Beat ’66 Show #2 – The Blurb

These Sleeve Notes refer to the second Beat Sixty-Six podcast which you can download by clicking Beat ’66 Show #2

A new show will go up every Thursday throughout 2016, with the sleeve notes following by the Saturday.

You can follow Beat City on Twitter here:

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NANCY SINATRA “These Boots Are Made For Walking”

This track entered the US Top 100 early in January 1966 and would become one of the biggest records of the year, and one of the most lasting, from Nancy Sinatra

Still sounds so fresh, so sassy and so damn sexy after all this time.

Nancy Sinatra’s breakthrough and biggest hit These Boots Are Made For Walking.

If you’re on Twitter she’s well worth following, very human and very smart,follows everyone back (unless you’re a total knob) and is one of the nicest, least pretentious celebs on there.

Follow Nancy Sinatra on Twitter

THE STRANGELOVES “Night Time”

Second highest chart placing in the US for the Strangeloves

Next The Strangeloves who consisted of producers Bob Feldma,Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gottehrer but were promoted as being three Australian sheep-farming brothers named Giles, Miles and Niles Strange.

Their biggest hit was “I Want Candy” which has been much covered over the years but this one, Night Time, is just as good and has also been covered notably by George Thorogood & The Destroyers and, in quite an authentic garagey manner, Bauhaus.

MARTHA REEVES & THE VANDELLAS “My Baby Loves Me”

Everything you could possibly want to know about this record can be found by clicking Motown Junkies on Martha Reeves & The Vandellas ‘My Baby Loves Me’

EDWIN STARR – Stop Her On Sight ( S O S)

A slightly bigger hit in the UK (35) than in the US (48) – the B side “I Have Faith In You” is just as good:

THE SUNRAYS “Andrea”

Originally known as the Renegades and playing rock and roll covers, the Sunrays’ career took of in 1964 when Murry Wilson, the father of Brian, Carl, and Dennis Wilson of The Beach Boys, started managing them, tweaked the personel a little (removing the sax player) and changed their name to The Sunrays.

As well as Andrea their hits included “I Live for the Sun” (1965) (below) and “Still”.

They supported the Beach Boys on several US tours, but never made it big as their sounds were probably a little bit too similar …

BEACH BOYS “Barbara Ann”

Dean Torrence from the group Jan & Dean sang lead on this song of teenage desire.

Capitol Records released this without telling the band. The Beach Boys were trying to gain credibility as a serious musical act, and didn’t want to put out such a simplistic song.

The release date may have been influenced by the first appearance of heartthrob actress and model Barbara Anne Feldon as Agent 99 on the TV show “Get Smart”.

A bar-bar-bar-bar-Barbara-Ann (probably THE bar-bar-bar-bar-Barbara Ann)

A bar-bar-bar-bar-Barbara-Ann (probably THE bar-bar-bar-bar-Barbara Ann)

Here’s the Regents’ original version, with harmonies the Beach Boys replicated, complete with kazoo, which they very sensibly didn’t.

DELROY WILSON “Dancing Mood”

Delroy Wilson was the first child star of the Jamaican music scene, cutting his first records in 1962 for Sir Coxsone’s Studio One, including “Spit In The Sky”, one of many records made at Studio One attacking the rival Prince Buster (which to be fair was well reciprocated by Buster).

“Dancing Mood” is regarded as one of the very first rocksteady records (as opposed to the faster ska beat that ruled the island’s airwaves until then)

BUCK OWENS “Buckaroo”

Buck Owens, along with Merle Haggard, was the leader of the Bakersfield sound, a twangy, electricified, rock-influenced interpretation of hardcore honky tonk that emerged in the ’60s.

Owens was the first bona fide country star to emerge from Bakersfield, scoring a total of 15 consecutive number one hits in the mid-’60s. In the process, he provided an edgy alternative to the string-laden country-pop that was being produced during the ’60s.

Later in his career, his musical impact was forgotten by some as he became a television personality through the country comedy show Hee Haw.

Nevertheless, several generations of musicians — from Gram Parsons in the late ’60s to Dwight Yoakam in the ’80s — were influenced by his music, which wound up being one of the blueprints for modern country music.

This track, the instrumental “Buckaroo” (named after his backing band The Buckaroos who were named in turn by Merle Haggard), was his fourth country No 1 in the USA as the year turned from 1965 to 1966. The Byrds did a cover of it but I wont lie to you, its not their best work. Seekit out if you absolutely MUST, but I’m not going to enable you by giving you the link. Sorry.

This was the B-side – “If You Want A Love”, a standard country number that benefits from Buck’s straight-ahead, unsentimental delivery. It’s not the most innovative music in the world, but you wouldn’t turn it off either.

And if That ain’t enough country for ya, here’s a live version of Buck’s huge crossover hit from the previous year “Love’s Gonna Live Here Again”.

Now skedaddle before I fill your pants full of lead.

THEM “Hello Josephine”

One of the better songs on “Them Again”, originally written and recorded by Fats Domino

LEE DORSEY “Get Out Of My Life Woman”

Written by Allen Toussaint who passed on recently – what with Lemmy on bass, Bowie on vocals and rhythm guitar, Allen Toussaint on piano and Alan Rickman introducing the band there’s pretty much a whole supergroup in the recent arrivals section of heaven just now.

The song has been sampled in excess of 150 times by such artists as Naz, Cypress Hill, De La Soul, Wu-Tang Clan, The Fugees, Beck and Compton’s Most Wanted (below)


JACKIE WILSON & LAVERN BAKER “Think Twice”

A minor hit, reaching no 93 in the Hot 100, there’s an intriguing “Version X” of this song that was never released for some strange reason. Warning – this is really filthy.

