Pop Music From A Kiddie POV: 1962 Part 1

LET’S TWIST AGAIN – Chubby Checker (4 weeks)

In the USA The Twist was the track that started the dance craze that travelled the world and back again, but in the UK it was the follow-up Let’s Twist Again that was everywhere. By 1975, when both tracks were hits again in the UK charts as a double A Side, it was Twist Again that was a John Asher (TV presenter) hit cover version sparking the chart revisit of Chubby Chucker – not The Twist, which I’d never heard before. Culturally this track was famous, everyone was Twisting at do’s, it sparked a run of dance hits for Chubby and his Fats Domino-inspired name. A bit chubby maybe, but still pretty young.

For me, I just remember it as a bit of fun, a song everyone knew, the whole family, kids in the playground, the Queen, anyone who hadn’t been living in a derelict air-raid shelter really. The Twist eventually had it’s day in the sun with the Fat Boys giving Chubby an 80’s boost with their dance-rap 80’s version, which was pretty big – but not culturally massive like first-time round. Chubby amazingly is still in his 70’s and has outlived one of his Fat Boys colleagues…

 

 

THE HOLE IN THE GROUND – Bernard Cribbins (6 weeks)

 

TV and film comic actor Bernard Cribbins was another well-known face in the 60’s, star of many a British Carry On movie, TV sitcom, and even Doctor Who movie versions of the TV series with Daleks, another national craze of the time, including me. I was mad on Doctor Who and pop music. I loved other stuff, too, but those were the things I obsessively wrote about in my early schoolbooks of the time in 1964 – still have ‘em as proof! This novelty comedy track was on telly quite a bit, and a staple of kiddie-based radio shows. Bernard appealed to kids with his well-meaning-but-gormless roles, the bloke next door who was a bit slapstick, a bit funny.

Hole In The Ground is still mildly amusing, a sort of working-bloke wry mickey-take of the role of manual labouring working class blokes and the management toffs ordering them about. Ooh political! It ends with the news that the toff got buried in the hole with his bowler hat sticking up, the very hole causing the disagreement between the two-sides. Not sure that’s entirely get-away-able in these days where comedy has to conform to political correctness, but it’s all about the image and the annoying social classes, not the intimation he’d been murdered. It IS a kids record though, and nursery rhymes and fairy stories are just as blunt in imagery!

 

 

WONDERFUL LAND – The Shadows (5 weeks)

The Shads were very famous, they supported Cliff on his records, on TV spots, in his movies, and had their own massive twanging Hank Marvin-based instrumental career to boot. It was impossible not to know who they were, they were always on TV with their years-long run of hits. The things was, though, because they had no lyrics there was no hook, for specific songs, to latch onto for me, apart from a couple of exceptions, Wonderful Land being the obvious exception.

Laden with sweeping strings, an uplifting melody, and some great riffing, it’s their biggest-selling and best track, still sounding great 50-odd years later, albeit in a period-charm fashion. I can’t link it to any time and place, I wouldn’t have known the title of the tune, but I was aware that I liked it when I heard it, and continued to like it whenever it popped up on oldies plays on the radio – until I eventually bought it on various 60’s compilation albums, by which time I appreciated just how good it was as I revisited my childhood faves, sounding dated and very-old-fashioned they might have been with the super-speed passing sophistication of recording methods and music evolving into the 70’s, but by the 80’s 60’s nostalgia was all the rage with music, pop culture generally, and with me.

 

 

COME OUTSIDE – Mike Sarne with Wendy Richard (8 weeks)

 

I was insanely mad on this track pre-school, and post-school. What’s not to love? It’s catchy, light-hearted, semi-novelty, but tuneful and one that kids could easily sing along to. It is absolutely relevant to and mirroring of society at that time, and what going out meant for the ordinary-teens, which is not too bad for a throwaway ditty not meant to be taken seriously. I was too young to know who Mike Sarne was, or who Wendy Richard was. I wasn’t aware of either of them until I got older and Wendy popped-up on TV’s innuendo-based Are You Being Served? sitcom, and the odd later Carry On movie. Of course she went on to huge success in soap Eastenders from the 80’s onwards. Sadly, of Mike Sarne, I don’t recall ever seeing him in anything, or on TV being interviewed about his big UK chart-topper. Not ever. Which is weird as he’s been a working actor, Producer, writer & Director ever since, including TV shows like The Avengers and The Bill, and films like Les Miserables (2012). Not to mention directing Raquel Welch’s infamous Myra Breckinridge. Who knew?!

 

 

RIGHT SAID FRED – Bernard Cribbins (8 weeks)

Bernard’s back with his most-famous hit, the song that is right now being used in a TV advert (2019) and inspired a chart-topping I’m Too Sexy 90’s hitmaking group to nick the name, Right Said Fred. Very much in the same vein as Hole In The Ground, but funnier, more-upbeat, and an amusing on-going rapid story with a catchy chorus-free tune. It’s still working-bloke based, this time about one of them who hasn’t a clue what he’s doing. Never stopped being charming this one, and is Bernard at his most likable, helped in a minor iconic fashion by a mini-video that was regularly shown on TV (I assume in between US programs when the they had a spare 2 minutes to fill during kids TV slots at lunchtime or late afternoon – there was NO daytime TV in those days!! Shock, horror!) which featured claymation animation.

Bernard kept going narrating The Wombles and appearing in sitcom Fawlty Towers in the 70‘s, and had many TV guest spots into the 90‘s, but had sort-of merged in the background until 2007, when he re-emerged with his Doctor Who 60’s credits intact and starred as Wilfred Mott, a recurring character for the Tenth Doctor, and was very good. Still charming, nostalgic affection booming, and a very effective performance going on for the key episode where he inadvertently causes a regeneration of The Doctor. That means 50 years of Doctor Who, 50 years of Daleks, and a boost for him in the public eye again right up to 2019, still doing audio Doctor Who recordings aged 90. Yay!

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Pop Music From a Kiddie POV – 1961 Part 2

HOLE IN THE BUCKET – Harry Belafonte & Odetta (5 weeks)

 

 

Now this is a real oddity to modern ears, a live recording of a pioneering social activist, singer & acting Calypso singer from the 50’s and early 60’s. Dad had a Harry Belafonte album of his biggest 50’s tunes, but not including the chart-topping Mary’s Boy Child Xmas classic which topped the chart when I was born, nor this one which I was obsessed with by as a very young boy and remained so through to, ooh, about my early teens when the novelty value started to wear off. It’s essentially a chanted/sung husband/wife argument over pending chores, with the husband using circular logic to avoid doing any work, and the wife more exasperated. There’s no instrumentation, it’s mildly amusing, and The Muppets later covered it. It’s not classic Belafonte though, that’s Mary’s Boy Child, or hits such as Island In The Sun or the other kiddie fave of mine The Banana Boat Song (Day-o) from 1957. As I wasn’t born then, though, that’s ineligible, or else we’d be getting into stuff like Happy Talk and He’s A Tramp as well!

 

BIG BAD JOHN – Jimmy Dean (7 weeks)

 

 

Mum & Dad loved this one as I was growing up, anything vaguely country,  a gruff male American singer of a story-song and it would go down very well in our house. The tale of modest hero Big John heroically sacrificing himself to save coal-mining disaster buddies struck a chord – dad, granddad and one day my younger brother would all work down a coal-mine, the major occupation in our coal-mining town – and of course he was called John, so how could I not also love it?! Jimmy Dean? The country star had loads of US singles and albums and TV shows, but I know only this track by him to this day. Sometimes one big hit is better than a string of stuff no-one recalls…..

