Friday, May 22, 2015

The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*: #490-481

You've found it--the home for The Top 500 Songs of the Rock Era*.  If you're here through the suggestion of a friend, welcome!  You'll be thanking that friend time and time again, probably around 500 times!

We are featuring ten songs per day, to properly salute each of the outstanding members of this elite group.  The special will run through July 9, which will be 60 years to the day that "Rock Around The Clock" by Bill Haley & the Comets became the first Rock song to reach #1, kicking off the Rock Era.

We started the list yesterday, so please catch up on those ten songs before you listen to these:


Blue Velvet
Bobby Vinton 

"Que olhos tem este cantor!Amei a música!"
"Awesome song."
"Lovely song and lyrics."


Bobby Vinton formed a group at Duquesne University for teenage dances around the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area.  After serving in the U.S. Army, Vinton formed a group that performed on a variety program on NBC-TV.  Pittsburgh DJ Dick Lawrence made some demos of Vinton, which led to Bobby being signed to a recording contract with Epic Records.  Vinton scored a big hit in 1962 with "Roses Are Red (My Love)".  But then he went six releases without another Top 10 song.
In 1963, Bobby Vinton scored a big hit with "Blue On Blue".  Bobby got the idea to record an album featuring only songs that had the word "blue" in the title.  Publisher Al Gallico suggested "Blue Velvet", and he sent his secretary to a music store to buy sheet music for the song.  An hour later, Vinton recorded the song in two takes.  Despite the ease, Bobby wasn't happy with the song and preferred his version of "Am I Blue?" as his next single. 

Tony Bennett enjoyed the first hit of "Blue Velvet", a song written by Bernie Wayne and Lee Morris, in 1951.  Four years later, the R&B group the Clovers covered it before Vinton recorded the definitive version.  Famous musicians such as pianist Floyd Cramer and saxophonist Boots Randolph played on the track.

Despite Vinton's reservations, Epic Records released the song as a single.  "Blue Velvet" debuted on the charts in August of 1963 as the title song from Bobby's album. 

 "Sugar Shack" was the main competition for "Blue Velvet".  There were plenty of other good songs out at the time, but none that rank high in The Top 5000 Songs of the Rock Era*. 

"Blue Velvet" gave Vinton a #1 song for 3 weeks overall, and it was also #1 for 8 weeks on the Easy Listening chart.  "Blue Velvet" has been played over three million times. 



Rhinestone Cowboy
Glen Campbell

"One of the greatest songs of all time!"
"I love this song so much!"
"This another GREAT SONG that needs some Tributes, what a cowboy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

In 1975, Glen Campbell achieved much-deserved success.  He had been a part of the Champs and the Beach Boys, but didn't play a direct role in either group when they achieved #1 songs.  Campbell played guitar for Frank Sinatra on "Strangers In The Night", another #1 smash, but Glen had never scored a #1 hit of his own until Song #489*.
Larry Weiss wrote and originally recorded "Rhinestone Cowboy", and Glen Campbell heard it in Los Angeles.  Glen immediately called his secretary and told her to find out who recorded the song.  Within days, Al Coury at Capitol Records obtained a copy and played it for Campbell.  Weiss, meanwhile, was depressed that his album was a failure and was ready to go into the furniture business.  He had renewed hope when he learned that Campbell was going to record his song.  But when Campbell completed his own album and Capitol did not release "Rhinestone Cowboy" as a single, Weiss figured that was the last he would hear of it.

But then Campbell sang "Rhinestone Cowboy" on a telethon.  Paul Drew, program director at legendary radio station KHJ in Los Angeles, watched the telecast, and called Capitol and asked if Campbell had recorded it.  Drew then obtained his own copy of the song and KHJ began playing it, thus forcing Capitol to release the song as a single.  "Rhinestone Cowboy" quickly became a big hit, reaching #1 for two weeks and spending nine weeks in the Top 10. 
"Rhinestone Cowboy" competed against songs such as "Island Girl" by Elton John, "When Will I Be Loved" from Linda Ronstadt, "I'm Not In Love" by 10cc, and John Denver's "I'm Sorry".
In addition to its strength in the U.S., "Rhinestone Cowboy" climbed to #1 in Canada and Ireland, #2 in New Zealand and South Africa, #3 in the Netherlands, and #4 in Belgium.
"Rhinestone Cowboy" went Gold and was nominated for Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male at the Grammy Awards.




