Monday, July 14, 2014

The Top 200 Songs of the 60's*: #70-61

Welcome to Inside The Rock Era's presentation of The Top 200 Songs of the 60's*.  The numbers mean nothing; if you haven't caught all the songs so far, go back and listen to them!  We are up to #70-61*, and we in amongst the classics now:


"Baby Love"

Seventeen percent of The Top 200 Songs of the 60's* (34 of 200) are from the magic year of 1964, including many songs near the top. 
Holland-Dozier-Holland wrote this for the Supremes; all told, they penned 14 of the Top 10 hits for the trio.  Dozier explained to NME:  "I would collaborate with Eddie on lyrics and with Brian on melodies.  Then Brian and I would produce the songs, although Eddie should have been put down as one of the producers because he helped teach the artists the tune when the lyric was finished."
Diana Ross sang lead vocals, with background and ad-lib vocals from Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson.  The Funk Brothers were in charge of all the instruments, with Mike Valvano providing footstomps.

"Baby Love" was the second consecutive #1 for the Supremes in their run of five, spending four weeks at the top of the charts.  It achieved its chart run with competition coming from "The House Of The Rising Sun" by the Animals, "I Feel Fine", "Do Wah Diddy Diddy", "Leader Of The Pack", "Oh, Pretty Woman", "Dancing In The Street", "She's Not There", and the group's own "Come See About Me".


Petula Clark

TonyHatch got the inspiration for the song while in New York City.  He walked to Broadway and to Times Square.  While not actually downtown, Hatch was standing on the corner of 58th Street looking towards Times Square when "the melody first came to me, just as the traffic light changed."
Hatch traveled to Paris shortly afterwards to present Petula Clark with three or four songs he had acquired from publishers in New York while on his trip.  Clark was an established star in Europe far before she became successful in the United States.  In fact, she had scored multiple hits in multiple languages, including French, German, and Italian.
Clark had a recording session scheduled in London, but she wasn't very enthusiastic about the new material and asked Hatch if he was working on anything himself.  Hatch played the unfinished song he had started in New York for Clark, and she liked it.  She asked Hatch to write lyrics to the song, and two weeks later, Clark recorded "Downtown" at Pye Studios. 
Thirty minutes prior to the session, Hatch was still working on the lyrics in the studio's washroom.  "I had to connect with young record buyers...but not alienate Pet's older core audience," he said.  "The trick was to make a giant orchestra sound like rock band.  Hatch scheduled eight violinists, two viola players, two cellists, four trumpeters, four trombonists, five woodwind players with flutes and oboes, percussionists, a bassist and a pianist.  Guitarists Jimmy Page, Vic Flick and Big Jim Sullivan and drummer Ronnie Verrell also played on the song.  The group the Breakaways provided backing vocals.
"Downtown" was released on Pye Records in the U.K. and Warner Brothers in the United States.  It rocketed to #1 for two weeks against songs such as "I Feel Fine", "Baby Love", "Eight Days A Week", "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling", "My Girl" by the Temptations and "Stop!  In The Name Of Love".  "Downtown" won a Grammy Award for Best Rock & Roll Recording.
In 2003, "Downtown" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.   Hatch was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2013. 


Bobby Goldsboro 

Bobby Russell wrote this song after noticing how much a tree in his front yard and grown in four years, and he penned the song around that theme.  Russell also wrote "The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia" for Vicki Lawrence and "Little Green Apples" for O.C. Smith.

Goldsboro recorded this at the RCA Studios in Nashville, Tennessee.  Musicians who worked at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama before moving to Nashville played on the record:  bassist Norbert Putnam, Jerry Carrigan on drums and keyboardist David Briggs.  Bob Montgomery produced it for release on United Artists Records. 

"Honey" dominated the charts in the spring of 1968, landing a five-week stay at #1.  "Love Is Blue" and "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay" were the #1 songs while this one was moving up, then it fended off songs such as "Young Girl", "Cry Like A Baby", "Lady Madonna", "This Guy's In Love With You", "A Beautiful Morning", and "Mrs. Robinson". 

"Honey" sold one million copies rather quickly, and finished the year as one of The Top Songs of 1968*.