POETS “Baby Don’t You Do It”

On Immediate Records (the Small Faces’ lanel), Glasgow’s Poets released this astonishing freakbeat take on Marvin Gaye’s “Baby Don’t You Do It”.

It just builds and builds on what is a very simple riff and then takes off towards the end.

The B-Side “I’ll Come Home” is by contrast a jangly Beatles-style tune proving the Poets had more than one trick in their box.

SAM AND DAVE “You Don’t Know Like I Know”

This tune only just scraped into the Hot 100 but it was the start of a run of eight hits for Sam and Dave, a vocal match made in heaven with the gravelly baritone of Dave Prater the perfect counterpoint to tenor Sam Moore’s sweet tenor voice in the style of that other great sixties soul Sam (Cooke).

They were one of the most exciting live acts of the era, with a live act filled with animation, harmony and goodwill.

This was their first single for Stax from 1965, which inexplicably failed to trouble the charts, but its a great tune.

SMALL FACES “Sha-La-La-La-Lee”

After their second single “I’ve Got Mine” failed to build on the chart success of their debut “Whatcha Gonna Do About It?”, the Small Faces’ manager Don Arden brought in professional songwriters Mort Shuman and Kenny Lynch to write “Sha-La-La-La-Lee” for the band.

The Small Faces hated this song, and it did mark them down as a pop band rather than the R&B / soul band they in fact were (although there IS an absolutely cracking piano intro by Ian McLagan, almost hidden in the production).

It did get to number 3 in the British charts though, and those fans who flipped the disc were treated to a scorching instrumental (and the theme tune for Retro Beat ’66) “Grow Your Own”:

THE EYES “The Immediate Pleasure”

Evolved out of an instrumental band called The Renegades, and you can kind of hear that on this record, which would in fact stand on its own as an instrumental, with that descending guitar lead line.

The vocals almost act as an extra layer on top giving the whole thing a lot of depth

The band didn’t last beyond 1966 – recording an ill-advised tribute album to the Rolling Stones under the name The Pupils (geddit?) for some quick cash didn’t really help their credibility.

You can tell their hearts weren’t really in it, check this version of “19th Nervous Breakdown”.

BOBBY BLAND “I’m Too Far Gone To Turn Around”

It’s easy to come to the conclusion that by 1966 Bobby Bland’s classic R and B “big band” style sound was old hat but a look at the chart performance of his hits doesn’t really bear that out – sure, his days of hitting #1 in the US R&B chart were gone but his singles still regularly made the R&B Top 20 and the overall Hot 100, so he clearly had a strong and loyal fanbase.

The B-side “If You Could Read My Mind” is another clue as to why – a fairly ordinary MOR song and arrangement raised by Bobby’s sweet, sweet voice to another plane.

SPENCER DAVIS GROUP “Look Away”

A brave choice for the opening track from the Spencer Davis Group’s “The Second Album” – rather than going with the hit single from the previous year “Keep On Running” they chose the tragic heartbreak tune “Look Away”, which it has to be said is a lot more typical of the album.

Another atypical track from the album is the country-style “This Hammer”

MARVIN GAYE “When I Had Your Love”

The B-side of “One More Heartache” which you can hear in either next week’s Retro Beat City or the week after, but I think this is actually a better track.

Incidentally, Marvin’s most recent album at that time (released in November 1965) was a tribute album to his hero Nat ‘King’ Cole who died the previous February. From it this is “Its Only A Paper Moon”

THE EASYBEATS “Sad And Lonely And Blue”

Among the recent losses in the world of music around the end of2015 / beginning of 2016 was Stevie Wright, singer with Australia’s finest group of the 60s, the Easybeats.

Click here for Stevie Wright’s obituary and ten of his greatest songs

There is a story about Good Times, that the first time he heard it, Paul McCartney pulled over and rang the radio station, asking them to play it again. Six months later, the Beatles released Get Back, which revolves around the same GDA progression.

20 EVERYTHING SONGS

These are my #20EverythingSongs , in chronological order more-or-less. It was quite an emotional trip down memory lane compiling this list.

Not sure if you’ll like ’em all – there’s some here that I hardly ever play nowadays – but they’re all important songs in terms of introducing me to new kinds of music

1. DARK CITY SISTERS “Langa More”

My parents used to play this first track after church and dinner on a Sunday as it reminded them of home.

South African vocal girl group. Listen to the harmonies!

And if that sounds like I grew up in the Deep South, I did. The Deep South of London.

Herne Hill, specifically.

2. HARRY BELAFONTE “Jamaica Farewell”

Dad used to love the next song – the sentiments were familiar as he emigrated to England (from South Africa not Jamaica (although unlike the chap in the song, Dad didn’t leave his little girl in Kingston Town (or Durban, more accurately), he brought Mum with him!

3. JULIE ANDREWS “Feed The Birds”

We played the “Mary Poppins” soundtrack to death years before ever seeing the movie.
The song where one character talks about having dreams of walking with giants, heard out of context, used to give me nightmares, but this one is beautiful. Check out the bit where the church bells come in.

4. THE IRISH ROVERS “Black Velvet Band”

I was brought up as a mixed-race (mainly Indian but part Scottish!) Catholic in South London, went to a Catholic school, social life was based round the Catholic church.

So – and I swear I am not making this up – until the age of about 11 I thought every “full white” person in Britain had some kind of Irish blood in them.

The music rubbed off too. My parents had a few LPs of Irish rebel songs. I THINK it was because they just liked the tunes …

5. DAVE AND ANSELL COLLINS “Double Barrel”

The years from 1968 to 1972 was reggae’s best sales period in the UK with this one of the best-sellers, and one of the best.

