NancySinatra white mini boots 1500 bw crop

the #1 hit records on the pop charts 1966

THIS IS THE SEVENTH in a se­ries of ten ar­ti­cles listing and ad­dressing the #1 records of the year as they ap­peared on Cash Box mag­a­zine’s Top 100 chart from 1960 through 1969. It was orig­i­nally pub­lished as “You Keep Me Hanging On The Poor Side Of Town” on my pub­li­ca­tion Tell It Like It Was on Medium on July 5, 2019. The ar­ticle below is iden­tical to that one.

Please read “In­tro­duc­tion To The #1 Records On The Cash Box Pop Chart Of The 1960s” be­fore reading this ar­ticle. It will ex­plain the na­ture of this project, in­tro­duce you to the writers whose opin­ions follow, and will make every­thing easier to un­der­stand.

The opin­ions ex­pressed below are those of John Ross, Lew Shiner, and me. John is the talent be­hind the Round Place In The Middle web­site where he opines about rock & roll, western movies, and de­tec­tive novels. John is my fa­vorite writer writing about rock & roll. He is cur­rently working on his first novel.

Lew is one of the finest nov­el­ists in America. Since you’re reading his name here, start with his novel Glimpses, which com­bines time-travel with fan­tasy and the mi­lieu of ’60s rock music. Follow that with De­serted Cities Of The Heart (time-travel and psy­che­delic mush­rooms!) and then his latest, Out­side The Gates Of Heaven, which also takes place in the ’60s.

If you want to skim through this ar­ticle and skip around from record to record or com­ment to com­ment, that works and you’ll have fun. But this ar­ticle will make more sense if you read it from be­gin­ning to end.

One of the first things you will no­tice is that each of the ar­ti­cles opens with a cal­endar of events that re­flect the zeit­geist of the era. Hope­fully, these will give you some back­ground and some con­text in which the #1 records of that were made.

 

BeachBoys PetSounds header 1000 bw

FEATURED ARTIST: The year 1966 should have been the biggest year in the Beach Boys’ ca­reer, ex­cept things just kept get­ting in the way. Capitol Records decision-makers were not pleased with PET SOUNDS and re­fused to issue the cus­tomary ad­vance single to whet the public’s ap­petite. When Wouldn’t It Be Nice was re­leased two months after the album in­stead of two months prior, it was a Top 10 hit.

Its flip-side was God Only Knows, the track that Brian wanted as the orig­inal single. Re­leased as an A-side in the UK, it made it to #2, in­di­cating Brian was cor­rect in his orig­inal choice.

Without con­sulting the group, Capitol as­sem­bled a less-than-inspired BEST OF THE BEACH BOYS. They re­leased and pro­moted this album while PET SOUNDS was in the Top 10.

And then there SMILE, both rock’s most leg­en­darily am­bi­tious album its most leg­en­darily “lost album.” Ini­tially sched­uled for the Christmas season of 1966, it was even­tu­ally pulled and re­placed with the much less am­bi­tious SMILEY SMILE, which was ar­guably the death-knell for the group as major hit­makers.

Had Brian Wilson had the sup­port of his record com­pany, his group, and his family, God Only Knows, Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” and PET SOUNDS might have all topped the charts. Alas, no amount of sup­port from those sources would have made SMILE pos­sible. But that, too, is an­other story.

1966

Jan­uary
The first Acid Test was held at the Fill­more in San Fran­cisco, Cal­i­fornia, and two weeks later, the first Trips Fes­tival was held at Long­shore­man’s Hall in San Fran­cisco.

Feb­ruary
The un­manned So­viet Luna 9 space­craft made the first con­trolled rocket-assisted landing on the Moon.

March
Co­lumbia Records re­leased the Byrds’ Eight Miles High, the first gen­uinely psy­che­delic single to make the na­tional Top 40.

April
Time mag­a­zine fea­tured a cover story ti­tled “Is God Dead?” and fol­lowed it a week later with the cover story, “London: The Swinging City.”

May
Cal­i­fornia and Nevada be­came the first states to outlaw the man­u­fac­ture, sale, and pos­ses­sion of LSD. The FDA would ban it in Oc­tober 1966.

June
In Mi­randa v. Ari­zona, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the po­lice must in­form sus­pects of their rights be­fore ques­tioning them.

July
Pres­i­dent Johnson signed the Freedom of In­for­ma­tion Act, al­lowing cit­i­zens to re­quest to see the data that agen­cies such as the FBI had com­piled on them.

Au­gust
Charles Whitman climbed up into the main building tower at the Uni­ver­sity of Texas at Austin and started picking off stu­dents with a rifle, killing eleven and wounding thirty-two, be­coming the first modern “mass shooter.”

Sep­tember
The tele­vi­sion se­ries Star Trek débuted on NBC-TV in the United States.

Oc­tober
Bobby Seale and Huey P. Newton founded the Black Pan­ther Party. The Par­ty’s core prac­tice was or­ga­nizing armed cit­i­zens’ pa­trols to mon­itor po­lice bru­tality by the Oak­land Po­lice De­part­ment against their sons and daugh­ters.

No­vember
In Mass­a­chu­setts, Ed­ward Brooke be­came the first black Amer­ican elected to the United States Senate since Re­con­struc­tion, while in Cal­i­fornia, Ronald Reagan was elected Gov­ernor.

De­cember
Walt Disney died while pro­ducing the an­i­mated fea­ture The Jungle Book, leaving an in­flu­ence on Amer­ican cul­ture that is nei­ther over nor fully un­der­stood.

 


Medium 45 1966 Beatles WeCanWorkItOut PS EC 600

Medium 45 1966 Beatles WeCanWorkItOut 600

January 1–January 22

The Bea­tles
We Can Work It Out
Capitol 5555
(4 weeks)

The Bea­tles last single of 1965 was Day Tripper / We Can Work It Out, which was re­leased and pro­moted in the UK as a double-A-sided single. As such, both sides shared the top spot on the British music week­lies. In the US, the two sides charted sep­a­rately with We Can Work It Out reaching #1 and Day Tripper peaking at #10.

Pre­sum­ably about boy-girl re­la­tion­ships, some people read the lyrics of the chorus of We Can Work It Out (“Life is very short and there’s no time for fussing and fighting,” John’s con­tri­bu­tion to Paul’s com­po­si­tion) as a veiled ref­er­ence to the Vietnam War. Pos­sibly, but that would be very veiled in­deed.

Many people have read Day Tripper to be about LSD, but ex­cept for the word “tripper,” there is nothing in the lyrics that hint at drug use of any kind, let alone psy­che­delia. “Day Trip­pers are people who go on a day trip, right? Usu­ally on a fer­ry­boat or some­thing,” re­marked John Lennon. “But the song was kind of—you’re just a weekend hippie. Get it?”

Lew: This is the an­swer to my mu­sical ques­tion, “What’s the best single with a flip that’s as good or better?” Other con­tenders (off the top of my head) in­clude:

Bea­tles: Penny Lane / Straw­berry Fields For­ever
Standells: Dirty Water / Rari
Yard­birds: Shapes Of Things / You’re A Better Man Than I
Yard­birds: Good­night Sweet Josephine / Think About It

Neal: In the late ’60s in North­eastern Penn­syl­vania, the terms “day tripper” and “weekend hippie” were ef­fec­tively syn­ony­mous: someone who dressed and acted straight five days a week and then dressed and acted hip and “with it” on the week­ends. (Of course, that also de­scribes the lot in life of many clos­eted gay men at the time.)

Lew, maybe we should con­sider com­piling a list of our fa­vorite double-sided sin­gles.

John: I’d be up for a list like that. And this would be on that list. The Bea­tles were at their best being opaque.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (3 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (Jan­uary 6, 1966)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: 3,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 SimonGarfunkel SoundsOfSilence 600

January 26

Simon & Gar­funkel
The Sounds Of Si­lence
Co­lumbia 4-43396
(1 week)

The Fab Four were fol­lowed to the top spot on the Top 100 by the last great folk-rock record to make it to #1: Simon & Gar­funkel’s The Sounds Of Si­lence. This record was the first step to­wards Paul Simon and Art Gar­funkel be­coming the most suc­cessful and highly re­garded duo of the decade.

Ac­cording to Paul Simon: “I tried very hard not to be in­flu­enced by [Bob Dylan], and that was hard. I never would have wrote [The Sounds Of Si­lence] were it not for Bob Dylan. Never. He was the first guy to come along in a se­rious way that wasn’t a teen lan­guage song. I saw him as a major guy whose work I didn’t want to im­i­tate in the least.”

Lew: When Dylan went elec­tric, my music tastes did too, and this was a huge record for me. Sym­bol­i­cally, it started out as an acoustic track on the first Simon & Gar­funkel album, WEDNESDAY MORNING, 3 A.M., where no­body heard it. Pro­ducer Tom Wilson de­cided to overdub elec­tric gui­tars and drums without telling Paul and Artie (who had gone their sep­a­rate ways), and got him­self a #1 record and re­united the duo in the process.

Neal: I loved “The Sounds of Si­lence” on first hearing and bought it im­me­di­ately. It was one of the first rock-pop records that proved that lyrics could aim higher than “I went to a dance looking for ro­mance, saw Bar­bara Ann and said I wanna hold your hand.”

Like Lew, The Sounds Of Si­lence is an im­por­tant record for me, as it be­came so as­so­ci­ated with a cer­tain pe­riod in time (the last quarter of 1965 and the first quarter of 1966) that when­ever I hear it I am mag­i­cally trans­ported back in time like I’m in a Well­sian time ma­chine!

For the few min­utes that the record is playing, it is 1966 and I am 14-years-old and I have just let my hair grow out from the brush-cut crew-cut that I’d sported since child­hood and girls were starting to glance in my di­rec­tion and LBJ is Pres­i­dent and the Vietnam “con­flict” isn’t a big deal yet and then “The Sounds of Si­lence” is over and it’s 2018 and Trump is Pres­i­dent and the Vietnam War never ended and every­thing is as the Elec­toral de­creed it be.

I call these few spe­cial 45s that take me back to those days when I was young enough to know the truth time travel records.

John: I swear that some­where there is an in­ter­view with the ses­sion man who over­dubbed the elec­tric guitar on this. He claimed that when Artie and Paul got out to the coast, Simon ap­proached him just be­fore he was about to ap­pear on a live TV show. The guy was in the house band.

Simon started in­structing him on how to play this re­ally tricky guitar part he had written for The Sounds Of Si­lence. The guy said, “Paul, I played the part on the record.” I’ve never been able to find that in­ter­view again, but, if true, it would be the ul­ti­mate Paul Simon story. I hope I didn’t dream it.

Neal: John, I read the same story years ago. I found it re­peated on the Old Enough to Know Better web­site, al­though the story may be just that—a story.

John: And just a final note here. I don’t agree with Neal’s con­tention this was the last great folk-rock record to top the charts. There are sev­eral records below I think qualify on both counts (folk-rock and great).

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (2 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (Feb­ruary 14, 1966)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 BeachBoys BarbaraAnn PS EC 600

Medium 45 1966 BeachBoys BarbaraAnn 600

February 5

The Beach Boys
Bar­bara Ann
Capitol 5561
(1 week)

After being ad­mon­ished that life is much too short and there’s no time for fussing and fighting and that si­lence like cancer grows, some good vi­bra­tions re­turned to the top of the charts for a week of fun fun fun with the Beach Boys’ en­gag­ingly goofy ver­sion of Bar­bara Ann. This record was the group’s re­make of the Re­gents’ 1961 hit, which they did in a more rec­og­niz­ably doo-wop ver­sion.