"Lady Madonna"

This song, primarily written by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon-McCartney, was the last song released on Parlophone Records in the U.K. and Capitol in the U.S.  The Beatles then created their own label, Apple Records, which they used for the remainder of their career.  McCartney says the song is a tribute to women everywhere. 

The group recorded "Lady Madonna" at London's EMI Studios prior to leaving for India.  McCartney played bass and piano and sang lead, Lennon was on rhythm guitar, George Harrison played lead, and Ringo Starr was on drums.  Jazz musician and club owner Ronnie Scott played the tenor saxophone solo, with Bill Povey also on tenor sax and Bill Jackman and Harry Klein on baritone sax.  George Martin produced the song while Ken Scott was the engineer.

"Lady Madonna" only reached #4 (for three weeks), against competition such as Love Is Blue", "Honey", "(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay" and "Scarborough Fair".  Four albums that include "Lady Madonna" are multi-platinum:  Hey Jude (three million copies sold), 1967-1970 (17), and the Beatles Anthology, Volume 2 (4) and the Beatles Box Set (3).


Aretha Franklin

We're up to the monumental song "Respect", which was written and originally recorded by Otis Redding.  Aretha Franklin had just scored her first big career hit ("I Never Loved A Man The Way I Loved You") after switching to Atlantic Records, so Atlantic scheduled session time in order for Franklin to release an album. 
Tom Dowd, engineer for Atlantic, had worked with Redding, who was with Stax Records.  The two record companies had a working arrangement, and when Dowd came into the Atlantic studio in New York City for the Franklin session, he asked, "What's the next song?"  Franklin began singing it and Dowd said, "I know that song, I made it with Otis Redding like three years ago."
It was Franklin's idea to cover the song, and she and sister Carolyn came up with the prospect of the song being from a woman's point of view.  Carolyn, who sang backing vocals with sister Erma, also contributed the lyric "Take care, TCB".  "TCB" was a phrase widely used in African-American culture which meant "take care of business".  Aretha added the famous line "sock it to me" and played piano on the track. 
Members of the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section included bassist Tommy Cogbill, Dewey Oldham (keyboards) and Roger Hawkins, who is generally credited as being the drummer on this song.  The musicians went on to work with artists such as Bob Seger, Paul Simon, Wilson Pickett and the Staple Singers, among others, and are responsible for the excellent sound behind Franklin.  Cornell Dupree played guitar, with Charles Chalmers and Willie Bridges on saxophone.  King Curtis, meanwhile, had played a sax solo the previous night on Sam & Dave's "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby", and that was used for the bridge in "Respect". 
Jerry Wexler, who was a key factor in unleashing Aretha's talent, produced this.  Wexler said in his autobiography, Rhythm and the Blues:  A Life in American Music:  "The fervor in Aretha's voice demanded that respect; and more respect also involved sexual attention of the highest order. What else would 'sock it to me' mean?"
"Respect" soared to the top for two weeks amidst competition from "Groovin'", "Windy", "Happy Together", "Penny Lane", "For What It's Worth", "Can't Take My Eyes Off You", and "Up-Up And Away".  "Respect" sold over one million copies, and its airplay has remained solid approaching its 50th birthday. 
Franklin scored Grammys for Best Rhythm & Blues Recording and Best Rhythm & Blues Solo Vocal Performance, Female.  "Respect" was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1987, and in 2002, the U.S. Library of Congress named it to the National Recording Registry.
"Respect" became an anthem for the Civil Rights and Women's Rights movements, and also transformed Franklin from a domestic star into an international one.  Inside The Rock Era featured "Respect" as one of The Most Important Songs of the Rock Era*.
Franklin's lines "Sock it to me" became a popular catch phrase on the popular television show Laugh In in the '70s.  Aretha would go on to score her biggest hits with Atlantic, and become known as the "Queen Of Soul".