I AM THE MAGNIFICENT!

6. DON McLEAN “Vincent”

The best teacher I ever had was Mr Stevenson in top juniors (that’s Year Six in new money). Innovative, interesting, fun and approachable.

Mr Stevenson introduced us to the idea you could treat song lyrics like they were poetry, using this as an example, which kicked off my interest in Listening To The Words.

Thank you Sir!

7. CHICORY TIP “Son Of My Father”

I bought this with the money I got for my 10th birthday – my first electronica record (did I but know it at the time). It sounded like nothing on earth.

Written and produced (again, did I but know it at the time) by Giorgio Moroder.

Loved the weird Dr Who-ness of it

8. SENSATIONAL ALEX HARVEY BAND “The Tale Of The Giant Stone Eater”

Music and Marvel Comics were my joint passions around this time. So obviously I loved this.

Alex Harvey was a huge comics fan. Even named a song after Sgt Fury.

(other “out” comics fans of the 70s included Marc Bolan and Joan Armatrading)

9. JOHNNY CASH “Sunday Morning Coming Down”

1976. Heatwave. We went on holiday to Cornwall from London by car (pre-M5). It took ten hours. We had 4 cassettes.

Pink Floyd’s “Relics”,Beach Boys,Carpenters “Singles 69-73” and some old country singer who Dad liked so we indulged him .

“Well I woke up Sunday morning with no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt
And the beer I had for breakfast wasn’t bad, so I had one more for dessert”

10. DONNA SUMMER “I Feel Love”

Ooh,its so good,its so good,its so good,its so good,its so good …

A great leap forward for dance music (or “disco” as it was contemptuously called by rock fans back then).

And Giorgio Moroder’s second appearance here. Bet he’s impressed.

11.THE STRANGLERS “Down In The Sewer”

An eight minute mini punk opera from the Stranglers’ “Rattus Norvegicus” album

“Gonna tell you what I’m gonna do. Gonna make love to a water-rat or two. FOR GOD’S SAKE HUGH USE A JOHNNY ”

They get compared to the Doors a lot, but Dave Greenfield’s keyboard lines are on a different planet from Ray Manzarek’s unresolved noodlings

The bit at the end from about 5:44 is magnificent, and so bloody therapeutic .

See how it resolves, Mr Doors keyboard player? THAT’S how to play organ in a rock and roll band .

12. THE B-52s “Rock Lobster”

Moving on to the other end of competence for keyboard players in bands, but it still sounds bloody great

I think it was the bright yellow cover that first attracted me to this record, that or the cartoony looking band.

13. FUNKADELIC “One Nation Under A Groove”

Around the mid to late seventies the mates I used to hang out with were all soul boys. It rubbed off.

Feets don’t fail me now!

14. T CONNECTION “On Fire”

You never hear T Connection mentioned at all these days, not ever, anywhere but they really rocked, for what was essentially a disco band.

Duran Duran owe them a massive debt.

15. THE HUMAN LEAGUE “Empire State Human”

“Tall tall tall, I wanna be tall, tall, tall, as big as a wall, wall, wall”

Moved to Sheffield in 1979 so it was compulsory to love this band.

I like the early funny stuff better.

16. DEXYS MIDNIGHT RUNNERS “I Couldn’t Help If I Tried”

I had never heard anything quite like this band before, and neither had anybody else.

“Searching For The Young Soul Rebels” is still my fave LP ever . If you’ve never heard it, stop reading this now and go and track it down. This blog isn’t going anywhere.

There – I told you it was good, didn’t I?

This is their best song, for me (although get ten Dexys fans in a room and you’ll probably get ten different suggestions, and none of them will be the Number One hits!)

This grabs you from the mournful, defiant first four-note rundown on the horns and never lets you go.

I’ll forever associate it with being in love for the first time – lending her this album with crucial lyrics underlined. I’ll leave you to work out which ones.

It didn’t last and … hang on, this is sounding like a Dexys song in itself now so I’ll stop.

17. TRICKY “Black Steel”

So, seventeen tunes from the first 19 years of my life, then nothing until middle-age comes knocking

There’s a reason for this, I think.

You have kids and raise them and that takes up most of your effort and all of your money – and in those pre-internet days, music took a back seat.

To be honest if I could pick ten years to go into a fallow period, music-wise, I don’t think 1984-1993 was a bad choice, although I stand to be corrected on this.

This is from Tricky’s masterpiece “Maxinquaye”, which I first heard of thanks to none other than the late great David Bowie mentioning it as the best thing he’d heard all year in 1995.

The man had the talent to identify what was crucial and important in each musical generation (see also his final album which is pretty much a Kendrick Lamar tribute record in places)

This is a cover of a Public Enemy tune. Who says the original is still the greatest?

18. THE BROKEN FAMILY BAND “Devil In The Details”

Who knew quiet music could be this nasty. And funny.

The only band to ever really rival Dexys in my affections, and the best lyricist around in Steven James Adams.

19. LADYTRON “Playgirl”

No synth band ever created a bigger or better wall of sound than Ladytron.

I was there when they blew the PA at the old Astoria in Charing Cross Road, around 2008.

This song is another one with memories. “Sleep you way out of your home town” indeed.

20. AL GREEN “To Sir With Love”

This list is mostly in chronological order but I thought I’d finish with a song and an artist I always go back to cos he always makes things better.

This is just incredible – he takes a song originally sung in a film by a schoolgirl (played by Lulu) to her teacher and takes it to a higher plane.

