Friday, May 25, 2007

The Best Songs of 1964 - Nos. 36 to 31

36. Downtown – Petula Clark (Downtown)

This number one hit for Petula Clark was the Grammy Winner for Best Rock and Roll Song in 1965. She had been a huge star in England since World War II, sort of a British Shirley Temple. It wasn’t until this single was released that she became famous in the United States. I really enjoy the crisp clean quality of her voice and the song evokes some pretty great imagery.

35. Where Did Our Love Go? – The Supremes (Where Did Our Love Go?)

This pretty little song was the first number one hit for The Supremes. They followed it with another four number ones in a row. It was originally written for The Marvelettes, but they turned it down. The Supremes balked at getting a second-hand song, but their previous inability to record a big hit made them feel that they had little choice. They were very surprised by the success of the song which made them international stars.

34. Baby Love – The Supremes (Where Did Our Love Go?)

The Supremes got their second number one hit with Baby Love, which turned out to be their most successful single ever. It spent four weeks in the number one spot. Diana Ross had a very sweet quality to her voice that came out particularly well on this track. They were well on their way to becoming the top band at Motown. The saxophone work was also really nice.

33. The Way You Do the Things You Do – The Temptations (Meet The Temptations)

The Temptations took this collection of pick-up lines to number eleven on the pop charts. Eddie Kendricks took the lead on this single, which was the first Temptations song to reach the charts. Smokey Robinson and Robert Rogers wrote the number and started a great working relationship between Smokey and the band. I have always loved the innocent quality of the song as well as the great backing track by the Funk Brothers.

32. Leader of the Pack – The Shangri-Las (Leader of the Pack)

Mary Weiss and her group of tough chicks from Queens, the Shangri-Las, took this, the quintessential ‘death disc’, to number one. It was a very popular song thanks to the sound effects of revving motorcycles and breaking glass as well as the wonderfully melodramatic performance of lead singer Mary Weiss. She was only fifteen years old at the time, but she became one of the great rock vocalists of the era and developed a strong cult following amongst punk rockers in the 1970s.

31. Rock Me Baby – B.B. King (Rock Me Baby)

Rock Me Baby was the first top 40 hit for the legendary bluesman B.B. King. It peaked at number 34 and inspired a great many covers including a notable version by Jimi Hendrix. I particularly love the lyrics. Rock me like my back ain’t got no bone. Damn! That’s just awesome!

Comments and opinions are encouraged and appreciated.

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