Bar­bara Ann was recorded as part of the BEACH BOYS’ PARTY! album (see Lew’s com­ment below) and was not in­tended by Brian Wilson to be a single. In fact, Brian and the group’s latest single, The Little Girl I Once Knew, had only been out a few weeks and was bounding up the charts when Capitol rush-released Bar­bara Ann out as the Beach Boys’ “new” single.

On the day Bar­bara Ann was re­leased, The Little Girl I Once Knew was #16 with a bullet. Two weeks later and it was drop­ping off the charts while Bar­bara Ann was vaulting to the top. Why would Capitol tor­pedo the new single of one of the biggest selling artists in the com­pa­ny’s his­tory?

Re­put­edly, com­pany execs did not like the daring di­rec­tion of the pro­duc­tion of The Little Girl I Once Knew. They wanted to keep Brian and the boys churning out sim­plistic sing-along songs about girls in cars looking for boys on boards.

While this may have been the first time that Capitol un­dercut Brian Wilson’s am­bi­tion, it would not be the last.

Lew: BEACH BOYS’ PARTY! is a prime ex­ample of the “fake live” recording. It was ac­tu­ally recorded in the studio with in­vited guests, in­cluding Dean Tor­rence of Jan & Dean, who shares lead vo­cals on Bar­bara Ann. Most of the party noises and ad-libs were dubbed on af­ter­ward.

Can­non­ball Adderley did the same trick for the same record com­pany with his 1966 album, MERCY, MERCY, MERCY! LIVE AT THE CLUB. The album was ac­tu­ally recorded in Capi­tol’s Hol­ly­wood Studio at the top of the fa­mous round Capitol Tower, again with an in­vited au­di­ence and an open bar. The orig­inal liner notes lied and claimed it was recorded at the Club DeLisa in Chicago so that Can­non­ball could give some free pub­licity to a friend.

As to The Little Girl I Once Knew, sup­pos­edly there was mas­sive push­back from radio sta­tions be­cause the single in­cluded a clean break and 2 full bars of si­lence be­fore the chorus. Pro­gram di­rec­tors hated “dead air,” fearing some­body would switch to KLIF (for ex­ample, the big Dallas sta­tion), not hear any­thing, and quickly move on to KFJZ. An­other sta­tion, KLIF, dealt with this by in­serting a mas­sively an­noying “K-L-I-F!” into the si­lence.

Other sta­tions re­sponded by drop­ping the song from their playlists. I had heard the single was al­ready in free fall when Capitol re­leased Bar­bara Ann. Too bad, be­cause it’s a classic.

Neal: I hated Bar­bara Ann as a teenager but learned to love it as an adult. De­spite being an egghead (a ’60s term that more or less meant the same as a nerd) that wasn’t in any of my school’s major sports and didn’t have a girl­friend, I made fun of those class­mates of mine who dug stupid songs like this.

BEACH BOYS’ PARTY! has a slightly longer ver­sion of Bar­bara Ann where the guys’ sopho­moric humor takes over at the end and they sound silly. At least they sounded silly until I started smoking pot, after which they sounded stoned. But that’s an­other story.

John: BEACH BOYS’ PARTY!, which never quits and closes with The Times They Are A-Changin’ segueing into Bar­bara Ann, is my pick for the greatest con­cept album ever.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: No
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 LouChristie LightninStrikes 600

February 12–February 19

Lou Christie
Lightnin’ Strikes
MGM K-13412
(2 weeks)

Lou Christie’s Lightnin’ Strikes is one of the most pow­erful sexual double-entendres ever to re­ceive major air­play on Top 40 radio. Christie’s falsetto on the cho­ruses is hys­ter­i­cally or­gasmic:

“I can’t stop!

I can’t stop!!

BECAUSE LIGHTNING IS STRIKING AGAIN!!!”

And he does it with a melody based on Tchaikovsky’s Romeo and Juliet.

(I know the title is Lightnin’ Strikes, but I hear a “g” at the end of the first word each time Lou sings it. I also hear the girls in the back­ground singing, “Plenty of ‘Oooh’,” like “Oooh-la-la!”)

How the hell Lou got this past the sta­tion pro­gram­mers or why the people who sug­gested sta­tions not play Eight Miles High for en­cour­aging us to ex­per­i­ment with mind-bending drugs didn’t sug­gest the same sta­tions not play Lightnin’ Strikes for en­cour­aging us to ex­per­i­ment with body-bending sex will prob­ably never be known.

The groovy sound of this record was the work of pro­ducer Charles Calello working out of Olm­stead Recording Studio in New York City. Calello also recorded the Toys’ A Lover’s Con­certo and the Four Sea­sons’ Let’s Hang On at the same place. As both of these were #1 records in 1965, it has me won­dering why the studio doesn’t have a greater his­tor­ical rep­u­ta­tion.

Later in the year, Christie would re­peat this trick and get “Rhap­sody in the Rain” onto AM radio. An­other song about sex (“In this car our love went much too far—it was ex­citing as thunder”), it was as good as “Lightnin’ Strikes” but not as big a hit.

As I was still a virgin at the time Christie’s records were being played all over the place, I re­ally didn’t get what he was singing about. But I made it a point to find out and he was right, about the you-know-what’s being hys­ter­ical. Some­times.

Hey, Lou, I re­ally dig the drummer on this track.

John: The search for an Italian falsetto even wilder than Frankie Valli’s ended here. Though Lugee Al­fredo Gio­vanni Sacco (Mr. Christie’s real name) had a nice ear­lier hit with The Gypsy Cried, this one blew the roof off. I al­ways did a good Frankie Valli im­i­ta­tion in youth. The chorus of this one nearly blew out my vocal cords—but I couldn’t stop! That’s prob­ably why my high range is now gone.

Neal: Ummm, John, you’re a guy—your high range went for other rea­sons, just like mine and Lew’s did. 

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (1 week)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (March 3, 1966)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: 2,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 NancySinatra TheseBoots 600

February 26

Nancy Sinatra
These Boots Are Made For Walkin’
Reprise 0432
(1 week)

After years of re­leasing flop records, Nancy Sinatra found the right com­bi­na­tion of sexy and sassy with a dose of camp in These Boots Are Made For Walking. Orig­i­nally in­tended for a male singer, Frank’s little girl made it hers: “When a guy sings it, the song sounds harsh and abu­sive,” ob­served Nancy. “But it’s per­fect for a little girl.”

John: And then there was the album cover. When I moved to my house in 1995, I re­fused to commit to my life-long dream of dec­o­rating my den with my fa­vorite album covers until I scored a pris­tine Boots album cover.

Which I man­aged in Jan­uary of 1997. For three dol­lars. Can’t tell you how big a score that was in North Florida.

And, yes, I loved the record and the video, too.

Neal: In the ’60s, a com­pany called Color-Sonics made video juke­boxes for bars. You’d drop a quarter into the ma­chine and watch a video ac­com­pa­nied by the record. For some reason, Color-Sonics mar­keted the ma­chines to an older au­di­ence and few rock & roll records were in­cluded in their cat­alog.

But they made one for These Boots Are Made For Walking where Nancy lip-syncs and snakily dances to her song, ac­com­pa­nied by six sexy fe­male dancers. All seven are scantily clad: ba­si­cally, it’s lots of boots and lots of legs. The idea seems to have been to present Nancy in a sex-kittenish manner sim­ilar to Ann-Margret—and she pulls it off!

Boots is one of the most well-known and well-watched music videos in his­tory. The video has been on YouTube (in var­ious states of quality) for al­most ten years and cur­rently has more than 120,000,000 com­bined views!

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (1 week)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (Feb­ruary 25, 1966)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: 4,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 BarrySadler BalladOfTheGreenBerets PS 600

Medium 45 1966 BarrySadler BalladOfTheGreenBerets 600

February 26–March 26

Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler
The Ballad Of The Green Berets
RCA Victor 47-8739
(4 weeks)

One week we were all bop­ping along to “One of these days these boots are gonna walk all over you“ ‘ the next week, we’re hum­ming, “One hun­dred men will test today, but only three win the Green Beret.” US Army Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler took The Ballad Of The Green Berets to the top of the charts for four weeks.

Staff Sergeant Barry Sadler’s ode to the Army Spe­cial Forces was one of the un­like­liest hit records of all time, sounding like it should be played over the closing credits of a John Wayne movie, not like it should be played round-the-clock on every Top 40 sta­tion in the country.

One way to look at this record’s huge suc­cess was to see it as a kind of sup­port by the middle class for our mil­i­tary’s ef­forts to stop an in­va­sion by a horde of sallow-skinned, commie-infected gooks taking over the San Fran­cisco Bay Area and then sweeping east in a re­verse Man­i­fest Des­tiny, pol­luting our pre­cious boldly fluids along the way.

That this was an im­pos­sible sce­nario didn’t enter into many con­ver­sa­tions among true-believers. But it prob­ably en­tered many minds sub­con­sciously, placing America in a state of cul­tural de­nial. So as a way of dealing with the guilt so often a part of the de­nial process, we bought mil­lions of copies of a record by a sol­dier with a green beret.

An­other way to see its suc­cess was as a nov­elty record, its nov­elty is that it’s prac­ti­cally a re­cruit­ment call for young males—there was no chance for a fe­male to be in the Spe­cial Forces in 1966—who thought of them­selves as fear­less men who might just win them­selves a green beret (and jump and die along the way).

John: One of the few records here I somehow heard in the ’60s. I heard it as a story song, though I can now hear how it might have played as a re­cruit­ment record.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (5 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (Feb­ruary 17, 1966)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: 5,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮
Lew: 
Neal: 

 

Medium 45 1966 RollingStones 19thNervousBreakdown PS a 600

Medium 45 1966 RollingStones 19thNervousBreakdown 600

April 2

The Rolling Stones
19th Ner­vous Break­down
London 45-9823
(1 week)

The Rolling Stones fol­lowed “One hun­dred men will test today, but only three win the Green Beret” with this: “You’re the kind of person you meet at cer­tain dismal, dull af­fairs: center of a crowd, talking much too loud, run­ning up and down the stairs. Well, it seems to me that you have seen too much in too few years. And though you’ve tried, you just can’t hide: your eyes are edged with tears. You better stop, look around—here comes your nine­teenth ner­vous break­down.”

Ac­cording to Mick Jagger, “We had just done five weeks hectic work in the States and I said, ‘Dunno about you blokes, but I feel about ready for my nine­teenth ner­vous break­down.’ We seized on it at once as a likely song title.

“People say I’m al­ways singing about pills and break­downs, there­fore I must be an addict—this is ridicu­lous. Some people are so narrow-minded they won’t admit to them­selves that this re­ally does happen to other people be­sides pop stars.”

John: Irma Thomas gave her opinion of Time Is On My Side once and it was to the ef­fect that it was bad enough to have a chance for a big pop hit stolen by a white boy … but a white boy who couldn’t even sing. Please! I don’ t think she men­tioned that her ver­sion of Time Is On My Side was a B-side. I’d be sur­prised if she re­mem­bered. But I still agree with her about Mick’s early singing.