But when I listen to this I don’t really hear the words at all, its all about the feeling he invokes, and he could do this if he was singing the dictionary.

When I heard this I realised that soul is never about the words at all, not really

This has been my #20EverythingSongs. Check out the hashtag on Twitter.

Thanks to @girloon for inventing the hashtag.

I don’t mean she invented the concept of the hashtag. That would be an outrageous claim akin to this one.

I mean she thought up #20EverythingSongs.

Give her a follow in Twitter if you like music, she’s brilliant.

Beat ’66 Show #1 – The Blurb

Download / listen to this first Beat ’66 show here

A new show will go up every Thursday throughout 2016, with the sleeve notes following by the Saturday.

13TH FLOOR ELEVATORS “You’re Gonna Miss Me”

“The saga of the 13th Floor Elevators was an Old Testament tale and Roky Erickson was its Job,” – Julian Cope.

Roky Erickson was a misfit kid who loved rock and roll. In 1965, he dropped out of high school a month before graduating to become a musician. Later that year he and his first band, the Spades, made their first single, the crude and hypnotic “We Sell Soul.” Written by Erickson using the pseudonym Emil Schwartze, it has the bare-boned elements of what would become the sound of his next step.

Shortly after the Spades dissolved, Erickson formed the 13th Floor Elevators with other like-minded souls. The band signed to the Texas-based International Artists label and released their classic debut single, “You’re Gonna Miss Me,” in early 1966.

Their mind-blowing debut album, The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators, would follow that summer.

“You’re Gonna Miss Me,” was a minor hit, making it all the way up to No. 55 in the summer of that year, staying on the charts for nearly two months.

TEMPTATIONS “Get Ready”

The original Temptations version of “Get Ready”, produced by Smokey Robinson, was designed as an answer to the latest dance craze, “The Duck”. The Temptations’ falsetto Eddie Kendricks sings lead on the song, which Robinson produced as an up-tempo dance number with a prominent rhythm provided by Motown drummer Benny Benjamin. In the song, Kendricks informs his lover to “get ready” because “I’m bringin’ you a love that’s true”. Melvin Franklin sings lead on the pre-chorus: “fe, fi, fo, fum/look out/’cause here I come” along with several other similar lines. The song made it to number one on the U.S. R&B singles chart, while peaking at number twenty-nine on the pop charts.[1]

The group’s previous singles since “My Girl” had all landed in the U.S. Pop charts (and R&B charts) Top 20. However “Get Ready” only just scraped into the Top 30.

The song did eventually become a Top 10 pop hit, but not by the Temptations, but by the Motown rock band Rare Earth.

In 1970, Motown’s rock band Rare Earth released a massively successful cover version of the song as a single.

21-minute version of the track appears on Rare Earth’s first album but it’s not for the faint-hearted.

THE UGLY’S “The Quiet Explosion”

Far superior B-side of “A Good Idea” :

The choice of name for Birmingham’s “The Ugly’s” was deliberate and not a reference to the physical appearance of band members as their van became covered in messages lovingly scrawled in lipstick from their many female fans. When interviewed for the Midland Beat newspaper, the group said; “It brings us embarrassing moments but we are achieving our object by using the name. You see, interest is aroused as soon as we are advertised to appear anywhere. People come along to see if we really are ugly!”

The Ugly’s third single for PYE featured Steve Gibbons playing a ‘kazoo’ on the A-side titled ‘A Good Idea’ which in retrospect may not have been a good idea as the single’s B-side is really the stand-out track. ‘The Quiet Explosion’ is a lost psychedelic classic complete with freaky organ and echoey bass.

This was certainly ahead of its time when considering The Beatles had only just started experimenting with strange sounds on their ‘Revolver’ album.

Despite a promotional TV appearance on ‘Thank Your Lucky Stars’, this Uglys single sank without trace and three decades passed before its flip side gained rightful recognition on a CD release.

DAVID BOWIE & THE LOWER THIRD “Can’t Help Thinking About Me”

If “Can’t Help Thinking About Me” was David Bowie trying to sound more like the Kinks than the Kinks did, and succeeding , then the B-side “And I Say To Myself” found the young pop chameleon trying on the teenage hearthrob crooner’s sweater for size – “Tonight, Matthew, I’m going to be Peter Noone”

THE BOBBY FULLER FOUR “I Fought The Law”

It is a misconception not universally acknowledged that when an artist is known for one hit and no others, that one hit was the absolute peak of their songwriting and musical creativity. They concentrated everything into those two and a half to three minutes and made no other records worth hearing.

Of course in some cases this is actually true – but not in the case of the Bobby Fuller Four.

Bobby Fuller is remembered as something of a Fifties throwback who recreated old-fashioned Buddy Holly-sounding records with precision and perfection, culminating in his most famous song “I Fought The Law”

He did so much more than the admittedly classic “I Fought The Law” though, including “My True Love”, “Only When I Dream”, “Never To Be Forgotten” and “Fool Of Love” (below).

THE GUYS FROM UNCLE “The Spy”

A cracking Northern Soul track about which very little is known. Check out the intro, a full six years before Isaac Hayes’ the Theme From Shaft

There was a vocal version credited to “The Girls From Uncle” called Agent Of Love, equally great, equally obscure.

THEM “Could You Would You” (from the album “Them Again”)

The band’s second and, for all intents and purposes, last full album was recorded while Them were in the process of breaking up.

Apart from Van Morrison’s vocals and Alan Henderson on Bass, it is not clear who actually played on the album although Jimmy Page probably played guitar on a few tracks at least.