"Eight Days A Week"
Up until now, the Beatles haven't placed too many in The Top 200*.  That is because their songs are all ahead of us.  For those not alive or listening to music in the 60's, this is why people say they were so great, or so dominant, and that fact becomes crystal clear in a legitimate ranking of the decade's great music, or The Top Songs of the Rock Era*.
The simple fact remains that any ranking based on radio airplay, record sales, awards won, popularity today, or any other factor other than personal bias, the group is going to dominate.  So in a ranking such as this, when you see several Beatles songs clumped together near the top, this is what is to be expected.  Be highly suspect of any similar ranking that does not have this, for that is a telltale sign that the author is injecting personal bias into the ranking.  It isn't about liking or not liking their songs; it is about recognizing what they accomplished and their solid popularity 50 years later.
The phenomenon of utter dominance is most evident in a countdown of the decade's best songs, but you can also spot it in an all-time countdown, such as The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*, which Inside The Rock Era will present next year to mark the 60th birthday of rock and roll.  The group changed music forever, and essentially ended the careers of countless Easy Listening artists, early rock and rollers, and even weakened Elvis Presley, the previous dominant performer.

Paul McCartney wrote most of this song, while Lennon added the middle eight and a few other lines.  Usually John and Paul sang lead on songs that they wrote or principally wrote. This is an exception to that, with Paul writing the song but John singing lead.
The Beatles recorded "Eight Days A Week" at London's EMI Studios.  It was the first song the group took into the studio unfinished to work on during the session, something that would later become a common occurrence.  The group had two seven-hour sessions in one day, with a 15-minute break in between.  In the first take, the group used an acoustic guitar open, then Lennon and McCartney harmonized an opening, before settling on the final guitar opening .  George Martin produced the song for release on Parlophone Records in the U.K. and Capitol in the U.S. 
"Eight Days A Week" was one of the first Popular songs to feature a "fade-in".  Lennon played acoustic rhythm guitar, Paul played bass, George Harrison played lead guitar and Ringo Starr was the drummer.  All four did handclaps on the track.
The song hit #1 against competition from "Stop!  In The Name Of Love", "Downtown", "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" and "My Girl".  



"The Boxer"
Simon & Garfunkel

This was one of the most expensive songs to produce of the Rock Era, taking over 100 hours to record.  Simon & Garfunkel and crew recorded parts at Columbia Records in New York City, parts at Columbia's studio in Nashville, Tennessee, and the chorus vocals were recorded at St. Paul's Chapel at Columbia University in New York.
Columbia boss Clive Davis sprang for a new 16-track recorder to use for this song, which features the great rolling drum sound of legendary Hal Blaine.  Fred Carter Jr. played the opening guitar part.  Paul Simon also played guitar, Joe Osborn handled the bass, Larry Knechtel played keyboards, and Ernie Freeman and Jimmy Haskell played strings.  Simon, Garfunkel, and Roy Halee produced the song for release.
Like fine wine, this is one of those songs that seems to get better with age.  It only reached #7 at the time of release, going against songs like "Aquarius", "Dizzy", "You've Made Me So Very Happy", and CCR's "Proud Mary" and "Bad Moon Rising".  But the album Bridge Over Troubled Water has now gone past the eight-million mark in sales, and Simon & Garfunkel's Greatest Hits has gone over 14 million.  Plus, airplay statistics for "The Boxer" put it as one of the most-played songs of 1969 in the 45 years since it came out.


"Ticket To Ride"

Beatles fans concluded that the "ticket" in "Ticket To Ride" meant a ticket from British Railways, and "ride" was the town of Ryde on the Isle of Wight.  Paul McCartney said to biographer Barry Miles that the fans were partly right.  Paul said that although the song was primarily about a girl riding out of the life of the narrator, they were conscious of the potential for a double meaning.
The Beatles recorded "Ticket To Ride" at EMI Studios in London.  This is the first song by the group in which McCartney played lead guitar (on the brief solo).  John Lennon had a double-tracked vocal and played the twelve-string rhythm guitar, while McCartney also played bass and sang harmony, George Harrison played a twelve-string lead guitar, and Ringo Starr played drums and tambourine.  George Martin produced the track for release on Parlophone Records in the U.K. and Capitol in the U.S.
Critic Thomas Ryan explains that by the time "Ticket To Ride" was recorded, "the Beatles had become a well-greased machine.  They were a unified whole, a single entity."  Ryan continued, "The song is built from the ground up, with the ringing electric guitar line serving as the structural cornerstone.  Every sound is integral, just as every sound, excluding the drums, is electric or amplified."
Ian MacDonald had this to say about the song, describing it as "psychologically deeper than anything the Beatles had recorded before ... extraordinary for its time — massive with chiming electric guitars, weighty rhythm, and rumbling floor tom-toms.
"Ticket To Ride" spent a week at #1, not significant unless you compare it against the competition--"Eight Days A Week", "Mr. Tambourine Man", "Stop!  In The Name Of Love", "I Can't Help Myself", "Wooly Bully", and "Help Me Rhonda".  Four million copies of the "Help" Soundtrack have sold, and "Ticket To Ride" also helped the Beatles' 1962-1966 album sell 15 million copies.


