Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Top 200 Songs of the 60's*: #80-71

Inside The Rock Era is presenting The Top 200 Songs of the 60's* this summer for your musical entertainment.  It's an incredible decade--although the 50's gave birth to rock & roll, the music grew up in the 60's.  We hope the songs not only bring back great memories for you, but that you enjoy the music.  Where else can you hear all these great songs in one place back-to-back? 


"This Guy's In Love With You"
Herb Alpert

This is a Burt Bacharach and Hal David collaboration, just the kind of song A&M boss Herb Alpert was looking for at the time.  Alpert asked Bacharach if he had any songs lying around that were never recorded.  He made it a habit to ask songwriters that question often, because many times a "pearl" was found.
Bacharach suggested this one, and Alpert sang it on the 1968 television special The Beat of the Brass.  Numerous people called in to radio stations to request the song, so Alpert released it as a single.  Hal Blaine played drums, Larry Knechtel was on keyboards, and Joe Osborne was the bassist, with Alpert playing his recognizable trumpet.
It went quickly to #1, and remained there for four weeks.  On the Easy Listening, or Adult chart, it was even more popular, topping that genre for ten weeks to become one of The Top 100 Adult Songs of the Rock Era*. 
This was a great song, but what made it an oddity was that Alpert, as leader of the Tijuana Brass, had become famous for recording instrumentals.  He had never scored a #1 song until he sang this; in fact, "This Guy's In Love With You" was the first-ever #1 song at A&M Records.  Eleven years later, Alpert became the first (and only) artist to reach #1 with both a vocal and an instrumental, when his 1979 song "Rise" went to the top.
What is more ironic is that "This Guy's In Love With You", sung by an artist who to that point had only recorded instrumentals, had a #1 vocal song that was succeeded at #1 by the instrumental "Grazing In The Grass" by Hugh Masekela.  And, on the Adult chart, Alpert's vocal smash was preceded and succeeded by #1 instrumentals, "The Good, The Bad And The Ugly" by Hugo Montenegro, and "Classical Gas" by Mason Williams.
Besides the instrumentals mentioned above, "This Guy's In Love With You" competed against another instrumental, "The Horse", as well as "Mrs. Robinson", "Honey", "Lady Madonna", "Jumping Jack Flash", "Young Girl", and "Hello, "I Love You".



"Cathy's Clown"
Everly Brothers

Phil and Don Everly wrote this song, which became the Everly's first single on Warner Brothers after they had spent three years recording for Cadence Records.

"Cathy's Clown" climbed to #1 for five weeks in the U.S. and seven weeks at #1 in the U.K.  It achieved these feats against songs such as Percy Faith's classic "(Theme From) A Summer Place", "I'm Sorry" by Brenda Lee, Elvis Presley's "Stuck On You", and "Puppy Love" by Paul Anka.  A five-week #1 would be ranked much higher were it not for the comparatively weaker competition.  There are five songs from 1960 in The Top 200 of the 60's*, lower than any other year in the decade. 


"Louie, Louie"

