Friday, July 4, 2014

The Top 200 Songs of the 60's*: #170-161

We're getting into some very popular songs, and each day, they'll keep getting better.  We continue our special feature of The Top 200 Songs of the 60's* at #170*:


"Summer Rain"
Johnny Rivers

Here's what you might call a late bloomer.  Released as a single by Johnny Rivers, it only reached #14.  But listeners today appreciate the song and its nostalgic look at the magic year of 1967, and specifically the Beatles' landmark Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album. 

"Summer Rain" had tough competition coming out in '67.  It had to face "I'm A Believer", "To Sir With Love", "Hello Goodbye", "Never My Love" and "Incense And Peppermints", among others, which stalled momentum.  But "Summer Rain" continues to gain in airplay, surpassing other songs that ranked ahead of it at the time.


"All My Loving"
Although they were already off and running in Europe, this is the first song that most Americans heard from the Beatles, as it was their opening number on their iconic performance on The Ed Sullivan Show on February 9, 1964 (with an audience of 73 million people).  It's an example of the public dictating to a record company rather than the other way around.
Neither Parlophone Records in the U.K. nor its EMI affiliate Capitol in the U.S. were going to release the song.  But radio stations in both continents put the song in heavy airplay, forcing EMI to release it as the title track of an EP, and a single in Canada, where it went to #1.  The Canadian single was imported into the United States in sufficient quantities to allow "All My Loving" to peak at #45, though we now know that had it been released as a single, it would have been closer to the #1 position it attained in Canada. 
Paul McCartney wrote the song (credited to Lennon-McCartney).  It was the first time that Paul wrote the lyrics before the music.  It was originally a poem to his girlfriend Jane Asher, whom he met when she interviewed him for the magazine Radio Times.
McCartney sang lead--his voice was double-tracked so as to bring it out on the record.  John Lennon always considered his grinding rhythm guitar work on "All My Loving" (with his 1958 Rickenbacker 325) to be among his best.  Ringo Starr played drums and George Harrison was on guitar.  George Martin produced the song, released on album by Parlophone in the U.K. and Capitol Records in the United States.
How is a #45 song amongst The Top 200 of the 60's*?  You can't do it on speculation; that is what gets Rolling Stone and other outfits in trouble regarding their credibility.  You have to base it on logic--hence our copyrighted mathematical formula*.  Without giving too much away, "All My Loving" is included on albums that have sold over 33 million copies--it was first introduced on Meet the Beatles!, then included on the 15-million selling "Red" album the Beatles 1962-1966, and also featured on the Beatles Anthology, Volume 1, and several others.

"Stand By Me"
Ben E. King
When Ben E. King originally wrote this song, he had his group the Drifters in mind for it.  King collaborated on the song with the famous songwriting team of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, who wrote many of Elvis Presley's early hits.  "Stand By Me" is inspired by the spiritual "Lord Stand By Me", along with two lines in Psalms 46: 2-3. 
Romeo Penque played saxophone, Ernie Hayes was on piano, Al Caiola and Charles McCracken handled guitars, with bassist Lloyd Trotman, Phil Kraus on percussion, and Gary Chester on drums.  Leiber and Stoller produced the song for Atco Records.
"Stand By Me" went to #1 on the R&B chart and #4 overall, fighting songs such as Del Shannon's "Runaway", "Tossin' and Turnin'" and "Blue Moon" by the Marcels to attain that rank.
King's song is so popular that there have been over 400 recorded versions of the song, including those by John Lennon and Mickey Gilley.  There was even a 1986 movie titled after King's song, which enabled "Stand By Me" to hit the Top 10 (#9) 25 years after its initial run.  In 1999, BMI named the song as the fourth most-performed song of the 20th century, with seven million performances.  In 2012, the Songwriters Hall of Fame acknowledged "Stand By Me" with its Towering Song Award. 


"Hot Fun In The Summertime"
Sly & the Family Stone

This song, written and produced by Sly Stone, capitalized on the group's outstanding performance at Woodstock in 1969.  Sly played piano and sang lead vocals, with great bass guitar and bass backing vocals by Larry Graham, Freddie Stone on guitar, Greg Errico on drums, Jerry Martini playing tenor sax and Cynthia Robinson on trumpet.
The San Francisco group faced off against classics like "In The Year 2525" by Zager & Evans, "Something" by the Beatles, "Honky Tonk Women", "Sugar, Sugar", Sweet Caroline" and "Crystal Blue Persuasion", just to name a few.  The Epic Records single still managed to reach #2 for a couple of weeks.



"You've Made Me So Very Happy"
Blood, Sweat & Tears

Ahh, we're up to one of The Top Vocalists of the Rock Era*, David Clayton-Thomas.  He really shines on a song written by Brenda and Patrice Holloway, Frank Wilson and Berry Gordy. 
Then you add in the great horns of Blood, Sweat & Tears, and it became one of The Top #2 Songs of the Rock Era*, remaining the Best Man for three weeks.  Oh, and that's going against songs such as "Aquarius", "Get Back", "Crimson and Clover", "Proud Mary", "Everyday People" and "Dizzy". 
 Lew Soloff and Chuck Winfield played trumpet and flugelhorn, trombonist Jerry Hyman also played the recorder, Fred Llipsius was on alto sax and piano, Steve Katz played guitar, harmonica, and sang backing vocals, you had bassist Jim Fielder, Dick Halligan played keyboards, flute and trombone, and was also on backing vocals, and Bobby Colomby handled drums and percussion and contributed backing vocals.  The great James William Guercio produced the song for BS & T on Columbia Records.