Neal: In 1965, I hated the Rolling Stones be­cause I hated Mick Jag­ger’s voice. I have been a Stones fan for so long now I can’t re­member ac­tu­ally hating the Stones, but I did. I somehow re­sisted “Sat­is­fac­tion” but I think it was Bill Wyman’s bass on this recording that caught my at­ten­tion and I grudg­ingly started to like the Stones. A little.

In 1965, I would have agreed with Irma Thomas’s take on Mick’s singing. Today I think of Jagger as one of the great singers of our time and that great­ness was easily heard in 1964. I just didn’t, and nei­ther did Ms. Thomas.

Fi­nally, the line “On our first trip I tried so hard to re­arrange your mind, but after a while, I re­al­ized you were dis­ar­ranging mine,” could cer­tainly be re­fer­ring to an LSD trip. That doesn’t make this a psy­che­delic record or drug song—it makes it a song that al­ludes to a pos­sible psy­che­delic ex­pe­ri­ence.

Lew: In the ’60s, I pre­ferred the Stones to the Bea­tles. I was a drinker rather than a pot smoker, and I was drawn to the blues and R&B. Even­tu­ally, I re­al­ized that what I re­ally liked were the records the Stones were cov­ering—Hitch­hike by Marvin Gaye, Mercy, Mercy by Don Covay, Let The Good Times Roll by Sam Cooke. The Bea­tles kept growing on me as my music tastes got more so­phis­ti­cated, and they fi­nally pulled ahead of the Stones some­where in the ’80s.

John: I’ve had the op­po­site his­tory to Lew’s: In youth, I much pre­ferred the Bea­tles, just as I pre­ferred Howard Hawks to John Ford and Au­drey Hep­burn to Vivien Leigh. Nearing old age, taught by bitter ex­pe­ri­ence, I’ve learned to ac­cept that the world is a harsh place. Without losing my love for any of the former, I’ve grad­u­ally switched what I’ll call my spir­i­tual al­le­giance to the latter in each case. Such is time.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: No
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 LovinSpoonful Daydream PS 600

Medium 45 1966 LovinSpoonful Daydream 600

April 9

The Lovin’ Spoonful
Day­dream
Kama Sutra KA-208
(1 week)

In 1965-1966, the Lovin’ Spoonful were every­where: the girls loved them be­cause they were so darn cute so they were on the covers of all the teeny­bopper mag­a­zines. Girls and boys loved their music and bought their records, so their first seven sin­gles made the Top 10. For eigh­teen months, they were one of the biggest bands in the world!

John Se­bas­tian re­mem­bered, “We had no way of knowing what a nice long shelf-life some of that ma­te­rial was gonna have. At the time, we were cer­tainly aiming only for the next few months. That’s re­ally what we were trying for, a Top 10 record right now, right then. Every­thing else is un­ex­pected.”

Lew: The rhythm pat­tern for Day­dream was so dif­fi­cult that the Spoonful couldn’t get a com­plete take, and pro­ducer Erik Ja­cobsen had to make a tape loop of just a couple of bars where they man­aged to lock the rhythm tight. I have that straight from Erik’s mouth:

“On Day­dream, Zally played I guess a straight-four guitar, that was just chuck-chuck-chuck-chuck-chuck-chuck, whereas all the finger-picking styles are oohm-chick oohm-chick, a shuffle type stuff. That was very, very hard.

“We went into the studio, and I guess maybe Steve was trying to play along at first, but it just could not lock up at all, and we took a break, and then we came back, it couldn’t lock up. I mean, we tried that so many dif­ferent ways, and I fi­nally said, ‘Let’s just try a whole ‘nother ap­proach,’ be­cause we just couldn’t make it with the drums with the big back-beat.

“It came down to just trying to get it co­or­di­nated be­tween Zal and Johnny. And they played a couple of takes, three, four, five, six takes, and we just could not get it to main­tain a rhythmic co­he­sion. And I said, ‘Roy, will you help me work on this thing? I want to find little pieces that sound right, and I’m going to make the whole tune up by splices.’

“I made one little loop where it just went around and around and around. I made copies of the one part that did pull to­gether and we over­dubbed the bass on it. I think Joe plays spoons on it. And John whis­tled during the break. So it was just kind of a hot­house flower that we did with Roy Halee. He was the greatest.”

John: Great re­search by Lew there—much info I never heard about this, one of my fa­vorite records by one of my fa­vorite bands. As we’ll see below, there was nothing they couldn’t do. Like a lot of ’60s bands, it was over way too soon.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: No
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 RighteousBrothers SoulAndInspiration PS 600

Medium 45 1966 RighteousBrothers SoulAndInspiration 600

April 16–April 23

The Right­eous Brothers
(You’re My) Soul And In­spi­ra­tion
Verve VK-10383
(2 weeks)

Bobby Hat­field and Bill Medley had been around for a few years, failing to reach the Top 40 with any of their first six sin­gles. In late 1964, Phil Spector, the hottest pro­ducer in the country, made them his next project. He gave them the kind of song and the kind of at­ten­tion that every artist dreams of, and You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’ be­came one of the most suc­cessful record­ings of all time.

The brothers right­eous had three more Top 10 hits with Spec­tor’s Philles im­print, then moved over to MGM’s Verve af­fil­iate for a huge ad­vance and artistic con­trol. Their first single for their new com­pany was the Spector-sounding Soul And In­spi­ra­tion, pro­duced by Medley.

A glo­rious record, it went straight to the top, be­coming their second #1 record. Verve be­lieved in Medley and Hat­field and al­lowed them a gen­erous recording and pro­mo­tional budget, but the magic was gone: due to var­ious in­ternal com­pli­ca­tions (in­cluding “sib­ling” ri­valry), Soul And In­spi­ra­tion was the Right­eous Brothers’ last re­ally big hit for eight years.

John: I’d like to say here that I don’t hear a drop-off in the quality of their late ’60s records, though some may. In those days, the times changed even faster than Bob Dylan pre­dicted. The Right­eous Brothers were among many who kept making great records but dropped by the way­side.

Neal: I love the Right­eous Brothers, but the sin­gles that fol­lowed this were He, Go Ahead And Cry, and On This Side Of Goodbye. Fine records all, but not even in the same league as the Spector hits or Soul And In­spi­ra­tion. Which may be why people stopped buying them in huge quan­ti­ties.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (3 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (May 9, 1966)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 YoungRascals GoodLovin 600

April 30

The Young Ras­cals
Good Lovin’
At­lantic 45-2321
(1 week)

In early 1965, singer Limmie Snell re­leased the orig­inal ver­sion of Good Lovin, written solely by Rudy Clark, on Mer­cury Records. It was is­sued under the some­what silly pseu­donym Lemme B. Good. It was a good song given a good reading but it wasn’t a hit.

Later in ’65, the Olympics recorded Good Lovin’, but their ver­sion fea­tured new lyrics by Artie Resnick. This ver­sion was a little harder and little more pol­ished than Snell’s but still lose and rhythmic. And like Snell’s, it also failed to set the charts afire.

When the Ras­cals recorded the song for At­lantic Records, they played it fast and hard. For some reason, the group didn’t care for the fin­ished recording but—fortunately for them and for us—producer Tom Dowd loved it.

And re­leased it.

Felix Cav­a­liere stated, “We weren’t too pleased with our per­for­mance. It was a shock to us when it went to the top of the charts.” The record launched their ca­reer as a top recording and per­forming act, a po­si­tion they held through 1969.

Lew: I al­ways liked the Ras­cals, and one big reason has to be their drummer, Dino Danelli. Not only was he great in the studio, but he was also amazing to see live, with his stick-twirling, arm-whirling show drum­ming. It was al­most enough to make up for the id­i­otic Little Lord Fauntleroy cos­tumes they wore in their early days.

This is an­other song (like Hang On Sloopy and so many more) that I never knew was a cover at the time it was a hit. It was part of the im­plicit racism of the pe­riod not to give any credit to the R&B artists who laid the ground­work for these white suc­cess sto­ries.

John: I second all Lew says about Dino Danelli—both au­dibly and visually—and highly rec­om­mend anyone in­ter­ested in the drum­mers of this pe­riod seek out Max Weinberg’s The Big Beat: Con­ver­sa­tions With Rock’s Great Drum­mers, where Dino fea­tures promi­nently. As for the rest: This is one of the greatest rock & roll records ever made and the Ras­cals blew every other ver­sion out of the water.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (1 week)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 MamasPapas MondayMonday 600

May 7–May 21

The Mamas & The Papas
Monday, Monday
Dun­hill D-4026
(3 weeks)

In 1966-1967, the won­der­fully if ab­surdly named Mamas & Papas were al­most as big as the Bea­tles. Hell’s Belles, they were al­most as big as the Mon­kees! Cass El­liot, Denny Do­herty, and John Michelle Phillips placed seven sides in the Top 10, with Monday, Monday being their only chart-topper.

But it was with the older record-buying crowd they re­ally scored: their al­bums re­put­edly sold in the mil­lions, al­though ABC has never sought cer­ti­fi­ca­tion from the RIAA be­yond the basic Gold Record Award for $1,000,000 in whole­sale sales.

While some his­to­rians now con­sider The Mamas & The Papas to have been folk-rock, I never heard anyone refer to them that way in their heyday.

John: Again, I’m coming at it from the ’70s, when every single rock his­tory I read (there must have been a dozen by the ’80s) called The Mamas & The Papas folk-rock. If no­body was calling them that in the ’60s, I’d say some­body was falling down on the job.

Neal: By “heyday” I was re­fer­ring to 1966-1968, but there was no rock press until ’67 when Craw­daddy and Rolling Stone came along and by then folk-rock was passé. But who’s dumb enough to rely on fifty-year-old mem­o­ries?

So I pulled out The New Rolling Stone Il­lus­trated His­tory of Rock & Roll (1979), The New Rolling Stone Record Guide (1983), and Rolling Stone Album Guide (1992) and sure enough, they re­ferred to The Mamas & The Papas as folk-rock.

Maybe by then, it was cool for Rolling Stoners and mem­bers of the Crit-Illuminati to call groups like them and the Spoonful and the Spring­field folk-rock in hind­sight.

Fi­nally, ac­cording to Denny Do­herty, when pre­sented with the song by Papa John, “No­body likes Monday, so I thought it was just a song about the working man. Nothing about it stood out to me. It was a dumb fucking song about a day of the week.”

But he sang it anyway.

John: And then The Mamas & The Papas went on to live out one of the great, white-hot ca­reer arcs of the tur­bu­lent half of the ’60s. John Phillips: “We had so much fun in two years, there was no more fun to be had.” What­ever the words mean, the great thing about Monday, Monday is that they sounded like they al­ready knew. (And for those won­dering, I’ll be ex­plaining about the Crit-Illuminati in an up­coming piece under my own name.)

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (3 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (June 10, 1966)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes
• Grammy Award: Best Con­tem­po­rary Rock & Roll Group Per­for­mance – Vocal or In­stru­mental 1966

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 PercySledge WhenAManLovesAWoman 600

May 28

Percy Sledge
When A Man Loves A Woman
At­lantic 45-2326
(1 week)

When A Man Loves A Woman was the first record cut at Rick Halls’ Fame Recording Stu­dios in Muscle Shoals, Al­abama, to reach #1 on the pop charts. The studio and its band would find in­ter­na­tional fame by playing on major hits by major artists such as Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon, and the Rolling Stones.

