TimeMachine 1960 George first trip 1500 crop

traveling through time at 45 rpm (time travel records)

IT’S NO SECRET that most of us form strong emo­tional bonds with things during our teenage years. This in­cludes at­tach­ments to hu­mans (think your best friend), food (think pizza), even sports teams (think “Go, Phillies!”) This seems es­pe­cially so about music: usu­ally, what­ever the hits on the radio were that we loved when we were 15-years-old, we are going to love—for better or worse—until we are 95-years-old!

Even if our tastes “progress” and we de­velop a pas­sion for jazz or clas­sical music, we usu­ally keep our con­nec­tions to those pop hits from our teen years. And here’s the best part—no matter when our teen years were, no matter how bad the hits were during those years, we think our­selves lucky to have been teens through those years and those hits!

Hell’s Belles, there are people who re­member the ’80s with fond­ness! You may think, “How can that be?”

But it’s true! (It’s true! It’s true!)

 

There are magic records that trans­port me back in time to when I was 14-years-old and there was magic in the music.

 

There re­ally are people who sigh when the synth sound of Flock of Seag­ulls, or the raspy voice of Bonnie Tyler, or the whatever-it-is-that-makes-him-so-annoying of Li­onel Richie turns up on the radio or in a movie or even on the piped-in back­ground music at their fa­vorite shop­ping em­po­rium.

I was lucky, as I grew up when the “oldies but goodies” con­cept and format was new and fresh and ex­citing. And it was every­where, es­pe­cially the north­eastern part of the country.

Con­se­quently, not only did I get the hear the Top 40 hits of the mid-1960s—hits so good that no one had to coin the term classic rock to sucker you into lis­tening to them!—but in­ter­spersed among those hits were mem­o­rable blasts from the past—the past being the late ’50s.

To hear Petula Clark and Dusty Spring­field along­side Brenda Lee and Connie Francis, and to hear the Mir­a­cles and the Temp­ta­tions back-to-back with the Flamingos and the Plat­ters was both a joy and an ed­u­ca­tion. 1

 

Time Travel Records: photo of Ross and Chandler (with Flock of Seagulls haircut) from FRIENDS television series.

It turns out that Friends’s res­i­dent nerds, Ross Geller (David Schwimmer) and Chan­dler Bing (Matthew Perry), had a band back in the ’80s, where they at­tempted to look hip. Ross bears a re­sem­blance to Li­onel Richie while Chan­dler sported a hi­lar­ious Flock of Seag­ulls look. No wonder they had trouble get­ting layed. 2

Traveling through time at 45 rpm

I am not given to nos­talgia, meaning I’m not in­clined to a “wistful or ex­ces­sively sen­ti­mental yearning for re­turn to or of some past pe­riod or ir­recov­er­able con­di­tion.” When I listen to music from the past, I re­main firmly planted in the here and now. And that past in­cludes Bach and Haydn and Ellington and Mingus as well as Chuck Berry and Elvis and the Mir­a­cles and the Shangri-La’s!

I could spend months blog­ging about the vast array of good music that found its way onto the na­tional and local charts, whether pop or country or easy-listening or soul or rock & roll. In­stead, I’m going to focus on a very spe­cial type of record that I call time travel records.

 

Most of us form strong emo­tional bonds during our teenage years to friends, food, sports teams, and es­pe­cially music.

 

There are a handful of records that stop me in my be-here-now tracks and trans­port me back in time. When I hear them, a part of me finds my­self not wistful or yearning for some by­gone era where fa­ther knew best, but I find my­self trans­ported back to when I was 14-years-old and the magic was in the music and the music was in me.

If I was writing this in a story, this ex­pe­ri­ence would not be listed under sci­ence fic­tion since there is no tech­no­log­ical de­vice or ex­pla­na­tion as what makes this happen. It’s magic. Like Stephen King’s 11/22/63 novel, it would be­long in the fan­tasy shelves in your local book­store.