"Fun, Fun, Fun"
Beach Boys

A lot of great music, huh?  And we're just getting started in our salute to The Top 200 Songs of the 60's*!
The song was written by Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys, with lead singer Mike Love contributing many of the lyrics.   You combine a Chuck Berry guitar intro with a song about cars and girls, and you have a smash hit. 
When rock and roll met five-part harmony in Hawthorne, California, you had the amazing sound of the Beach Boys.  Al Jardine played bass and rhythm guitar, Brian played bass and piano, Carl Wilson was on lead guitar and Dennis Wilson provided drums.  "Fun, Fun, Fun" helped the album Shut Down, Volume 2 become the fourth-biggest-selling rock album of 1964.
Brian Wilson produced the song on Capitol Records.  It was released a month after being recorded.  "Fun, Fun, Fun" reached #5, not a great peak position compared to many of these songs, but then consider that it was out at the same time as "I Want To Hold Your Hand", "Louie, Louie", "Can't Buy Me Love", "She Loves You", "Twist And Shout", "Hello, Dolly!" and "Please Please Me".


"Holly Holy"
Neil Diamond

The great Neil Diamond wrote the lyrics and music to "Holly Holy", which served as the follow-up to "Sweet Caroline".  Like many of Neil's songs, it was influenced by gospel music.  A quiet acoustic guitar opens the song, punctuated by a tremendous bass line throughout.  The song gradually builds to a crescendo, accented by a rousing gospel choir supported by strings throughout.  Diamond's got God in him; this isn't an intellectual song--you feel it in your heart.
The vocal and basic instrumental track was recorded at American Studios in Memphis, Tennessee.   Lee Holdridge arranged the great sound of the strings.  He flew to Los Angeles to help with the orchestral overdubs, mixed at Sound Lab Studios.  There, the large chorus stood on bleachers to create the maximized, layered sound.  Three great session players played on "Holly Holy"--drummer Hal Blaine, Tommy Cogbill provided the memorable bass, and keyboardist Larry Knechtel.  Tom Catalano and Cogbill combined to produce the song for Neil. 
"Holly Holy" was released as a single on Uni Records.  It went to #6 in the great year of 1969 and went over two million in sales.  It's competition:  "Sugar, Sugar", "Wedding Bell Blues", "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head", Led Zeppelin's "Whole Lotta' Love", "I Can't Get Next To You", Elvis's "Suspicious Minds", "Leaving On A Jet Plane", and the Beatles' "Something".


Classics IV
This extremely diverse group began as a cover band; they could perform any Top 40 song note for note. 
This was a J.R. Cobb/Buddy Buie collaboration, this time with help from arranger Emory Gordy.  This song is all about the chord progressions and key changes. It is a masterfully written piece with a powerful theme and hook line.
When the group started out as the Classics, lead singer Dennis Yost was known as "the stand-up drummer", because he played standing up.  Drummer Kim Venable was recruited so Yost could become the frontman.  The group at this time also included guitarists Cobb and Walter Eaton and keyboardist Dean Daughtry.  Buie, who had been the group's guitarist in the beginning, became the group's producer and one of its chief songwriters.
"Traces" was a #2 , million-selling smash in 1969--only Tommy Roe's "Dizzy" kept "Traces" from being a #1 song.  And the quality of competition ("Aquarius", Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through The Grapevine", "Crimson And Clover", CCR's "Proud Mary" and "You've Made Me So Very Happy") makes this Classics IV entry a strong #2. 
Buie, Cobb, and Daughtry went on to form the Atlanta Rhythm Section in 1974.


"96 Tears"
? and the Mysterians

Written and produced by lead singer Rudy Martinez (known as ?, or Question Mark), the song climbed to #1 in both the U.S. and Canada.  "96 Tears" is known for its pulsating organ licks played by Frank Rodriguez on a Vox Continental.  It is one of the first great garage band hits--some even credit the song for starting the punk rock movement. 

Bobby Balderrama played lead guitar, with Frank Lugo on bass and Eddie Serrato the drummer.  "
96 Tears" was recorded in Bay City, Michigan and released initially on the small Pa-Go-Go label before being picked up nationally by Cameo Records.  In 1966, "96 Tears" was out the same time as "Cherish", "You Can't Hurry Love", "Good Vibrations", "Reach Out I'll Be There" and "You Keep Me Hangin' On".  The song went Gold and has now been played over three million times.


"Last Train To Clarksville"

The Monkees made their debut with this song on August 16, 1966.  They recorded the Tommy Boyce/Bobby Hart song at the RCA Victor Studios in Hollywood, California.  Boyce & Hart also produced the song, released on Colgems Records.  The duo wrote it as a protest of the Vietnam War; hence the last line "I don't know if I'm ever coming home." 

Less than three months later, "Last Train To Clarksville" was #1, one of three that the group scored in their career.  It had essentially the same competition as "96 Tears", and knocked that song out of the top spot.

We began The Top 200 Songs of the 60's* on July 1, and we'll have a new group of ten songs each day until we reach #1.  Join us tomorrow on Inside The Rock Era!

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