Monday, July 7, 2014

The Top 200 Songs of the 60's*: #140-131

There are some smash hits in this group, and you wonder how they could be ranked this low.  That's the same feeling we got, which is why we chose to do 200 songs rather than 100--A Top 100 would leave out all of these great songs:


"You Can't Hurry Love"

The team of Holland-Dozier-Holland based this song on a Gospel song entitled "You Can't Hurry God".  It gave the Supremes another #1 song in 1966.
The Supremes recorded the song at the Motown Hitsville U.S.A. Studios.  Diana Ross once again sang lead, with background vocals by Mary Wilson and Marlene Barrow and instrumentation by the Funk Brothers.  Brian Holland and Dozier also produced the song for Motown records.  The Supremes also released an Italian version:  "L'amore verra" (Love will come).

Among the songs out at the same time:  The Association's classic "Cherish", "Summer In The City", "96 Tears", and Bobby Hebb's "Sunny".
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame selected "You Can't Hurry Love" to be in its collection of 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll.


"Come See About Me"

Here's the third in that then-record run of five straight #1's for the Supremes.  It actually topped the chart twice, toppled by and later replacing "I Feel Fine" by the Beatles.

The Supremes recorded "Come See About Me" at the Motown Hitsville U.S.A. Studios in Detroit, Michigan.  The famous trioof Holland-Dozier-Holland were called upon to write it for them, and Brian Holland and Dozier produced it as well.  Diana Ross sang lead, with background by Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson and instrumentation from the Funk Brothers.

Even though the Supremes' "Baby Love" was red-hot, Motown rush-released "Come See About Me" after finding out that Wand Records was about to release a similar version by Nella Dodds.  Dodds ran into the Motown machine, as her version halted at #74, while the Supremes' version went to #1.
Besides "Baby Love", "Come See About Me" contended with "Do Wah Diddy Diddy", Petula Clark's "Downtown", "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" and the Beatles' "I Feel Fine". 

The group performed the song on The Ed Sullivan Show two days after Christmas in 1964--they also recorded a German version of the song, titled "Johnny und Joe".


"Take A Letter, Maria"
R.B. Greaves
R.B. Greaves, who was Sam Cooke's nephew, was half Native American, and was raised on a Seminole reservation in California.  He wrote this song, but it had been recorded by Stevie Wonder and Tom Jones before Atlantic Records president Ahmet Ertegun insisted Greaves do it himself.
Greaves recorded it at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studios in Sheffield, Alabama.  Jimmy Johnson played guitar, with Roger Hawkins on drums, bassist David Hood, Barry Beckett on piano, Eddie Hinton on lead guitar, and Mel Lastie playing trumpet.
Several Atlantic artists had been sent to Muscle Shoals, but Greaves was the first to enjoy a hit.  The studio later famously recorded artists such as Bob Seger, Paul Simon, and Rod Stewart, to name a few.
"Take A Letter Maria" became a quick million-seller, and has now gone over the 2.5-million mark.  It reached its high status besides great competition coming from "Sugar, Sugar", "Wedding Bell Blues", "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" by B. J. Thomas, "Honky Tonk Women", Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta' Love", "Something" and "Come Together" by the Beatles, and "Someday We'll Be Together" by the Supremes.

"Wooly Bully"
Sam The Sham & the Pharoahs

Lead singer Domingo "Sam" Samudio wrote the song.  Sam's cat was named Wooly Bully and he took the song from there.  He planned to write a tribute to the Hully Gully dance, but after the record label feared legal action since there was another song with a similar title, Samudio rewrote the lyrics "Wooly Bully" instead of "Hully Gully".
Dave Martin played bass for the Pharoahs, with guitarist Ray Stinnet, Jerry Patterson on drums and saxophonist Butch Gibson.
Sam the Sham & the Pharoahs recorded it at Sam Phillips Recording Studios in Memphis, Tennessee.  It was released on the Memphis label Pen Records and distributed by MGM.  "Wooly Bully" sold over three million copies worldwide and was a solid #2 for two weeks. 
The songs that it had to compete with for that #2 showing:  "I Can't Help Myself", "Stop!  In The Name Of Love", "Eight Days A Week", "Ticket To Ride", "Mr. Tambourine Man", and "Help Me Rhonda",  If you learn nothing else from this website, understand the importance of a song's competition in historically ranking how good it is.



"Green River"
Creedence Clearwater Revival

John Fogerty wrote this, and the group recorded it at Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco, California.  Fogerty's song was not about the Green River in Wyoming, but about the Putah Creek near Winters, California.  John says "I went there with my family every year until I was ten.  Lot of happy memories there.  I learned how to swim there.  We stayed in a little cabin owned by a descendant of Buffalo Bill Cody." Fogerty also produced it for release by Fantasy Records.
"Green River" was one of the greatest of the #2's, competing against classics like "In The Year 2525", "Sugar, Sugar", "Crystal Blue Persuasion", "Honky Tonk Women", "Wedding Bell Blues", "Suspicious Minds", "Get Together", "Ruby, Don't Take My Love To Town", and "Sweet Caroline".  "Green River" is one of five CCR songs on The Top 200*. 