Here we have a song that was behind Boise, Idaho's Paul Revere and the Raiders in the race for the best version when Mitch Miller of Columbia Records, who did not like rock & roll, threw in the towel on the Raiders' version.  That towel let the Kingsmen enjoy a huge hit with what has become a rock & roll standard.
Robert Lindahl, then the president and chief engineer of NWI and the sound engineer for both recordings, noted that the Raiders' version didn't have the "garbled lyrics" nor "an amateurish recording technique".  But because of a company decision, it was the Kingsmen who had the hit.
R&B singer Richard Berry had a much slower beat in mind when he wrote this in 1955.  Berry and his group the Pharaohs received some airplay in 1957, but when garage bands heard it, all hell broke loose.
The Kingsmen went into the studio to record it.  It cost all of $50.  I think they made their money back.  As mentioned above, Paul Revere and the Raiders recorded their version the day after the Kingsmen did at the very same studio.  Their version was musically superior, and radio stations in the Northwest rushed to play it.  It became the #1 song in most of the West and Hawai'i.  But then, just as the song was about to break nationally, Mitch Miller, A&R Man of Columbia Records, not a fan of rock & roll, pulled the plug on the Raiders' version. 
Jack Ely handled lead vocals for the Kingsmen.  However, Ely quit the group before this became a hit when Lynn Easton assumed vocals and ordered Ely to play drums.  According to Ely, the studio had a 19-foot ceiling, where producers suspended a microphone.  Ely claims the mic was responsible for the "garbled" lyrics, but in the Raiders' version, again recorded in the same studio, the lyrics are clearly heard.
A significant mistake on the Kingsmen's version can be heard just after the lead guitar break.  The group was playing the riff two times before the lead vocalist comes back in.  But Ely came in too soon, before the riff.  He realized his mistake and stopped short, but the band didn't realize this.  Drummer Lynn Easton covered the pause with drum fill, but the rest of the Kingsmen began singing the chorus before the verse ended.  They then recovered.
Dick Peterson played guitar on "Louie Louie".  Ken Chase and Jerry Dennon produced the song initially for Jerden Records, before Wand Records picked it up for distribution.

"Louie Louie" ranks as one of The Top #2 Songs of the Rock Era*, never getting to the top, but spending six weeks at #2.  The competition was not great, as "Louie Louie" was held back by "Sugar Shack", then fell as "I Want To Hold Your Hand" and "She Loves You" shot up the charts.
It was Wand that is largely responsible for the song's success with a brilliant marketing ploy.  Rumor circulated (later proven to be started by the company) that the lyrics to the song were intentionally slurred by the Kingsmen to cover the fact that it was laced with profanity.  Of course, all that did was get teens to buy the song and play it over and over trying to hear what the lyrics really said.
In the end, it was a massive trick played on the teenagers.  There was no profanity at all.  But by the time the truth was revealed, the group had sold a lot of records enabling them to achieve a major hit.
But it gets better.  The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation started a 31-month inquiry into the matter before concluding that they were "unable to interpret any of the wording in the record".  You can't make this stuff up.
By this time, the Kingsmen had split in two.  Two rival editions--one with Ely as lead singer, the other with Easton the frontman, competed for live audiences across the country.  A settlement was reached in 1964 giving Easton the right to the Kingsmen name, but requiring all future pressings of the single to display "Lead vocal by Jack Ely" on the label.
In 2003, 754 guitarists converged on the "Louie Fest" in Tacoma, Washington to raise money for music programs.  Peterson of the Kingsmen was one of those playing that day.
"Louie Louie" has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Grammy Hall of Fame and has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts. 


"I Can't Stop Loving You"
Ray Charles

Which brings us to #77*, one of seven songs in our special from 1962.  Don Gibson ("Oh Lonesome Me") wrote this song in 1958, and Kitty Wells had a big Country hit with it.  Ray Charles decided to record an album of Country and Western music, so producer Sid Feller put together tapes including about 150 Country songs for Charles.  Ray remembered "I Can't Stop Loving You" from listening to The Grand Ole Opry.
When Charles was finished with the project, he had a classic.  Ray recorded the album at United Western Recorders in Los Angeles.
The album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music sold 700,000 copies in its first month.  "I Can't Stop Loving You" was not initially released as a single, but DJ's began playing it from the album.  Tab Hunter ("Young Love") recorded his own version and put it out as a single.
This lit a fire under Charles.  ABC Records edited the album version, released the single, and promoted it heavily, including purchasing a full-page ad in Billboard magazine.  The single went to #1 for five weeks, becoming one of the top songs early in the Rock Era.  It competed against Little Eva's "The Locomotion", "Soldier Boy" by the Shirelles, "Roses Are Red" by Bobby Vinton, Neil Sedaka's "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" and "Johnny Angel" by Shelly Fabares.
"I Can't Stop Loving You" won the Grammy for Best Rhythm and Blues Recording. 


