Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Top 200 Songs of the 60's*: #130-121

We've been working on this one for quite a while now.  The 60's were an important decade to the Rock Era, responsible for the sound we still here to this day.  Inside The Rock Era is featuring the great music of the decade with The Top 200 Songs of the 60's*, and we continue with ten more:


"Chapel Of Love"
Dixie Cups

This next song was the first single released on Red Bird Records, which was formed by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, Jerry Leiber, Mike Stoller and George Goldner.  Barry and Greenwich wrote the song although Phil Spector demanded songwriting credit.  Spector was planning to have the Ronettes record it, and was furious when Barry and Greenwich beat him to it by having the Dixie Cups record it. 

The Dixie Cups consisted of Barbara Ann Hawkins, Rosa Lee Hawkins, and Joan Marie Johnson.  Joe Jones produced the song for release.  "Chapel Of Love" was a #1 smash for three weeks, fighting off competition such as "I Get Around", "Can't Buy Me Love", "Twist and Shout", "My Guy", and "Love Me Do".



"Dancing In The Street"
Martha & the Vandellas

Marvin Gaye, Ivory Jo Hunter, and William "Mickey" Stevenson wrote this song.  Stevenson got the idea for dancing after watching people on the streets of Detroit, Michigan cool off in the summer when they opened the fire hydrants.  They appeared to be dancing on water.  When Stevenson presented the song to Gaye, it was a ballad, but Marvin felt the lyrics required an upbeat, danceable song.
The two wrote it with Kim Weston in mind, but she passed.  When Martha Reeves came to Motown, they gave it to her, and she and the Vandellas recorded it. 
Hunter was a solo artist himself, but his forte was producing.  He liked everything about this song except the drum track, feeling it needed more "bump and grind".  Then, he thought of something.  Hunter went out of the studio, went to his car, and came back with a crow bar.  He recorded the sound of it hitting a concrete floor, and Hunter had the sound he wanted.
Stevenson was the primary producer on the song.  Gaye also played drums, and Martha and the Vandellas recorded the song at the Hitsville U.S.A. Studios in Detroit, Michigan.  The song was released on Gordy Records, a division of Motown.
"Dancing In The Street" went to #2, with great songs all around--"The House Of The Rising Sun", "Baby Love", "I Get Around", "And I Love Her", "Do Wah Diddy Diddy", "Oh, Pretty Woman", "Where Did Our Love Go", and "A Hard Day's Night".  "Dancing In The Street" sold over one million copies and has been played three million times.  In 2006, "Dancing In The Street" was one of 50 recordings preserved by the Library of Congress to the National Recording Registry.

"Poor Side Of Town"
Johnny Rivers

Up to this point, Johnny Rivers had done well with uptempo songs, remakes that were often recorded at Whisky A-Go-Go in L.A., where Rivers was the resident headliner.  Johnny got an idea for a song that he played for Lou Adler.  The two worked on it, and recorded it with drummer Hal Blaine, keyboardist Larry Knechtel and bassist Joe Osborn, with Rivers on guitar. 
Rivers and Adler felt the song needed strings, and arranger Marty Paich (who also worked with Ray Charles and Mel Torme, among others) contributed his talents in that area.  But the feeling around Imperial Records was that Rivers shouldn't mess with his formula.  According to Rivers, "Al Bennett and those guys were goin', 'Man, don't start coming out with ballads.  You're gonna' kill your career.  You've got a good thing goin' with this funky trio rock sound--stay with that."
But Rivers felt he had something, and the song was released on Imperial Records.  Johnny was right, as "Poor Side Of Town" became his only #1 song.  Rivers reached the summit with great competition from the Association's "Cherish", "Reach Out I'll Be There" by the Four Tops, "You Can't Hurry Love", "Summer In The City", "Good Vibrations", and Bobby Hebb's "Sunny".  "Poor Side Of Town", one of 15 songs in The Top 200* from 1966, has now been played three million times on the radio.


Tommy Roe

"Dizzy" was a worldwide smash for Tommy Roe.  He co-wrote it along with Freddy Weller, and Jimmy Haskell wrote the arrangement for the strings.  Session wizard Hal Blaine played drums, Larry Knechtel was on keyboards, while bassist Joe Osborne and guitarist Ben Benay also backed Roe up.  Roe produced the single for ABC Records.
"Dizzy" hit #1 for four weeks in the United States and #1 in the U.K. and Canada as well.  The competition was great also, with "Aquarius", Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through The Grapevine", "Everyday People", "Crimson And Clover", CCR's "Proud Mary", and "The Boxer" all being out at the same time.  "Dizzy" sold well over one million copies, and was one of the biggest hits of the year.  


