This was all spired by a funny, entertaining and effervescent Gwin over at seekthebestblog. As from a dozen other things going on over there, Gwin runs this series of her Jams from years go by; each with an episode from her past in the year in question.
Gwin convinced me to reply in kind. But I was stuck for a place to start (well, I likes a nice prevarication). Anyways Gwin has led me back to 1967. By then I was on my third year of really listening to music (best reception for me- Radio Luxembourg!). It’s gone down as The Summer of Love, and naturally there was some pretty dire opportunistic gunk being produced which unhappily reached the charts, but there was some cheerful, sunny and decent work too! So here we go…
Gwin, for you.
Windy- By The Association.
Six-piece multi-instrumental and harmony band put of California (and thereabouts). Made it in the charts with a wholesome cheerful song ‘Along Comes Mary’ (ahem; Mary=Mary Jane= Marijuana….ooops older generation missed that reference). ‘Windy’ is a bright and breezy song about a happy, cheery, friendly flower-power girl being nice to everyone as she walks down a city street. Some lively instrumental breaks and great harmonies (and never mind the British connotation for her name). It even made angst ridden 16-year-old me happy. (I was a miserable little toe-rag)
Tramp -Otis Redding & Carla Thomas
So I attended an all-boys grammar school (that’s high school USA), as you did in the 1960s. There were those who followed ‘pop music (Uhh!). There were those (usual 15-16) who agonised so they followed Dylan, The Byrds etc. Of course there were churches of The Beatles or The Rolling Stones. And there were the R&B and Blues lads who followed all things Tamala Motown, Atlantic & Stax (and had short hair),
Anyway I digress, many lads worshipped Otis Redding as simply The Best, so I used to pick up a lot by being around them.
I loved this one for the slow steady beat and the whole conversation going on between the two. Otis is being smooth, but it sounds as if Carla is just not all that convinced noway, nohow. Not a song you’d play to girls if you had ‘intentions’, but just the sort when you sat together and shared cigarettes (gosh! Horror!) and complained about parents, teachers and the lousy music played by The BBC, made you feel a bit older, a bit more savvy.
The Letter – By The Box Tops
The members of the Box Tops had been around for a few years when they bought in Alex Chilton. The driving beat and the growling voice (from an eighteen-year-old no less), was enough to grab attention. It only lasted two minutes, but well you could lift up that dinky little thingamajig which held the records in place over the turn-table and keep on playing it on repeat until elders imposed. What was there not to like? A lad has just received a letter from his girl who needs him and he’s going to get to her come hell or high water. What impressed 16 year old wouldn’t want to do the same?
Surfin’ Bird by The Trashmen
Actually this is a cheat. It came out in 1963, and had it not been for Full Metal Jacket might have faded away. This is just a classic bit of early 1960s lunacy, no message really just get up and goof around! Steve Wahrer was drummer and vocalist and the TV company wanted to see him do the dance (I think it was called The Comedian or The Comic), which is why we don’t get to see the band. And you know the best thing about this, not only would it have driven my parents insane, but judging by Youtube, it annoys the hell out of some of the younger generation who go in for ‘serious’ modern music; that is so cool. I can do the song, but never dared tried the dance!
Nights in White Satin by the Moody Blues
The Moody Blues had been around for two-three years with ‘Go Now’ and some other very haunting work. Then they got in the studio and not only invented The Concept Album (One day set to music) but also Prog Rock. These days sad 40 something DJs knock the Moody Blues as pretentious in the faint hope they can convince teens and 20 somethings how cool they the DJs are. And yet Nights in White Satin with its haunting lyrics of love lost, deep melodic music and heart-aching singing by Justin Heyward still sells, and that flute interlude, oh my!! Just what a 16 years old practicing on being gloomy and introspective needed
Here Comes My Baby by The Tremeloes
So who liked going to school?…..Really? No kidding. Well lucky ol’ you! But if there was one song which could get me feeling nearly cheerful upon a school morning, it was this one by Cat Stevens worked by a veteran band The Tremeloes. Hand clapping, whistling, cheering, laughing, eeeh-hawing made what was supposed to be a sad ditty about a guy looking at the girl he was never going to get, into a rip-roaring ‘Ahh, what the hell!’ classic. I love those chances of pace in the middle, one of the few bits of rhythm I can slap out on my legs.
(They were once Brian Poole and the Tremeloes….Brian left for a solo career, felt he could do better. He didn’t, they did)
Well, that’s my choice from 1967.
Yep, no Rolling Stones, Beatles, Doors or suchwhich. No, you see I was practicing to be awkward and allegedly socialist & sophisticated, so things like Sergeant Pepper and Satanic Majesties were simply as far as I was concerned commercial ploys on a grand scale ; in a year’s time I could come across The Velvet Underground and my insufferable misery status was assured.
Which is why I chose some of the more upbeat and positive tracks, after all who needs dollops of angst?