My Eyes Adored You
Frankie Valli

"Beautiful :)"
"Great song sung by an artist with a great voice."
"A musical and romantic masterpiece!"
"One of my very favourite's, now and forever...."

Bob Crewe, whose songwriting was a key component of the success of the Four Seasons, teamed with Kenny Nolan to write this song for Valli.  Barnegat Bridge and Bay, mentioned in the song, are located on the New Jersey coast.  Although the song was credited to Frankie, his mates in the Four Seasons sang backing vocals.

The Four Seasons originally recorded the song for Motown Records, but the label held onto it for a year and a half without releasing it.  But Valli believed in it, so when the group left Motown, Frankie bought the rights to the song for $4,000 and shopped it around the other labels.  Several labels turned him down, until Larry Uttal heard it.  Uttal was let go from Bell Records when Clive Davis came aboard, and was starting his own label, Private Stock Records.  Uttal agreed with Valli about the song's worth, and signed him to a recording contract.

"Larry sat down and listened to it, and rewound the tape in the middle of the song," songwriter Nolan said.  "He did that five times, and on the fifth play he said, "I want that song."

Valli released the song late in 1974 from his album Closeup.  "My Eyes Adored You" reached #1 and accumulated 8 weeks in the Top 10, and was also a #2 Adult song.   

Ironically, "My Eyes Adored You" was knocked out of the #1 spot by another song that Crewe and Nolan wrote, "Lady Marmalade" by LaBelle.  Nolan went on to score a big solo hit with "I Like Dreamin'".

Other songs out at the time were "Best Of My Love" by the Eagles, Elton John's "Philadelphia Freedom" and "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds", "I Honestly Love You" and "Have You Never Been Mellow" by Olivia Newton-John, "You're No Good" and "When Will I Be Loved" by Linda Ronstadt, "Love Will Keep Us Together" by the Captain & Tennille, and "Mandy" by Barry Manilow.

"My Eyes Adored You" not only gave Valli his first solo #1 song; it also revived the career of the Four Seasons, which scored their fifth career #1 a year later with "December, 1963 (Oh What A Night)".

"My Eyes Adored You" went Gold and has achieved over three million in radio airplay.



Just You 'N' Me
"Great breath of fresh air. For ever and ever."
"Loved this song.."
"I think Chicago was an incredible band. To hear what they did with horns and arrangements and yet be in the mainstream was a rare feat.. in awe of what they accomplished."
"Give me your own special smile.............. ahh =)  I love this song!"

This legendary group made its live debut on May 22, 1967 at the Stardust Lounge in Rockford, Illinois.  Manager James William Guercio had them relocate to Los Angeles and helped them sign a worldwide contract with Columbia Records.  James Pankow wrote this song for the Chicago VI album. 

We first heard this song in September of 1973, when "Just You 'N' Me competed against Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", "The Way We Were" by Barbra Streisand, "The Most Beautiful Girl" by Charlie Rich, "Sunshine On My Shoulders" by John Denver, "Love's Theme" by Love Unlimited Orchestra, "Live And Let Die" by Paul McCartney & Wings, "Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gaye, "Seasons In The Sun" by Terry Jacks, "Midnight Train To Georgia" by Gladys Knight & the Pips, Jim Croce's "Time In A Bottle" and "The Joker" by the Steve Miller Band. 

"Just You 'N' Me" reached #4 for two weeks, and #7 on the Adult chart.  The song went Gold, and helped Chicago sell over 9.5 million albums. 

Chicago is one of four artists from the state of Illinois to combine for 11 songs in The Top 500*



"My Guy"
Mary Wells

"My song!!!!"
"Classic early motown song!"
"One of the best Motown songs ever delivered by the legendary Mary Wells--she was a great one for sure!"
"I'd trade this for ANY and ALL of the music being played on our radios today!"

Song #486* was a #1 song for Mary Wells, but the fact that it achieved that status in the height of Beatlemania makes it that much more impressive. 

Wells began singing in a Detroit, Michigan church at age three, and by the time she was in high school, Mary was the featured vocalist at Northwestern High School.  When she was 17, Wells was introduced to producer Berry Gordy, Jr.  She sang a song for Gordy that she had written herself called "Bye Bye Baby".  Gordy was impressed, and signed Wells to a contract on the spot.  But the contract was not with the hot label Tamla Records, which Mary was familiar with, but rather with a new label that Gordy was starting called Motown Records.  Mary's optimism subsided when she found out she was being signed to an unknown label.