 

DON’T BRING LULU – Dorothy Provine (1 week)

 

 

 

Dorothy Provine was an actress with a memorably quirky voice who was around quite a bit in the 60’s on US TV, notably at this time The Roaring Twenties, a period-set show from 35 years earlier – think something set in the 80’s now, plenty of those about – though the 20’s seemed positively historic in the 60’s to me. I don’t recall this show – my big memory was of 77 Sunset Strip and it’s theme tune which dated from the same time and also had a pop culture influence at the time with a spin-off hit record (Kookie Kookie Lend Me Your Comb). This very catchy song from 1925 was pure Roaring 20’s, and pretty well-played during the 60’s, and was one I recall hearing and loving sining along to. Dorothy Provine? I continued to be a fan, notably in the timeless It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, the slapstick masterpiece movie with an all-star cast of larger-than-life comics and character-actors – Dorothy was the lone voice of sanity who spots the “Big Double-ya (W)” where hidden stolen loot was supposedly buried as others go manic about her. The Great Race was another good period (comedy) movie she was in, with a fab cast, and kiddie fave Disney film That Darn Cat! (I was very big on that one at the time).

 

WALKIN’ BACK TO HAPPINESS – Helen Shapiro (5 weeks)

 

 

Schoolgirl with the mature voice, Helen Shapiro was another early pop star fave of mine, I loved her – and this was her catchy tune that stayed me with throughout the 60’s until I managed to record it off the radio in 1970 in Singapore and boosted it all over again. Very 1961 with those backing girlie vocals, but such a joyous song it retains period charm. Moving into blues in her later career, I still wish she’d record something contemporary, maybe referencing her early teenage career when she was on TV loads and barely 16 years old.

Pop Music From A Kiddie POV – 1961 Part 1

WOODEN HEART – Elvis Presley (11 weeks)

 

 

I can’t say I have any specific memories of this Elvis singalong from G.I. Blues – I was too young for the film, though I might have caught it on TV a few years later – but it was one that was pretty well known during the 60’s (unlike some of Elvis’ other chart-toppers) – and a regular of Two-Way Family Favourites the weekly show for forces families living abroad which aired on Radio Two in the UK, I think. Other than that – obviously one to appeal to kids, what with the puppet theme, a German-styled song to fit in with Elvis in Germany, and a catchy-singalong for all the family.

 

HALFWAY TO PARADISE – Billy Fury (9 weeks)

 

 

Billy Fury was my fave male popstar when I was pre-school – mum and dad have always fondly-recalled me pronouncing his name Billy Floory – but I oddly recall few of his songs from the time, though some of them are very good indeed (Wondrous Place, for example). This song is by far his most-famous, and best, a cover of the Tony Orlando US-hit version of the Carole King-Gerry Goffin song which is better than the original, all sweeping strings supporting his unusual vocal-style. Again, no specific place-memories to it, just know it was the song of his that everyone seemed to love most. Dad bought one of his singles in 1966, amongst a batch of oldies, but sadly it wasn’t this one, it was the more-50’s-rocker-styled Collette. When Billy died far too young in 1983, I was saddened that he was having a revival of sorts, obviously aware how ill he was and making the best of things to stay occupied.

 

JOHNNY REMEMBER ME – John Leyton (8 weeks)

 

 

This Joe Meek brainchild chart-topper was an example of a record elevating itself from brilliant production, a death disc that was literally haunting, in lyric, and not so literally in sound. John Leyton was a TV star lucked-into a short pop career. I had no idea who the singer was or what his name was, but I knew and loved the song, not least because it was called Johnny – and my name is John. Kids love songs with their name in, it gives a sense of ownership and importance! Joe Meek records were ground-breaking for the UK pop scene of the time, and still impress nearly 60 years later in this case. One of those songs I still love, cos it’s still fab, but have never overdosed on from over-familiarity – always have heard it semi-regularly but never over and over and over again, which can take decades to get over sometimes when a song you love burns out. (Shhh don’t mention Bo Rap!)

Pop Music From a Kiddie POV 1960 part 2

TIE ME KANGAROO DOWN SPORT – Rolf Harris (3 weeks)

 

Banished from the airwaves these days due to a court case a few years ago, Rolf was everyones fave Aussie/Artist/novelty-singer back in the 60’s, and beyond – and sure enough I loved his records, Jake The Peg, this one, and especially two more yet to come. I even once had a page from Reveille (a newspaper way back mum bought that regularly published song lyrics) with Rolf’s lyrics printed out, a handy singalong for a kiddie. This track set forth the Monty Python “Bruce” Aussie stereotype, I expect, but it tickled young kids throughout the 60’s on the variety shows it regularly turned up on, and was an actual chart hit, setting Rolf on the path to belovedness, falling out of favour, comeback at Glastonbury with a Led Zep cover of Stairway To Heaven didgeridoo-style, and then his shock-arrest. And yet people still moan about character perception changes in the fictional Game Of Thrones when it’s a daily event in real world! I’m not overly fond of Tie Me Kangaroo these days, but I’ll still stand by Rolf’s 2 gems, those tracks and Rolf in those days had committed no crimes.

 

 

ONLY THE LONELY (KNOW THE WAY I FEEL) – Roy Orbison (3 weeks)

 

Roy was one of mum and dad’s absolute fave singers growing up, they had his Greatest HIts album, so this song featured in my childhood – though NOT as early as 1960, my first contemporary Roy fave was still 4 years away, and his amazing power vocals and melodramatic ballads were not yet honed; Only The Lonely is fairly modest vocally, and he had yet to move onto the trademark sunglasses, bar the bit 2-minutes in which stretched him up the register a bit. Ask me which song I preferred at age 5 and Rolf would win, at 10 and Roy would win. That’s called growing up and maturing, by age 10 I still liked novelty records, but a great pop song was what I really got passionate about, novelty records got boring quite quickly in comparison.

 

 

IT’S NOW OR NEVER – Elvis Presley (4 weeks)

 

Almost 60 years on it’s hard to recall a time when Elvis wasn’t everywhere – even dying at 42 did nothing to stop the juggernaut of Presley fame and success. In our household, Elvis was mum’s fave singer bar none, and now 80 with advanced alzheimers unable to feed herself or talk coherently, she’ll still get up and bop to Elvis, happy as if she was 22 again as she was when this topped the charts. Elvis is for life. So, Elvis was inescapable in the 60’s, films at the pictures, records topping the charts, on jukeboxes, on the radio, on TV: and this was one of his iconic, most-famous tracks, the big dramatic monster ballad. I can’t recall ever not knowing it, but then all of his big hits were just universally known in the company we kept, the younger generation and quite a few older – though my grandparents generation were more likely to not approve of his records, they were very much aware of them! This, needless to say, isn’t the last Elvis track on the list….

 

 

GOODNESS GRACIOUS ME – Peter Sellers & Sophia Loren (14 weeks)

 

14 weeks on top for this, this was a real aching-love on my part for this movie oddity – Sellers was starring in The Millionairess with huge movie star Sophia, as an Indian doctor having a romance with a rich European woman – in those days nobody blinked twice that a white comic could pull that off, these days of course it would be disastrous. Sadly, that kinda means this track is now also politically-incorrect along with the film. Me, I just loved the boom-buddy-booms, the title talked by the brilliant Peter Sellers, and Sophia’s Italian accent. Charming and catchy, and a huge hit in the UK, unlike most novelty records I’ve never not-loved this whimsical one, and it remained fairly popular on radio for 20 years or so. Possibly because it was impeccably produced by The Beatles’ George Martin – you can’t have better credentials than that! – and also the Sellers association, a man who remained beloved by many as he moved from his Goons-days into huge movie stardom, not least the fab Pink Panther movies. It’s also not the last Peter Sellers/George Martin track to feature in the rundown.

