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About Liam

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  1. 223. ‘Chelsea Girls’, Nico (1967) It feels weird to me having a Nico song come up immediately after the things I (and perhaps many others) know her best for – her collaboration work with the Velvet Underground. Telling the tale of Hotel Chelsea, a place that used to play host to a number of drugged up inhabitants, it stands out primarily because Nico herself isn’t a great singer by any stretch of the imagination. Sparse flute and strings add a little bit of interest to the song overall, yet Nico herself hated it (they were added without her permission). More on the list perhaps as a snapshot of a time than due to its quality as a song. 224. ‘For What It’s Worth’, The Buffalo Springfield (1967) One of those songs that I’ve heard before, but could never have told you who it was. Written by Stephen Stills as a journalistic take on a riot that the singer witnessed, one that wasn’t afraid to take a pot shot or two at the police themselves for their role. A simple song, but a powerful one – not a lot more I can add to that. 225. The Look of Love’, Dusty Springfield (1967) Sashaying its way out of the speakers and into your ears, ‘The Look of Love’ is sensuous from beginning to end. Written by Burt Bacharach and sung by Springfield, this was a meeting of two perfectionists for the only song they recorded. The swell to the chorus and the relative simplicity of the piano arrangement both work in the song’s favour, with Springfield’s vocals an absolute (and seemingly effortless) delight. By far the best thing to come out of the original Casino Royale, surely?
  2. 220. ‘Electricity’, Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band (1967) Somewhere in my attic, I have this album. I’ve never listened to it, but that speaks more to random periods of time where I will buy CDs, books and films without finding the time to actually give them a go. This is a wild song though which underneath its general oddity has a hell of a lot going on. Between the creepy vocal delivery (mainly the repetition of the songs title), the use of the theremin, excessive (but not in a bad way) high hat work by the drummer and the general bluesy tone that underpins it all, it sounds almost fit to burst. Many people talked about how influential Captain Beefheart was and it is hard to tell by one song alone, but this is definitely an eye/ear opening slice of music. 221. ‘Corcovoda’, Frank Sinatra and Antônio Carlos Jobim (1967) Seemingly on the list as the definitive version of a popular song, one that helped to popularise the ‘bossa nova’ style in the English-speaking world. It has been a while since Frank Sinatra was on the list and this is a step away from what we (or more importantly, I) might have expected from him. He is much more understated, letting the music do the work but hitting every tone and shift that is required. I like that bossa nova sound, though it lacks the edges that I enjoy and helps to give something more staying power personally. 222. ‘Heroin’, The Velvet Underground (1967) This is also in my attic, but unlike Captain Beefheart, I have listened to this album numerous times. Several songs have danced around it, but this is about as unambiguously about drugs as you can get. It neither seems to glamorise, nor decry it; it just tries poetically explore the idea of taking heroin. The shifts in pace feel like it aims to try and recreate what I can only imagine is the feeling of taking the drug, with the drumming getting more incessant and the guitar increasing in intensity. What is perhaps most interesting is John Cale’s electric viola (I’ll be honest, the book identified that for me) as its one chord holds the song together until a flurry of screeching gives our first taste of real dissonance within a song. So well put together.
  3. 217. ‘Happening Ten Years Time Ago’, The Yardbirds (1966) Apparently the only Yardbirds single that had both Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck playing guitar, so it is unsurprising that the guitar work in this is great. The use of reverb helps to create a trippy, psychedelic feel that compliments lyrics that may or may not be about reincarnation. This was a commercial dog compared to a previous run of five top ten singles in the UK, but I guess this was more about what it represented than sales. Sonically, there is a lot more going on in the background as sirens and car engines help to create a whirling dervish of a tune. 218. ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, The Beatles (1966) This is as mind-altering for me now as it was for an audience of Beatles fans in the 60s, I can only imagine. I’ve never heard this before, not being someone who has delved significantly into their back catalogue, so to hear something SOOO trippy from them was a surprise. I’ve used the word a few times with other songs but this does feel somewhat timeless – some of the psycadelic twinges perhaps date it, yet I could imagine it being played as a remix at a dance club tomorrow (well, when the pandemic is less of an issue…). The experimentation in terms of music puts them worlds away from where they were mere years ago. 219. ‘The End’, The Doors (1967) The first song to even come close to pushing Nina Simone’s ‘Sinnerman’ for the longest thus far. An epic, coming in at eleven minutes plus, it is ambitious from beginning to end, though perhaps too clearly a sign that the drugs don’t always work. This started as a three minute pop song, but before the album was recorded, had blown up to its run time after various live performances had seen it spiral out of control. Like a long book that has passed into the literary canon, you feel like you should at least applaud the deed whether you genuinely think the song is good or not. It is fine. That’s about the sum total of my thoughts on it, but to commit to this song in such a fashion, or be drugged up enough to conceive of it, deserves some plaudits.