"Bad Moon Rising"
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Here's the fourth of five songs by Creedence Clearwater Revival to make the elite list.
Lead singer and lead guitarist John Fogerty wrote and produced "Bad Moon Rising" for Fantasy Records.  Tom Fogerty was on rhythm guitar, with ace drummer Doug Clifford and bassist Stu Cook.  CCR recorded the song at Wally Heider Studios in San Francisco.
Fogerty explained in an interview with Rolling Stone (issue #649) that the lyrics were inspired by the movie The Devil and Daniel Webster, in which a hurricane blows through town.  Fogerty said the song is about the "apocalypse that was going to be visited upon us."
CCR amazingly never hit #1 in their career, although several should have been.  They are tied with Madonna for the most #2 songs of the Rock Era (six).  "Put aside the #2 peak for a moment and realize that this song was up against some of the top songs in history:  Aquarius", "In The Year 2525", "The Boxer", "Get Back", "Crystal Blue Persuasion",  "One", "My Cherie Amour",  "In The Ghetto", "You've Made Me So Very Happy" and "Spinning Wheel" by Blood Sweat and Tears.
"Bad Moon Rising" went Platinum (two million sold) and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
"Leaving On A Jet Plane"
Peter, Paul & Mary

John Denver wrote this while he was a member of the Chad Mitchell Trio  He recorded a solo version as "Babe, I Hate To Go".   Denver spent the money himself to have 250 copies of an album pressed.   Producer Milt Okun talked Denver into changing the title, and the Chad Mitchell Trio recorded the song that year, as did Spanky & Our Gang and Peter, Paul and Mary.  Okun also happened to be the producer of both the Chad Mitchell Trio and Peter, Paul and Mary.  Peter, Paul and Mary released it two years later as a single, and that is when it became a hit.
This gave Denver some jobs at clubs and appearances on television, which helped make him one of The Top 100 Artists of the Rock Era*.  As for Peter, Paul and Mary, "Leaving On A Jet Plane" became not only their only #1 song and biggest career hit, but their last hit.
PP & M was Peter Yarrow (vocals and guitar), Paul Stookey (vocals and guitar) and Mary Travers (lead vocals).  Phil Ramone, who later went on to great fame as producer for Billy Joel, among others, was the engineer.
We have stressed the importance of competition in going back in time to determine a song's all-time popularity.  "Leaving On A Jet Plane" contended with the following:  "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head", "Honky Tonk Women", "Something" and "Come Together" by the Beatles, "Sugar, Sugar", "Wedding Bell Blues", "I Can't Get Next To You" by the Temptations, "Everybody's Talkin'", "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye", "Thank You" from Sly & the Family Stone, "Suspicious Minds", and "Someday We'll Be Together".  Not a misprint--all of those songs were out at the same magical time.