Bass player David Hood re­called that At­lantic Records head Jerry 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 to 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.”

John: One of the most im­por­tant records of the Rock & Roll Era. Aretha Franklin found her sound looking for what Percy had caught in that little studio. The rest is his­tory.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (2 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (July 15, 1966)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 Mindbenders GroovyKindOfLove 600

June 4

The Mind­ben­ders
A Groovy Kind Of Love
Fontana F-1541
(1 week)

They started out as Wayne Fontana & the Mind­ben­ders, top­ping the charts in 1965 with Game Of Love. Fol­lowing this, Fontana opted out of the group in search of suc­cess as a solo artist. Gui­tarist Eric Stewart took over as lead singer and the Mind­ben­ders went looking for a hit of their own.

A Groovy Kind Of Love was written by Ca­role Bayer Sager (age 22) and Toni Wine (age 17), who were in­spired by the word groovy, then en­joying wide use. Ac­cording to Wine: “We knew it was the hap­pening word, and we wanted to jump on that. We wrote it in twenty min­utes. Just flew out of our mouths, and at the piano, it was a real quick and easy song to write.”

The music was based on the Rondo from Sonatina in G Major Opus 36 No. 5 by Muzio Clementi.

Lew: Lead singer Eric Stewart, who took over from Fontana, would later find fame as a founder of 10CC.

Neal: A Groovy Kind Of Love an­swered the age-old ques­tion, What do you get with a cor­duroy condom? Also, it’s a wee bit ironic that in the year in which mind-bending psy­che­delic music would start to get se­rious air­play on AM radio, the group named the Mind­ben­ders made pop music for 14-year-old girls.

To this day, when people ask, “How you doin’?” I usu­ally re­spond, “Groovy!” It makes just about every­body feel groovy in re­turn.

John: I think Neal would like to know I used “groovy” fre­quently and un-ironically for decades, be­gin­ning in the ’80s. Still do on oc­ca­sion. I’d prob­ably use it more even now if I in­ter­acted with hu­mans as reg­u­larly as I used to! And, yeah, I like this record just fine.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: No
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 RollingStones PaintItBlack PS 600

Medium 45 1966 RollingStones PaintItBlack 600

June 11

The Rolling Stones
Paint It Black
London 45-901
(1 week)

Okay, the title of the song is Paint It Black and the singer is de­pressed, angry, even sui­cidal and wants every­thing around him painted black to match the way he feels. “I see a red door and I want it painted black. no colors any­more I, want them to turn black.”

Why?

His lover has died and is being buried: “I see a line of cars and they’re all painted black; with flowers and my love, both never to come back.”

Yet everyone at London Records in the US in­volved with okaying and making the record’s la­bels and its pic­ture sleeve er­ro­neously added a comma to the title, making it “Paint It, Black.” This title means that the singer is telling someone named “Black” to paint some­thing iden­ti­fied as “it.”

Maybe it was a bad hair day at the London of­fices that day.

Lew: Paint It Black is an ex­ample of Raga Rock, which was a thing in the 60s. The first song in this genre to chart was Heart Full Of Soul by the Yard­birds, where Beck sim­u­lated a sitar on his guitar. Other no­table ex­am­ples in­clude Nor­we­gian Wood, with George on sitar, Dono­van’s Sun­shine Su­perman album, where US folkie Shawn Phillips plays sitar on sev­eral cuts, the Byrds’ Eight Miles High, and Mike Bloom­field’s guitar playing on the song East-West from the EAST-WEST album.

Maybe the ear­liest ex­ample is UK gui­tarist Davy Gra­ham’s per­for­mance of the tra­di­tional tune She Moved Through The Fair, which Jimmy Page stole and reti­tled White Summer. Brian Jones is playing the sitar here, and you couldn’t ask for a better demon­stra­tion of what the Stones lost when they crushed and dis­carded him.

Neal: In 1966, my on­going ha­tred for the Rolling Stones was se­ri­ously eroded by this record.

John: Lovely menace. Mick Jagger had by now trans­formed him­self into one of the great rock & roll singers. I’ve al­ready ex­plained how (see July 10, 1965, entry), but I sup­pose those of you stuck in the reg­ular time-space con­tinuum could just say he prac­ticed a lot.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (2 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 FrankSinatra StrangersInTheNight 600

June 18

Frank Sinatra
Strangers In The Night
Reprise 0470
(1 week)

In be­tween Paint It Black (above) and Pa­per­back Writer (below), the top spot was oc­cu­pied by what may have been the most un­ex­pected hit of the year, Strangers In The Night. Frank Sinatra hadn’t been near the Top 10 since 1957, but—as odd as it may seem in hindsight—teens ran out and bought this record as well as adults, giving Ol’ Blues Eyes his first #1 record in twelve years!

Just as in­ter­esting is the fact that Sinatra re­put­edly did not even like the song, calling it a “piece of shit.” The blue-eyed singer’s opinion notwith­standing, Strangers In The Night won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year!

At this time, most rock & roll records went un­no­ticed by the Grammy people. There was a joke that the Grammys had been de­vised to give some no­tice to old farts—I mean “old-fashioned”—pop singers like Sinatra and Dean Martin, as they weren’t get­ting as much at­ten­tion (or sales) as the young rock & rollers.

John: If I could step fur­ther out of the time-space con­tinuum and dream up a new Pop Chart for 1966, I wouldn’t change much. But I would put Nancy Sinatra’s Bang, Bang (a big hit for Cher in ’66) where Strangers In The Night stands.

Nancy and Bang, Bang had to wait for Kill Bill, where she re­deemed Quentin Tarantino’s per­petual cas­tra­tion of pe­riod music at a single throw. Ex­cepting Jackie Brown, where he pick­pock­eted El­more Leonard, it’s the only mo­ment in any of his movies that tran­scends kitsch.

Neal: Boy, do we have dif­ferent views on Taran­tino.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (1 week)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No
• Grammy Award: Record of the Year 1966
• Grammy Award: Best Pop Vocal Per­for­mance – Male 1966
• Grammy Award: Best Arrange­ment Ac­com­pa­nying a Vo­calist or In­stru­men­talist 1966
• Grammy Award: Best En­gi­neered Recording – Non-Classical 1966

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮
Lew: 
Neal: ✮ ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 Beatles PaperbackWriter PS EC 600

Medium 45 1966 Beatles PaperbackWriter 600

June 25–July 2

The Bea­tles
Pa­per­back Writer
Capitol 5651
(2 weeks)

The Bea­tles re­turned to the top­per­most of the pop­per­most for two weeks with Pa­per­back Writer, in which they nodded to­ward the Beach Boys with the lay­ered backing har­monies. At this time, many of the artists in the world of rock and pop music were feeding off of each other with the Bea­tles, the Beach Boys, the Stones, the Byrds, and Dylan es­pe­cially in­flu­encing count­less other artists.

And Dylan was af­fecting every­one’s ap­proach to lyrics. In­stead of singing about the usual boy-girl stuff, the lyrics of Pa­per­back Writer are spoken by a man (the singer) who wants to sell his novel to a pub­lisher of novels: “Dear Sir or Madam, will you read my book? It took me years to write, will you take a look?”

The singer’s novel is about a man who wants to write novels: “It’s a dirty story of a dirty man and his clinging wife doesn’t un­der­stand. His son is working for the Daily Mail, it’s a steady job, but he wants to be a pa­per­back writer.”

Many people wrote this off as just an­other clever bit tossed off by Mc­Cartney to hold ground without ad­vancing or even risking any­thing.

Like me.

It only took me a few decades to re­alize it’s an ex­cel­lent record and that seems to be get­ting better with age.

Un­like me.

Lew: I thought the lyrics were too silly. Still do. The flip, how­ever, Lennon’s Rain, is bril­liant.

Neal: Rain would have made a fan­tastic A-side and placed the Bea­tles at the fore­front of the dif­fi­cult process of get­ting psy­che­delia played on the radio. Alas, they went with the more com­mer­cial Mc­Cartney side and left the hard work to others, no­tably the Byrds, who had the balls (the temerity?) to follow Eight Miles High with the tran­scen­den­tally lovely if un­com­mer­cial (anti-commercial?) mys­tical trip that is 5D (Fifth Di­men­sion).

John: Along about here, you could start reading any­thing into a Bea­tles’ record you wanted to—if you wanted to. I had a brief go at it in the late ’70s/early ’80s. Final de­ci­sion? They sure sound great!

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (2 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (July 14, 1966)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: 2,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 TommyJames HankyPanky 600

July 9–July 16

Tommy James & the Shon­dells
Hanky Panky
Roulette R-4686
(2 weeks)

In 1963, Jeff Barry and Ellie Green­wich (who wrote the #1 hits Be My Baby and Leader Of The Pack), wrote a simple song ti­tled Hanky Panky. The two of them recorded the song using the name the Rain­drops. In their ver­sion, the line “My baby does the hanky-panky” or “My baby loves to hanky-panky” is sung sev­en­teen times. It went un­no­ticed by everyone—except young Tommy Jackson from Nowheresville, Ohio.

With his group the Shon­dells, he recorded the song in 1964 but forgot the lyrics and ba­si­cally re­peated “My baby does the hanky-panky” a total of twenty-three times. Even­tu­ally, it was no­ticed by every­body.

Lew: The Tommy James record was orig­i­nally re­leased in 1964 (as the Shon­dells on Snap 102) and was a minor suc­cess in the Mid­west, but failed to chart na­tion­ally. The band broke up, and that would have been that ex­cept that a Pitts­burgh disc-jockey started playing it and get­ting a great re­sponse. The record was re-released by Roulette Records and the then-two-year-old song went to #1.

The song, an ob­scure Barry and Green­wich number, was recorded live at a Michigan radio sta­tion and is a prime piece of ev­i­dence in my ar­gu­ment that rock lost some­thing vital when multi-tracking re­placed the doc­u­men­ta­tion of a live per­for­mance. Ar­guably Hanky Panky would never have caught on if it had been a pris­tine, multi-track bit of aural per­fec­tion.

In­stead, you can hear the in­audible on this record: the over­flowing hor­mones of the 16-year-old singer, the thrill of the imag­ined big break just ahead, the in­cred­ible charge that came from being able to (just barely) make music come out of their in­stru­ments.

Neal: For two min­utes and fifty-nine sec­onds, teenager Tommy Jackson bragged that his baby did the hanky-panky. In 1966, my friends and I weren’t ex­actly sure what hanky-panky was, but we sure wished that our girl­friends did it, too. Ex­cept, of course, we were 15-year-old nerds and didn’t have girl­friends.

Hanky Panky was one of the records that I hated as a teenager and never re­ally warmed up to as an adult. These days, I can take it or leave it.

(I read this to Berni for feed­back and she said, “Honey, you’re still a 15-year-old nerd.” To which I replied, “Yeah, but now I’ve got a girl­friend and I know how to do the hanky-panky.”)

John: I didn’t hate Hanky Panky when I heard it (again in the late ’70s). But I didn’t ap­pre­ciate it until I heard the story re­lated above. Then I re­al­ized that, without it, we might not have all those other Tommy James records that I do love. I wouldn’t want to be in a world without Sweet Cherry Wine. It just wouldn’t be worth it somehow.