"California Girls"
Beach Boys
Brian Wilson and Mike Love wrote this song, which the Beach Boys recorded at Western Studios in Hollywood, California.  Western became one of the most successful independent studios in the world. 
Wilson wrote the song on the piano, playing the famous intro over and over.  He then added a couple chords, and within 30 minutes, had the line "well east-coast girls are hip, I really dig the styles they wear."  The next day, he and Love finished the song.  Wilson also produced the song for release by Capitol Records.
"California Girls" is the Beach Boys' first to feature vocalist Bruce Johnston, who was added to fill in for Wilson for live shows.  Some amazing musicians back up the Beach Boys on the song:  drummer Hal Blaine,  Leon Russell on piano, and Al de Lory on organ.  Jerry Cole played 12-string guitar, Hal Roberts played guitar, Carol Kaye was on bass, Lyle Ritz was on upright bass, Frank Capp playedvibraphone, Steve Douglas played tenor sax, Jay Migliori played baritone sax, Jack Nimitz played bass saxophone, Billy Strange played tambourine on the track, and Roy Caton was on trumpet.  Love sang lead on "California Girls", and in addition to Johnston's vocals, you had Al Jardine, Carl Wilson (who also played 12-string), and Dennis and Brian Wilson.
It reached #3, and has remained rock steady ever since, having been played over four million times on the radio.  "California Girls" competed against "Mr. Tambourine Man", "Satisfaction", "I Can't Help Myself", "Like A Rolling Stone", "Wooly Bully", "I Got You Babe", "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers, and "Help!" by the Beatles. 
"California Girls" is featured in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.


"Will You Love Me Tomorrow"

At #128, one of the great songs written by Stanley, Idaho's Carole King, who wrote "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" with her ex-husband, the late Gerry Goffin.  Goffin and King worked for Don Kirshner's Aldon Music, and were asked to write a song for the Shirelles.
When the song was finished, Tony Orlando wanted to record it, but Kirshner explained that it was "a girl's lyric--that no teenage boy would ever say these words".  Orlando, however, recorded an answer song entitled "Not Just Tomorrow But Always" using the name Bertell Dache.
Shirley Owens sang lead on the song, accompanied by Addie "Micki" Harris, Beverly Lee, and Doris Coley of the Shirelles and a string arrangement.  Gary Chester played drums, and King played timpani on the track.
"Will You Love Me Tomorrow" went to #1 and sold over one million copies, the first song by an all-female group to reach #1 in the Rock Era.  The McGuire Sisters had three #1 hits in the 50's, but they were all pre-Rock Era.


"You Really Got Me"
Ray Davies, part of one of the most famous brother acts of the Rock Era*, wrote this song with help from brother Dave, built around perfect fifths and octaves, called power chords.  It thus became the first hit song of any genre to feature power chords, and not only was a model song for hard rock and heavy metal music to follow, but had tremendous influence in punk rock as well.  Not to mention that "You Really Got Me" is pretty much a garage rock staple.
The Kinks had been under pressure from their record company to produce a hit song, as two previous releases had failed.  If this one didn't make it, there was a good chance the Kinks would have been dropped from the label.  But to make certain that "You Really Got Me" was a hit, Davies felt the label should invest the time and money into giving it the proper sound as he had imagined.  Davies won out, and in the end, the final version released to the public was the sound that he wanted.
The original version was over six minutes long, and the first recorded version was too slow and pure for Ray's satisfaction.  So Dave made modifications in his amp (see below) to give the record the "live" sound the group wanted.
The Kinks recorded "You Really Got Me" at the IBC Studios in London.  Shel Talmy produced the song, which was released on Pye Records in the U.K. and Reprise in the United States.  The distorted guitar was the result of Dave slicing the speaker cone of his guitar amplifier with a razor blade and poking it with a pin.  Ray sang lead and played rhythm guitar, Pete Quaife played bass, while Mick Avory played the tambourine.  Additionally, session musicians Bobby Graham (drums), Arthur Greenslade (piano) were brought in to play on the track.
"You Really Got Me" only reached #7, but its strength since then has showed it was perhaps a little underrated at the time.  Factor in that it was released the same time as "Do Wah Diddy Diddy", "I Feel Fine", "The House Of The Rising Sun", "A Hard Day's Night", "Oh, Pretty Woman", and "Baby Love", and it ranks ahead of many songs that attained a higher rank in their respective time periods.  In 1999, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.  


