Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Top 200 Songs of the 60's*: #90-81

We are well into one of our greatest music specials, not because of anything we're doing--we bow to the music!


"Monday, Monday"
Mamas & Papas

The Mamas & Papas had recorded "California Dreamin'" and were awaiting its release.  In the meantime, Denny Doherty encouraged John Phillips to come up with another song.  The next morning, Phillips came back with a classic that everyone who works can identify with.
Cass Elliott and Michelle Phillips sang vocals, along with John and Doherty.  The group hired top session musicians Hal Blaine on drums, Larry Knechtel playing keyboards, Joe Osborn on bass, and guitarist P.F. Sloan.  "Monday, Monday" was produced by Lou Adler on Dunhill Records, a subsidiary of ABC. 
"Monday, Monday" was three weeks at #1, the second consecutive #1 song with a false ending, as it took over from "Good Lovin'".  It faced competition (one of the more valuable factors in judging popularity of a song) from "(You're My) Soul And Inspiration", "When A Man Loves A Woman", "Nowhere Man", "I Am A Rock", and the group's own "California Dreamin'".  The Mamas & Papas  won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for "Monday, "Monday". 


"Jumping Jack Flash"
Rolling Stones
According to Stones guitarist Keith Richards, "Jack Flash" was Jack Dyer, his gardener.  Mick Jagger and Richards and been up all night at Richards' house.  It was raining, and they heard the sound of boots near the window, which woke Mick up.  He said, "What's that?, to which Richards replied, "Oh, that's Jack.  That's jumping Jack."
Richards began working the phrase into a sound on the guitar, and one of The Top Guitar Riffs of the Rock Era* grew from there.  However, the songwriting credit the group gave to Jagger and Richards had bassist Bill Wyman a little upset.  Wyman (playing the piano), guitarist Brian Jones, and drummer Charlie Watts were working on the song in rehearsal, adding a riff to it, when Jagger and Richards walked in.  The group recorded it the next day, yet the other members never received credit for the song.
Wyman played the organ on the recording, while Jagger added lead vocals and maracas, Richards played acoustic and bass guitars, Ian Stewart played piano, and Jimmy Miller sang backing vocals.  The Stones recorded this one at Olympic Studios in London, produced by Jimmy Miller.
"Jumping Jack Flash" hit a snag at #3 for three weeks, kept there by "This Guy's In Love With You", "Honey", "Mrs. Robinson", "The Horse", "People Got To Be Free", "Hello, I Love You" and Steppenwolf's "Born To Be Wild.

The Stones have performed this song more than any other in their repertoire, playing it on every tour since 1968.


"My Boyfriend's Back"

Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein and Richard Gottehrer wrote this song after Feldman observed an incident involving a girl and a boy who wore a leather jacket.  The girl yelled at him for telling lies about her at school and said the two phrases that would become key to the song--"My boyfriend's back and you're gonna' be in trouble, and "you're gonna' be sorry you were ever born."  Feldman told his songwriting partners about the incident that night, and they came up with one of the classic songs of the Rock Era. 

The Angels were on-demand session vocalists as well, with their most famous such appearance being on Lou Christie's "Lightnin' Strikes".

Peggy Santiglia sang lead for the group, which included Barbara and Phyllis Allbut.  The Angels utilized the services of drummers Gary Chester and Herbie Lovelle, guitarists Billy Butler, Bobby Comstock and Al Gorgoni, and Bob Bushnell, who overdubbed on an electric and upright bass.  Gottehrer produced the song on Smash Records. 

"My Boyfriend's Back" went to #1 for three weeks, with competition coming from "Sugar Shack", "Blowin' In The Wind", "Be My Baby", "Wipe Out", and "Blue Velvet".


