In a decade where the music of its time still resonates so strongly in our collective consciousness, it is extremely difficult to find songs that may be deemed "forgotten", especially when they spent time nestled at the top of the pop charts. Therefore, with this edition of our series, I will simply try to find tunes that might have faded into the recesses of nostalgia. With that being said, I regret to inform you that this edition features no Beatles songs. Then again, the fact that none of their hits have slipped back into the evanescent ether they ascended from speaks more for their power than being placed on a blog list of past popular tastes.
BUT I DIGRESS!!!!
Regardless of all that psychobabble, today's list has been one of my favorite to compile. This is the music from which springs everything I love about the medium. 60's US pop set the standard by which all US pop has followed. There's R&B, Adult Contemporary, Country and good old Rock & Roll all sitting on the same list, much like the hot 100 of today. Let's listen, shall we?
And might I add, The Spotify playlist for the Forgotten series is up and running on that wonderful, fluffy cloud jukebox, so hit it up whenever you want!
1.) The Happening - The Supremes (May 13, 1967)
Less than a month away from the Summer Of Love , The Supremes released their last single before placing Diana Ross' name in front of their moniker. It's a Swinging London blast of horns, strings and harpsichord, which showed that Motown was just about ready to go "Psychedelic" with the rest of the music world, and we as listeners were in for some heady ear candy.
Apparently this was the theme song for a film of the same name that TANKED worse than Freddie Got Fingered. I can see why, even if it does feature a young Faye Dunaway. Here's the trailer:
2.) He's A Rebel - The Crystals (November 3, 1962)
Ladies and gentleman, may I present to you Phil Spector. Ignore the whole convicted murderer bit for a moment, and just listen to this sound he produced. Written by Gene Pitney of Liberty Valance fame, "He's A Rebel" is a perfect example of "The Wall Of Sound", Spector's groundbreaking recording technique. It also features the recently inducted vocals of Darlene Love, who wasn't even a member of The Crystals (The group found out their names had been used when they heard the song on the radio while out on tour). Newly nationalized citizens of our country should here this as an example of what America is all about.
He may be crazier than a frog hangin' out in a french restaurant, but Phil's Spector's story is definitely worth seeing. Here's the first part:
3.) Get Off Of My Cloud - The Rolling Stones ( November 6, 1965)
Jagger may be getting his moves on today with the likes of Damian Marley and Joss Stone, but in the fall of 1965, he was following Dylan's lead, writing a wordy protest song about being asked to make a followup to the monster hit "Satisfaction". In doing so, the Stones had their second number one in the states, and we have this fantastic song, which is not often remembered in the pantheon of their canon.
Dean Martin and Desi Arnez's kids took this song to their four car garage and made a nice little blast of "Nuggets"-style rock.
4.) Running Bear - Johnny Preston (January 8, 1960)
This ballad of lost love in the Native American world was written by none other than The Big Bopper himself, JP Richardson, and features backing vocals by a young George Jones. Well color me surprised!!!
George could make any song his own, much like Johnny Cash. What is about country artists of the 50's and 60's and their impeccable cover choices?
5.) In the Year 2525 (Exordium & Terminus) - Zager & Evans (July 12, 1969)
Science fiction hits the US charts with this anti-technology ballad, which probably didn't feel like fiction when man landed on the moon on July 20 during its six week reign at the top of the charts. It's hard to wonder why a song this good didn't spell out a long career for Msrrs. Zager & Evans. It might be because their follow up was about a rapist who nails his fist to his jail cell....creepy! Regardless, BEST FORGOTTEN NUMBER ONE OF THE DECADE!!!!!!
This one came back to me in a big way from the oldies stations of my youth while watching the delightful cult classic Gentleman Broncos, which may be the funniest oddity of a film I've ever seen.
6.) Running Scared - Roy Orbison (June 5, 1961)
This is what building to an emotional climax is all about. Writers of stories could learn a lifetime of lessons from this song's 2 minutes and 10 seconds. Often overlooked because of other song's prevalence, this number one by Orbison deserves to be spoken of in the same breath as "In Dreams" and "Crying". Listen to his vocal range exhibited here... God... chills.
Brilliant cover by a brilliant man.
7.) Judy In Disguise (With Glasses) - John Fred & His Playboy Band (January 20, 1968)
This parody of "Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds" actually knocked "Hello Goodbye" by The Beatles out of the top spot on the charts. I don't if that's considered another success by the Fabs, but it should be. Weird Al never topped the pops with his Michael reworkings.
I gotta check more of John Fred. This is some perfect psych pop off of the same album as "Judy"!
8.) Rag Doll - The Four Seasons (July 18, 1964)
Sandwiched in-between "I Get Around" by The Beach Boys and "A Hard Day's Night" by The Beatles in their respective runs at the top of Billboard's Hot 100 is this song by the group who ruled America's airwaves before either of them. they wouldn't have another number one single until 1976, but the fact that they were able to during the stranglehold of Beatlemania helps to understand why WCBS in New York's listeners recently voted this the number one song of all time on their 1001 song Labor Day Countdown.
Their B-Side is nothing to shake a stick at either!
9. Poor Side Of Town - Johnny Rivers (November 12, 1966)
Class consciousness must have been on songwriter's minds during the mid-sixties. Here is the male equivalent to "Rag Doll", with lush strings and Johnny River's unforgettable voice. I don't think any vocalist is more underrated than this guy. Check out "Mountain Of Love" too if you don't believe me.
Eels and a string section with this song equals magic!
10.) Fingertips (Pt. 2) - Little Stevie Wonder (August 10, 1963)
Here is "Fingertips"
Now, here is a two part live version of the song released as a single a year later.
The B-side became the hit, and the rest is history. The evolution of Stevie Wonder and the maturity of Motown starts right here. It's even got Marvin Gaye on drums, giving you both of the greatest album artists the label ever produced in one place.
Let's finish off the list with a moody synthesized cover by the genre jumping band Sparks.
See you next week when we head to the 70's! I'll polish my Pet Rock if you bring the Billy Beer!