The songs here are a little less focused than the first LP, they don’t really fit together as an album, encompassing too many different styles, but there’s still some excellent songs here

The material was cut under siege conditions, with a constantly shifting lineup and a grueling tour schedule; essentially, there was no “group” to provide focus to the sound, only Morrison’s voice, so the material bounces from a surprisingly restrained “I Put a Spell on You”

to the garage-punk of “I Can Only Give You Everything.”, both of which you’ll hear in forthcoming shows but this week we’ve picked the opening track Could You Would You.

You’ll hear a track every week on Retro Beat Sixty-Six throughout January from Them Again, one of our two albums of the month for January 1966.

THE MANHATTANS “Follow Your Heart”

Best known for their soft 70s soul hit Kiss And Say Goodbye …

… the five members of The Manhattans hailed from New Jersey which seems to be the origin of the name – “You could see the Manhattan skyline right across the water from Jersey City. It was an easy name to remember, and we just thought it sounded classy”. Either that or they were named after the Manhattan cocktail – the surviving band members are a little hazy in recollecting which version of the story is correct.

TAGES “Bloodhound”

Tages were a Swedish band formed in the early sixties near Gothenburg.

The band released a number of singles and LPs in their native Sweden to considerable success, making the Swedish Top Ten more than a dozen times.

Later in the year Tages released “Extra Extra”, regarded as one of the world’s first psychedelic albums.

Though remembered as one of the finest non-English speaking bands of the 1960s, they failed to ever really break into the US or UK markets.

Accepting that they would never break the Anglophone markets their later records mix in traditional Swedish folk music influences culminating in their fifth and last album, “Studio” (recorded, oddly at Abbey Road in London)

Here’s another track from 1966 with some dodgy miming (hey, you think it’s hard to mime, try it in a language other than your native tongue)

BOB DYLAN “Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window”

Recorded during the sessions for Dylan’s 1965 album “Highway 61 Revisited”, “Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window” was released as a non-album single in late 1965 and performed creditably onm both sides of the pond. Dylan is backed for this song by he Hawks – Robbie Robertson on guiter, Rick Danko on bass, Richard Manuel on piano, Garth Hudson on organ and Levon Helm on drums

PAUL REVERE & THE RAIDERS “Just Like Me”

One of the most popular and entertaining rock groups of the 1960s, Paul Revere & the Raiders enjoyed seven years of serious chart action, and during their three biggest years (1966-1969), sold records in numbers behind only the Beatles and the Rolling Stones.

They were very much aware of and played up the theatrical side of rock and roll and were unfairly dismissed by critics of the time as being “a bit too showbiz” but their string of hits – “Steppin’ Out,” “Just Like Me,” “Hungry,” “Him or Me — What’s It Gonna Be,” and “Kicks” in particular — are actually decent unpretentious pieces of ’60s punky rock & roll.

“Just Like Me” was their biggest hit to date and led to the rush-release of the album “Just Like Us”, which you’ll hear tracks from later in January on Retro Beat Sixty-Six.

SLIM HARPO “Baby Scratch My Back”

“Baby Scratch My Back” was Slim Harpo’s only #1 on the soul singles chart where it stayed for two weeks. “Baby Scratch My Back” also crossed over to the Top
40 and was Harpo’s most commercially successful single.

Never a full-time musician, Harpo had his own trucking business during the 1960s.

He needed to tour constantly and play as much as possible; times were frequently lean financially and you have to put food on the table, when it comes right down to it.

But, by 1964, several of his tracks had been released on albums and singles in the UK,[8] and British rock bands like the Rolling Stones, the Pretty Things, the Yardbirds, the Kinks, Pink Floyd and Them began to feature versions of his songs in their early repertoires. The Moody Blues reportedly took their name from an instrumental track of Slim’s called “Moody Blues”

Slim Harpo was no purist – his material proved to be quite adaptable for white artists on both sides of the Atlantic (see the Rolling Stones and others’ versions of “I’m A King Bee”.

A crowd-pleasing club entertainer, he certainly wasn’t above working rock & roll rhythms and country and western vocals into his music.

He had his biggest commercial success in 1966, when the predominantly instrumental “Baby Scratch My Back” reached no.1 on the R&B chart and no.16 on the US pop chart. Harpo described it as “an attempt at rock & roll for me.”

Here’s the B-side “I’m Gonna Miss You Like The Devil”

THE SPENCER DAVIS GROUP “Let Me Down Easy” (from “The Second Album”)

One of the most exciting and influential groups to come out of Birmingham in the early 1960s, the Spencer Davis Group is recognized for their classic and ground-breaking recordings as well as for launching Steve Winwood’s music career.

The Spencer Davis Group comprised Spencer Davis on organ, Steve Winwood on guitar and vocals, his brother Muff Winwood on bass and Pete York on drums.

It was Muff Winwood who came up with the name ‘Spencer Davis Group’ on the pretext that the articulate Davis could do the interviews while the others stayed in bed – maybe not the best idea since the band became associated with Spencer’s name whereas their major unique selling point, sonologically speaking, was Stevie Winwood’s incredible strong, rangy voice.

Up to mid-1965 this time, the songs performed and recorded by the Spencer Davis Group were covers of existing blues and R&B standards but Chris Blackwell brought in Jamaican singer/songwriter Jackie Edwards to compose the next three singles for the group. The first was ‘Keep On Running’ which was transformed by the group into a rocking R&B number with the addition of a driving bass riff and a unique (for that time) electric fuzz guitar effect. The result it had on the record charts was spectacular with the song knocking The Beatles from the top spot and going to Number

One before the end of 1965. The Spencer Davis Group’s first LP was rushed to the shops and the band members now had to endure the side-effect of being pursued by screaming girls!