 

Time Travel Records: white label promo on red vinyl of Columbia 4-43396, Simon & Garfunkel's THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE from 1965.

During the mid-1960s, Co­lumbia pressed a number of pro­mo­tional 45s on lovely translu­cent red vinyl and shipped them to radio sta­tions. The idea, of course, was to at­tract at­ten­tion to the records and get them played. Sta­tion man­agers often marked the side to be played by writing “plug side” or drawing an “X” on the label, such as on this copy of Co­lumbia 4-43396.

Those magic moments

Aside from these ex­pe­ri­ences not being as­so­ci­ated in any way with reg­ular nos­talgia, there are two things I want to stress about these magic mo­ments with these records:

  they are in­vol­un­tary, and
  I can’t make them happen with other records.

Re­gard­less of their age, their prox­imity in time with these records, or how much I love them, the time trav­eling only oc­curs with a few records. Oddly, it’s not records by my very fa­vorite artists (no Elvis or Dylan) or my fav­erave groups (no Beach Boys, Bea­tles, Byrds, Kinks, or Stones).

There are four records by artists, three of whom were among the stellar acts of their time. What they have in common is that they are groups (one being a duo) and they were re­leased within months of each other in 1965.

Here are my Fab Four Time Ma­chine Records, listed in order of their re­lease date. Two were is­sued in Sep­tember and two in No­vember. I have in­cluded a nut­shell look at the top of the charts at the time of their re­lease:

 

Time Travel Records: photo of Bob Dylan at the piano in Columbia's New York studio in 1965.

On Cash Box, Bob Dylan had one #1 record, Like A Rolling Stone reached the top spot for one week in Sep­tember 1965. On Bill­board, Dylan has yet to score a #1 record. Un­less he be­comes a born-again hip-hopper, I don’t see that hap­pening.

September 1965

During the first two weeks of Sep­tember 1965, the #1 spot on the Cash Box Top 100 was held by the Bea­tles’ Help! Since my brother was a Bea­tles fan, I had to sup­press my en­joy­ment of their music for sev­eral years, but who could help but love this record?

The Fab Four were fol­lowed by Bob Dy­lan’s Like A Rolling Stone, which was stun­ning on first hearing: it stopped me in my tracks at Public Square Records and made me stop browsing and listen: I knew some­thing was hap­pening but I didn’t know what it was. Decades later and it re­mains stun­ning after thou­sands of hear­ings!

One week later and Barry McGuire’s Eve Of De­struc­tion was the top­per­most of the pop­per­most! Alas, the fore­bod­ings of this song are as worthy of con­tem­pla­tion now as they were then, ex­cept we’re a little closer to mid­night on the doomsday clock.

On the Bill­board Hot 100, Help! was #1 for three weeks fol­lowed by Eve Of De­struc­tion. That is, Dylan was squeezed out of the top spot on the most folk’s top survey.

 

Time Travel Records: copy of Columbia 4-43396, Simon & Garfunkel's THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE from 1965.

Simon & Garfunkel
Columbia 4-43396, The Sounds Of Silence

This side de­buted on the Cash Box Top 100 on No­vember 20, 1965. It spent fif­teen weeks on the survey, reaching #1 for one week on Jan­uary 29, 1966. It was a bigger hit on Bill­board: it topped the chart on Jan­uary 1, 1966, sur­ren­dered the top spot to the Bea­tles’ We Can Work It Out for two weeks, then re­turned to #1 on Jan­uary 22.

The basic track for this record was an acoustic ver­sion that ap­peared on S&G’s first album, WEDNESDAY MORNING 3 A.M., which very few people had heard let alone pur­chased in 1965. Without the duo’s knowl­edge, pro­ducer Tom Wilson recorded an elec­tric backing track and added it to the orig­inal ver­sion, turning the for­gotten folkie recording into one of folk-rock’s greatest hits. 3

 

Time Travel Records: copy of Imperial 66134, the Hollies' LOOK THROUGH ANY WINDOW from 1965.