 

 

My Number One’s of the 60’s – Part 4 1967

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Me in the back garden of RAF Valley married quarters, in between reading Enid Blyton books, watching The Monkees, Dr Who and Batman, singing along to pop songs with the weekly lyrics printed in Weekend magazine, or buying stamps for my new collection. Cool – is not I was.

 

1967

BERNADETTE – The Four Tops (1 week)

The first chart-topper for the great Four Tops isn’t Reach Out I’ll Be There, which peaked at 2 so far, it’s this Holland-Dozier-Holland soundalike follow-up. I’d been aware of the original but it never registered, whereas this was a follow-up to a 1971 chart-topper for the lads, in Motown re-issued form which re-charted in the UK. Levi Stubbs has one of the most passionate vocals in pop, and in this song he’s practically desperate with angst and histrionic emoting, beggin’ for Bernadette. My grandma gave me 50p when she visited us from Liverpool (RAF Swinderby, spring 1972) and I spent it on this oldie, my first ever back-catalogue purchase. I still prefer it to Reach Out, cos, to me, this is the definitive sound of Reach Out and that one is the facsimile follow-up. Hey ho, it’s still awesome. The Tops, by 1967, already had a string of great singles such as Baby I Need Your Loving and I Can’t Help Myself, and more was to come. My single though, didn’t last very long. It was on the front of the singles record rack and got melted by a too-close electric fire a few months later. Any needle trying to stay in the grooves failed miserably and quickly got thrown into the air. Heart-broken!

HI HO SILVER LINING – The Jeff Beck Group (1 week)

Another 1972 reissued 1967 chart-topper, and a party classic. Jeff spent years trying to live this track down, being a serious guitar-hero and rocker and all, but as far as happy stomping singalongs go this one is joyous. It’s not so much in vogue anymore, sadly, but it was once upon a time as obligatory as a YMCA, say, is these days. As far as Jeff Beck goes, it was to be 40 years before he got another decent-sized hit in my charts! (A lovely cover of Lilac Wine with Imelda May on vocals) though he’d also charted big with Donovan (Barabajagal) in 1969 and Rod Stewart (I’ve Been Drinking) in 1972. The co-songwriter Scott English popped up again in 1971 with his own hit, Brandy, and almost topped my chart. A bland cover version of it came along in 1975, Brandy changed to Mandy – yes Barry Manilow! I’ll stick with the original. Producer of Hi Ho, Mickie Most, had already achieved immortality with The Animals’ House Of The Rising Sun, and topped my charts with hits from Herman’s Hermits and Donovan with more to come…

I’M A BELIEVER – The Monkees (4 weeks)

Third chart-topper for the Monkees (though first in 1974, chronologically, as I bought hits compilations and got seriously back into them), this Neil Diamond song was a world chart-topper and deservedly. It’s pop perfection, headed by Micky’s under-rated vocals, he was a great singer. The session-musicians were still in force at this time, and they do a cracking job, beautifully polished, frantic and instrumentally hook-filled. Neil Diamond’s original was good and it announced his arrival as a great songwriter, but this version is the definitive, despite inetersting covers overt the years, from such as Robert Wyatt and EMF and Reeves & Mortimer, or it’s use in movies such as Shrek as a singalong cover version by Smashmouth. Producer Jeff Berry had more polished pop ahead, and I’m A Believer topped my charts again in 1980 for 3 weeks, to total 4 on top.

THE SINGLE GIRL – Sandy Posey (1 week)

This became a fave of mine in Singapore in 1970, when my dad bought a reel-to-reel tape recorder (and which I purloined within a year or so). It was second-hand and came with a used 4-track tape. This song was already on the tape, and it’s gentle tuneful charm hooked into my brain and has stayed there since. Not what you call a pop classic, really, but it’s still sounds pretty, and was good enough to re-chart in the UK in 1975, at which point I finally bought it and topped my chart with it. Sandy Posey never really followed it up sadly, even with two bites of chart-action. By 1975 women lyrically were being a bit more demanding, as opposed to appearing to be mistrusting wallflowers in waiting, so maybe that’s why, but it’s a great melody and Sandy does a good country-flavoured job.

PENNY LANE/STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER – The Beatles (4 weeks)

Famously the classic Beatles single held off the top of the UK charts by Engelbert Humperdinck, their first failure to top in 4 years, it would have been a guaranteed Number 1 in John charts in 1967, as we’d just moved from Liverpool, where the Fabs were iconic, to RAF Valley and I was mad on Penny Lane, and it’s glorious Macca melody. Paul’s commercial nostalgic ode to hometown Liverpool was matched by John’s more avante-grade and experimental Liverpudlian acid trip, Strawberry Fields. The difference in the media exposure of the 2 was marked in 1967 – I didn’t get to hear Strawberry Fields till later when I bought the Blue double album, as perfect an album as you’re likely to hear (xmas 1975, shortly followed by the 1976 Beatles reissued singles campaign, when this was topped my charts as it made the UK Top 40 again, and it topped again in 1987 for the same reason. The Beatles were officially no longer just pop stars, they were Artists with a capital A, and Sgt Pepper was about to drop…

HELLO GOODBYE – The Beatles (4 weeks)

The Beatles ended 1967 on top of the Uk charts, and also number 2 with Magical Mystery Tour, and I was mad on yet another Paul track, this catchy kickin’ pop melody showed old Paulie was knocking out the classics at a manic pace. By now the Beatles well into doing promos, or videos as they are known these days. The fab video to this one is taken from the odd TV special Magical Mystery Tour, with Sgt Pepper colourful Summer Of Love costumes on full display. What’s not to love?! Also a 1976 chart-topper, and 1987, for the singles re-issue campaigns, and again Hello Goodbye would have a few extra weeks on top in1967/68 but it just pre-dated my charts starting up, sadly.

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE – The Beatles (2 weeks)

The other Beatles world chart-topper was this hippie anthem. John spread the word in his music, and the word was love, and this singalong love and peace anthem was debuted on the first international live TV broadcast, with a cast of celebrity back-up singers. It was such a big tune, that it almost seemed to be a folk song from the past in just a few years, probably helped by the snatch of The Marseilleuse at the start. It’s a great record, a great philosophy, and as a 9-year-old I loved it, and still do. It also let John show that Paul wasn’t the only one who could knock-off a brilliant commercial melody when he felt like it. Topped in 1976 and 1987. This track IS the Summer Of Love track, the other biggies were merely great supporting players.

BEHIND A PAINTED SMILE – The Isley Brothers (1 week)

This 1967 Motown classic didn’t chart until 1969 in the UK, and it duly featured in my charts as it was great. By 1976, The Beatles weren’t The only ones doing a mass singles re-issue campaign – Motown were also doing box sets, but they went one better by making them Twofers. Two hits for the price of one, that is. This was on the other side of This Old Heart Of Mine, and I bought the single and realised just how epic this track is. One of the most histrionic, manic Motown gems, and perfect records they created. Passionate vocals from Ronald Isley, a brilliant drum section that never lets up, and the pace is way up the bpm’s. The song and lyric are the heart of it though, and what a heart-breaker it is. Spine-tinglingly awesome. The amazing thing is the Isleys went all credible soul in 1969, and had a long career with great records like That Lady, Harvest For The World, Summer Breeze and others, but none have yet topped the chart, even though they deserved to. Booo!