SHAWN ELLIOTT “Shame & Scandal In The Family”

Originally written in 1962 by Trinidadian calypsonian Lord Melody, “Shame And Scandal In The Family” was a hit in Europe for Puerto Rican singer Shawn Elliott Santiago. Oddly, the British satirist Lance Percival had the hit in the USA. Lord Melody never had a hit with it outside the Caribbean.

CHAD & JEREMY “Teenage Failure”

Banned from appearing on Thank Your Lucky Stars and Top Of The Pops because of the line “I’m Gonna Smash Your Face In”.

By mid-1966 Chad and Jeremy had cleaned up their act to the point where they could appear as themselves in an episode of the TV show “Batman”. The story involves Catwoman stealing their voices 8=)

Note Batman’s reference to “5000 screaming teenagers” – can’t be more than 50, surely Batman? Holy exaggeration!

THE McCOYS “Fever”

The McCoys, basically revamping their big hit “Hang On Sloopy” using the words and (vaguely) the tune of Peggy Lee’s smoking classic torch song “Fever”. Here’s the original:

BILLY STEWART “Mountain Of Love”

Co-written by Shena deMell and the legendary Sugar Pie deSanto that was Mountain Of Love by Billy Stewart, the B-side to the more commercial-sounding “Because I Love You”

THE MAMAS AND THE PAPAS “California Dreamin'”

Written by John Phillips on a frigid winter night in Manhattan when his young wife, Michelle, was homesick for Southern California, “California Dreamin’ ” is one of the all-time sunniest songs of longing.

It was first done by Phillips’ folk group the New Journeymen and later given to Barry McGuire as a thank-you after McGuire, riding high with “Eve of Destruction,” introduced the group to producer Lou Adler, who convinced the Mamas and the Papas to cut it themselves.

Due to its popularity, the song has appeared on numerous film soundtracks and as plot elements in other movies and television shows.

Notably, the song is used repeatedly in the 1994 Wong Kar-wai film Chungking Express, in which a character played by singer Faye Wong obsessively listens to it.

FESTIVE FIFTY OF 1965 – Further Listening – Nos 10-1

Final blog instalment of the Festive Fifty of 1965.

You can download the two-part podcast absolutely FREE here:

Festive Fifty of 1965 Nos 50-26

Festive Fifty of 1965 Nos 25-1

10. THE NOVAS “The Crusher”

Minnesota-based (where else?!) garage band The Novas, wrote this song dedicated to wrestler Crusher Lisowski.

The song has been covered by the Cramps and the Ramones.

The Novas were more usually known as an instrumental band and the B-side of the record “Take Seven” is a decent beefed-up slab of psyche-surf.

9. THE EMERALDS “King Lonely The Blue”

Formed in Farnborough in Hampshire in 1963, the Emeralds got to make three singles, none of which got anywhere chart-wise.

After such a great track as “King Lonely The Blue” had flopped in late 1965 the band changed their name to “Wishful Thinking” and gained a fair amount of success in Denmark, but not in their home country. Check the Beatley end to this.

8. THE BEATLES “Think For Yourself”

george 1965 close

George Harrison’s “Think For Yourself”, lyrically cynical and wielding an odd sequence of chords, which, written down, look like somebody’s programmed a computer to write a song and “be a bit experimental”, somehow works wonderfully well. Paul McCartney’s double-tracked bass guitar makes it sound like something nasty lurking in the vaults, perfectly matching George’s bitter lyric.

I suppose you could definitely say it doesn’t rip anybody off though.

7. MARTHA REEVES & THE VANDELLAS “Nowhere To Run”

When the matter of Martha Reeves & The Vandellas’ finest single comes up, the debate is usually between “Dancing In The Street” and “Heatwave” but the correct answer is of course “Nowhere To Run”.

Incidentally I’d put “Jimmy Mack” at number two, an underrated track – not least by Motown who shelved it for two and a half years after it was recorded in 1964, finally becoming a hit in 1967.

6. THE FOUR TOPS “The Same Old Song”

The highest-placed Motown tune in the Festive Fifty of 1965. The Four Tops released two stone cold classics that year and to be honest if it wasn’t for the “one song per artist” rule “I Can’t Help Myself” would also have got in.

5. SIR DOUGLAS QUINTET “She’s About A Mover”

First release and the only hit for Texas band Sir Douglas Quintet whose combination of a British name and – initially – look attempted to cash in on the just-about-current British Beat Boom that still had currency for another year or so. Sonologically though, the band their Tex-Mexc origins with a garage-based 12-bar blues sound.

This was their first single and their only hit – perhaps they were seen, unfairly from the evidence of their 1969 song “Mendacino” and others, as a novelty band. Founder and mainman Doug Sahm knows how to squeeze every last drop out of two chords – TWO! – and a Farfisa organ hook.

4. THEM “Mystic Eyes”

And while we’re on the subject of two-chord songs, this has rarely been bettered.

The track drops straight in with a full head of steam.

In a song lasting two minutes and 47 seconds, the vocals don’t come in until 1:14. The first minute is played on one chord – one note in the case of the organist – under a crazed, rocking harmonica solo and only then do we drop down to the second chord. We then get a minute’s worth of vocal imagery – a signpost towards Van Morrison’s more stream-of-consciousness lyrics later in the decade – and a long fade on the same chord, leaving you feeling like someone’s kicked you up the arse then run away.

Kicking Bishop Brennan Up The Arse

3. GEORGIE FAME & THE BLUE FLAMES “Yeh Yeh”

Possibly the last ever jazz record to get to Number 1 in the UK, unless you count “Deeply Dippy” by Right Said Fred, which I am inclined not to.