Also, if you want the full, bizarre story of how Hanky Panky (and the rest of Tommy James’s ca­reer) ended up in mob­ster Morris Levy’s hands, you should read Tommy’s au­to­bi­og­raphy Me, The Mob, And The Music: One Hel­luva Ride. It de­livers on the promise of that title.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (2 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮ ✮
Neal: 

 

Medium 45 1966 Troggs WildThings Fontana 600

July 23

The Troggs
Wild Thing
Atco 45-6415
Fontana F-1548
(1 week)

Wild Thing was first recorded by the Wild Ones and their ver­sion owed a thing or two to Dylan, no­tably Chuck Alden’s vo­cals and the wailing har­monica. Re­leased in No­vember 1965, it didn’t make ei­ther the Cash Box or Bill­board sur­veys.

The Troggs picked up the song and their min­i­mal­istic ver­sion was re­leased in April 1966. Due to a foul-up, the rights to man­u­fac­ture and dis­tribute the record in the US ended up with two com­pa­nies, Fontana Records and Atco Records. Both press­ings were “au­tho­rized” and there­fore le­git­i­mate and both records are listed on the Cash Box and Bill­board charts.

Wild Thing was such a big thing that it’s easy to forget that the Troggs were not a one-hit-wonder: their next three sin­gles reached the Top 10 in the UK and they scored a Top 10 hit on both sides of the At­lantic in 1967 with the lovely Love Is All Around.

I men­tion this so I can di­rect everyone to one of my fa­vorite movies Love Ac­tu­ally (2003), which is built around a re­make of the song (Christmas Is All Around) pa­thet­i­cally per­formed by over-the-hill, ex-junkie rock star Billy Mack (bril­liantly played by Bill Nighy).

John: Coming along a gen­er­a­tion later, this was one of those records that sounded like it had al­ways ex­isted, that it wasn’t pos­sible anyone had thought it up. The great critic, Lester Bangs, wrote one of his best rave-ups about the Troggs. And they ce­mented their legend with a record’s worth of end­less, ar­ro­gant, some­times un­in­ten­tion­ally hi­lar­ious, blather cap­tured at one of their recording ses­sions.

It was later boot­legged and, much later still, of­fi­cially re­leased as an album, THE TROGG TAPES. All of that fades to black when this record is playing. Hearing it in the late ’70s, it was pos­sible to close your eyes and be­lieve the ’60s might still amount to some­thing.

Neal: Um, among my then-teenaged co­horts, we often al­tered the lyrics of songs (who didn’t?) to fit our teenaged per­cep­tion of humor, es­pe­cially sex-based humor. Hence, “Wild Thing, you make my thing swing.”

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (2 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 NapoleanXIV TheyreComingToTakeMeAway 600

July 30

Napoleon XIV
They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!
Warner Brothers 5831
(1 week)

Napoleon XIV was the pseu­donym for Jerry Samuels, a recording en­gi­neer at As­so­ci­ated Recording Stu­dios in New York. On They’re Coming Io Take Me Away he sounded like he had just es­caped the local psy­chi­atric hos­pital and was singing about how the hos­pi­tal’s people (the schiz­o­phrenic’s ubiq­ui­tous “they” in the lyrics) were coming to take him back where he clearly be­longed.

This is re­ally not a mu­sical record—it is es­sen­tially a comedic, spoken-word, nov­elty record.

John: I’ll para­phrase Rooster Cog­burn from True Grit: It was funny the first tw0-and-a-half times I heard it.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: No
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 SamTheSham LilRedRidingHood 600

August 6

Sam the Sham & the Pharaohs
Lil’ Red Riding Hood
MGM K-13506
(1 week)

Sam the Sham hit the top spot by doing a pretty good im­i­ta­tion of a per­vert in­sisting that he could be trusted walking a little girl through the woods. Alone. In the song, the singer is a wolf in sheep’s clothing:

“What big eyes you have, the kind of eyes that drive wolves mad. So just to see that you don’t get chased, I think I ought to walk with you for a ways. What full lips you have! They’re sure to lure someone bad. So until you get to grand­ma’s place, I think you ought to walk with me and be safe.”

Sam punc­tu­ated his singing with the kind of leering howl as­so­ci­ated with wolves in Warner Brothers car­toons who are aroused and have some kinda hanky-panky in mind.

While Lil’ Red Riding Hood is al­most al­ways cat­e­go­rized as a rock & roll record, it doesn’t rock and it doesn’t roll. And it doesn’t have to be­cause it is es­sen­tially a comedy song, a nov­elty record with more in common with Hello Muddah! Hello Fadduh! than with Johnny B. Goode or Wooly Bully.

Lew: Domingo Samudio (aka Sam the Sham) is part of the se­cret his­tory of Latino pop stars that in­cludes Richard Valen­zuela (Ritchie Valens), Can­nibal & the Head­hunters (Land Of A Thou­sand Dances), ? & the Mys­te­rians, and, be­lieve it or not, Red­bone (Come And Get Your Love).

I don’t re­member any­body at the time making ref­er­ence to their eth­nicity, the way people did with more “out” Latino artists like Trini Lopez, José Fe­li­ciano, or Freddy Fender, who would oc­ca­sion­ally sing in Spanish.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: No
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (Au­gust 11, 1966)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮ ✮
Neal: 

 

Medium 45 1966 LovinSpoonful SummerInTheCity PS 600

 Medium 45 1966 LovinSpoonful SummerInTheCity 600

August 13–August 20

The Lovin’ Spoonful
Summer In The City
Kama Sutra KA-211
(2 weeks)

Summer In The City was the second #1 record for the Spoonful on the Cash Box Top 100 but their first on Bill­board: Day­dream and Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind peaked at #2 on that mag­a­zine’s Hot 100 survey. It was the last chart-topper for the group al­though lead singer and song­writer John Se­bas­tian would score a #1 hit with his Wel­come Back in 1976.

Lew: Echo ef­fects on Summer In The City cour­tesy of the marble stair­well at Co­lumbia Records studio in New York. En­gi­neering by Roy Halee, who would later make his­tory pro­ducing Simon & Gar­funkel. Com­paring this song with Day­dream (see April 9, 1966) shows you the in­cred­ible ver­sa­tility of the band.

Neal: As John Se­bas­tian stated (see April 9, 1965), many of the Spoon­ful’s records have had a long shelf-life, es­pe­cially on the now-defunct Oldies radio format. In early 1967, the group split with Erik Ja­cobsen, who had pro­duced all their hits.

In mid-1967, Zal Yanovsky left the group over dif­fer­ences with the band’s di­rec­tion and Se­bas­tian’s song­writing. Then in early 1968, lead singer and chief song­writer Se­bas­tian left the group for a solo ca­reer. And their hit-making days were be­hind them.

Lew: Well, they did make it to the Hot 100 with two Joe Butler songs after Se­bas­tian split: Never Goin’ Back (To Nashville) and Me About You. For an­other view of the Yanovsky/Jacobsen firing, read my in­ter­view with Ja­cobsen.

John: An­other mirac­u­lous record. The music came easy for them, it was the get­ting along that was hard.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (3 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (Sep­tember 19, 1966)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 BobbyHebb Sunny 600

August 27

Bobby Hebb
Sunny
Philips 40365
(1 week)

In late 1966, Bobby Hebb seemed to come out of nowhere, have a big hit with Sunny—which everyone seemed to like—and then dis­ap­pear. Ac­tu­ally, he was a jour­neyman mu­si­cian who had been a member of Johnny Bragg’s Marigolds and re­placed Mickey Baker as half of Mickey & Sylvia and cut one single as Bobby & Sylvia.

Hebb con­tinued to record and write songs, in­cluding A Nat­ural Man for Lou Rawls. Nonethe­less, as a solo artist, he was es­sen­tially a one-hit-wonder, but with a self-penned hit that was recorded by many other artists.

John: Bobby Hebb was part of a great, un­der­sung tra­di­tion of dry-voiced black male singers (Arthur Alexander had pre­ceded him on the charts, Bill Withers would follow in a few years), who weren’t quite soul, weren’t quite pop, weren’t quite folk or country, but somehow sug­gested every­thing at once. This didn’t sound like any­thing else and could only have hit big in the wide-open spaces of ’60s radio.

Neal: A no­table ver­sion of Sunny is the one that Frank Sinatra recorded for his 50th birthday with Duke Ellington in De­cember 1967 for the Francis A. and Ed­ward K. album. At the time of Hebb’s death in 2010, Sunny was listed as the 18th most-performed song in the BMI cat­alog.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: No
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (Oc­tober 4, 1966)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 Donovan SunshineSuperman PS 600

Medium 45 1966 Donovan SunshineSuperman 600x

Sep­tember 3

Donovan
Sun­shine Su­perman
Epic 5-10045
(1 week)

Sun­shine Su­perman was the first #1 record that seemed to openly al­lude to LSD. Whether or not the song is about acid de­pends on how you in­ter­pret such lines as “Could’ve tripped out easy but I’ve changed my way,” “I know a beach where it never ends,” “you can just sit there thinking on your velvet throne about all the rain­bows you can have for your own,” and “blow your little mind.”

My rule of thumb about so-called drug songs is that any rock or pop record from the ’60s with words such as high or trip in it can be as­sumed to have more than one meaning. That is, if get­ting high on pot or taking a trip on acid makes sense in the con­text or set­ting of the song, then it prob­ably is an al­lu­sion to that drug.

Un­like most pop lyri­cists, Donovan ac­tu­ally has some po­et’s blood in his veins, so al­lu­sions are usu­ally in­ten­tional and not ac­ci­dental. Donovan later ad­mitted:

“Sun­shine did come softly through my window the day I wrote it, just like in the lyrics, but sun­shine can also mean LSD,” re­called Donovan I’d just read The Doors Of Per­cep­tion, Al­dous Huxley’s book about taking mesca­line, and wanted to get to the in­vis­ible fourth di­men­sion of tran­scen­dental su­per­con­scious vi­sion. I tried LSD, mesca­line, and fi­nally med­i­ta­tion.” (The Guardian)

Lew: “Could’ve tripped out easy” is, I be­lieve, ac­tu­ally “Could’ve tripped out easier,” which makes a lot more sense in con­text: The Sun­shine came softly through my window today (and tripped me out). I could have tripped out easier (by taking acid) but I’ve changed my ways (gone nat­ural). I looked at some of the lyrics sites, and most of them have “Could’ve tripped out easy a-but I” which makes no sense at all.

Neal: As Lew’s ob­ser­va­tion does make more sense out of the lyrics, I set about trying to de­ci­pher that one phrase. I lis­tened to a va­riety of sources in­cluding mono 45s and mono and stereo LPs and these are the lyrics I hear (the punc­tu­a­tion is mine):

Sun­shine came softly through my a-window today,
could’ve tripped out easy a-but I’ve a-changed my ways.
It’ll take time, I know it, but in a while
you’re gonna be mine, I know it, we’ll do it in style.
‘Cause I made my mind up you’re going to be mine.
I’ll tell you right now, any trick in the book, now baby, a-that I can find.