 

SOMETHING STUPID – Frank & Nancy Sinatra (1 week)

I bought this single off Gloucester indoor market’s record stall in 1974, but I’d loved it since I was a kid. Frank Sinatra was never a particular fave of mine, but Nancy was something else entirely since her Boots had walked all over me age 8. When this came out I was enjoying a rural childhood at RAF Valley on the Isle Of Anglesey, and it might be MOR, but it’s deliciously memorable with father and daughter singing sweetly together. It’s also very odd, given that the lyrics are very obviously romantic lyrics! It works though, and is much better than the Robbie Williams and Nicole Kidman version. It topped my oldies chart in early 1977 as part of the same EP that gave Nancy her first Number One for 1966. It’s still the best thing Frank Sinatra ever did, by the way. Sorry Frank fans, just never was a fan…

LOVE ON A MOUNTAIN TOP – Robert Knight (1 week)

This was already an oldie when it finally became a hit late in 1973, thanks to the Northern Soul scene based around Wigan and beyond. For a few weeks it was even cool with the lads at school, till they quickly got bored with it. I never did get bored with it, though, and the fab romping melody took this 1967 B Side all the way to the top when it formed part of a CBS twofer reissue campaign in 1977. Top of my oldies chart that is, as there were so many oldies released each week (many that I bought) I had to separate new from old or I would have needed to increase my chart to 75 – ironically just as the BBC did the following year (and me) anyway. Robert Knight was an under-rated sweet soul star for a (very) short time before obscurity beckoned.

EVERLASTING LOVE – Robert Knight (1 week)

Talking of Robert Knight…here’s the other-side of the single also topping my oldies chart 3 years on from it’s original 1974 chart-run (and reissued from it’s original UK 1968 chart entry). Much-covered, not least by the fabulous (and yet-to-chart) Love Affair UK Number One version from 1968, the song is just a great song, another one of those songs that can happily fit any any music-genre and still sound good. The Love Affair version, is essentially, though a copy-cat, better-produced version of this original, so it’s kind of unfair that Robert Knight has been forgotten by pop history, as this is a good record. I’m not convinced it’s the definitive version, mind you, but being first with something special counts for much in my book and he’s the one with the chart-topper.

DEDICATED TO THE ONE I LOVE – The Mamas & The Papas (2 weeks)

The fourth Number One for the band was a 50’s pop cover, but oh my word what a cover! The harmonies and melody on this is sublime. This was an actual “I was MAD on this record” moment when we lived at RAF Valley, age 9. The softly-sung verse girl lines followed by the boys loud answering lines, and the combined powerful male-female chorus lift this up, and pretty much started my love affair with Mama Cass and the band. It had that Summer Of Love feelgood vibe going on, and I rediscovered it again on tape in 1970, before buying it on a hits album in 1974, and the Number One re-issue in 1977 in my oldies charts that I ran for a year or so. I decided to include them them as “official” charts alongside the current 1977 charts, as there were 40 or 50 tracks competing as re-issues, so it was a proper chart as such, but mostly because I couldn’t bear the thought of this record not getting an official chart-topper. This was the final topper for The Mamas And The Papas but not the last for Mama Cass and not the last for John Phillips songs.

SAN FRANSISCO (BE SURE TO WEAR SOME FLOWERS IN YOUR HAIR) – Scott McKenzie (1 week)

Talking of John Phillips songs – here’s the one he gave away to his mate Scott. Bit of a massive misjudgment there! This is the Summer Of Love anthem above all anthems, pure 1967, flower power, hippie peace and love, a youth movement to set the world to rights. At least in theory. People had other ideas, of course, about that notion. Scott McKenzie is virtually a one-hit wonder thanks to this gorgeous pop ballad. Scott’s a great singer, but really you can tell this is a Mamas & Papas record, and it could easily have been Number One number 5 and boosted their back catalogue some more had they recorded it. Hey ho, it’s still a classic and topped my chart appropriately right after the creative brains behind it, in 1977. I’d already bought it by then, circa 1974 on a previous reissue. My mum loves this too, takes her back to that summer of love…on a welsh island! John Phillips, meanwhile, outside the band had one more great solo track in him, a 1970 minor hit called Mississippi, a bit of swamprock whimsy.

LET’S GO TO SAN FRANSISCO – The Flowerpot Men (1 week)

Talking of Summer Of Love pop anthems about San Fransisco…here’s the other one. OK, it’s bandwagon jumping-time, as The Flowerpot Men were studio musicians from the UK created and written by former fab harmony pop band members The Ivy League (John Carter and Ken Lewis) and S.F. was probably more of an aspiration than an actuality, but that’s an injustice to the record which is just as good in it’s own way. Great production, great tune, great harmonies, great singer – more on Tony Burrows at a later date – but there is an actual follow-up to this record, it just didn’t chart until 1974, and the band name had changed to First Class, and they were using nostalgia for 1967 and the sixties as the basis for an even better record. This also had a ten-year anniversary chart-topper run – yes in 1977, the year of punk, I was getting all retro and hippie. 19 was just about too old to be a punk, so student hippie was the way forward for me. Happy to buy both though. The name, by the way, had more to do with flower power and pot, than the children’s Watch With Mother TV show – though they both referred to weed……

My Number Ones Of The Sixties – Part 3 (1966)

img892RAF Changi Swimming Pool & Hospital 1969 Singapore

1966  

SWEET TALKING GUY – The Chiffons  (2 weeks)

This 60’s harmony-girl-group short-but-bitter-sweet catchy record eventually peaked at 4 in the UK in 1972, but went all the way in my charts, ironically as the lyrics warn young girls not to go all the way with those lying sweet talking guys just trying to…well you know what! A girlie teen anthem at the time, these days it’s much less well known than their other hits, the fabulous Goffin/King “One Fine Day” or the George-Harrison-tune-a-like (copyright infringing My Sweet Lord) He’s So Fine. That’s a shame as it got a fabulous harmony melody going on, but it’s appeal doesn’t have appeared so far to have passed on down the years.

I’M GONNA RUN AWAY FROM YOU – Tami Lynn (2 weeks)

A Northern Soul classic from 1971, that peaked at 4 in the UK charts (and re-issued again in 1975 when it peaked at 1 in my charts), it actually pre-dated that in the States. The northern soul circuit was big in the UK in the 70’s, based around discovering great obscure American soul records of the 60’s and finding them a new audience, especially in the centre of the scene (Wigan. No, honestly. Wigan!). Tami was a one-hit wonder, but it’s a really good singalong popsoul chugger, great tune!

GOOD VIBRATIONS – The Beach Boys (1 week)

The greatest American pop band of the 60’s, the 3 Wilson Brothers (Brian, Carl and Dennis), cousin Mike Love and Al Jardine, were a surfer-harmony-group sensation that evolved far beyond their early surfer hits into mid-period pop classics like California Girls, Help Me Rhonda, Little Saint Nick, and Barbara Ann. Creative genius Brian was really taking the competition (Phil Spector and Lennon-McCartney) seriously and trying to outdo them in the period since the Beach Boys first John-chart-topper in 1964 (Don’t Worry Baby). He managed it with this complex, amazing production (co-written with Mike Love, let’s not forget though) and song, an all-time rock classic that hit the top in the UK and the USA in late 1966. It sounded like nothing before, and the harmonies might be doo-wop-based, but were far more like a symphony than a 3 minute-pop-single! It topped my chart as reissued UK hit single to promote the chart-topping hits collection in 1976, and, well, it’s gone on to be timeless. Awesome is an appropriate word for it.

