get The Party Started. This was a chart-topper in 2000 for me, Shirley’s only one, but not John Barry’s…

I’M GONNA BE STRONG – Gene Pitney (1 week)

It’s something of an injustice that the great Gene Pitney has only this sole entry at the top, from 2001. A great song-writer, and vocalist, in the Roy Orbison dramatic ballad style, albeit with a very different singing voice. Oddly bigger in the UK than the home USA (at least after the early hits like The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance), his first UK mega-hit was the Bacharach-David goodie 24 Hours From Tulsa, which triggered several years of great singles, including Something’s Gotten Hold Of My Heart (eventually a UK No.1 with Marc Almond in 1989), and this one, his greatest moment. The song builds slowly, the aching vocal performance matching the lyrics and mood, and builds to an epic dramatic finale. Now that’s what I call passion! He did a brilliant performance of this on UK Pop show Ready Steady Go, one of my many fave 60’s TV shows as a child. Gene was beloved in our house growing up, and the late great still is. I’d like to see some contemporary singers take this song on – most of them would lose, though, they’d need the range and the guts to do it justice!

RAG DOLL – The Four Seasons (1 week)

The Four Seasons have one of the great pop back catalogues, so great that they turned their life story and songs into a fabulous musical, Jersey Boys. Long before the show they had a string of doowop-styled early 60’s hits, written mostly by talented bandmember Bob Gaudio and sung by the amazingly falsetto’d Frankie Valli. Great songs like Walk Like A Man, Let’s Hang On, The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Working My Way Back To You, The Proud One, and Bye Bye Baby were so good other acts had massive hit cover versions with them over subsequent years, as well as the long run of US hits, and less long run of UK hits. Even Frankie Valli’s solo hit Can’t Take My Eyes Off You became a much-covered standard. 50 years on, their two greatest moments from the 60’s (there was more to come in the 70’s!) remain Beggin’ (largely unknown until the Jersey Boys show turned it into the song of the show, and a modern dance anthem by Madcon), and this absolutely dreamy ballad. The harmonies, a group special, are spot on, and the melody is one to die for. This record is awesome, and unlike their other songs it’s never been successfully covered because you can’t improve on perfection. It topped my chart in 2001.

WALK ON BY – Dionne Warwick (2 weeks)

They rarely get classier than the cool Dionne Warwick, Burt Bacharach’s main 60’s voice of his equally classy, sophisticated songs. I grew up loving Burt’s many songs throughout the 60’s right from age 6 onwards. Predominantly aimed at the Easy Listening adult brigade, the timeless melodies in particular weren’t supposed to appeal to all ages – but they did, and do. Dionne had a long run of US hits with Bacharach/David songs, and as gorgeous as her smooth vocals were, she didn’t always get the British hit out of it, thanks to many hit covers by British acts. No offence to Dionne (love her versions too) but the definitive versions can often be found elsewhere (see Cilla, Dusty, Sandie, Bobbie, and one who would have had a number one if my charts had started 4 weeks earlier in 1968, Herb Alpert with the tearjerking This Guys In Love). This one though, IS the definitive version, the lyrics are perfect, the melody is perfect, the vocal is perfect, the backing is perfect. If you’ve ever been dumped by someone, put this record on. Singalong, and if you’re not bawling by the end of the record you must be made of stone. I did, in 2002, when it peaked during the summer at the top.

Dionne has continued to have a long pop career, highlights in the 60’s and 70’s like Do You Know The Way To Jose, and into the 80’s Love Power and Heartbreaker and beyond. I saw her in concert a few years back, still laid-back cool, and still recording albums in 2012.

IT’S OVER – Roy Orbison (2 weeks)

Roy’s 3rd Number One in the list, peaking in 2004, 40 years after the original release, is probably his most defining moment. There’s no more straight-forward statement of heartbreak, the end of a relationship, than It’s Over, and Roy’s brilliant performance, right up to the final title repeat of the “giving it everything” climax, is stunning. There have so far been no further 60’s Roy chart-toppers, but with songs like Only The Lonely, Cryin’, and Oh Pretty Woman – his most famous thumping singalong big hit, and one that would easily have been a number one for 6-year-old me (cos I loved it) – that may yet change. The hits dried up eventually, after tragic family losses, and changing musical tastes, but that wasn’t to be the end of his career….

