Every year here in Beat City we produce an imagined chart based on the answer to the question “What would John Peel’s Festive Fifty have looked and sounded like if he’d done one fifty years ago?”
This year (just gone) being 2015, we’re looking back to 1965, one hell of a year for music in so many ways.
This series of blog posts gives a bit more background to each track, plus links to other related tracks worth hearing. Enjoy!
50. THE PRETTY THINGS “Honey I Need”
The co-founder (with Phil May) of the Pretty Things Dick Taylor was a college contemporary of Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, even playing bass (very) briefly in the early incarnation of the Rolling Stones.
Taylor met singer Phil May at art college and formed the Pretty Things.
After two covers (“Rosalyn” and “Don’t Bring Me Down”) “Honey I Need” was the Pretty Things’ first self-penned hit. They never really cracked America owing mainly to a lot of very bad behaviour on the part of the members of the band.
One of only a very few acts from the 1965 Festive Fifty that are still going in 2015, and not just on the oldies circuit – they released an album in 2015 wryly titled “The Sweet Pretty Things (Are In Bed Now Of Course)” and while nobody is claiming its better than their crazed, noisy early albums or their 1967 rock opera “SF Sorrow” (yeah, Who and Kinks fans, they were there first with that particular bloated form) its a decent album.
Here’s a track from the new album called “Hell, Here And Nowhere”
49. TOSHIKO MARIANO AND HER BIG BAND “Kisarazu Jinku”
Known for her mixing jazz with Japanese influences, pianist Toshiko Akiyoshi (using her married name on this recording) was the first Japanese student to enrol at the prestigious Berklee School Of Music in Boston.
Still with us at 86, Akiyoshi has recorded well over fifty albums. This is probably the best solo jazz piano clip performed by a woman in her late 70s that you’ll see today.
48. ALTON ELLIS “Dance Crasher”
Alone among Jamaican singers of the era, Alton Ellis consistently released records critical of the violent lawlessness epitomised by the burgeoning Rude Boy culture (sanitised into pork pie hats and shiny suits by later generations of British teenagers).
“Dance Crasher” is the most famous of this run of songs although “Blessings Of Love” and in particular “Cry Tough” are also well worth a listen
47. BERT JANSCH “Needle Of Death”
“Needle Of Death”, a response to the recent death of a friend from a heroin overdose, is from his self-titled debut album, generally regarded as the first British singer-songwriter album.
Its an astonishing debut, recorded on a reel-to-reel tape recorded at the Camden Town flat of engineer Bill Leader – check out the way he attacks the guitar on “Strolling Down The Highway”
46. TOOTS AND THE MAYTALS “Pain In My Belly”
Credited to “Prince Buster And The Maytals” since the band had recently signed to Buster’s label and the logic of the record industry dictated that it was good for sales to use the more famous name to sell the record.
That is definitely Toots Hibbert’s voice though – as is also the case on “Jamaica Ska”, made around the same time and similarly credited.
45. THE CASTAWAYS “Liar Liar”
The Castaways hailed from the twin cities of Minneapolis / St Paul in the garage band hotbed that was Minnesota in the sixties.
“Liar Liar” was their debut single and their only hit.
The follow-up “Goodbye Babe” is pretty much a rehash with a different vocal trick to it but still, you’d have thought it would have made SOME headway if only for the genuinely scary half-spoken intro …
44. SUPER ENSEMBLE NEMOURS JEAN-BAPTISTE “Fanatiques Compas”
Haitian sax player and bandleader Nemours Jean-Baptiste released the album “Les Trois Dangers” in 1965 and the track “Fanatiques Compas” is the standput track.
From the record company, IBO records in the late sixties:
“Nemours Jean-Baptiste and his renowned Ensemble, is truly an asset to the musical art of Haiti. It is a symbol, a landmark, in a new concept of interpreting music of Haitian origin. In a word, it is the result of the will of the Haitians to enrich their native musical repertoire.
There is no doubt that Nemours Jean-Baptiste is a musician well qualified to be able to conceive and improve upon a new swing. An unusually fine agile musical ability is one of the main ingredients in Nemours’ formula for success. His care in adapting his original ideas to the tastes of the public is acknowledged by their pleased attitude toward his inspirations.
Four years ago, to give new impetus to Haitian music, he created the rhythm known as “Konpa Direk”. This renovation was enthusiastically welcomed, and it brought immediate fame to Nemours Jean-Baptiste.
From its inception, this new rhythm was approved of by everyone. Both young and old could dance to it with ease. Its authentic styling and personality coupled with new melodies and fine arrangements bring this rhythm each day closer and closer to the forefront of popular dance music, a position, it so justly deserves.”
Another track from the album – “Immortel Compas”
43. BILLY STEWART “I Do Love You”
Billy Stewart died in a motorbike crash in January 1970 at the age of 32, a tragically early loss of a great talent who would undoubtedly have flourished with the smoother Philadelphia-style soul of the early to mid seventies – “I Do Love You” reached #26 in the US Hot 100 while the follow-up “Sitting In The Park” went two places higher
42. OS KRIPTONS “Billy Boom”
Angolan garage band Os Kriptons consisted of Gil Azevedo Lima on rhythm guitar ) ,António Veloso on drums, Carlos Alberto Sanchez on bass and José Antonio Diamantino on viola, of all things. Playing their first gig in N’Gola cinema in Luanda, they achieved a fair amount of local success with their first EP, form which “Billy Boom” is taken. This is “Manga Madura” from the same EP.
41. THE ANIMALS “Bring It On Home To Me”
Alan Price’s final single with The Animals was a cover of the Sam Cooke classic (below) – he was replaced briefly by Mickey Gallacher who went on to become a central part of Ian Dury And The Blockheads.
Look out for the next instalment of this blog in a couple of days’ time.
Stay groovy, won’t you?