Georgie Fame was so cool he could sing a ska/bluebeat version of a nursery rhyme in a cod-West Indian accent and it would STILL sound great.

Don’t believe me? Check this out.

2. BOB DYLAN “Like A Rolling Stone”

There’s been so much written about this song that I don’t really know where to begin.

Greatest Dylan song? Best Number One song ever? Perfectly defines the moment when pop became rock? Marks Dylan’s transition lyrically from clear protest anthems to more opaque, more personal yet more widely applicable songs? All of the above?

I still can’t think of any other songs regarded as important enough to have a whole book written about them – and Griel Marcus’s impassioned 200-page tome is pretty readable.

1. THE SONICS “Psycho”

From the New Yorker on the occasion of The Sonics’ 2015 comeback album “This Is The Sonics”:

Garage rock doesn’t exactly demand innovation. Songs should be crunchy and upbeat, and if they focus on girls, or cars, or girls in cars, they’ll pretty much do the trick.

Early on, the Sonics intuitively understood this—but they also played harder, faster, and with more grim aggression than anyone in Tacoma, Washington, had ever thought to play.

Morbid hits—now cult favorites—like “Psycho” and “The Witch” sounded angrier and more abrasive than any form of rock and roll that had come before.

Check out “Strychnine,”

At the time, Tacoma was the working-class Liverpool to Seattle’s swingin’ London. “My dad ran a crane on the waterfront,” the saxophonist Rob Lind said recently. “There were great musicians in Seattle, but the music was jazzy and swingy. We were blue-collar guys—we wanted to rock.”

Their formula—straight, pounding beats, bellowing or screeched vocals, pre-stomp-box distortion achieved by maxing out their amps’ volume—presaged the volatile energy of punk rock. It also built them a fan base in the Northwest “teen club” scene, where bored youth drank in the parking lots of halls with names like the Red Carpet and the Lake Hills roller rink.

But a lack of national distribution prevented them from reaching a wider audience. The Sonics never toured extensively, and hit their peak opening for groups like the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, and the Kinks in Seattle.

But they made a lasting impression. “Strychnine” was covered magnificently by both The Fall and The Cramps. In 1994, Kurt Cobain said that Bob Bennett’s machine-gun drumming was “the most amazing drum sound I’ve ever heard.” Their songs have also been recorded by Bruce Springsteen, the Flaming Lips, and the Ramones; and the White Stripes have cited them as an influence.

During the garage-rock revival of the early noughties, the Sonics were rediscovered by a new group of listeners, and they reunited in 2007.

This week, the band releases “This Is the Sonics,” its first album of new material in nearly half a century, one of the longest intervals between recordings in rock history. The new work has the same primal intensity of its previous records, thanks in no small part to the producer Jim Diamond, who has worked with the White Stripes, the Mooney Suzuki, and a slew of other contemporary acts who owe a debt to the Sonics. Diamond recorded the band in mono, to capture the spirit of the sixties output.

Lind quit his day job, and he and the Sonics have embarked on a tour of the U.S., with a stop at Irving Plaza on April 8. With the band members in their seventies, will the live show still pack a punch? Lind chuckled. “It’s the most fun I can have without getting in trouble with the cops.”

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading these notes.

During 2016 we’ll be releasing a Retro Beat Sixty-Six podcast every week on podomatic (see the links at the top of this blog piece) together with notes similar to this, covering the sounds of fifty years ago this week – and not the standard hits you can hear elsewhere, either.

Stay tuned, hep cats!

Festive Fifty of 1965 Nos 50-26 FREE download

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FESTIVE FIFTY OF 1965 – Further Listening – Nos 20-11

Some further information and links on the tracks making up numbers 20 down to 11 in the Festive Fifty of 1965.

You can download the two=part podcast absolutely FREE here:

Festive Fifty of 1965 Nos 50-26 FREE download

Festive Fifty of 1965 Nos 25-1 FREE download

20. FREDDY CANNON “Action”

Freddy Cannon’s heyday was well behind him by 1965 but he still managed to put out the odd great record – so what if this is essentially a retread of his classic million seller “Way Down Yonder In New Orleans”?

19. THE GESTURES “Run Run Run”

Great things looked like they were on the cards for Minnesota’s The Gestures in their home state of Minnesota – “Run Run Run”, their only hit, was an effortless blend of British invasion beats into the northern US garage band palette.

But they only got to release one more single (“I’m Not Mad”) as their record company, a local outfit called Soma Records, found it impossible to compete with the big boys.

They recorded an album which is available to download here and although it is chock full of cover versions that was pretty much standard in those days for everyone from the Beatles down.

Also there’s an eclectic choice of tracks (“Things We Said Today” in both vocal and instrumental versions, “Can I Get A Witness”, “Long Tall Texan”) that points to a band happy to wear their influences on their sleeve while maybe looking to blend them further on future recordings. Listening to it only emphasises what a damn shame it is that they didn’t get to make more music.

18. THE SAPPHIRES “Got To Have Your Love”

The Sapphires were a trio consisting of Carol Jackson, George Gainer, and Joe Livingston, although Kenny Gamble was also closely associated with the group very early in its history, arranging the vocals on their first album. The trio came out of Philadelphia in the early ’60s, where they were signed by producer Jerry Ross and initially released their songs on the Swan label.

