Monday, November 30, 2009

The 40 Best Songs of 1966

Numbers 25 to 21

25. Reach Out, I’ll Be There – The Four Tops

The Tops spent two weeks at number one with this Motown classic. Levi Stubbs really tears it up with growls and shouts. The bunch at American Idol have played this song to death, but it still holds its power despite the overuse and deserves its place on this list.

24. Let’s Go Get Stoned – Ray Charles

Here’s another video that I made. Ray Charles and Betty Boop do make an interesting combo. While you would think the song was about drugs, it’s actually a drinking song. It went to number one on the R&B charts and was one of Ray’s best songs of the late 60’s.

23. Break Down and Let It All Out – Nina Simone

This may be a surprising choice that you might be unfamiliar with, but I adore Nina Simone. This was never a single. It was a track off her album “Wild is the Wind.” It is also a tremendous song and Nina sings with such passion and feeling that you get completely drawn in. Check it out. I hope you like it.

22. You’re Gonna Miss Me – The 13th Floor Elevators

The boys from Austin are back with their only real hit single. It only went to number 55, but has grown to be a true classic and found new fans when it was used in a commercial for Dell computers back in ’06.

21. And Your Bird Can Sing – The Beatles

One of the best guitar hooks in the Fab Four’s repertoire. Just a great song.

Comments and opinions are welcome and encouraged.

Thank you for your interest.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Ten Best Albums of 1966

Number 7

Face to Face – The Kinks

Released on October 28, 1966

Side One:

1. Party Line
2. Rosie Won’t You Please Come Home
3. Dandy
4. Too Much on My Mind
5. Session Man
6. Rainy Day in June
7. A House in the Country

Side Two:

1. Holiday in Waikiki
2. Most Exclusive Residence for Sale
3. Fancy
4. Little Miss Queen of Darkness
5. You’re Lookin’ Fine
6. Sunny Afternoon
7. I’ll Remember

Ray Davies wrote all the songs on this album and it marks the beginnings of an incredibly fertile creative period for him. He told vivid stories of British life and the Kinks embodied the spirit of Britain more deeply than any of the other British invasion bands. My personal favorites from the album would be A House In The Country, Party Line, Holiday In Waikiki, and Sunny Afternoon.

Comments and opinions are encouraged and appreciated.

Thank you for your interest.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The 40 Best Songs of 1966

Numbers 30 to 26

30. Psychotic Reaction – Count Five

A number five hit for one-hit wonders Count Five, this is one of the most well-remembered of any of the big garage band songs to come out of the mid-60’s. Love that fuzzy guitar sound.

29. Sometimes I Think About – The Blues Magoos

I hope you like this video, because I made it. The Blues Magoos hit the scene in ‘66 with their debut album, the magnificent “Psychedelic Lollipop”, which should have been a massive hit, but unfortunately wasn’t. They stepped back a bit from the psychedelia here and produced one of the finest blues-rock songs of the decade.

28. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat – Bob Dylan

Another great Dylan lyric. I think it’s about consumerism in our society, but I’ve seen a couple of other interpretations. It’s a great song any way you look at it.

27. Sunshine Superman – Donovan

Donovan had a number one hit with this one. The Superman and Green Lantern references really make the song for me, but that’s just my natural comic book geek coming out.

26. Mustang Sally – Wilson Pickett

Wicked Pickett, the man from Prattville. I was born and raised in Alabama, so I tend to take a little pride in some of the great artists that came out of that state and Wilson Pickett was one of the best.

Comments and opinions are welcome and encouraged.

Thank you for your interest.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Ten Best Albums of 1966

Number 8

Aftermath – The Rolling Stones

Released on April 15, 1966

Side One:

1. Mother’s Little Helper
2. Stupid Girl
3. Lady Jane
4. Under My Thumb
5. Doncha Bother Me
6. Goin’ Home

Side Two:

1. Flight 505
2. High and Dry
3. Out of Time
4. It’s Not Easy
5. I Am Waiting
6. Take It or Leave It
7. Think
8. What to Do

This was the first Stones album where Mick and Keith wrote all the songs. It was steeped in that great blues sound that originally inspired them, but they really open things up for experimentation. Brian Jones plays the sitar, Appalachian dulcimer, and marimbas over the course of the album and the results were tremendous. Mother’s Little Helper and Under My Thumb are the standouts. Lady Jane, Out of Time, & I Am Waiting are also top picks.

 Comments and opinions are welcomed and encouraged.

Thank you for your interest.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The 40 Best Songs of 1966

Numbers 35 to 31

35. Black Is Black – Los Bravos

This one went up to number 4 on the charts and was the first song by a group from Spain to get that high. I’m particularly fond of Mike Kogel’s vocals.

34. Fire Engine – The 13th Floor Elevators

Contrary to popular belief, San Francisco did not have a monopoly on the psychedelic sound. Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators give Austin, Texas a legitimate claim to being the birthplace of psychedelia. Fire Engine was one of their best.

33. Homeward Bound – Simon and Garfunkel

This beautifully told story of homesickness is one of Paul Simon’s best songs. It just gives you a good feeling to hear it. It went to number five on the charts.