Three Dog Night

The classic at #89 is one of many from Three Dog Night, who covered the song written by Harry Nilsson.  Nilsson wrote the song after calling someone and getting a busy signal.  He stayed on the line listening to the "beep, beep, beep, beep" tone, and the busy signal became the opening notes of the song.
Chuck Negron does an amazing job on lead vocal.  Danny Hutton and Cory Wells sing backing vocals, with Mike Allsup on guitar, Floyd Sneed on the drums, bassist Joe Schermie, and Jimmy Greenspoon on organ.    Gabriel Mekler produced the song for Dunhill Records.
"One" is highly underrated as a #5 song, and anyone, be them music directors at radio stations or music fans, that doesn't look at the competition that kept the song from being #1 is missing the boat.  Consider first that it didn't just hit #5 and then drop out of the picture--it was #5 for three weeks.  Then consider that "One" contended with classics like "Aquarius", "The Boxer", "Get Back" and "Honky Tonk Women", "In The Year 2525" and "Bad Moon Rising" and also faced competition such as "Sweet Caroline", "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love To Town" and "You've Made Me So Very Happy", "Spinning Wheel" and "My Cherie Amour".


"My Guy"
Mary Wells
Studio stories are the best.  For "My Guy", the musicians were having a tough time getting through the intro.  They had played all day and there was only 30 minutes of studio time left in the session.  Trombonist George Bohannon told bandleader Earl Van Dyke that the opening measure of "Canadian Sunset" would fit perfect into the intro of "My Guy".  Van Dyke quickly came up with an intro combining the opening of "Canadian Sunset" with the "left hand notes" from "Begin The Beguine", another of Eddie Heywood's songs. 

Said Van Dyke:  "We were doing anything to get out of that studio.  We knew that the producers didn't know anything 'bout 'Canadian Sunset' or 'Begin The Beguine'."
As for Mary Wells, "My Guy" was her last solo recording for Motown, as she left the label the following year.  She was joking around when she delivered the Mae West-like singing style at the end of the song, but everyone encouraged her to continue, and it became part of the recording.
Smokey Robinson wrote "My Guy" for Wells, just as he had "The One Who Really Loves you", "You Beat Me To The Punch" and "Two Lovers" for her.  The Andantes (Marlene Barrow, Louvain Demps, and Jackie Hicks) sang backing vocals.  Van Dyke played the organ, with Johnny Griffith on piano, Robert White and Eddie Willis on guitar, James Jamerson playing bass, Benny Benjamin on drums, Dave Hamilton on vibes, Russ Conway and Herbert Williams played trumpet, and Paul Riser joined Bohannon on trombone.  Robinson produced the song as well.
"My Guy" was the song that broke up the monopoly that the Beatles had in 1964 on the Top Five, and it eventually rose to #1 for two weeks.  Remember the New York Yankees and their "murderer's row" of hitters?  Wells had to face the Beatles' "I Want To Hold Your Hand", "Can't Buy Me Love", "Twist And Shout", "She Loves You", "Love Me Do", and "Please Please Me", as well as "People", "I Get Around", "Hello, Dolly!", and "Chapel Of Love".

"I Got You Babe"
Sonny & Cher

Sonny Bono wrote the lyrics to "I Got You Babe" on a piece of cardboard.  Cher didn't like it at first, but changed her mind after Sonny changed the key to fit her voice.  Ahmet Ertegun, then the boss at Atco Records, didn't like the song, and ordered it on the "B" side of the duo's single.  But when Bono gave a copy to legendary rock & roll radio station KHJ in Los Angeles, they played "I Got You Babe" instead of the "A" side ("It's Gonna' Rain"), which launched the song nationwide.

Famous session musician Hal Blaine plays drums on "I Got You Babe".  Bono produced the song as well. 
Sonny & Cher reached #1 for three weeks with one of the biggest hits of 1965.  It performed admirably against songs such as "Satisfaction", "Mr. Tambourine Man", "I Can't Help Myself", "Like A Rolling Stone", "Wooly Bully", "California Girls", "Unchained Melody" by the Righteous Brothers, "Help!", and "Eve Of Destruction".

"I Got You Babe" of course is the song that Bill Murray's character in the 1993 movie Groundhog Day hears every morning at 6:00 AM when the alarm clock goes off.