ELEANOR RIGBY – The Beatles (4 weeks)

Talking of awesome. This is not so much a Beatles record as a Paul McCartney/George Martin production/arrangement, a string section replacing rock guitars and drums, and it’s just gorgeous and sad. The lyrics are all about loneliness, death and other cheerful stuff, but it’s powerful bitter-sweet stuff, and along with Good Vibrations hit the top spot round the world in late 1966 to signpost the rapid movement of pop music into Art with a capital “A”. I was 8, I loved both sides of this double-A-side single, because 8 is a great age to love Yellow Submarine and it’s brass band noisy catchiness. By 1976 and the Beatles singles re-issue campaign, Eleanor Rigby was the track I adored. As re-issued classics proliferated and threatened to swamp my music charts to the detriment of current hits I was forced to set up an oldies chart for a year till the trend for re-issues died down, both in late 1974 and 1976/1977. Nowadays I just limit numbers of oldies in the chart. In any case this would still have hit number one in any combined chart….

GOT TO GET YOU INTO MY LIFE – The Beatles (2 weeks)

A single hit in the States in 1976, but sadly never released in the UK, this Revolver album track was used to promote the “Rock and Roll” album. That was enough for me: got to get you into my charts! Catchy, Motown-y, brassy, it’s not so surprising that Earth Wind & Fire had a UK hit version. Like Eleanor Rigby, a contributing factor towards Revolver being my favourite Beatles album, and arguably their best. With stuff like Here There & Everywhere (a country hit for Emmylou Harris), I’m Only Sleeping (90’s pop hit for Suggs), Good Day Sunshine, Taxman, And Your Bird Can Sing, and the brilliant innovative Tomorrow Never Knows, that’s a convincing argument. Any of them would have been a hit single, and many of them were – for other contemporary covers acts! Fab Fabs.

THIS OLD HEART OF MINE (IS WEAK FOR YOU) – The Isley Brothers (1 week) 

By 1966 the three brothers Isley already had a claim to rock n roll immortality, writing and recording million-seller Shout!, these days known to British ears as Lulu’s iconic UK debut hit cover, and having the first hit version of Twist And Shout, as covered definitively by the Beatles. As they were both chart-toppers as covers, then, it’s only fair the Isley’s should have their own – and it’s even better! This (Tamla) Motown classic was a US 1966 hit, and a big UK 1968 hit, the year I started my charting days (when it didn’t quite get to the top). Re-issued in 1976, it had by then became a nostalgic classic Motown frantic dance fave of mine and I bought and charted it. It’s a great Holland-Dozier-Holland song (having survived two differing hit versions by Rod Stewart, one including Ronald Isley himself), the pace never lets up and Ronald’s impassioned vocals are amazing. Their Motown days were short-lived (more to come..) but that didn’t really matter as their then-10-year career was just getting started!

THESE BOOTS ARE MADE FOR WALKIN’ – Nancy Sinatra (2 weeks)

One of the tracks on an EP re-issue from 1977 that almost made the UK charts, this 1966 worldwide chart-topper is Nancy Sinatra’s ongoing claim to fame. I loved it as a kid and as a teenager, and onwards, it’s quirky, catchy and has attitude, and signalled the start of an awesome duet partnership with songwriter/singer/producer Lee Hazelwood. Lee also guided her solo career, and chipped in to her dad’s recording career (that’ll be iconic crooner Frank, and I may well be alone in much preferring Nancy’s body of work – but I do!). As a solo act Nancy was fabulous, sweet-voiced, attractive and pure 60’s pop dollybird styled. So much so that her career struggled to continue beyond the decade, but as far as I’m concerned this much-covered song was not her only solo chart-topper….

CALIFORNIA DREAMIN’ – The Mamas & The Papas (17 weeks)

By 1977, when it grabbed two weeks at the top, the Mamas & papas had become firm classic 60’s faves of mine via a couple of budget albums I bought in 1974 which collectively made a decent Greatest Hits collection. I particularly loved Mama Cass, and the harmonies and the songs: as time passed, especially the great John Phillips songs! By 1997 this record was an acknowledged classic, so much so that it finally went UK top 10 31 years late (a big American hit, but only a minor UK hit in 1966). On the back of that it (and two other tracks on the CD) had a whopping 15 week-run at the top over the summer. The imagery is wonderful (all the leaves are brown and the sky is grey, to set up the premise) and it fitted perfectly in with the hippie-sunshine mood of the times, and Cass Elliot in the vocal mix gave it that extra oomph for the counterpoint male-female group harmonies. That’s not to take away from the lead male vocals either, which are passionate and aggressive. Sheer brilliance.

LAST TRAIN TO CLARKSVILLE – The Monkees (3 weeks)

I loved The Monkees at age 9. I loved the funny TV show, I collected the bubblegum cards, I loved the hit singles, I loved the songs they had on the show, and I loved all four actor/singers/musicians (delete as appropriate). They weren’t supposed to be credible pop stars, but they became just that, two of them writing hit songs for a start. Mike Nesmith was already a musician songwriter, Peter Tork jobbing musician, Micky Dolenz and Davy Jones, the two former-child actors had the great pop singing voices and acting skills. Add in the best pop songwriters of the time, great production and it’s not so surprising that the manufactured pop group had arrived with a bang. 45 years on and the records still sound fresh and exciting. Clarksville was a Boyce & Hart song that became irresistible with Mickey on lead, some great guitar hooks (albeit session) and a manic tempo and frenzied finale. A new Fab Four for my generation, and the perfect original boyband. This would have obviously hit my top spot in 1967, but had to wait for one of the periodic chart re-issues, this one 1980 as part of an EP.

YOU KEEP ME HANGIN’ ON – The Supremes (3 weeks)

The Supremes 8th US number one, and my 4th (as a late 80’s re-issue, and then again in the 00’s), this Holland-Dozier-Holland need-to-break-up masterpiece was also a decent worldwide cover hit for Kim Wilde in the 80’s, but this remains the best version. Chock-a-block with angst and emotion, beautifully constructed and very danceable too into the bargain, both The Supremes and HDH were really on a creative roll by this time. In between their last topper, a run of good singles had popped up (including I Hear A Symphony, My World Is Empty Without You, and the much-covered You Can’t Hurry Love – hello Phil Collins) all of them well-known to me from a Greatest Hits album that our next door neighbours loaned us in Singapore 1970. So good, I recorded most of the tracks onto my dad’s newly-purchased reel-to-reel tape recorder. The sound quality might not have been great, and mono, but it meant that my pocket money started to go towards tapes so I could get copies of all my MANY favourite records to play over and over and over…
They said home-taping is killing music. It didn’t of course, 12-year-olds don’t have disposable income, and they weren’t lost sales at all, they were DELAYED sales: I ended up buying everything I ever taped and wanted good copies of. Record companies should note in these days of downloading (illegal and legal) that singles sales are the highest they have ever been now that we aren’t forced to buy an album for one track.

