10. “I Wish It Would Rain” The Temptations
I always think of the Faces version, from “Coast to Coat: Overture and Beginners,” an eminently forgettable live album. But that’s just how big a Rod Stewart fan I was, I had to have everything he put out. This is from Anaheim, back in ’73. I saw the band in Anaheim, a stadium show, in ’75. Opener was Fleetwood Mac, riding the initial success of the “White Album” with Buckingham and Nicks. I loved hearing “Over My Head,” but the audience was not enthusiastic, they were barely paying attention. There was a riot in the infield after Loggins & Messina, all to the soundtrack of Bruce Springsteen’s “Spirit In The Night, ” and this was before “Born To Run” made him a star, I seemed to be the only bloke who knew the track. And the string section for the Faces never arrived, and Rod couldn’t stop expressing his regret, but by that time we were hungover anyway.
But the Temptations’ take is definitive.
9. “Goin’ Out Of My Head/Can’t Take My Eyes Off You (Medley)” The Lettermen
The definitive versions were done by Little Anthony & the Imperials and Frankie Valli. Both done within half a decade, the Frankie Valli track was a hit only the year before!
Meanwhile, the most famous Lettermen take is a live one. Which has enough magic to be a hit. I just can’t remember whether the live take was the one on the radio! I think it was! (And Web research is not definitive!)
“Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” is not Valli’s best work. For that, go to his classic early sixties stuff with the Four Seasons. But the Little Anthony vocal on “Goin’ Out Of My Head” will blow your mind. It’s as if Little Lupe sang (that’s a Howard Stern reference, in case you’re scratching your head.) He sings like he means it, like it’s the most important thing in the world.
8. “Nobody But Me” The Human Beinz
A one hit wonder which captured the zeitgeist, a cross between psychedelia and garage that was instantly addicting and we all sang along with.
Play this with a baby boomer in sight and you’ll be shocked as he or she starts to shimmy and sing every note.
Nobody can do the SHING-A-LING!
No, no, no…
7. “Love Is Blue”
We sat through everything on the AM radio waiting for the Beatles and the rest of the British Invasion. As a result, I know every lick of Louis Armstrong’s “Hello Dolly” and this too. But unlike Louis’s hit, I LOVE “Love Is Blue.” It sets your mind adrift, it’s life itself. We’re all individuals, our intersection with others is tenuous at best. Funny how we can connect with music more than people. This song plays and it’s like I’m disconnected from my present environment and hooked into one removed, yet more real.
6. “Woman, Woman” The Union Gap
The first hit, but not the best. Tolerable, but schmaltzy. But what came next… YOUNG GIRL! An utterly fantastic concoction that they opened their show with at Fordham University and closed it with too. It had just been released. This was in March ’68. We went to see the headliner, Arlo Guthrie, do one of his three versions of “Alice’s Restaurant.” But we stood on our chairs and sang along with “Young Girl,” it’s just that good.
5. “Bend Me, Shape Me” The American Breed
My favorite song on this playlist. I first heard it on the jukebox in the Bromley base lodge, I had to buy the single, and by this point I only bought albums.
There was just something about the sound. I played it incessantly, to the point where my father, who was anything but a fan of rock, would sing it with a smile on his face to tease me.
It’s the way the singer almost whispers, sings nearly sotto voce. And then there’s a bridge with balls that leads to the exuberant chorus…and then the drums start to beat, the horns start to wail, the hands start to clap and we’re back in the verse, we’re doing it all over again.
To think such magic could be encapsulated in barely two minutes.
My memories are embedded and triggered by this.
4. “Spooky” Classics IV
And if you want to lose some time online, you can research the intersection between this original hit version and the one done years later by the Atlanta Rhythm Section. Still, this is the definitive take. It’s the pauses that hook you, but then there’s the vocal, everybody was such a stylist back then. But how can I not mention that guitar riff and the sax solo? This is the soundtrack to house parties in the basement, where you first kissed and danced close.
3. “Chain Of Fools” Aretha Franklin
“Respect” gets all the kudos, but I prefer this. Because of the intro, which most people would eliminate, and the groove, like rocking in a boat. You just can’t help but have your body move. And Aretha dances atop the track in a way that blows your mind without showing off.
Give Jerry Wexler props.
And to this day, Aretha knocks it out of the park. When I saw her a few years back, “Chain Of Fools” was the highlight of the show.
2. “Judy In Disguise (with Glasses)” John Fred & His Playboy Band
Also on that Bromley jukebox. My sister bought the single and I came to love it by osmosis.
Yes, we all had our own record players. You know, those cheap boxes with the lift top. We all had our own records. And we didn’t swap them. But we heard them coming out of each other’s rooms.
This was one of those songs where the lyrics were debated.
Was he singing “kite,” or was he being anti-Semitic?
There was never another John Fred hit, but after fading, this became an oldies staple.
1. “Green Tambourine” The Lemon Pipers
Even though there was no Internet, no cell phones, music moved faster in ’68 than it does today. Songs didn’t last as long on the chart. Influences were consumed and spit out fast. Even though the Beatles had only broken in ’64, psychedelia had penetrated the hipster circuits and we ended up with “Green Tambourine,” a bizarre concoction of underground and mainstream, of psychedelia and bubble gum.
Yes, if you just listen to the instrumentation, the track seems almost cutting edge. But then you listen to the lyrics…
Still, the sounds are so entrancing.
And it was cowritten and produced by Paul Leka, from Bridgeport, the city next to the suburb I grew up in, Fairfield!
But we didn’t know that back then.
Trivia has come to the fore as a result of the Internet.
But back then, we only had the radio.
And these were the hits forty five years ago.
Seems like yesterday.