"Brown-Eyed Girl"
Van Morrison

Van Morrison wrote this song, which was the first song released by Morrison after he left the group Them.
He recorded it in New York City with guitarists Eric Gale, Al Gorgoni, and Hugh McCracken, bassist Russ Savakus, pianist Paul Griffin, and drummer Gary Chester.  The Sweet Inspirations sang backing vocals.  They also sang on "Chain Of Fools" by Aretha Franklin and "I Say A Little Prayer" by Dionne Warwick, and became Elvis Presley's backing singers in 1969. Bert Berns produced the song for release on Bang Records.
The single only peaked at #10, but had competition from "Groovin'", "Respect", "Windy", "The Letter", "Light My Fire" by the Doors", "Ode To Billie Joe", "Never My Love", and "All You Need Is Love", a formidable lineup indeed.
"Brown-Eyed Girl" is listed by BMI as the second-most played song of all-time, however according to the public, through its purchasing decisions and response to the song, there are 134 songs in the 60's that they like better.   
In 2010, "Brown-Eyed Girl" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and it is also one of the 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll in the Grammy Hall of Fame.


"Eli's Comin'"
Three Dog Night

The late Laura Nyro wrote and recorded this song originally, but it became part of the incredible run of 21 consecutive Top 40 hits for Three Dog Night. 
TDN was built around three great lead singers:  Danny Hutton, Chuck Negron and Cory Wells.  They originally went by the name of Redwood, but by 1968, they dropped that name, and hired backing musicians Michael Allsup on guitar, Jimmy Greenspoon on keyboards, bassist Joe Schermie, and drummer Floyd Sneed, and named themselves Three Dog Night.  The group was one of the top acts of the late 60's and early 70's.   

Gabriel Mekler produced the song for Dunhill Records in the U.S. and Stateside in the U.K.  Going against songs such as "Sugar, Sugar", "Wedding Bell Blues", "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head", "I Can't Get Next To You", "Honky Tonk Women", "Something" and "Come Together" by the Beatles, "Leaving On A Jet Plane", "Suspicious Minds", and "Someday We'll Be Together", the song only reached #10 at the time, but the competition alone gives it a strong ranking.  Plus, the strength of "Eli's Comin'" in radio airplay and continued sales since its release logically have it ranked ahead of songs which achieved higher rankings at different time periods that weren't as strong.



"Can't Take My Eyes Off You"
Frankie Valli

The original title (written by Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio) was "Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You", which has led to much confusion.  Frankie Valli shortened the title to the correct one shown above.
Joey Cass played drums, Bob Crewe was on keyboards, Joe Long was the drummer, and Tommy DeVito played lead guitar.  Crewe produced the song for Frankie, and it was released as a single on Philips Records.
"Can't Take My Eyes Off You" reached #2 in the midst of competition from "Groovin'", "Respect", "Windy", "Ode To Billie Joe", "Happy Together", "Light My Fire" by the Doors and "All You Need Is Love" and sold over one million copies.  It was used by NASA as a wake-up song for one of the missions of the U.S. Space Shuttle. 

"You Keep Me Hangin' On


Holland-Dozier-Holland set out to intentionally write a Rock song for the Supremes.  "You Keep Me Hangin' On" was the tremendous result, and it was part of a second streak of four number one songs for the group, which famously had five in a row from 1964-1965.
Dozier came up with the stuttering guitar line, inspired by a radio signal for news flashes.  Motown session guitarist Robert White played guitar on the song.   
The song competed and won against songs like "I'm A Believer", "Cherish" from the Association, and Johnny Rivers' "Poor Side Of Town".  "You Keep Me Hangin' On"
 was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.


"I Can't Get Next To You"

There are 41 songs from 1969 to make The Top 200*, more than any other year.  Here's one of them.

Motown songwriters Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield wrote this one for the Temps; Whitfield also produced it at Motown's Hitsville U.S.A. Studios.  All five members of the Temptations (Dennis Edwards, Eddie Kendricks, Paul Williams, Melvin Franklin and Otis Williams) sing verses of the song, then all join in on the chorus.  The famous Funk Brothers provide backing for the song.
"I Can't Get Next To You" rose to #1 against competition such as "Sugar, Sugar" and "Suspicious Minds".  "I Can't Get Next To You" also topped the R&B chart for five weeks, and became one of the top-selling songs in the group's career, now over two million copies sold.

Catch Inside The Rock Era tomorrow for numbers 130-121!

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