THE SUN AIN’T GONNA SHINE ANYMORE – The Walker Brothers (5 weeks)

What can I say about this record…? It. Is. Awesome!! A Four Seasons song (so already quality) covered by the three-unrelated-Walkers’ for a second number one. Always bigger in the UK than their home-USA, it has to be said it’s Scott Walker’s vocals and the dramatic, epic-string arrangement that convert this into timeless greatness. If I’m feeling low I put this on and, well, cry bucketloads in a sort of cathartic way. I liked it in the 60’s, loved it in the 70’s and 80’s, adored it in the 90’s, and worshipped it in the 00’s, it just improves with age. Topped my chart in the early 90’s and early 00’s, and pretty much the last great Walker Brothers record (bar No Regrets in 1976), their short career left an impact though, not least from a certain Scott…

MONDAY MONDAY – The Mamas & The Papas (15 weeks)

The 15 week run flatters this great pop record somewhat – it was combined with California Dreamin’ and Dream A Little Dream for the chart run in 1997 – but it would have grabbed a week or two at the top anyway. The hit follow-up to California Dreamin’ had the same great harmonies, song and male/female vocals set up in their debut classic. Not as well known these days, in the 60’s in the UK this was the bigger hit, and it still sounds great. John Phillips was such a good songwriter he rather oddly gave away the all-time Summer Of Love flower-power anthem to Scott Walker: more on that later, and more on the other singles from The Mamas & The Papas that did and didn’t top my charts. Mostly did…

GOD ONLY KNOWS – The Beach Boys (4 weeks)

The Beach Boys finest, most sublime, most sophisticated, most touching and just plain old mostest record. Third chart-topper, it’s criminal it failed to do that in the real world, as it has consistently been rated in the various “Greatest Record Of All-Time” polls since. Carl Wilson’s gorgeous vocals, Brian Wilson’s gorgeous melody, and the gorgeous arrangement are all underpinned by the lyrics and the sentiment which resounds strongly nearly 50 years later: this was my niece’s “first dance” moment after her wedding 2 years ago. It’s an utterly timeless classic, and no-one has ever successfully covered it, not because the song can’t take cover versions, more because it’s difficult to sing and sing convincingly. Did I mention it’s perfect? If it fails to move the listener (and I say this in a non-judgmental “we all like different music, each to his own” frame of mind) said-listener must have a heart of pure concrete. So there, yah boo sucks smile.gif

SUNNY AFTERNOON – The Kinks (2 Weeks)

A complete change of direction from previous hits, this Ray Davies song is wistful (in a slight breezy blues fashion), sunshine-brimming, and poetic lyrics painting1966 British life (albeit some political tax comments). It’s one I liked as an 8-year-old but grew to love as I got older, largely thanks to the melody and the vocal performance, very quirkily British, and loveable. The previous single Dedicated Follower Of fashion was one I probably liked more at the time, but it hasn’t aged quite as well as this, their second Number One which peaked in the early 21st Century in my charts – but not the last time they would top though…

SLOOP JOHN B – The Beach Boys (1 week)

A traditional sailing chanty rather than a contemporary new classic. Ish. It still sounds like a Brian Wilson song, and a track off the all-time classic Pet Sounds album. While it’s not quite up to the awesomeness of some of the other tracks it almost hit the top of the UK charts – and topped mine in the 2000’s. It has what you might expect, in harmony, production and vocal, for the great band pumping at their peak, and a fourth Number One. In a way, though, it’s the end of their hot creative period…

EBB TIBE – The Righteous Brothers (1 week)

The third and final of their classic Phil Spector-produced chart-toppers, saw an early-50’s standard covered yet again in the definitive version. Even the over-rated Sinatra was over-shadowed by this moody, powerful vocal production, complete with harbour sounds. It took 30 years to top my chart, but I didn’t really hear it until the 90’s on American oldies radio, and it still sounded great to me. Bobby Hatfield sadly died a few years back, but Bill Medley is still touring and keeping the flag flying, as much for his post-Righteous hits like I’ve Had The Time Of My Life from 1987 as for the 60’s hits.

I SAW HER AGAIN – The Mamas & The Papas (1 week)

3rd Chart-topper, this time with a John Phillips/Denny Doherty co-write (they hardly ever wrote together) following the Fleetwood Mac-type fling Denny had with Michelle Phillips, wife of John and the only surviving member of the band. She left the band for a while and they wrote this typically-layered-harmony polished pop gem which charted in the UK and US. It’s not as well known as some of their other classics, but it’s a great pop song anyway, urgent, a bit manic and the melody is just delicious. Along with The Beatles and Beach Boys and Spector, the band was advancing pop into a sophisticated production/art.

PAINT IT, BLACK – The Rolling Stones (1 week)

The second Stones Number One in My-chart world, in the interim they’d had 19th Nervous Breakdown, a great rock track, and shown they were developing well as songwriters with Marianne Faithful’s angelic version of As Tears Go By. This one, though, may well be their best moment, moody, ominous and beautifully-produced, the eastern-flavoured instrumentation hints they had been more than a little impressed by the Beatles albums in 1966. Keeping up with Joneses and doing it with style. Being used in movies since has helped it rechart on several occasions, quite probably becoming their most popular classic track in recent years (it was clearly Satisfaction in the 70’s and 80’s), quite deservedly though.

ELUSIVE BUTTERFLY – Val Doonican (1 week)

The affable laid-back Val was a TV staple back in the 60’s with his Irish charm and likeable singing voice. More of a throwback to Perry Como than contemporary pop, he was nonetheless popular with young kids for his Irish comedy novelty songs and older music fans for his ballads. From early favourites like Walk Tall through to 1971’s Morning, Val popped up in the charts regularly, but this was far and away his best record. A cover of Bob Lind’s American hit, a great record in it’s own right but one which has yet to chart in mine (I’m looking for a reason!), Val’s was the more famous UK version at the time and his tones suited this gorgeous melody and lovely strings arrangement perfectly. A childhood fave that still sounds great, this charted on the back of a Greatest Hits package a few years ago.

RIVER DEEP MOUNTAIN HIGH – Ike & Tina Turner (1 week)

The record that famously caused Phil Spector to retire from record production in a strop, as American radio stations incredibly failed to play it, reducing it to minor hit status. A massive UK hit though, and a bona-fide rock classic, ambitious, epic and passionate singing from Tina. The pedigree all-round is impeccable, from songwriters Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry, the Spector wall-of-sound and Ike & Tina’s r’n’b background. It catapulted them to world fame, an eventual movie based on Tina’s autobiography and a long solo career. Not their last number one in my chart, either, and this also charted following a hits compilation that made the UK chart, having initially failed to top my chart in 1969 when it was re-issued and a hit all over again. It improves with age!

TOMORROW NEVER KNOWS – The Beatles (1 week)

Never a single, this closing album track on Revolver was used on the BBC’s classic radio series 25 Years Of Rock as the signal for the changing of the times as 1966 drew to a close and opened up mind-expanding hippie music into popular culture. It’s high time it was a hit single, it’s ahead of the game on so many levels, the insistent eastern-flavoured repetitive rhythm, borrowed to great effect in the 90’s by The Chemical Brothers Setting Sun dance track, and many modern dance tracks use the same sort of repetition. The John Lennon track used tape loops and experimental-production techniques to get the new sounds, and helped open up pop to new rules: that there are no rules! Classic! Charted on the back of the remixed recharted Revolver album package.

PAPERBACK WRITER/RAIN – The Beatles (2 weeks)

Paperback Writer was probably the forgotten Beatles single until it got used as the theme tune to Read All About It, a TV review programme of the early 70’s, after which it became the 2nd-highest charting of the re-issued Beatles singles in 1976. An incessant riff-based and harmonies, and two minutes of romping Macca delight, but the B side Rain was just as good, a hippie-trippie rock anthem that really should have featured on Revolver, not tucked away on a B Side. Just goes to show that The Beatles B Sides were better than most bands A sides. We’re well into double figures now for Beatles toppers, and these two tracks finally topped in the 21st century.
BUS STOP – The Hollies (3 weeks)

This is a great song, probably The Hollies best single. Written by teenage songwriter Graham Gouldman (later of 10CC) it has great “meeting at the bus stop and turning into love” lyric and a wonderful tune, mature stuff for a pop single. Graham went on to write other fab 60’s hits for other acts, not to mention his co-written classics in 10CC (still touring), and The Hollies got a welcome boost to their already substantial back catalogue – with another 8 years to go! We forget these days how consistent they were. This was, however, the last to top my charts while Graham Nash was still highly visible on harmonies with Allan Clarke, three years on and he’d moved on to Crosby Stills & Nash, and delights like Marrakesh Express, among many.