"Eve Of Destruction"
Barry McGuire

Here's one of 26 songs in The Top 200* from 1965.  Although the Vietnam War was not raging by this point, Barry McGuire's song certainly contains references to it. 
 P.F. Sloan wrote a protest song, originally shown to the Byrds for recording, but they rejected it.  The Turtles and Jan & Dean both included it on albums, but McGuire's was far and away the most popular. 
The song hit home with real, "hit you in the gut" lyrics: 
"You’re old enough to kill, but not for votin’" points out that in 1965, men had to register for the draft in the United States when they were 18, but that the minimum voting age in all but four states was 21.
"And even the Jordan River has bodies floatin’" references The War over Water.
The song mentions Selma, Alabama, the home of Bloody Sunday. 
"You may leave here for four days in space, but when you return it's the same old place" refers to the Gemini 4 space mission, which lasted just over four days in 1965.
The words "The pounding of the drums, the pride and disgrace", are about the assassination of U.S. President John F. Kennedy.
 McGuire hired some of L.A.'s best session musicians:  Hal Blaine on drums, P.F. Sloan on guitar, and Larry Knechtel on bass.  Sloan, Lou Adler, and Steve Barri produced "Eve Of Destruction" for Dunhill Records in the U.S. and RCA in Canada.
McGuire recorded it on a Thursday, and by the following Monday, it was being played on the radio.  It went to #1, and the undeniable appeal of the message was heard as far off as Norway, where it too went to #1.
McGuire went on to become a "born-again Christian", and for some bizarre reason renounced the song for many years, as if being a Christian had anything remotely to do with supporting war, or opposing equal rights.  That's ironic, because Christ himself probably would have been walking the earth singing the song.  But unfortunately McGuire got so caught up in the excitement of the discovery that he forgot to listen to the Man himself.

"Twist And Shout"

This legendary group places 28 songs in The Top 200 Songs of the 60's*, far more than any other act, as an child of five would expect. Here's one of the few Beatles hits written by someone else.  Credit on this one goes to Phil Medley & Bert Berns (Bert Russell), who originally named the song "Shake It Up, Baby", which was recorded by the Top Notes.  The Isley Brothers did a great version as well, but it was the Beatles who scored the biggest hit.
The Beatles recorded "Twist And Shout" at EMI Studios in London.  John Lennon sang lead, George Martin produced the song for Tollie Records.
The song peaked at #2 for four weeks, kept out by three other Beatles smashes, "I Want To Hold Your Hand", "My Guy",  and "Can't Buy Me Love".  Other competition included "Please Please Me", "My Guy", and "Hello, Dolly!"  In 1986, "Twist And Shout" was featured in two movies, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and Back to School, which led to the song re-charting and peaking at #23.


"Help Me Rhonda"
Beach Boys

Brian Wilson and Mike Love co-wrote "Help Me Rhonda", which became the Beach Boys' second #1 song.  It is one of 26 songs in The Top 200 Songs of the 60's* from 1965.  The group recorded it over two days at Western Recording Studios in Hollywood, California.  Wilson also produced it, initially as an album track, then later to re-record it as a single.
Al Jardine sang lead for the first time on a Beach Boys single.  Carl Wilson, Bill Pitman, and Glen Campbell played guitar, with Billy Strange on ukulele, bassist Ray Pohlman, Leon Russell on piano, drummer Hal Blaine, who also played timbales, Daryl Dragon (later of the Captain & Tennille) on organ, Steve Douglas and Plas Johnson on tenor saxophone, Jay Migliori on baritone sax, Billy Lee Riley on harmonica, and Julius Wechter on claves.  Brian, Carl and Dennis Wilson and Love of the Beach Boys sang backing vocals.
"Help Me Rhonda" was #1 for two weeks, competing against the Beatles' "Eight Days A Week" and "Ticket To Ride", "Stop! In The Name Of Love" by the Supremes, "I Can't Help Myself", "Wooly Bully", "Satisfaction", and "Mr. Tambourine Man".  "Help Me Rhonda" is well over two million in radio airplay.

Join us tomorrow on Inside The Rock Era as we get closer to The Top 100*!

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