Friday, March 17, 2006

Random Rewind: 1965

Time again for 10 randomly selected records from the Cash Box magazine chart for this week in a randomly selected year of the rock era. We'll need the Wayback Machine to reach this one--41 years ago this week, when the British Invasion was still rockin' the charts, but "The Sixties," capital-T, capital-S, had yet to really begin.

1. "Eight Days a Week"/Beatles (peak)
One of the best examples of the Beatles' ability to rock intensely hard while still being lyrical and cute and all the things everyone loved about them in 1965.

2. "My Girl"/Temptations. (peak) The signature guitar figure on "My Girl" is the invention of Funk Brother Robert White, who was intensely proud of having come up with it, and felt he never received the proper recognition for it. Despite being a hit in the winter, "My Girl" is a summer song to me, because The Mrs. and I heard it over and over again on the oldies station we listened to one summer while we were dating.

4. "The Birds and the Bees"/Jewel Akens. (rising)
You'd never peg this record as one from the 1960s--you'd guess about 1958. Akens is still around, apparently, still doing R&B shows, on the strength of this record alone.

10. "Red Roses for a Blue Lady"/Bert Kaempfert Orchestra. (rising) One of the foundational classics of MOR, "Red Roses" wouldn't make oldies radio today--but in 1965, it wouldn't have been unusual at all to hear it right alongside the other songs we've mentioned so far. Another version, by Vic Dana, was also on the Cash Box chart during this same week. More about this phenomenon below.

21. "Do the Clam"/Elvis Presley. (rising) From a movie widely recognized as one of Elvis' most forgettable films, Girl Happy: Elvis gets a spring-break gig in Florida during which he's supposed to keep a mobster's daughter out of trouble. The comedy is broad and brain-dead, and the actors playing Elvis' bandmates are groaningly awful, but Shelley Fabares is gorgeous as the mobster's daughter. I saw this movie when I was about 13, and--just like Elvis' character does--I fell in love with Shelley myself.

41. "Nowhere to Run"/Martha and the Vandellas. (rising) Not an oldies-radio staple, but it should be. Funk Brother Jack Ashford steals this one--on tambourine.

55. "Heart of Stone"/Rolling Stones. (falling) With this minor hit, only their fifth single to chart, the Stones were still on the British Invasion's B-list. However, their next two singles, "The Last Time" and "Satisfaction," would seal their reputation.

81. "I Can't Explain"/The Who. (rising) If the Stones were still B-listers, the Who weren't on any list yet. This was their first American hit, and wouldn't make many waves. It would take "My Generation" to make them stars, a few months later.

91. "Pass Me By"/Peggy Lee, Mike Douglas. (rising) Earlier this week I mentioned that the case of multiple versions of a single song charting at the same time, a common phenomenon during the 30s and 40s, died out in the 1950s. Not exactly, as it turns out, at least not at Cash Box. Well into the 1960s, Cash Box sometimes did it another way, charting the best-selling version of each title and mentioning what it called "other versions strongly reported" by radio stations and record stores without assigning them separate chart positions. So Peggy Lee's version of "Pass Me By" was the biggest hit, but the Mike Douglas version was getting some airplay, too. If a second version got popular enough on its own, it would merit its own chart position, like Bert Kaempfert and Vic Dana on "Red Roses."

94. "Cry"/Ray Charles. (falling)
In which Brother Ray puts his stamp on Johnnie Ray's 1950s weeper.


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