 

(I’M NOT YOUR) STEPPIN’ STONE – The Monkees (1 week)

Not a Monkees original, but this B Side to I’m A Believer was pure 60’s garage rock, and a punk influence. The Sex Pistols had a cartoon version hit with it, but the Monkees version is the one that spits venom. Not so much catchy pop, as credible powerful rock, Micky’s vocals bark out passion and vitriol, so not so surprising it wasn’t a single (being as the singles were aimed at kids) but it also shows just how good the B Sides and album tracks of a supposed manufactured band really were. How you get there don’t matter, it’s what’s in the grooves that counts, and the grooves are pure gold.

My Number Ones: The Sixties Part 2 (1965)

1965 

Continuing my chronological list of pre-chart Number Ones (for the years they originally were released or hits, not the years they actually peaked after the event). At last a certain band start to appear regularly, better late than never…

YESTERDAY – The Beatles (1 week)

The first Beatles oldie to hit Number One was appropriately this, the most recorded song of the twentieth century. Paul McCartney’s deceptively simple wistful ode to lost love struck a chord with everyone. Everyone except the record company, who didn’t release it as a UK single until 1976. It’s unthinkable these days that a standard, and famous song, wouldn’t be allowed to chart in it’s own right, but the Fabs were so prolific and creative by 1965 that they could give away songs to other acts, stick out at least one album a year, and have hit singles not on the albums. Like many Beatles album tracks, others had the hit versions, but none of the millions of covers of Yesterday have bettered this. It came to Macca in a dream. We should all have dreams like that….!

WE CAN WORK IT OUT/ DAY TRIPPER – The Beatles (1 week)

A twentieth anniversary re-issue took this to the top of my chart, the oldest actual original Beatles single to do it (and their 4th to this point). Yes, Hard Days Night and Help have yet to do it, even though I went to the cinema when the films were new and have great childhood memories: I Feel Fine hasn’t either, even though I loved that record in 1976 when I bought it as an oldie, and nor has Ticket To Ride, a wonderful single complete with all that romping in the snow in the movie Help. Happily, this double A side has: two great tracks for the price of one, the optimistic and melodic Paul We Can Work It Out given an edge by John’s “life can be very short” interjections, and the rockier naughty Day Tripper. It’s about “big” teasers because they couldn’t use the real word on a pop single then. Nowadays it’s obligatory on rap breaks in pop songs.

IT’S NOT UNUSUAL – Tom Jones (1 week)

The song that launched a 50-year career. Tom has drifted in an out of fashion over the decades, and changed styles as is called for to get back in the game: he remains a bit of a singing legend with that manly belter of a voice and a great back catalogue and the old Welsh down-to-earth charm. I can barely recall a time when there wasn’t a Tom Jones releasing records, so much a part of the music scene that he’s been referenced in song himself (The Ballad Of Tom Jones). This catchy song remains his signature theme, and hit the charts all over again in 1987, when it peaked in my charts. Since then, well it’s been in The Simpsons, Friends, Mars Attacks and Edward Scissorhands. Can’t be bad then…! As always, had I been charting back in the day my childhood faves (etc), What’s New Pussycat and Green Green Grass Of Home would be listed as toppers for 1965 and 1966 too…

STOP! IN THE NAME OF LOVE – The Supremes (1 week)

Third Number One from The Supremes, thanks to a reissued and charting 1989 single in the UK. Holland-Dozier-Holland were getting increasingly sophisticated in their songs and production as they went along, and most of the best were American Number Ones, well on their way to a dozen in total cementing their position as the biggest girl group of all-time. Later acts may have sold more albums, or had more hits, but none had the extended run of huge singles (and albums) to that extent, from 1964 through to 1972, and beyond with Diana Ross. This is a great pop single,  constructed beautifully, and the melody and lyrics work well together on that perennial theme: heartbreak. What’s not to love!

UNCHAINED MELODY – The Righteous Brothers (1 week)

One of the most famous songs of the last 70 years, a chart-topper in many decades for many acts, but this remains the definitive version by far. Phil Spector was trying to produce male singers at this time and settled on the great vocal talents of Bobby Hatfield (tenor) and Bill Medley (bass) as the showcase. Out of step from his main productions of the time, this was almost a throwback to the 50’s and really a solo Bobby Hatfield record rather than a duo. Regardless, he gives a fabulous performance and was eventually rewarded with a trans-Atlantic chart-topping mega-hit – in 1990! Thanks to “Ghost” and it’s potters wheel scene, of course. I suggest ignoring all of the other million-selling versions and stick with this one, they just sound wishy-washy in comparison. Sorry!

YOU’VE LOST THAT LOVING FEELING – The Righteous Brothers (3 weeks)

Talking of Phil Spector and The Righteous Brothers, and Ghost… The 1990 hit of Unchained Melody led to this being re-issued as a follow-up in 1990, and a hit all over again. Not that it hadn’t already been a hit re-issue, it charted in my charts first in 1969, and 1975, and 1988, and then for the fourth decade in a row in 1990, where it peaked and stayed in my charts for several years. I can’t speak highly enough of the perfection of this single, Phil Spector’s perfect moment, with the greatest vocal duo performance of all-time, bar none. It is sublime, the way it builds, Bill Medley’s building low-tones dominating the song until the absolutely epic grand finale, when Bobby Hatfield chimes in screaming at the top of his range to take it to another level. Probably the most purely angst-ridden emotional record ever made, kudos to regular 60’s Brill Building songwriting team Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, and Spector, of course, despite his attempts in recent years to blacken his legacy. For my part, I liked the record as a child of the 60’s, grew up with it in the 70’s liking it more, realising in the 80’s that it really was a great record, and by the 90’s it was becoming obvious it was one of the greatest records of all-time. I maintain that opinion, and call as first witness it’s status as the most-played record of all-time on American radio (over 8 million plays). Secondly, I nominate it’s perennial appearance in “Best 100” lists over the last 45 years. Case proven m’lud?

MY GIRL – The Temptations (1 week)

90’s movies made quite a few classic oldies big hits, such as the 1991 movie of the same name that took this to number 2 in the UK in 1992, and 1 in my charts (catching up with the USA where it topped in 1965). Smokey Robinson wrote it,  David Ruffin sang lead – my favourite Temptations singer, but they were all great – and this charming soul ballad kicked off a long career of soul, dance and funk hit singles for the band, that included greats like Just My Imagination, Papa Was A Rolling Stone, Ball Of Confusion, Can’t Get Next To You, Get Ready and even Supremes duets like I’m Gonna Make You Love Me. Band members went solo (Eddie Kendrick’s Keep On Trucking, David Ruffin’s fab Walk Away From Love) but the hits and quality kept on coming, with sporadic hits over the decades, even though four of the original five have now passed away. Their classic period was written/produced by Norman Whitfield at Motown, I saw them live in the 80’s, and rate them highly – but this is their only chart-topper. Boo!