  4. 214. ‘Dirty Water’, The Standells (1966) A simple garage rock song that has lived on in its use with the Boston Red Sox (up until 2010 at least). The writer was mugged on a bridge in Boston; there is dirty water and pollution in Boston – that’s about it really. I’m actually struggling with regards to what I can say about it. It’s a decent enough song that is on the list seemingly for its cultural significance to one city in particular. 215. ‘I Feel Free’, Cream (1966) A rock supergroup’s second single that needed to deliver after a poor first one, this is a fun burst of pop rock. Jack Bruce’s voice in particular is a real pleasure to listen to and this song gives him ample opportunity to showcase his pipes. The percussion and strings add a feeling of pace that compliments the positive message of the lyrics. I’ve only ever heard once song by Cream – that might need to change. 216. ‘You Just Keep Me Hangin’ On’, The Supremes (1966) This is an odd one. I feel that I’ve listened to so many variations of this without hearing the original that I’m surprised by how lacking in oomph the vocals have. Naturally, they can definitely song, but I expected a bit more punch. Naturally, the vocals are well sung, but yeah – just something slightly lacking until the second half of the song at least. The book talks about how this was the route in to a slightly harder edged, psychedelic soul influenced by rock, something heard with the Morse code-esque guitar and furthered (apparently) with the late 60s work by The Temptations.
  5. 211. ‘Season of the Witch’, Donovan (1966) This is a fair step away from the songs I might have expected from the band/man who did ‘Mellow Yellow’. A slightly psychedelic take on the poppier end of rock, yet menacing from beginning to end, this is an excellent song that I’ve never heard of whatsoever. Another example of a song that utilises the build from the verse to the chorus effectively as the volume (and I believe the speed, or perhaps that’s just an auditory hallucination) increases into the pretty simplistic vocal refrain, before settling back down again for the next stage. This sounds timeless and could be positioned in other decades with ease. 212. ‘Friday On My Mind’, The Easybeats (1966) Influenced by: The Swingle Singers Influence on: The Sound of the Suburbs • The Members (1979) Covered by: The Shadows (1967) • David Bowie (1973) • London (1977) • Peter Frampton (1998) • Richard Thompson (2003) • Ben Lee (2008) This is dubbed ‘power pop’ and you can hear why that is the case. It has more in keeping with some of the early 60s output and is two minutes of hooky melodies that celebrate living for the weekend. The guitars set the tone with a sense of urgency that is furthered by the vocals – they almost feel like they are trying to outrun the rest of the song. This was one of the only songs to have any success in the UK for the band as issues with contracts and drugs left them foundering. An interesting sidenote – the guitarist George Young’s siblings, Angus and Malcolm, went on to more fame as part of AC/DC. 213. ‘I’m A Believer’, The Monkees (1966) Influenced by: Cherry Cherry • Neil Diamond (1966) Influence on: Sugar Sugar • The Archies (1969) Covered by: The Ventures (1967) • The Four Tops (1967) • Wanda Jackson (1968) • Robert Wyatt (1974) • Tin Huey (1979) • The Frank and Walters (1992) • Sugar Beats (1997) • The Patron Saints (2008) For those who are a fan of Neil Diamond’s output in the 60s and 70s, you can immediately tell that this was penned by him. The Monkees were a very successful attempt to cash in on Beatlemania and the excitement of (primarily) teenage girl music fans. This is sweetly saccharine pop, but is hard to not enjoy or sing along to. A bit like some of Diamond’s other successful tunes, then.