The Hollies
Imperial 66134, Look Through Any Window

This side de­buted on Cash Box on No­vember 27, 1965. It spent eleven weeks on that survey, reaching #34, al­though it reached #32 on Bill­board, making it the group’s first Top 40 hit in the US. In the UK, it was their sev­enth Top 10 hit in twenty-four months.

Many readers don’t know that the Hol­lies were second only to the Bea­tles as hit­makers in Eng­land be­tween 1963 and 1970. Here is the tally of their Top 20 hits along with those of a few other pop­ular pop groups:

Bea­tles                        22
Hol­lies                         21
Her­man’s Her­mits    17
Rolling Stones           16
Kinks                           15
An­i­mals                      11
Searchers                   10
Who                             10

Un­for­tu­nately, the Hol­lies were nowhere near as big in the US, where they scored only seven Top 20 hits. But they did do some­thing here that they didn’t do at home: on Sep­tember 16, 1972, Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress) reached #1 on the Cash Box Top 100, their only chart-topper in ei­ther of the world’s two biggest mar­kets! 4

 

Time Travel Records: publicity photo of Len Barry from the mid 1960s..

As lead singer for the Dovells, Bar­ry’s dis­tinc­tive raspy voice could be heard on five Top 40 hits in the early 1960s. Both Bristol Stomp and You Can’t Sit Down reached the Top 10 but spending ages at the top spot in home­town Philadel­phia. As a solo artist, he placed three more sides in the Top 40, with 1-2-3 top­ping the Cash Box charts but stalling at #2 on Bill­board.

November 1965

During the month of No­vember 1965, the #1 spot on the Cash Box Top 100 was held by the Rolling Stones’ Get Off Of My Cloud for two weeks. I was a self-proclaimed Stones-hater at the time, but se­cretly liked the quirky sound of this record.

It was fol­lowed by the Supremes’ I Hear A Sym­phonyand every­body liked the Supremes and so did I—then Len Bar­ry’s 1-2-3. I bought the Barry record then and still think it an under-appreciated gem now, but it’s prob­ably doomed to be known only by those who were teenagers in the ’60s (or those doomed to grow up to be record col­lec­tors).

On Bill­board, Get Off Of My Cloud and I Hear A Sym­phony split the four weeks be­tween them, de­priving Barry of the top spot.

 

Time Travel Records: copy of Dunhill D-4020, The Mamas & The Papas' CALIFORNIA DREAMIN' from 1965.

The Mamas & The Papas
Dun­hill D-4020, Cal­i­fornia Dreamin’

This side de­buted on Cash Box on Jan­uary 8, 1966. It peaked at #4 on March 12, 1966, where it stayed for three weeks, spending nine­teen weeks on the survey. It also peaked at #4 on Bill­board but, in what ap­pears to have been a quirky de­ci­sion by the BBC and British record buyers, it failed to even reach the Top 20 in the UK.

Al­though written by John and Michelle Phillips, the song was orig­i­nally recorded by Barry McGuire for his THIS PRECIOUS TIME album. Dun­hill’s main man Lou Adler knew two things:

1.  Cal­i­fornia Dreamin’ was going to be a hit record.
2.  The Mamas & The Papas were going to be a hit group.

So he took McGuire’s recording, re­moved the lead vocal, and had The Mamas & The Papas record new vo­cals. Adler proved him­self cor­rect and the rest is his­tory.

 

Time Travel Records: copy of Co & Ce B0-232, the Vogues' FIVE O'CLOCK WORLD from 1965.

The Vogues
Co & Ce B-232, Five O’Clock World

This side de­buted on Cash Box on De­cember 4, 1965. It peaked at #3 on Jan­uary 29, 1966, reaching #4 on Bill­board. While it topped Canada’s RPM survey, it re­ceived little at­ten­tion in the rest of the world’s major pop market.