32. Rain – The Beatles

The B-side to Paperback Writer, the single went up to number 23 on the charts in June of 1966. It was one of the first Beatles songs to give a hint of the studio experimentation to come.

31. Under My Thumb – The Rolling Stones

It is one of the most misogynistic of Stones songs, but Brian Jones rocked that marimba.

Comments and opinions are welcomed and encouraged.

Thank you for your interest.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Ten Best Albums of 1966

Number 9

Fifth Dimension – The Byrds

Released on July 18, 1966

Side One:

1. 5D (Fifth Dimension)
2. Wild Mountain Thyme
3. Mr. Spaceman
4. I See You
5. What’s Happening?!?!
6. I Come and Stand at Every Door

Side Two:

1. Eight Miles High
2. Hey Joe (Where You Gonna Go)
3. Captain Soul
4. John Riley
5. 2-4-2 Fox Trot (The Lear Jet Song)

The third Byrds album forced them into a new direction as primary songwriter Gene Clark left the band during recording. Mr. Spaceman and Eight Miles High are definite classics. Fifth Dimension, I See You, and What’s Happening are all top-notch tracks. David Crosby sang a version of Hey Joe. Wild Mountain Thyme and John Riley are nice folk standards. Captain Soul was a good instrumental. I Come and Stand was a serious anti-war song and The Lear Jet Song was a bit of a mess. All in all, this was a tremendous album.

Comments and opinions are welcome and encouraged.

Thank you for your interest.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The 40 Best Songs of 1966

Numbers 40 to 36

40. My Little Red Book – Love

Arthur Lee & Love did a tremendous version of this Bacharach/David song. The insistent driving beat of their arrangement contrasts nicely with the obsessive love story recounted in the lyrics.

39. Wouldn’t It Be Nice – The Beach Boys

The opening track of the Beach Boys’ classic album Pet Sounds, this song beautifully portrays the impatient desires of youth. It made it up to number eight on the Billboard charts and is one of Brian Wilson’s most-beloved compositions.

38. You Keep Me Hangin’ On – The Supremes

The Supremes spent two weeks in November 1966 at the top of the charts with this song. The Funk Brothers really outdid themselves on this one. The feel of the song is a sort of early funk. It inspired several good remakes over the years.

37. Spoonful – Cream

Cream recorded Willie Dixon’s blues classic “Spoonful” for their debut album, Fresh Cream. It was a perfect example of the type of blues jam that was so in vogue with British bands at the time.

36. Dead End Street
– The Kinks

Ray Davies’ vivid story of British working class existence was a much bigger hit in the UK than it was in the States. I like the Kinks and I think this song deserves a place on this list.

Comments and opinions are welcome and encouraged.

I'd love to hear what my readers think.

Thank you for your interest.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Ten Best Albums of 1966

Number 10

If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears – The Mamas and the Papas

Released in March of 1966

Side One:

1. Monday, Monday
2. Straight Shooter
3. Got a Feelin’
4. I Call Your Name
5. Do You Wanna Dance?
6. Go Where You Wanna Go

Side Two:

1. California Dreamin’
2. Spanish Harlem
3. Somebody Groovy
4. Hey Girl
5. You Baby
6. The ‘In’ Crowd

I had really only known this album from "Monday, Monday" & "California Dreamin'", and it did fairly well in my estimation just from that. I recently started listening to the whole thing and I find that several of the songs that I hadn't been familiar with are quite good. The harmonies are wonderful and I had never realized just how great of a singer Cass Elliott was. I especially like "Straight Shooter" and their cover of the Beatles' "I Call Your Name."

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Before we get to the music of 1966 and then the movies of 1967, I’m going to finish things off with a combination of the cerebral and the physical, Books and Sports.

The Great Books of 1966

In Cold Blood – Truman Capote

Tai-Pan – James Clavell

Octopussy and The Living Daylights – Ian Fleming

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress – Robert A. Heinlein

Human Sexual Response – William Masters & Virginia E. Johnson

The Last Picture Show – Larry McMurtry

The Crying of Lot 49 – Thomas Pynchon

Wide Sargasso Sea – Jean Rhys

In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash – Jean Shepherd

Valley of the Dolls – Jacqueline Susann

Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs – Hunter S. Thompson

Sports of 1966

*World Series – The Baltimore Orioles win 4 games to 0 over the Los Angeles Dodgers.

*NBA Finals – The Boston Celtics win 4 games to 3 over the Los Angeles Lakers.

*Super Bowl I – The Green Bay Packers win 35-10 over the Kansas City Chiefs.

*College Football champions – The Notre Dame Fighting Irish & the Michigan State Spartans (shared).

*Stanley Cup – The Montreal Canadiens win 4 games to 2 over the Detroit Red Wings.

*World Cup Soccer – England wins 4-2 over West Germany.

Coming up next, the 40 Best Songs and the 10 Best Albums of 1966.

As always, let me know what you think.

Comments and opinions are encouraged and appreciated.

Thank you for your interest.