Every­body’s hus­tling just to have a little scene.
When I say we’ll be cool, I think that you know what I mean.
We stood on a beach at sunset, do you re­member when?
I know a beach where, baby, a-it never ends.
When you’ve made your mind up for­ever to be mine.
I’ll pick up your hand and slowly blow your little mind,
’cause I made my mind up you’re going to be mine.
I’ll tell you right now, any trick in the book, now baby, a-that I can find.

Su­perman or Green Lantern ain’t got a-nothing on me—
I can make like a turtle and dive for your pearls in the sea.
A-you can just sit there a-thinking on your velvet throne
’bout all the rain­bows a-you can a-have for your own.
When you’ve made your mind up for­ever to be mine.
I’ll pick up your hand and slowly blow your little mind,
when you’ve made your mind up for­ever to be mine.

The use of the prefix “a-” in so many words pops up in many old folk-type songs (Froggie Went A-Courtin’ comes to mind) and seems to be ei­ther an at­tempt to du­pli­cate the ca­dence of the “common man,” or just a de­vice to make the singing flow smoother. The “a” is easy to hear in each in­stance ex­cept the one in ques­tion: on one listen I hear “could’ve tripped out easy a-but I’ve a-changed my ways,” on the next I hear “could’ve tripped out easier but I’ve a-changed my ways.”

In 1967, a batch of LSD called Or­ange Sun­shine quickly be­came the most widely asked-for street acid ever made. The name was used by un­der­ground man­u­fac­turers of the drug for years. I re­member barrel Or­ange Sun­shine in the early ’70s (my own psy­che­delic heyday) was a pill that looked like a tiny barrel rather than the normal tablet that most acid came in be­fore blotter and win­dow­pane be­came so pop­ular. The plus was that the barrel size con­tained two full doses (or hits) and while a normal hit was $1, a barrel was only $1.50—and fru­gality was a hall­mark of hip­piedom.

John: This one had to grow on me. In time, it did. I have no idea, though, why Donovan’s record com­pany did not re­lease his con­tem­po­ra­neous Season Of The Witch as a single. It’s been ubiq­ui­tous in the cul­ture for decades now, per­haps most no­tably as the great Il­leana Douglas’s skating music at the end of the 1995 movie To Die For. If Sun­shine Su­perman being such a big hit helped that happen, good on it.

Neal: I think every­body that heard Season Of The Witch in ’66 thought it should have been a single and knew it would have been a hit single! And it does pop up in movies at the oddest mo­ments.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (1 week)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 Beatles YellowSubmarine PS EC 600 1

Medium 45 1966 Beatles YellowSubmarine 600

September 10

The Bea­tles
Yellow Sub­ma­rine
Capitol 5715
(1 week)

And so our he­roes John, Paul, George, and Ringo vis­ited a mag­ical place where the denizens dwelt in brightly col­ored sub­marines, living a life of ease and every one of them had all they needed. Not co­in­ci­den­tally, get­ting to this magic place re­quired get­ting high: “So we sailed up to the sun, till we found a sea of green, and we lived be­neath the waves in our yellow sub­ma­rine.”

De­spite the overt silli­ness of the lyrics and the fact that this is es­sen­tially a nov­elty done in a chil­dren’s record manner, people in­ter­preted Yellow Sub­ma­rine in dif­ferent ways: some did hear it as a chil­dren’s song, some heard it as a mu­sical joke, and some heard it as a de­lightful ref­er­ence to a psy­che­delic state of mind.

Ac­cording to Paul Mc­Cartney: “I was thinking of it as a song for Ringo—which it even­tu­ally turned out to be—so I wrote it as not too rangey in the vocal. I just made up a little tune in my head, then started making a story, sort of an an­cient mariner, telling the young kids where he’d lived and how there’d been a place where he had a yellow sub­ma­rine.

“It’s pretty much my song as I re­call, written for Ringo in that little twi­light mo­ment. I think John helped out; the lyrics get more and more ob­scure as it goes on but the chorus, melody, and verses are mine. There were funny little gram­mat­ical jokes we used to play.

“It should have been ‘Every one of us has all he needs’ but Ringo turned it into ‘every one of us has all we need.’ So that be­came the lyric. It’s wrong, but it’s great.”

Yellow Sub­ma­rine might be con­sid­ered a bit of a failure by Bea­tles stan­dards as it failed to make it to the top of the Bill­board Hot 100, peaking at #2 there. All that changed on July 17, 1968, with the world pre­miere of the an­i­mated feature-length movie Yellow Sub­ma­rine. The song is now and al­ways will be one of the most well-known and well-loved Bea­tles record­ings.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: No
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (Sep­tember 12, 1966)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 Supremes YouCantHurryLove PS 600

Medium 45 1966 Supremes YouCantHurryLove 600

September 17

The Supremes
You Can’t Hurry Love
Mo­town M-1097
(1 week)

You Can’t Hurry Love was the Supremes’ sev­enth #1 hit in three years, second only to the Bea­tles’ four­teen chart-toppers. It was also their tenth con­sec­u­tive Top 10 single on Cash Box. (Oddly, Nothing But Heartaches failed to make the Top 10 on Bill­board, breaking their string on the mag­a­zine’s survey.)

By this time, they were easily the most suc­cessful fe­male pop group of all time and were still in the middle of their heyday! By ex­ten­sion, it also ef­fec­tively made Diana Ross the most suc­cessful fe­male singer of the decade.

Ac­cording to writer and pro­ducer La­mont Dozier, “We were trying to re­con­struct Come See About Me and somehow it turned into You Can’t Hurry Love.”

The Supremes recorded a new vocal track sung in Italian against the same backing track and re­leased L’amore Verrà as a single in Italy in early 1967. It was backed with an Italian ver­sion of You Keep Me Hanging On.

John: This is one of the Supremes’ very greatest. And Phil Collins later had big hits with two #1 records from this year: Groovy Kind Of Love and You Can’t Hurry Love. I like Phil Collins, but I don’t think he im­proved ei­ther one. 

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (2 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 Association Cherish 600

September 24–October 8

The As­so­ci­a­tion
Cherish
Valiant V-747
(3 weeks)

Many critics have unfairly—well, ac­tu­ally, stupidly—dismissed the As­so­ci­a­tion from their his­to­ries and their recog­ni­tion. The group made the Top 40 with rel­a­tively so­phis­ti­cated rock like Along Comes Mary and Windy (and al­most everyone for­gets how as­tounded they were hearing these records for the first time fifty years ago), psy­che­delic pop like Pan­do­ra’s Golden Heebie Jee­bies (and al­most everyone just flat-out for­gets this Top 40 hit record, if they even knew about it), and lots of gor­geous love songs, the first being Cherish.

De­spite their music being of ex­tremely high quality and that it was hugely suc­cessful at the time and much of it has re­mained ex­tra­or­di­narily pop­ular through the in­ter­vening decades, so-called “se­rious” rock critics simply can’t seem to take them se­ri­ously. Like folks over at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

The music li­censing com­pany BMI claims that Cherish is #22 on their list of the most-played songs of all time on tele­vi­sion and radio in America. The As­so­ci­a­tion’s 1967 hit Never My Love is #2.

Lew: First chart-topper by the As­so­ci­a­tion, who were at the center of a group of Los An­geles singers, song­writers, and pro­ducers who es­sen­tially in­vented a sub-genre even­tu­ally called sun­shine pop.

• Tandyn Almer, who later col­lab­o­rated ex­ten­sively with Brian Wilson, wrote their first hit, Along Comes Mary.

• Curt Boettcher pro­duced their first album, which in­cluded Cherish.

• Gui­tarist Jim Yester’s brother Jerry pro­duced the later As­so­ci­a­tion ses­sions and joined the Lovin’ Spoonful in 1967.

When the band, fa­mous for their love songs, tried to change their di­rec­tion, they were aban­doned by their fans and their record com­pany.

John: Singers are al­ways un­der­es­ti­mated by rock critics. Es­pe­cially har­mony singers. They’re for­given if—and only if—at least one of the singers also writes or pro­duces.

Neal: First, while I un­der­stand the need to cat­e­go­rize this kind of music made by groups in Cal­i­fornia that em­u­lated the Beach Boys, I don’t think I will ever cotton up to the term sun­shine pop. Second, as John points out, “se­rious” rock critics tend to den­i­grate these types of artists un­less there’s a single cre­ative ge­nius like Brian Wilson, Gary Usher, Curt Boettcher, or Gary Zekley in charge.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (3 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (Oc­tober 18, 1966)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 FourTops ReachOut PS 600

Medium 45 1966 FourTops ReachOut 600

October 15

The Four Tops
Reach Out I’ll Be There
Mo­town M-1098
(1 week)

Reach Out I’ll Be There was a much harder record than we were used to from Mo­town at the time. Not just Levi Stubbs’ fan­tastic singing but the arrange­ment and pro­duc­tion didn’t “feel” like any Mo­town record that had come be­fore it. The per­cus­sive clippety-clopping that un­der­scores parts of the arrange­ment keeps moving the record for­ward al­most propul­sively.

Ac­cording to song­writer and pro­ducer La­mont Dozier: “Brian (Dozier), Eddie (Hol­land), and I often had dis­cus­sions about what women re­ally want most of all from a man, and after talking about some of our ex­pe­ri­ences with women, we all three agreed that they wanted someone to be there for them, through thick or thin, and be there at their beck and call! Thus this song was born.”

Sup­pos­edly, lead singer Levi Stubbs was in­structed to sing like Bob Dylan ala Like A Rolling Stone, which he did on some of the verses. While a 21st-century lis­tener might see little con­nec­tion be­tween Dylan and Stubbs on this record, in 1966 we all thought Reach Out I’ll Be There was Mo­town’s an­swer to Dylan.

John: Someone, I think it was Phil Spector, ac­tu­ally re­ferred to this as “Black Dylan.” That might be un­der­selling it. Out­side of Like A Rolling Stone Dylan never came close to this kind of vocal power in the studio, and even then, he only came close. Then there are the haunting har­monies, and the kind of pro­duc­tion leap only Mo­town could manage at that point.

Yes, it was a new sound for them, but it didn’t spring from a vacuum—they’d been building to­wards it. People spec­u­lated that Spector re­treated from the busi­ness after his pro­duc­tion of Ike & Tina Turner’s River Deep, Moun­tain High flopped in the states. It’s just as likely he heard this and said “I give up,” though of course, he didn’t say it where anyone could hear.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (2 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 Mysterians 96Tears 600

October 22

? & the Mys­te­rians
96 Tears
Cameo C-428
(1 week)

Out of nowhere came this group with the ab­surd name of ? & the Mysterians—not “Ques­tion Mark” but “?” as the leader. And he’s fronting a band who ap­par­ently took their name from The Mys­te­rians, a grade-D Japanese sci­ence fic­tion movie from the ’50s! And they’ve got a record that was even more primal and tech­ni­cally prim­i­tive than the Troggs’ Wild Thing!

(And right about now I ex­pect Lew will be ad­mon­ishing me for using way too many ex­cla­ma­tion marks but, goldarnit, I’ve got to!)

96 Tears was orig­i­nally re­leased on itty-bitty Pa-Go-Go Records and then picked up by Cameo-Parkway, who gave the record na­tional dis­tri­b­u­tion and pro­mo­tion and got it to the top. While many fans think of ? & the Mys­te­rians as a one-hit-wonder, their follow-up single, I Need Some­body, reached #22 in the last week of 1966.