Wells was the first artist to record on Motown Records, and the first Motown artist to score a Top 10 hit ("The One Who Really Loves You").  Wells continued the success with two more Top 10's--"You Beat Me To The Punch" and "Two Lovers".  However, the next several releases did not do well, and Gordy assigned the team of Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier and Eddie Holland to her.  But even that didn't work as two singles fell far short of the Top 10. 

"My Guy" was written and produced for Wells by Smokey Robinson in Smokey's debut as a writer and producer for another artist.  The Andantes sang backing vocals and the Funk Brothers provided instrumentation. 

Wells became Motown's first female star, yet except for some duets with Marvin Gaye, "My Guy" was Mary's last song for Motown.  20th Century Fox stole her away with an advance offer of $200,000 and potential movie roles. 
"My Guy" debuted in April of 1964, and faced a lineup that included "I Want To Hold Your Hand", "Can't Buy Me Love", "And I Love Her", "She Loves You", "Twist And Shout" "Please Please Me", "Love Me Do" and "A Hard Day's Night" by the Beatles, "Where Did Our Love Go" by the Supremes, "I Get Around" and "Fun, Fun Fun" from the Beach Boys", and "Chapel Of Love" by the Dixie Cups.  Yes, this song was there when the Rock Era was really kickstarted, and those of you who grew up in this time period may look at the competition above and be amazed that this song still found a path to #1.  

But that is exactly where Mary Wells took "My Guy", for not just one week but two.  It spent eight weeks in the Top 10, and also topped the R&B chart for two weeks.



Little River Band

"The first song my husband and I ever danced to!! 33 years ago - now I am reminiscing!"
"This song has a jazzy feel to it, which I love.  Cool song, timeless!"
"OMG! I love that song!"
"Incredible Musicians and GREAT SONG!  Does wonders for my emotions, puts me in a place about my loved ones!"


This is one of those songs that, like fine wine, improves with age.  While many former members of The Top 500 Songs Club* have fallen, this hit by the Little River Band has never been in the elite list until recently.  Continued strong airplay across multiple formats (now exceeding five million radio airplays) have earned "Reminiscing" a spot in the list.
When the English group Mississippi broke up, three of its members, guitarist Graeham Goble, Gerard Birtlekamp, and drummer Derek Pellici met lead singer Glenn Shorrick and fellow Australian Glenn Wheatley.  The five reformed in Australia as Mississippi, with Wheatley as manager.  Criticized for having an American name, though, they chose The Little River Band, named after a small community 30 miles outside of Melbourne. 

Goble wrote the song for their 1978 album Sleeper Catcher.  He mused about a couple which reminisced about the past, using songs by Glenn Miller and Cole Porter to stir up memories. 

 Released on Harvest Records, "Reminiscing" was limited from even better things by competition from "Baker Street" by Gerry Rafferty, "Three Times A Lady" by the Commodores, "Too Much Heaven" by the Bee Gees", Billy Joel's "My Life", "You Don't Bring Me Flowers" by Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond, "Shadow Dancing" by Andy Gibb, "Kiss You All Over" from Exile, Donna Summer's "MacArthur Park", "You're The One That I Want" by Olivia Newton-John and John Travolta, and "Hopelessly Devoted To You" by Newton-John.

Still, "Reminiscing" remarkably hung in there, becoming a hit in July, and it rose to #3 for two weeks.  LRB also achieved a peak of 10 on the Adult Contemporary chart.


Groovy Kind Of Love
Phil Collins

"It is a beautiful song."
"Swoon , swoon , swoon ...... nobody does it  like Phil . PERFECTION ...."
"This one is a favorite ..beautiful song .."

22-year-old Carole Bayer Sager and 17-year-old Toni Wine combined to write this song while both worked at Screen Gems Publishing.  Sager was teaching high school at the time, and Wine was still a student at high school.  Wine explained the song's origins to Songfacts:


 Carole came up with "Groovy kinda… groovy kinda… groovy…" and we're all just saying, 'Kinda groovy, kinda groovy, kinda…' and I don't exactly know who came up with "Love", but it was 'Groovy kind of love'.  And we did it.  We wrote it in 20 minutes.  It was amazing.  Just flew out of our mouths, and at the piano, it was a real quick and easy song to write.