The Vogues broke into the na­tional Top 40 with the great You’re The One, which was ap­par­ently given to them by one of the song’s co-writers, Petula Clark. The song sounds like it would have been a nat­ural for the Tur­tles as a follow-up to their Top 10 suc­cess with It Ain’t Me Babe ear­lier in the year.

Like so many rock-based groups blessed/cursed with a lead singer with a heav­enly voice (as the group’s Bill Bur­kette was), they grav­i­tated to­wards easy-listening music, even­tu­ally sounding more like the Let­termen than the Tur­tles.

 

Time Travel Records: front cover of Dell's comic book adaptation of the 1960 movie THE TIME MACHINE.

Like many movies of the time, Dell gave us a comic book adap­ta­tion. here a reader could travel with George (Rod Taylor) hun­dreds of thou­sands of years into the fu­ture to van­quish the flesh-eating Mor­locks and fall in love with the tooth­some Weena (Yvette Mimieux)—and all for only a dime!

Are you a fellow time traveler?

If you have a time travel record, please con­sider this an in­vi­ta­tion to men­tion it in a com­ment below. And men­tion how old you were when the con­nec­tion was made be­tween you and the record.

You too can travel through time at 45 rpm—all you need is your own time travel record! Click To Tweet

Time Travel Records: Rod Taylor as George in the 1960 movie THE TIME MACHINE.

FEATURED IMAGE: Rod Taylor as H.G. “George” Wells in of The Time Ma­chine from 1960. There were very few sci­ence fic­tion movies good enough to jus­tify a willing sus­pen­sion of dis­be­lief from fans of the genre in the 1960s. George Pal’s bril­liant pro­duc­tion of this Wells novel was a rare and won­drous exception—almost sixty years later and I can still rec­om­mend this movie to the dis­cerning few among younger fans of the genre.

 


FOOTNOTES:

1   While Top 40 AM radio is long gone, there are faux “radio sta­tions” that one can ac­cess on­line (Sirius XM is king but there are pre­tenders) that some­what com­pen­sate for those days when we heard our fa­vorite jocks as­suring us that “The hits just keep coming!”

2   Both layed and laid are ac­cept­able when de­scribing having had sex. I prefer the former be­cause it looks more, ahem, ac­tive.

3   Trying to find con­sis­tent and ac­cu­rate ac­counts of Simon and Gar­funkel’s re­ac­tions to hearing the “new” ver­sion of their record was fruit­less. Both men had is­sues with tech­nical as­pects of Wilson’s over­dubs: Art Gar­funkel stated, “I would have made sure the drums and bass were in sync with the voices at the end of the fourth verse, but I was in­ter­ested in having a hit record.”

     But what­ever their is­sues, Simon and Gar­funkel quickly em­braced the new sound and recorded an en­tire album in a folk-rock vein to cap­i­talize on the sin­gle’s suc­cess. The two be­came one of the most suc­cessful duos in recorded mu­sical his­tory.

4   On Bill­board’s Hot 100, the Hol­lies’ rocker was #2 for two weeks, kept out of the top spot by Gilbert O’­Sul­li­van’s in­sipid Alone Again (Nat­u­rally). Oddly, that record did not reach #1 on Cash Box, de­spite being played every­where all the time for what seemed like for­ever in 1972.

 

Time Travel Records: front cover of Dell's comic book adaptation of the H.G. Wells novel THE TIME MACHINE from 1956.

And I would be re­miss in my du­ties if I forgot to men­tion that way back then, we had the op­tion of buying two comic book Time Ma­chines: the movie ver­sion and the Clas­sics Il­lus­trated ver­sion, adapted from the book. This com­pany charged 15¢ (even in 1956, when #133 The Time Ma­chine was pub­lished) when other Amer­ican comics were 10¢, im­plying a su­pe­ri­ority to the other four-color pub­li­ca­tions.

 

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i agree neal, that movie is great