Lew: See my com­ments above about Sam the Sham (Au­gust 6, 1966, entry). These guys are the kids of mi­grant Mex­ican workers who set­tled in Michigan. This is a de­served classic of garage rock, proof that you didn’t need a fancy studio or crack ses­sion players.

John: A great year for the garage band ethos (as with “girl groups” it’s a bit lim­iting to call it a style), with this being Ex­hibit A, for all the rea­sons Lew men­tions.

Neal: Like sev­eral other chart-toppers from this year, I hated 96 Tears as a teenager—possibly be­cause the singer re­minded me of Mick Jagger. When I learned that they were Chi­cano, I ex­pe­ri­enced a twinge of bleeding heart lib­eral guilt. Then I thought, “To hell with this!” and went back to hating them. But as I get older, this record just gets better.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (1 week)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (No­vember 11, 1966)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 Monkees LastTrainToClasrksville PS 1st 600

Medium 45 1966 Monkees LastTrainToClasrksville 600

October 29–November 5

The Mon­kees
Last Train To Clarksville
Col­gems 66-1001
(2 weeks)

In late 1967, Jann Wenner launched Rolling Stone mag­a­zine, and by that time there was a quickly evolving coun­ter­cul­tural scene in the San Fran­cisco Bay Area that em­braced the hip new pub­li­ca­tion. And that scene was fully em­braced by the staff.

There was an ap­pealing coun­ter­cul­tural hip­ness to the ed­i­to­rial stance taken by most of the con­trib­u­tors, but hip was often de­fined as being all things San Fran­cisco and all things non-San Fran­ciscan were dubbed unhip, not cool, al­most evil, es­pe­cially any­thing and every­thing to do with the music and cul­tural scene in and of Los An­geles.

San Fran­cisco is real.

Los An­geles is plastic.

And what could be more plastic than a rock group as­sem­bled from a bunch of guys who an­swered an ad for a job? It was hip and easy to take down the Mon­kees and their records be­cause, after all, the four mem­bers of the group were hired to play the parts of mu­si­cians in a rock group for a tele­vi­sion show.

Davy, Mike, Mickey, and Peter had no cre­ative con­trol over their music:

• The songs were written for them.
• The arrange­ments were worked out for them.
• The in­stru­ments played for them.

The four Mon­kees were told to sing and look good and everyone will make money. For this, they were re­ferred to as the Pre-Fab Four, a den­i­grating spin on the nick­name given the Bea­tles a few years ear­lier, the Fab Four.

This was a far cry from how the in­dustry usu­ally op­er­ated. Let’s look at how Berry Gordy han­dled many of his artists and recorded the records that these same Rolling Stone critics gushed over. Let’s use the Supremes as an example—when Diana, Flo­rence, and Mary were making their hit records:

• The songs were written for them.
• The arrange­ments were worked out for them.
• The in­stru­ments played for them.

The three Supremes were told to sing and look good and everyone will make money. For this, they were re­ferred to as the Sound of Young America

Wait …

Am I missing some­thing? That sounds ex­actly the same!

Okay, that was my at­tempt at hu­morous irony (even though I know that irony rarely works on Amer­i­cans and al­most never works on the In­ternet) (which is why I’m pointing it out now).

Thank­fully, those days of the Pre-Political Cor­rect­ness Era are over and we can hap­pily ac­knowl­edge that Last Train To Clarksville was a fine pop-rock record and everyone in­volved with its pro­duc­tion de­serve a pat on the back, in­cluding the four guys hired to sing the song.

Lew: I loved Last Train To Clarksville and es­pe­cially Mick­ey’s soulful vocal. Still love it today. The Mon­kees’ debut was one of the first al­bums I ever bought. Your ar­gu­ment, as usual, is well-reasoned and con­vincing.

Let it also be noted that both Ne­smith and Tork were ex­pe­ri­enced mu­si­cians (Tork was on the folk scene in Green­wich Vil­lage), and Davy Jones didn’t need any talent to play the tam­bourine. Dolenz was the only real im­poster, and with a voice like that, who cares?

John: While I agree with most of Neal’s take on the ab­sur­dity of the sit­u­a­tion, I think the main ob­jec­tion of the hip­sters was that (un­like the Supremes and many other vocal groups), the Mon­kees had been as­sem­bled by man­age­ment, and not just any old man­age­ment but Hol­ly­wood man­age­ment. Talk about the dread Es­tab­lish­ment!

Of course, highly re­spected acts like Peter, Paul & Mary and the Byrds had been wholly or par­tially as­sem­bled in a sim­ilar fashion (though the taint of tele­vi­sion was at least not present). If it comes to that, so had the Bea­tles, who weren’t ex­actly given a choice about re­placing Pete Best with Ringo, even if it was what they all wanted anyway.

I don’t con­cede the hip­sters had a point as I prefer Neal’s take, just that some of the dis­tinc­tions were real if a touch pedantic. How­ever made, Last Train To Clarksville was a ter­rific record which caught a lot of people by sur­prise when it took off—and made the Mon­kees much more than tele­vi­sion stars.

Neal: Yes on the “as­sem­bled by man­age­ment” by there were lots of “se­rious” rock  fans who bitched, “They don’t play their own in­stru­ments!” and “They don’t write their own songs!” And that was not just some Crawdaddy/Rolling Stone/Creem-hipper-than-thou-’60s thing … that ar­gu­ment lasted for decades!

I un­der­stood that ar­gu­ment as I too wanted to ro­man­ti­cize rock artists as “real” artists, but I was also a huge fan of ’50s rock & roll in gen­eral and Elvis in par­tic­ular and the same ar­gu­ments ap­plied to many of those artists so I didn’t make that ar­gu­ment. I en­joyed the tele­vi­sion show (“Hey! Hey! We’re the Mon­kees! And people say we monkey around, but we’re too busy singing to put any­body down”) but I dis­missed their records as “man­u­fac­tured” and light­weight.

But that was then and this is now and so be it and so be here now be­cause now there is.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (1 week)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (Oc­tober 27, 1966)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 JohnnyRivers PoorSideOfTown PS 2 600 

Medium 45 1966 JohnnyRivers PoorSideOfTown 600

November 12

Johnny Rivers
Poor Side Of Town
Im­pe­rial 66205
(1 week)

After his first eleven sin­gles flopped, Johnny Rivers reached the big time with his reading of Chuck Berry’s Mem­phis, which al­most topped the charts in 1964. He fol­lowed that with a string of hits all the way through 1978, but Poor Side Of Town was his only #1 record.

After Poor Side Of Town, John­ny’s next two sin­gles were ren­di­tions of Mo­town clas­sics, Baby I Need Your Loving and The Tracks Of My Tears, in which he held his own with Levi Stubbs and Smokey Robinson! Both were Top 10 hits on Cash Box.

In 1967 he re­leased Summer Rain, per­haps the most evoca­tive record about the so-called Summer of Love ever recorded. (“All summer long, we were dancing in the sand. Every­body kept on playing Sgt. Pep­per’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”) The first time I heard it, I thought it was going to be his second #1 record but it peaked at #10.

Lew: Poor Side Of Town was the first orig­inal song Johnny Rivers ever put on a record and may be the best single he ever cut.

Neal: There aren’t a lot of com­ments from John, Lew, and I on Johnny Rivers here be­cause we as­sume every­body is al­ready a fan of some sort.

John: Just an­other ter­rific record—and again, one of the few from that or any pe­riod which ad­dressed the re­al­i­ties of eco­nomic class. To sing “Wel­come back baby, to the poor side of town” without a trace of bit­ter­ness or con­de­scen­sion was a touch of ge­nius, while “To­gether we can make it baby” as fine a tes­ta­ment to the per­sis­tence of good old Amer­ican “can-do” as anyone has ever man­aged in any medium.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (1 week)
• Million-seller: No
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 BeachBoys GoodVibrations PS 600

Medium 45 1966 BeachBoys GoodVibrations 600

November 19

The Beach Boys
Good Vi­bra­tions
Capitol 5676
(1 week)

If I had to pick one single recording from all the 45s and all the LPs is­sued in the ’60s to sum up “the Six­ties,” it would be the Beach Boys’ Good Vi­bra­tions.

‘Nuff said?

Lew: Neal talks at length about this song in his Coda, and cer­tainly reams have been written about Brian Wilson’s “pocket sym­phony,” which took eight months and ninety hours of tape to record. None of that can convey what a joy it was to hear it on the radio when it first came out when we would crank it to ear-splitting levels on our AM ra­dios and hit the gas.

John: The cre­ation process of this mon­u­mental record plays a big role in the great Brian Wilson 2014 biopic, Love & Mercy.

Neal: If I had to pick one single recording from all the 45s and all the LPs is­sued in the ’50s to sum up “the Fifties,” it would be Elvis Pres­ley’s Hound Dog. I wanted to get that in as John, Lew, and I have no in­ten­tion at this time of doing a se­ries of ar­ti­cles on the #1 records of 1950-1959.

Right, John?

Right, Lew?

John: Er … right. How about 1955-59? 

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (1 week)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (Oc­tober 10, 1966)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 NewVaudevilleBand WinchesterCathedral 600

November 26

The New Vaude­ville Band
Win­chester Cathe­dral
Fontana F-1562
(3 weeks)

Win­chester Cathe­dral ranks with Strangers In The Night as per­haps the most un­ex­pected chart-topper of 1966. The New Vaude­ville Band was British song­writer and record pro­ducer Geoff Stephens with a group of un­cred­ited ses­sion mu­si­cians.

It is per­formed in a style that hadn’t been pop­ular since movies were made without sound, what would be termed “retro” today. Per­haps it was the nov­elty of the sound that caused people to buy mil­lions of copies.

After one week at #1, Win­chester Cathe­dral was bumped out of the top spot and then re­turned to #1 on De­cember 10, 1967, for two more weeks as the na­tion’s best-selling record for a total of three weeks at #1.

Lew: Proof that you can’t take two steps for­ward (Good Vi­bra­tions) without at least one step back.

John: This is the kind of record that would have seemed harm­less in the ’50s or early ’60s. With so much going on by this time—on the radio and elsewhere—this sounds dead-in-the-water. Throw it back.

Neal: De­spite this clearly being a nov­elty record with nothing to do with rock & roll (ex­cept its sheer sense of silly fun, which Elvis had put on dis­play during his first tele­vi­sion ap­pear­ances on the Dorsey Brothers show in 1956), it did not stop the Grammy people from naming it the Best Con­tem­po­rary Rock & Roll Recording of 1966. This should tell you all you need to know about what the Grammy people were about in those days.

There re­ally is a Win­chester Cathe­dral in Hamp­shire, Eng­land. It is one of the largest cathe­drals in Eu­rope, with the longest nave and greatest overall length of any Gothic cathe­dral in Eu­rope. For­tu­nately, it’s too busy with its own con­ser­va­tion to be both­ered bringing any­body down.

Aging has mel­lowed my re­sponse to many of the #1 records of 1966 and many that I hated then I love today (Bar­bara Ann and 96 Tears are prime ex­am­ples). That said, I have ac­tu­ally come to enjoy hearing Win­chester Cathe­dral but I do not at­tribute it to the mel­lowing of mat­u­ra­tion.