Jack McGraw at the London office of Screen Gems thought the song would be perfect for the British group the Mindbenders.  They indeed had a big hit with it, reaching #2 in 1966 in both the U.S. and the U.K.

Sager wrote many songs for the stage as well as the big screen, including "Arthur's Theme" for Christopher Cross.  Wine sang vocals on "Sugar, Sugar" by the Archies, and later wrote "Candida" for Tony Orlando & Dawn and sang backing vocals on many songs, including "Always On My Mind" by Willie Nelson.

Flash forward to 1988, when Phil Collins had been collaborating with Stephen Bishop (of "On And On" fame).  Collins envisioned Bishop recording a remake of "Groovy Kind Of Love" for a comeback with Phil producing the song.    However, when Collins, who was a child actor, was hired to play the title role of Buster Edwards in the movie Buster, he recorded the song himself for the movie.

Collins released the single August 27, 1988 from the soundtrack album, which competed against "The Living Years" by fellow Genesis member Mike Rutherford with his group Mike + the Mechanics.  Other songs out at the time included "Sweet Child O' Mine" by Guns N' Roses and "Kokomo" by the Beach Boys.  "Groovy Kind Of Love" registered two weeks at #1 in the United States, and it was a #1 Adult Contemporary song for three weeks.  It also went to #1 in the U.K., Canada, Ireland, and the Netherlands, #2 in Australia and Norway, #3 in Germany and New Zealand, #4 in Finland, #5 in Sweden, and #6 in Austria.

"Groovy Kind Of Love" sold over one million singles and helped sell five million albums.  The song earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Male.



George Michael

Great song!
I have always loved his song ... Coz i gotta have faith... ....
Love love love!!!


With the breakup of the duo Wham!, George Michael signaled that he had moved on, both into a solo career as well as a serious recording artist.  There was considerable anticipation and speculation as to what Michael would do now that he was on his own.

For starters, George wrote, arranged, and produced every song on the album.  The title song on his album Faith was recorded at Puk Studios in Denmark and Sarm West Studios in London.  Since Faith was one of the first to be recorded digitally, it allowed Michael the ability to record each song piece by piece.  He wrote lyrics in the studio while at the microphone, then recorded them immediately.  Michael recorded his vocals line-by-line, and sometimes even word-by-word.

"Faith" begins with Chris Cameron on church organ playing a slowed-down version of the Wham! song "Freedom", then moves into a rock and roll rhythm, featuring guitar strumming, finger clicking, hand claps, tambourine and hi-hat.

Michael strove to be taken more seriously as an artist and appeal to an adult audience, a challenging task after Wham's "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go".  So in the music video, Michael appeared with a stubble and biker jacket.  However, in the song "Freedom 90", Michael later denounced the image he had created with his debut.

Michael released the single October 12, 1987 as the second single from the album Faith.  George explained why he chose the song as the title track:

  It represents the way I feel at the moment. It's kind of another word for my hope and optimism. You know, faith to me is just really such a strong word and the more I got into the idea of the song being the single, the more I liked the idea of using it as the title track.

"Faith" began receiving airplay in October of 1987.  It competed against "I Can't Stop Loving You" by Michael Jackson and Siedah Garrett, and Michael's own "Father Figure", but by then, the quality of music was fading fast and that greatly diminishes "Faith's achievements.  The song raced to #1 for four weeks in the U.S.  It also hit #1 in Canada, New Zealand, and the Netherlands, #2 in the U.K. and Ireland, #3 in Norway, #4 in Austria and Switzerland, #5 in Germany, and #9 in Sweden. 

"Faith" became the top-selling single of the year, and it helped the album go to #1 for six weeks and sell 10 million units in the U.S., 20 million worldwide.


Sunshine Superman

"so Groovy..."
"The music from this time was so solid and holds up.  I keep going back and listening to 60's music and its like discovering buried treasure." 
"GENIUS   yes!"  
"Great song, this zooms me back to my childhood."

Scottish singer-songwriter Donovan moved with his family to England when he was 10.  But five years later, he dropped out of school to travel around England.  He met Gypsy Dave, and Donovan played guitar while Gypsy Dave played kazoo.  The two passed a hat for money throughout the Continent before Donovan returned to London. 