"Summer In The City"
Lovin' Spoonful

Lead singer John Sebastian, bassist Steve Boone, and Sebastian's brother Mark (not a member of the group) combined to write this smash. 
Joe Butler played drums for Lovin' Spoonful and Zal Yanovsky played guitar.  Erik Jacobsen produced the song for release on Kama Sutra Records.
"Summer In The City" went Gold and became the Spoonful's biggest hit, a #1 smash for three weeks.  It earned its position against songs like "I Am A Rock", "Cherish" by the Association, "Paperback Writer", "Sunny", "You Can't Hurry Love", and "Yellow Submarine".


"Wedding Bell Blues"
5th Dimension

Here's the first of two smashes that this great group places in The Top 200*.  It was written and first recorded by accomplished songwriter Laura Nyro.
Marilyn McCoo, Billy Davis, Jr., Florence LaRue, Lamonte McLemore, and Ron Townson were the members of the 5th Dimension.  Bones Howe produced the song for release by Soul City Records.
"Wedding Bell Blues" reached #1 for three weeks against songs like "Sugar, Sugar", "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head", "Something", "Honky Tonk Women", "Suspicious Minds", "Come Together", "Someday We'll Be Together", "Sweet Caroline", "Everybody's Talkin'", and "Get Together".  All those songs were out at the same time.


"I Get Around"
Beach Boys

Here we have the innovative creativity of Brian Wilson, who wrote this song with help from Mike Love.  It opens with a fuzz guitar before fuzz guitars were cool.  Three years later, fuzz and reverb would become a big thing in rock for Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, and Keith Richards.
Hal Blaine played timbales, while Ray Pohlman was on bass, Steve Douglas played the tenor saxophone, and Jay Migliori played baritone sax.  Love and Wilson sang lead, harmony and backing vocals, while Carl and Dennis Wilson and Al Jardine combined for harmony and backing vocals.  Jardine also played bass, Brian played keyboards and Baldwin harpsichord, Carl Wilson was on lead guitar, and brother Dennis played drums.  The Beach Boys recorded "I Get Around" at Western Studios in Hollywood, California in April of '64.  Brian Wilson produced the song for Capitol Records.
In 1969, Murry Wilson, father of the Wilsons and manager of the group, did a bad thing.  He went and sold the copyrights to the Beach Boys' songs to Irving Almo for approximately $700,000.  He did this apparently without the approval of the group, for in 1992, Brian Wilson won a lawsuit to recover many of the copyrights to his songs.

The Beach Boys navigated competition that included "Can't Buy Me Love", "Twist And Shout", "My Guy", "Love Me Do", "A Hard Day's Night", and "Where Did Our Love Go" to score two weeks at #1.



"Where Did Our Love Go"

The legendary team of Holland-Dozier-Holland wrote this for the Supremes, but in a lower key than lead singer Diana Ross was used to.  Some websites report that it was originally written for the Marvelettes by Holland-Dozier-Holland, but refused.
According to the story, Dozier says that in those days, if Motown songwriters didn't have a song recorded, they would have to pay for it.  So Lamont went through the Motown roster and at the bottom were the Supremes, who hadn't had a big hit yet.  Even the Supremes, with no hits, didn't like it, but, realizing they needed something, recorded it anyway.  Dozier says he had worked out intricate background vocals, but the girls refused to learn them.  Finally, he said, "Just sing 'Baby, baby, baby'". 
The song no one wanted just happened to launch the career of The #6 Female Artist of the Rock Era*, and became the first of a record-setting five consecutive #1 songs for the Supremes.  Because of this song, they literally grew into stars overnight.
The floors at the Hitsville U.S.A. studios were made of mahogany, which enhanced the sounds of echos, footstomps and fingersnaps, with a high ceiling helping the acoustics.  Two or three microphones were used to pick up the footstomps on "Where Did Our Love Go", including mics in the rear of the echo chamber.  Brian Holland and Dozier produced the song.

The song not only spent two weeks at #1, but three weeks at #2.  It fought through "I Get Around", "Chapel Of Love", "A Hard Day's Night", "Oh, Pretty Woman", "The House Of The Rising Sun", "And I Love Her", "Do Wah Diddy Diddy", and "Dancing In The Street" to get to the top.  Wonder how many songs of today would even make the Top 10 against that lineup.

That was quite a group of ten great songs.  Be sure to check out Inside The Rock Era tomorrow as we count down numbers 80-71!

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