I at­tribute it to one of two things: too much LSD in my twen­ties, or too much Jack Daniels in my fifties. Ei­ther works for me.

Fi­nally, check out this ver­sion of Win­chester Cathe­dral.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (3 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (No­vember 28, 1966)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: 3,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No
• Grammy Award: Best Con­tem­po­rary Rock & Roll Recording 1966

But do you like it?
John:
Lew:
Neal: ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 Supremes YouKeepMeHanginOn PS 600

Medium 45 1966 Supremes YouKeepMeHanginOn 600

December 3

The Supremes
You Keep Me Hangin’ On
Mo­town M-1101
(1 week)

An­other Supremes record, an­other #1 record. The Supremes recorded a new vocal track for You Keep Me Hangin’ On sung in Italian against the same backing track and re­leased Se Il Filo Spezzerai as a single in Italy in early 1967. It was backed with an Italian ver­sion of You Can’t Hurry Love.

Lew: This record is the an­swer to my mu­sical ques­tion, “What rock song has in­spired the best and most varied covers?” The Vanilla Fudge ver­sion is the most ob­vious, but there is an out­standing reggae ver­sion by the won­derful Ken Boothe. Lesser takes in­clude a big-shoulders ’80s rock ver­sion by Kim Wilde, and a country-disco ver­sion by Reba McEn­tire, among dozens of others.

Neal: By 1969, cities and towns around the country had con­verted an old building into a psy­che­delic dance hall for teens to dance the night away. This usu­ally meant painting every­thing black, tacking black-light posters to the walls, and hanging a strobe light from the ceiling. Then they gave the place a groovy, drug-induced-sounding name, usu­ally The Purple Haze.

Most local rock bands who wanted to be taken se­ri­ously had to be con­sid­ered heavy and to be heavy a band had to in­clude the fu­ne­real Vanilla Fudge arrange­ment of You Keep Me Hangin’ On in their reper­toire. Hell, some bands made that one song a whole set!

John: And here I al­ways thought any­body who tried to take on Diana Ross on You Keep Me Hangin’ On was a mum­bling fool.

Neal: Lew, I checked out those other ver­sions and it was fun seeing the over-the-top psy­che­delic­ness of the Fudge video and hearing the Boothe ren­di­tion which owes a bunch to the Fudge. I couldn’t even re­member Kim Wilde and then re­mem­bered the ’80s was when the acid-dropping was ta­pering off for me and the bourbon-swigging was picking up.

And Re­ba’s live ver­sion might be con­sid­ered coun­tri­fied big-shoulders (a term I’m not sure I un­der­stand but don’t want to look up—I’ll get it os­mot­i­cally even­tu­ally).

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (2 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1966 NewVaudevilleBand WinchesterCathedral 600

December 10–December 17

The New Vaude­ville Band
Win­chester Cathe­dral

(2 weeks)
This record spent one week at #1 on No­vember 26, 1967, for a total of three weeks at the top. Refer to that date for more in­for­ma­tion.

 

Medium 45 1966 Monkees ImABeliever PS 600

Medium 45 1966 Monkees ImABeliever 600

December 24–December 31

The Mon­kees
I’m A Be­liever
Col­gems 66-1002
(2 weeks, 8 weeks total)

Anyone who thought the four ac­tors hired to pre­tend to be mu­si­cians couldn’t sing were se­verely dis­abused with I’m A Be­liever, where Mickey Dolenz’s lead vo­cals were per­fect for one of the decade’s most en­during #1 hits.

Ac­cording to Joseph Mur­rells, ac­cu­mu­lated world­wide sales for I’m A Be­liever are ap­prox­i­mately 3,000,000, which sounds very con­ser­v­a­tive. I would think 3,000,000 sales in the US and 3,000,000 more for the rest of the world sounds more re­al­istic.

I’m A Be­liever was #1 for the last two weeks of 1966 and the first six weeks of 1967, staying at the top for eight con­sec­u­tive weeks.

And I in­cluded the mod­i­fier “en­during” above so that I could re­mind everyone of the 2001 movie Shrek, which closes with a rousing ver­sion of I’m A Be­liever. (And I will not hy­per­link to the scene as it would be a spoiler for those clois­tered few who haven’t seen the movie.)

John: A great way to close a great year. Just knowing that the holier-than-thous at Rolling Stone and the rest of the New Pu­ri­tans were gnashing their teeth makes me smile. Some­times, the little girls re­ally do un­der­stand.

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (7 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (No­vember 28, 1966)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: 3,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮ ✮

The Bea­tles’ ‘We Can Work It Out’ and Barry Sadler’s ‘Ballad of the Green Berets’ were the biggest hits of 1966. Find the other big hits of the year here! Click To Tweet

NancySinatra white mini boots 1500 bw crop

FEATURED ARTIST: Nancy Sinatra had been re­leasing sin­gles since 1961 without set­ting the charts on fire. She didn’t even place a single side on the na­tional Top 100 until her eleventh single in 1965, So Long Babe, which sounded like a Cher-wanna be recording. During a ses­sion for her next single, she came across These Boots Are Made For Walkin’ and cut one of the biggest hits of the year. For two years she was a top pop star, with two more Top 10 hits, How Does That Grab You Darlin’? and Sugar Town with an­other six in the Top 40.

In 1967, she had her own tele­vi­sion spe­cial, Movin’ with Nancy.

In 1968, she co-starred op­po­site Elvis in Speedway, an­other in his as­sembly line of for­get­table movies.

In 1969, she had her last big hit when Here We Go Again reached the Top 20 on the Bill­board easy-listening chart.

Year-end observations

There were thirty-four records that reached #1 on the Cash Box Top 100 chart in 1966. Here is the break­down of #1 records based on how many weeks they spent at the top of the chart:

8 weeks: 0
7 weeks: 0
6 weeks: 0
5 weeks: 0
4 weeks: 2
3 weeks: 3
2 weeks: 6
1 week: 22

The year 1966 was an in­ter­esting one for rock music as more artists picked up on what Dylan and the Byrds had done in 1965 and began making “se­rious” rock records in­stead of merely “com­mer­cial” rock & roll records. It was the year of the first real flow­ering of psy­che­delia: the Byrds re­leased Eight Miles High. Au­thor Domenic Priore ac­cu­rately re­ferred to it as the “psy­che­delic shot heard round the world.”

Records that hinted at mind-bending ex­pe­ri­ences re­ceived air­play and sales, al­though only one topped the charts. This would be an ar­gu­ment that rock & roll and re­lated pop music were “growing up,” taking on topics be­yond the normal Moon-June-spoon that it had in­her­ited from the Tin Pan Alley tra­di­tion.

1966 was the year that the Bea­tles gave their final con­cert, giving up touring so that they could con­cen­trate on be­coming better recording artists.

1966 was the year of the Mon­kees, whose tele­vi­sion se­ries charmed mil­lions of people who would nor­mally not be caught dead or alive lis­tening to rock & roll music (like my fa­ther). I could use po­lit­ical lan­guage and argue that the Mon­kees phe­nom­enon (Mon­kee­mania) was re­ac­tionary, but I al­ways thought that was a bit of a stretch—most people who listen to pop­ular music don’t listen to have their minds en­gaged in ra­ti­o­ci­na­tion. They listen for plea­sure or to be dis­tracted. That’s al­ways been true and most likely al­ways will be true.

Soul music was rep­re­sented at the top of the charts by Percy Sledge, Bobby Hebb, the Supremes, the Four Tops, and the blue-eyed soul of the Right­eous Brothers.

Fi­nally, for many people—both those who lived through 1965-1969 and those who weren’t even born then—the Beach Boys’ Good Vi­bra­tions is per­haps the most in­delible and durable hit of the year. The best mo­ments and highest ideals of that time we refer to as “the Six­ties” are felt every time I hear the guys sing “Good, good, good, good vi­bra­tions!”

Al­though only #1 for one week in No­vember, in terms of pop­u­larity and long-term ef­fect, Good Vi­bra­tions may be the biggest hit of the decade!

Lew: Critic Jon Savage called 1966 “the year the decade ex­ploded.” He points to the ex­plo­sion at the end of Love’s 7 And 7 Is as “sym­bolic as well as rep­re­sen­ta­tional, and cer­tainly, there’s an ar­gu­ment to be made here. 1965 began the fadeout of the straight­for­ward three-chord rock & roll ex­em­pli­fied by Louie, Louie and Gloria, and 1966 began the as­cen­dency of just rock, rep­re­sented by the so­phis­ti­cated chord struc­tures and more in­tel­lec­tual lyrics of songs like Pa­per­back Writer and Sounds Of Si­lence and Sun­shine Su­perman.”

It may also be sym­bolic that the latter two songs had been recorded ear­lier but only charted when the world was ready for them. Those same two songs also showed how folk-rock, which had started to look like a dead-end, was starting to morph into psy­che­delic music as it con­tinued to elec­trify and move away from its roots.

Neal: Lew men­tioned Love’s 7 And 7 Is, a single re­leased in July 1966. While the group had em­braced folk-rock on their first album, their second Da Capo was moving boldly into new ter­ri­tory. The new single that was one of the most ag­gres­sively punk sin­gles ever is­sued by an es­tab­lished record com­pany. It is also proto-psych but little of it bears any re­sem­blance to folk-rock of the first album.

7 And 7 Is made its way into the na­tional Top 40 for a couple of weeks and then went un­heard by most of us. I don’t think it was helped by its title, but then My Mind In An Ice Cream Cone or Oop-Ip-Ip-Yeah wouldn’t have helped much ei­ther.

Love fol­lowed this killer 45 with She Comes In Colors, a much gen­tler ap­proach to Top 40 fare but also pointing to­ward the full-blown psy­che­delia of 1967. Both these tracks were is­sued on the first side of Love’s DA CAPO album, is­sued in No­vember 1966. That one side of that record is better than both sides of many al­bums that are better known.

Gold Record Awards

Of the thirty-three records that reached #1, Joseph Mur­rells lists thirty-one of them as million-sellers. Record com­pa­nies sought cer­ti­fi­ca­tion from the RIAA for of­fi­cial Gold Record Awards for nine­teen sin­gles.

RIAA cer­ti­fi­ca­tion rate: 58%

A year of novelty

By 1966, young music fans were be­gin­ning to take rock music se­ri­ously. Nov­elty records were con­sid­ered a friv­o­lity as­so­ci­ated with the pre-Beatles past: records like The Ballad Of Davy Crockett (1955), The Chip­munk Song (1958), The Battle Of New Or­leans, (1959), and even The Mon­ster Mash (1962) were thought of as be­longing to the past.

Yet 1966 was filled with nov­elty records that did very well in­deed with the fol­lowing records making it to #1:

The Ballad Of The Green Berets
They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!
Lil’ Red Riding Hood
Yellow Sub­ma­rine
Win­chester Cathe­dral

Wild Thing was also a Top 20 hit as a nov­elty record in 1967 when co­me­dian Bill Minkin recorded an im­i­ta­tion of De­mo­c­ratic Sen­ator Robert F. Kennedy per­forming the song. The flip-side was Minkin im­i­tating Rep*blican Sen­ator Everett McKinley Dirksen stum­bling through the same song. The record’s la­bels credit Sen­ator Bobby and Sen­ator Everett McKinley.

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