There, he earned money playing at nightclubs, where Peter Eden saw him.  Eden became Donovan's manager and scheduled time for him to record some demos.  This set off a series of events that launched Donovan's career.  The producers of the popular television show Ready Steady Go heard the demos and signed Donovan to make an appearance on the show.   From the beginning, Donovan fully embraced the innocent optimism of the flower-power movement.   Audience reaction was so great that the producers brought him back the following week. 

Executives at Pye Records saw the second show, and signed Donovan to a recording contract.  And while folk songs such as "Catch The Wind", "Colours", and "The Universal Soldier" did well, Donovan was concerned that he had been tagged with the label of being a Bob Dylan imitator.  He went to see producer Mickie Most, who later became famous for producing the group Hot Chocolate. 

Donovan's only #1 of his career is this classic.  He wrote it for his future wife, Linda Lawrence.  In addition to mentioning Superman, Donovan also included the DC Comics hero Green Lantern in the lyrics.  Donovan played "Sunshine Superman" for Most.  Mickie brought Donovan into the famous EMI Studios in London (soon renamed Abbey Road Studios) at two o'clock on a Sunday afternoon, and by five the song was finished.  Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page and bassist John Paul Jones, then just studio musicians, played on the song.  Easy enough.    


But legal wrangling kept "Sunshine Superman" in the can for seven months.  Donovan had left his previous manager, Eden, and negotiations between American business manager Allan Klein and Most stalled several times.  Pye Records deleted the song from its release schedule because of the ongoing legal entanglements.   
Lost at the time was how innovative this song is, being one of the first examples of psychedelic rock.  Donovan recorded the album of the same name on Pye Records, but before it could be released, Donovan moved to Epic Records, which prompted a seven-month delay in its release.  In the interim, several artists, such as Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experienced captured the imagination of the public.  Had "Sunshine Superman" been released on time, it likely would have been more appreciated.
"Sunshine Superman" competed against classics such as "Cherish" by the Association, "Paperback Writer" and "Eleanor Rigby" from the Beatles, "Strangers In The Night" by Frank Sinatra, "You Can't Hurry Love" by the Supremes, Bobby Hebb's "Sunny", "Paint It, Black" by the Rolling Stones, "Summer In The City" by Lovin' Spoonful, and the Four Tops' great song "Reach Out I'll Be There".  Donovan landed at #1, and spent 7 of its 13 weeks in the Top 10.  The song also reached #2 in the U.K., Canada, and Australia, #4 in Ireland, #5 in the Netherlands, #7 in Germany, and #9 in France.
"Sunshine Superman" has now topped three million in radio airplay.


Caribbean Queen (No More Love On The Run) 
Billy Ocean
"I looooooove this song!"

"Love this song! feel like dancing!"
"Expectacular una canción extraordinaria."

Born in Trinidad, Billy Ocean and his family moved to London when he was seven.  Billy took a course in tailoring after high school, and worked on Savile Row during the day.  At night, though, Ocean sang with groups such as Shades of Midnight and Dry Ice.  When Billy was fired from his tailoring job after just one year, he decided to focus full-time on music.
Billy Ocean's first foray onto the charts was "Love Really Hurts Without You" in 1976, which reached a peak of #22, albeit an underrated one.  So when his 1984 release "European Queen" from his album Suddenly went nowhere in the U.K., Billy wasn't too disappointed.
He changed the title to "Caribbean Queen", simply singing the new title in the appropriate places.  American executives, aware of the failure of "European Queen", chose to release "Caribbean Queen" instead.  The song not only gave Ocean his first hit in eight years, but it did not stop until it reached #1 for two weeks, and served to launch him into the limelight.  The song also topped the R&B genre for four weeks and peaked at #7 among Adults.  
Ocean competed against "What's Love Got To Do With It" by Tina Turner, Madonna's "Like A Virgin", "When Doves Cry" and "Let's Go Crazy" by Prince, Chicago's "Hard Habit To Break", "I Just Called To Say I Love You" by Stevie Wonder, "Careless Whisper" by Wham, "I Want To Know What Love Is" by Foreigner, "Can't Fight This Feeling" by REO Speedwagon, Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time", "Dancing In The Dark" by Bruce Springsteen, "Let's Hear It For The Boy" by Deniece Williams, "Stuck On You" by Lionel Richie, and "Missing You" from John Waite.
"Caribbean Queen" sold over one million singles, helped sell over three million albums, and has achieved the two-million mark in radio airplay.  The song earned Ocean the Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.  

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