4 Seasons
This group had 18 different stage names prior to becoming the 4 Seasons in 1960, including the Four Lovers and the Varietones.  They even appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show as the Four Lovers, but couldn't break through.  They sang backup on several songs for other artists, including Danny & the Juniors.  In the summer of 1962, they performed at local bars in New Jersey before they struck gold with this smash.  
Bob Gaudio, organist and vocalist with the 4 Seasons, formed the group the previous year with lead singer Frankie Valli.  Prior to leaving for a rehearsal, Gaudio wrote this song in about 15 minutes; in fact, he says it took longer for the group to decide on the title than it did for him to write it.
Gaudio had originally made up the title "Terry".  He did not intend to keep the lyrics, but when he got to rehearsal, everyone loved the song.  The group performed it over the telephone for producer Bob Crewe, a singer-turned songwriter and producer, who had previously worked with Bobby Darin, Danny and the Juniors, and Freddy Cannon. 
Crewe liked everything about it except the name.  The group toyed with "Jackie" (after Jackie Kennedy) and "Peri" (after a record label that Crewe had part ownership in).  They finally decided upon "Sherry", after Cheri Spector, the three-year-old daughter of one of Crewe's best friends, Jack Spector, a disc jockey for New York City radio station WMCA.
Crewe left the Peri label and financed the recording session of what was now "Sherry".  At the time, the 4 Seasons did not have a record deal.  Valli was friends with Randy Wood, West Coast Sales Manager for VeeJay Records.  VeeJay to this point had enjoyed R&B success, but their only Popular hit was "Duke Of Earl" by Gene Chandler. 
Wood loved "Sherry", and the song made its way to WMCA, where it was reviewed in a meeting of DJ's.  Spector's daughter had given the song its name, but Spector himself had never heard it.  We listened to it," he recalls, "and everybody said, 'Oh wow, what a different sound. Listen to this guy with the falsetto, he's unreal. Who is that guy?  Nobody knew who he was."
Dick "Huggy Boy" Hugg, DJ at WMCA, played "Sherry" on his show.  Response was overwhelming and soon WABC, WMCA's chief rival, began playing the song as well.  "Sherry" rapidly broke out of New York, VeeJay released the single, and "Sherry"  became the Seasons' first huge hit. 
Frankie Valli's piercing falsetto vocals were, of course, something the likes of which the world had never heard, and played strongly into the marketing of the group.  The album was called Four Seasons featuring The Sound Of Frankie Valli.  From 1958-1970, the group never had a drummer, having to use a session drummer on all their recordings during that period.  David "Panama" Francis played drums on the group's early hits.  Tommy DeVito played guitar and Nick Massi was on bass.  Crewe produced the song.
The 4 Seasons never had a contract with Vee Jay; they submitted recordings to them song by song for distribution.  But after seven more Top 40 hits on Vee Jay, the group sued for non-payment of royalties and converted to Mercury/Philips.
"Sherry" spent five weeks at #1, one of the longest stays of the 60's.  The lack of strong competition ("I Can't Stop Loving You", "Return To Sender" and "The Locomotion" are the only other songs in The Top 200*) and decreased airplay has caused it to fade, but it still hangs in there at #74*.


"I Can't Help Myself"
Four Tops
The year 1965 was a solid year in music, as 26 songs from that great year are featured in The Top 200*.  The Four Tops had just scored their first hit with "Baby, I Need Your Loving".  "I Can't Help Myself" made the group one of the top acts at Motown.  
The famous team of Holland-Dozier-Holland wrote this smash.  In an interview with Performing Songwriter magazine, Dozier discussed how the song came about:
  The song was started with a bass figure, with me sitting at the piano.  It wasn't slowed down, like the usual songs.  The bass line was the whole song, at that tempo.  When I said, 'Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch,' it was over with.  We went right in and cut it.
Levi Stubbs sang lead on "I Can't Help Myself", with background vocals by Abdul "Duke" Fakir, Renaldo "Obie" Benson, and Lawrence Payton of the Tops.  The Andantes also provided backing vocals.  The Four Tops recorded the song at the Hitsville U.S.A. Studios in Detroit, Michigan.  Dozier and Brian Holland produced the song.
"I Can't Help Myself" topped the Popular charts for two weeks, and it is one of the biggest R&B hits of all-time, lasting nine weeks at #1 in that genre.  It was playing on the radio at the same time as "Satisfaction", "I Got You Babe", "Stop!  In The Name Of Love", "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers, "Ticket To Ride", "Mr. Tambourine Man", "Wooly Bully", and "California Girls" and "Help Me Rhonda" by the Beach Boys.  That is a formidable lineup to get through and land a #1 song of two weeks.
"I Can't Help Myself" has stood the test of time, having been played now over three million times.


"When A Man Loves A Woman"
Percy Sledge

At the time of this song, Sledge was an orderly at Colbert County Hospital in Alabama who sang with the Esquires Combo at night.  Calvin Lewis and Andrew Wright of the Combo wrote this song. 