The group’s first record was the romantic ballad “Where Is Johnny Now,” backed with “Your True Love.” The backing group for these and other early Philadelphia recordings by The Sapphires included Leon Huff and Thom Bell on keyboards, Bobby Eli on guitar, Joe Macho on bass, and Bobby Martin playing vibes. When this record failed to chart, Ross turned to Gamble for their next single, “Who Do You Love,” which reached number 25 on the pop charts. Their next single, “I Found Out Too Late,” failed to repeat that success, but its release was accompanied by the issue of the group’s first LP.

The Sapphires left Swan shortly after the release of a third single, “Gotta Be More Than Friends,” moving to ABC-Paramount in 1964, which also led to their recording in New York City. Perhaps not coincidentally, their first ABC single, “Let’s Break Up for a While,” had a sound reminiscent of the Drifters from this same era.

The group entered its most productive and musically ambitious period during late 1964. The Sapphires’ next single, “Thank You for Loving Me,” was written by the Brill Building talents of future Monkees songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart.

Their next single, “Gotta Have Your Love,” finally gave the group the second hit they’d been waiting for, with a smooth Motown-type sound and an infectious beat that helped carry it to number 33 on the R&B charts, with an appearance on the pop charts at number 77 in the spring of 1965.

The song also featured a trio of background vocalists who would go on to bigger things in the years to come: Valerie Simpson, Nick Ashford, and Melba Moore.

The group was never able to build on this record’s success, though not for lack of trying. Their next three singles, “Evil One,” (above), “Gonna Be a Big Thing,” and “Slow Fizz,” all had pleasing hooks and, in the latter case, a wonderfully danceable beat, but failed to sell. “Slow Fizz,” released in 1966, marked the end of their contract with ABC-Paramount, and the trio broke up soon after.

The Sapphires left behind an extraordinarily high-quality body of work, a match for anything Motown was releasing at the same time. Their lack of staying power on the charts can be attributed largely to many factors, including the vast array of competition from various soul acts at the time — had they maintained a somewhat more consistent sound, or broken nationally a little earlier with a slightly higher profile, they might have achieved the success they deserved. As it was, they left behind a very fine, occasionally stunning body of songs, and provided some valuable early experience for Gamble, Bell, and Huff.

17. GANTS “Road Runner”

There’s a terrific piece on Mississippi’s The Gants here

Expect to hear a few more Gants tunes here during the course of 2016 – Retro Beat Sixty-Six (new show every Thursday from Jan 6th)

16. OTIS REDDING “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”

From the 1965 liner notes to “Otis Blue:Otis Redding Sings Soul” from which this, his signature track, is taken:

“Soul is a word that has many meanings. In the pop-R&B world of today it usually means an intensely dramatic performance by a singer, projected with such feeling that it reaches out and visibly moves the listener. It means that the singer is saying something, sometimes even more than the lyrics themselves might normally convey. Soul is not something that can be feigned – you either have it or you don’t. Otis Redding has it, to a degree almost unrivaled by any other young singer in sight”.

True dat. This is “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” from the same album.

15. JAMES PHELPS “Love Is A Five Letter Word”

Before his solo career, of which “Love Is A Five Letter Word” was the peak, took off, James Phelps was in the Soul Stirrers gospel group with Sam Cooke, and before THAT he was the lead voice with The Clefs Of Calvary. I’m not a religious man these days (thank God) but it’s hard to listen to this and not feel that there’s a higher power at work. The two songs featured here are “Wait A Little Longer” and “Father Forgive Them” (from 1961)

14. THE McCOYS “Hang On Sloopy”

Ah the “Louie Louie” riff (1-4-5 if you’re a muso) – so many songs on this chord structure, especially in the garageland of the sixties. The McCoys hit huge with this song which reached #1 all over the world, and for the follow-up basically played the same chords under a cover of Peggy Lee’s “Fever” which surprisingly reached #7 and even more surprisingly was pretty good.

13. DOBIE GRAY “The ‘In’ Crowd”

Strange records this, if you think about it. Sure, its one of the best-known mod / Northern Soul anthems but it’s just a bit too slow for a backflip surely? And I’ve always been fascinated by the use of quotes around the word ‘In’ in the title. Surely they can’t be ironic? It would put a completely different spin on this song if it was being sung ironically.

This is Dobie Gray’s earlier hit, an actual dance record instead of one that comments on the “scene”.

12. THE BYRDS “Mr Tambourine Man”

Bob Dylan’s lyrics are wonderfully esoteric and opaque but it seems this song is actually about Greenwich Village folk guitarist Bruce Langhorne who “had this gigantic tambourine, It was,like,really big. As big as a wagon wheel. The vision of him just stuck in my mind. Disappearing through the smoke rings in my mind, that’s not drugs. Drugs were never that big a thing with me”.

The Byrds recorded this after an early Beatles soundalike single “Don’t Be Long” (below) / “Please Let Me Love You” had flopped. With “Mr Tambourine Man” they fused the folk style of Bob Dylan with the British Invasion sound.

The final recorded version features no contributions from any Byrd apart from Roger McGuinn’s iconic 12-string Rickenbacker solo, but that is enough to cement the Byrds’ sound for five years or more, and also to create a stepping-stone on the path to indie rock many years later.

However, most musical innovations of the 60s go back to one place, and McGuinn has generously admitted the debt he owes to George Harrison (who playes a similar guitar all the way through the movie “A Hard Day’s Night”)

11. EDWIN STARR “Agent Double O Soul”

First single and the first hit for Edwin Starr (making #21 on the Billboard chart).

He settled in the UK from the early seventies and if you look at the man’s grave (in West Bridgford cemetery in Nottingham) you can see how important this song was to him:

The follow-up “Back Street” deserved more than peaking at #95:

Festive Fifty of 1965 Nos 50-26 FREE download

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