I GOT YOU BABE – Sonny And Cher (1 week)

Everyone knows this one. They just do. It’s been in movies (most memorably Groundhog Day, which helped push this chartbound in 1993, when it belatedly hit number one in my charts, 28 years later than it would have been guaranteed to top – I loved this as a child). It’s been covered by UB40 and Chrissie Hynde, Cher has become a timeless diva icon of many a classic pop hit, but this remains the most universal megahit. Sonny Bono wrote it, while a hit songwriter, and had a go with his young wife as a duo. Cher’s deep tones, and Sonny’s growling made an effective combination, but back-peddling to the time, they were really the first beatnick/hippy dressers to hit the big-time, and the married-couple image helped make it family-friendly. In the same way that older generations complain about young-people’s habit of tripping themselves up with trousers hanging below the behind, they in turn were complained about for hanging long hair and outlandishly colourful clothes. Short hair and drab was the norm. Sonny & Cher brightened it all up and kicked off a long career as solo stars, and for a few years as duo. Sadly their other 60’s hits are largely forgotten – The Beat Goes On, Alfie, All I Really Want To Do, Laugh At Me, and best of all the wonderful Little Man, which has a great toon and percussion, and needs rediscovering…

EIGHT DAYS A WEEK – The Beatles (1 week)

The first Beatles song to top my chart in the new century (2000), and strictly-speaking is a 1964 album track off Beatles For Sale, but it topped the US charts in 1965, so here it is, the Fabs 5th chart-topper. It’s a fairly good Beatles track of the time, not quite up to the standard of the actual singles from 1964 or 1965, but it’s a fun singalong track that keeps things ticking over until the jump in quality of album tracks coming up in 1965 (that’ll be Help! then…). Why did it chart in 2000? It was the only uncharted track on the Beatles album “1” so it qualified to make my charts. “1”, is of course, the world’s biggest-selling album of the 21st Century. Yes, that’s right. Not Adele. The biggest-selling album is by the greatest act of the 20th century, and who hadn’t existed for 30 years by then…

ALMOST THERE – Andy Williams (1 week)

This is not his most famous hit, but it’s the engaging crooner’s best one. Andy Williams started having hits in the 50’s and by the 60’s was a variety TV staple, his show introduced The Osmonds to the world, and the Cookie Bear to the delight of kids like me. Always likeable and entertaining, Andy also had one of the great crooner voices, almost effortless in effect, but subtle in appeal. Andy was always popular in the UK, though his tracks prior to this one tended to be bigger US hits, from hereon they were much bigger in the UK. Can’t Get Used To Losing You was his first great record, and Moon River his most famous, but Almost There has a gorgeous melody. Sentimental and beautifully constructed, and hit my top spot in 2001.

(I CAN’T GET NO) SATISFACTION – The Rolling Stones (1 week)

The great Beatles vs Stones rivalry is comprehensively weighted in favour of the fabs in my eyes, but Mick n Keef had their great moments too. I liked the early hits, but this was the first thing they did that I loved. That riff. That swagger. That frustration. That toon. It’s a rock classic of course, and signalled the serious start of Jagger/Richards as a songwriting rock force. Bubblerock (aka Jonathan King) did a whimsical version that if nothing else showed the song worked outside of a rock setting, but no version will ever be superior to this recording, it has attitude even today. A number one hit everywhere in 1965, it had to wait until 2001 in my charts, but it got there in the end!

I’M ALIVE – The Hollies (1 week)

The Hollies were very popular in the UK in the 60’s, but are largely unknown to generations not around then, which is a shame as they had a great run of pop singles for 10 years. Lead singers Alan Clarke and Graham Nash (later of Crosby Stills and…) led the Hollies harmonies specialty, and they had a knack for getting hold of good songs. Not writing their own hits for the most part, I suppose, was the main drawback, but they still sound good to me. This was their first really good chart-topper, not an all-time pop classic maybe, but decent enough catchy harmony guitar pop, and nothing wrong with that. Hit my top spot in 2002.

HOMEWARD BOUND – Simon & Garfunkel (2 weeks)

The most popular of American folk-rock acts as the 60’s passed into 1970, it’s not hard to see why: Paul Simon songs, and his harmonies with angelically-voiced Art Garfunkel. They managed to be a source of songs for others, have hit singles yet be essentially an album act, not to mention write the soundtrack to a blockbuster movie, The Graduate. Early great songs like The Sounds Of Silence, America, Mrs Robinson and Hazy Shade Of Winter typified poetic intelligent lyrics mixed with great melody and harmony in a folk-rock setting. Their Greatest Hits collections have charted constantly over 40 years, and that gave the excuse for this gem to peak in 2002. Written of all places on a grim British railway station platform, it’s melancholic sweet sense of longing is beautifully touching.

MAKE IT EASY ON YOURSELF – The Walker Brothers (3 weeks)

Burt Bacharach/Hal David and three non-related American singers who were much bigger in the UK with this and subsequent records. Yes, this is yet another of those Dionne Warwick songs that someone else had the big hit with. Poor Dionne. To be fair, both versions are great, but Scott Walker’s manly vocals give it another dimension. That voice. That string section. That melody. Those heartbreaking break-up lyrics. It’’s just wonderful all round really! This was part of a double-A-sided topper in 2003 – and the other side was even better!

SOME OF YOUR LOVIN’ – Dusty Springfield (3 weeks)

Dusty really set the bar high with this cover of a Carole King ballad. The greatest 60‘s female melody-maker sung by the greatest British female singer. Dusty had started the ball rolling with great album tracks and singles such as Wishin’ And Hoping in the period since her previous Number One, and was very much a staple of British TV by this time, albeit making the hits in the States too. Her gift was interpretation of songs, she had a passion for music that came out in the way she painstakingly constructed the vocals, and her voice is to me unbeatable: soulful, honey-covered and emotional. This gentle, passionate version of the song is the definitive and it’s one to bring tears to the eyes it’s such a perfect and affecting recording. Really!

YOU’VE GOT TO HIDE YOUR LOVE AWAY – The Beatles (2 weeks)

Never an official single, this “Help!” movie and album track is the Fabs 6th chart-topper in age-terms (but like the next two were 21st Century Number Ones in my charts). It’s a great John Lennon angst-ballad, all confused emotions, and has been said to be a reference to the gay private life of manager-friend Brian Epstein at a time when it wasn’t socially acceptable. Whatever, it’s an example of John’s tender ballad side (Paul is usually accused of creating those, and not given credit for the edgier tracks which John is expected to have been behind). As for me, I saw “Help!” at the cinema when I was 7 going on 8, and I loved it, and I loved the songs in it – such as this one and its great melody and sad sentiment. In 1976 I was re-acquainted with many earlier classic Beatles singles and album tracks when I got the Beatles 1962-66 Red album for Christmas. Just. Brilliant.

I NEED YOU – The Beatles (1 week)

If there was ever both a simultaneously lucky and unlucky songwriter/pop star it’s George Harrison. On the one hand he had the good fortune to learn the craft of songwriting by watching and working with two now-legends in Paul McCartney and John Lennon – and on the other hand, how could anyone compete with them, 2 together in one band?! The chances that a 3rd great songwriter would emerge from the same band must be fairly small….! It happened, though. This is the first indication that George had an ear for a tune, and again from “Help!”. Obviously not rated as one of the great Beatles tracks, but it’s engaging and catchy and I like it!

NORWEGIAN WOOD (THIS BIRD HAS FLOWN) – The Beatles (1 week)

In these music industry days where albums are milked for tracks over a period of years, it’s unthinkable that someone could be so prolific that Singles (and B sides) weren’t necessarily on albums, and that tracks so obviously potential singles were left on albums. It’s even more unthinkable that they would release not one album a year but two (AND do a movie!). “Rubber Soul” is a classic album and it was released bare months after “Help!” and yet it showed a massive leap in sophistication of song, sound and quality. New instruments were being used in pop music by the group, and pop grew along with the Beatles. The times they were-a-changing. This is a marvellous ballad, one of many on the album, such as the UK chart-topper (In an inferior cover version which I nonetheless loved in 1965) Michelle, or gorgeous Girl, the engaging You Won’t See Me, and the sombre In My Life. The Beatles as a creative as well as a commercial phenomenon were well under way…