FAME studios in Muscle Shoals was owned by Rick Hall.   Quin Ivy was a songwriter at Muscle Shoals and a disc jockey at WLAY.  He set up his own recording studio  (which also doubled as a record store) nearby called Norala Sound Studios to handle the overflow work from FAME.

The writing and recording of this smash is a little unclear--Sledge tells a different version, but this is how Ivy says it went down. 

Ivy says he met Sledge when the singer came into his record store and the two were introduced by a mutual friend.  Sledge and the Esquires tried to record the song at FAME, but it didn't go well, so engineer Dan Penn sent them to Norala to record with Ivy.  Noral had a B-3 organ that Wright could play.  This time, the sound of the recording suited everyone, and Ivy played it for Hall.  Hall contacted Jerry Wexler at Atlantic Records, who signed Sledge to a recording contract.

Many of the musicians who recorded at FAME, and later at Muscle Shoals Sound Studios, played on the song.   However, because there were many takes, it is unclear which musicians actually played on the song that made it to record.  Most believe that they included Spooner Oldham on organ, guitarist Marlin Greene, and Roger Hawkins on drums.  Some sources say that Junior Lowe played bass, but Larry Cartwright is convinced that he played on the single.  Keyboardist Barry Beckett (who later played famously on Paul Simon's "Kodachrome", as well as "I'll Take You There" by the Staple Singers) also played. 

If you are a trained musician, you probably already know that the horns on "When A Man Loves A Woman" are not in tune, and Wexler was aware of this.  He sent back the original version so it could be fixed, but the corrected version never made it to record.  As David Hood, who later became the bassist for the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section said,
"Wexler thought the horns on the original version were out of tune - and they were - and he wanted them to change the horns. They went back in the studio and changed the horns, got different horn players to play on it. But then the tapes got mixed up and Atlantic put out their original version. So that's the hit."

"When A Man Loves A Woman" was the first #1 hit recorded in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where numerous artists, including the Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, and Paul Simon would later record.  It sold over one million copies.  The song recorded two weeks at #1 against "Monday, Monday", "Paperback Writer", "Good Lovin'", "California Dreamin'", "Homeward Bound", "The Ballad Of The Green Berets", and "(You're My) Soul And Inspiration".

Thomas Ryan, in his book American Hit Radio said:  "With all the dignity of a religious hymn, this [record] hits home with a fundamental emotion that is as powerful and pure as soul music can be.  Sledge seems to sing the melody with such naked honesty that it is almost impossible not to shudder with sympathetic pain of his pain.  Even the bleating horns on the last chorus sound as though they are sobbing mournfully and sympathetically.

Procol Harum used the unusual chord progression of Sledge's song one year later as the basis for their song "A Whiter Shade Of Pale".


"Reach Out (I'll Be There)"
Four Tops

The Four Tops recorded this great song in just two takes.  The Motown songwriting team of Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier and Brian Holland wrote this, coaxing lead singer Levi Stubbs to sing like Bob Dylan on "Like A Rolling Stone".  Stubbs was brilliant here, alternating between singing and shouting, with an urgency in this voice that hooks the listener in. 
Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent sang backing vocals--they went on to form the trio Dawn along with Tony Orlando.  The other backing vocals are from Four Tops members Abdul Fakir, Renaldo Benson, and Lawrence Payton, along with the Andantes, and instrumentation from the Funk Brothers.  The Tops recorded this at Motown's Hitsville U.S.A. Studios, and Brian Holland and Dozier produced it.  

Critic Martin Charles Strong, in his book The Great Rock Discography, calls the song "a soul symphony of epic proportions that remains [the Four Tops'] signature tune."
"Reach Out I'll Be There" went to #1 for two weeks, battling songs such as "Cherish" by the Association, "You Can't Hurry Love" and "You Keep Me Hangin' On" from the Supremes, "Eleanor Rigby", "Sunshine Superman", "Summer In The City", "Good Vibrations", "Sunny", and "Poor Side Of Town".

We are now 130 songs into the music special, and the songs keep getting better each day!  Join Inside The Rock Era tomorrow for numbers 70-61!

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