DON’T WORRY BABY – The Beach Boys (2 weeks)

The main American 60‘s competitors to the Beatles, creatively and success-wise, were the Beach Boys. In the Wilson Brothers Brian, Carl & Dennis), cousin Mike Love and Al Jardino they had male harmonies like no other, and still to this day there have been no real pretenders to that crown. Starting out as surfer-pop dudes singing about girls, cars and surfing, Brian Wilson’s songwriting skills took them to another level. Early hits like I Get Around, Surfin USA, Help Me Rhonda and California Girls were great pop records, but Brian took on the challenge of the increasingly sophisticated Beatles records, and the inspiration of Phil Spector’s wall of sound, to create heavenly records, such as this gorgeous ballad. It’s touching, adult love songs for teens, and those harmonies, ooh they set the stage for more to come. This hit the top in 2004, courtesy of a summer hits compilation – which is why the Boys are well represented, they regularly chart oldies singles and albums. Quite right too!

(THERE’S) ALWAYS SOMETHING THERE TO REMIND ME – Sandie Shaw (2 weeks)

Probably the coolest of the big British 60’s female pop singers, Dusty excepted, Morrissey gave her a new lease of life in the 80’s with my Top 5 fab hits Hand In Glove, Nothing Less Than Brilliant and the Lloyd Cole goodie (Are You Ready To Be) Heartbroken, but it’s her mid-60’s career that is best-remembered, thanks to 3 UK number one hits, starting with this gem of a cover version of the Dionne Warwick/Bacharach/David track. I was 6 when this came out and I love it, and I loved Sandie, and still do. This remains the definitive version, and finally peaked at the top in 2005, 41 years late, but better late than never. As my charts started in 1968 the only one of her 60’s tracks to chart was Monsieur Dupont (at 2) which still leaves great hits like Long Live Love, Girl Don’t Come and even Eurovision winner Puppet On A String uncharted, and at least 2 of them would have hit the top in my hypothetical kiddie charts of the time.

COME SEE ABOUT ME – The Supremes (1 week)

Despite a string of American Number Ones, the huge girl group of the 60’s only had the One British chart-topper in Baby Love. Motown were firing on all cylinders by the time this one came out. Not one of their most famous hits, it has a more subtle appeal to it than their early singles, Diana Ross’ honey-sweet vocal lead, and a fabulous melody. It took Shakin’ Stevens cover of it, I kid you not, to get me to really notice the brilliant original, and turn a 2007 chart-topper into their second No.1 of 1964. I need to mention Holland-Dozier-Holland here: responsible for most of Motown’s run of great Supremes hits, that wasn’t enough: they also were the backbone of the Four Tops classic period and other assorted Motown acts. More than any other songwriters/producers I think they sum up what made Motown the lasting legacy that it is. Classic!

ALL MY LOVING – The Beatles (1 week)

2009, a down-load era Number One, but by the time this childhood album-track fave came out (The Beatles were so prolific, famous and talented that album tracks might as well have been hit singles!) the Fabs had already had several Number Ones in the UK charts (million-sellers) and invaded the States comprehensively and famously in a never-to-be equalled entire Top 5, with well over a dozen filling in the Hot 100 singles chart. In these days of charting download album tracks that might not sound impressive, but these were actual vinyl singles that you had to buy in shops! I really don’t see anyone ever duplicating the feat…Meanwhile, The Beatles were all over UK TV as I avidly watched Thank Your Lucky Stars and Jukebox Jury, and even Doctor Who. Two of the first singles we ever had in the house were I Want To Hold Your Hand and Can’t Buy Me Love (along with B side This Boy) and She Loves You was sung by all and sundry. All would have been chart-toppers for little John, but have yet to do the same for old John. This early McCartney melodic ballad has though, and along with And I Love Her, was an indication of what was to come from Macca, melody-man supremeJ

ANYONE WHO HAD A HEART – Cilla Black (1 week)

The final 1964 Topper, so far, is from 2012, and is Cilla’s second, and is also yet another Dionne Warwick/Bacaharach/David cover – you can see why she’s still bemused at all the potential chart-toppers she missed out on in the UK. To be fair to Cilla though, this is the definitive version, utterly Over The Top choruses paired with hushed verses, something she did very well on subsequent great singles like the Beatles It’s For You (written for her), Alfie (Bacharach finally recording directly with her) Step Inside Love (McCartney song for her again) and on two Top 5 hits in my  1969 charts Surround Yourself With Sorrow and Conversations. With the move into family TV loveable-personalityism though, her recording career never really sparkled outside the 60’s…Pity!