"Love Me Do"

John Lennon and Paul McCartney wrote this in 1958; John was 17 at the time and Paul was 16.  McCartney conceived of the song and was the principal songwriter, with Lennon writing the middle eight.  The two would scribble songs in a notebook, dreaming of stardom, always writing "Another Lennon-McCartney Original" at the top of the page.  The two had written several songs to this point, but this one was the first they liked enough to record.
By 1962, the Beatles were performing regularly at the Star Club in Hamburg, Germany, playing covers by famous American artists.  So it was a big deal when they introduced "Love Me Do" to the audience as one of their own.  They didn't know how their fans would react, so when it was well-received, it gave the group a lot of confidence, which led to them writing and performing more originals.
The Beatles recorded "Love Me Do" at London's EMI Studios in three different sessions, and in this one, there's an interesting twist.  At the audition for Parlophone Records in June of 1962, Pete Best was the drummer.  On the September 4th recroding session, Ringo Starr had been brought to be the new drummer.  But producer George Martin didn't know anything about Ringo's abilities, so he scheduled a September 11th session, bringing in session drummer Andy White, with Ringo on the maracas.
The session with White was included on the single, the album, and the Beatles 1962-66 album.  The version with Starr on drums was released on the albums Rarities and Past Masters, while the version with Best on drums was released on the album Anthology 1.   
McCartney and Lennon shared vocals, with Paul on bass guitar and Lennon playing acoustic rhythm and harmonica.  George Harrison played acoustic rhythm guitar. 
"Love Me Do" was released on Parlophone in the U.K., and eventually on Capitol Records in Canada, and Tollie in the United States (distributed by VeeJay Records).  It was the first Beatles single. 
Critic Ian MacDonald describes this as  "standing out like a bare brick wall in a suburban sitting-room, 'Love Me Do', [with its] blunt working class northerness, rang the first faint chime of a revolutionary bell" compared to the standard tin pan alley productions occupying the charts at the time.
"Love Me Do" made it to #1 in the wake of Beatlemania, competing with Beatles' songs "I Want To Hold Your Hand", "Can't Buy Me Love", "She Loves You", "Twist And Shout", and "Please Please Me" for attention.  Other competition included "Hello, Dolly!", "My Guy" from Mary Wells, "Chapel Of Love" and "I Get Around".


"Everybody's Talkin'"
Folk singer Fred Neil wrote this song, covered in 1969 by Harry Nilsson.  Nilsson was a Brooklyn native whose family moved to California.  He worked as a computer supervisor at a local bank when he began submitting material to music publishing companies.  The Ronettes recorded two of them, and soon artists such as Three Dog Night, Glen Campbell, the Monkees, the Turtles, Rick Nelson, Blood, Sweat, and Tears, and the Yardbirds had recorded Nilsson songs.
In 1969, producers for the movie Midnight Cowboy chose "Everybody's Talkin'" from Nilsson's album of the year before.  Rick Jarrard produced "Everybody's Talkin'" for release by RCA Victor Records.  This was one of the first songs that Phil Ramone engineered at the New York City studio that he purchased from Columbia Records.  Ramone would go on to record Billy Joel, Paul Simon, Dionne Warwick, and many others there. 
Nilsson peaked at #6 against competition from "In The Year 2525", "Honky Tonk Women", "I Can't Get Next To You", "Sugar, Sugar", "Crystal Blue Persuasion", "Spinning Wheel", "My Cherie Amour", "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town", "Sweet Caroline", "Wedding Bell Blues", and "Get Together".  Nilsson won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Vocal Performance, Male, and the song has done nothing but get stronger over the years, now going over the five-million mark in airplay.

Those songs will help you get ready for the next segment.  Join us tomorrow for numbers 60-51*!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.