  6. 208. ‘Good Vibrations’, The Beach Boys (1966) It probably speaks to how good a song ‘Good Vibrations’ is that I completely underestimated how complex it was. An attempt by Brian Wilson to capture the sounds in his head would take eight months and several studios to get right. There is so much going on here, but at heart it is just an excellent slab of pop that has hooks for days. It is another song that does a lot in a relative short run time as there are chunks of music, almost like chapters, each with its own interesting elements. To go from surf pop/rock to this speaks volumes about the musical talent of Wilson. 209. ‘Dead End Street’, The Kinks (1966) The books claims the Kinks were the most sonically challenging UK band at this time alongside the Beatles. Without being able to verify that, this song that tells a story of poverty yet with an element of jauntiness in the tune is definitely interesting when held up to some of the purer pop offerings. Paving the way for The Smiths, Madness and Pulp in this social commentary-style (again, according to the book), the shouted backing vocals, trumpet solo and hand claps add a touch of swing to an otherwise tonally negative song. An interesting juxtaposition of ideas, that’s for sure. 210. ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore’, The Walker Brothers (1966) A song that sounds like it has Phil Spector’s stamp all over it as the layers of sound and vocals continue to build in lusher and lusher arrangements. The star here is Scott Walker, and it isn’t surprising to know that he was the one that went on to the most success as a singles artist, though departing significantly from this style of music. The lovelorn and angsty teen had a new anthem to sing and dance along to, sung by three guys who may not have been brothers, but could belt out a tune; they weren’t half bad looking either, which helped.
  7. Watching mid 86 WWF and had two questions. Was Orndorff the first time that the WWF had used the 'friend of Hogan turns on Hogan' - I feel like it is, but might be forgetting something. Similarly, was it the first time they'd done the 'face returns under a mask' when it came to The Machines gimmick?
  8. 205. ‘Pushin’ Too Hard’, The Seeds (1966) There’s a beautiful, barely supressed anger about ‘Pushin’ Too Hard’ that I really enjoyed. Written in ten minutes by Sky Saxon, the lead singer, it is about as simplistic in delivery as it must have been in conception. That isn’t to say there isn’t skill here, but the little solos, the rudimentary drumming and the janky but kinda cool electric piano are a good example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. 206. ‘Psychotic Reaction’, The Count Five (1966) I always feel that you have to have some balls to prominently feature a harmonica in any song. However, when you have the swagger and sonic noise that The Count Five were offering, I guess you wouldn’t really care what I think. The percussion is hypnotic as are the changes in tempo; this all allowed them to mess around with it live and make it even crazier in nature. Having had success with this song, they were offered lots of bookings, yet turned them down to go to college. Brave men. 207. ‘Reach Out (I’ll Be There)’, The Four Tops (1966) There are just some songs on this list (some have gone, some surely still to come) where it is hard to get past the fact that these are just absolute bangers. I can pick out the woodwind intro, the percussion as it builds to the vocals, the sudden kick into the crux of the tune, the tambourine work or the excellent harmonies, but none of that does justice to an absolute belter of a tune. According to the book, this was primarily a departure from their original sound especially in the edgier vocals of Levi Stubbs – whatever it was, it worked as this was their second US No. 1. There's something about the juxtaposition of the last song with the two that came before it. Very different, but all very good.
  9. 202. ‘River Deep-Mountain High’, Ike and Tina Turner (1966) Influenced by: Be My Baby • The Ronettes (1963) Influence on: Born to Run • Bruce Springsteen (1975) Covered by: The Easybeats (1967) • Harry Nilsson (1967) • The Supremes & The Four Tops (1970) • Erasure (1988) • Neil Diamond (1993) • Neil Diamond (1993) • Céline Dion (1996) The book claims this as the definitive Phil Spector ‘wall of sound’ song and it is probably hard to argue. Anchored by Turner’s powerful vocals that stir and build to the verse, the backing music swells as well before bursting into life. Ike was effectively paid $20,000 not to perform on this and its lack of success meant that Spector packed things up and went home having staked his financial future on it. Considering all of that, it is an absolute belter of a tune and it isn’t surprising that Turner still incorporated it as one of his signature live songs. 203. ‘7 and 7 Is’, Love (1966) Influenced by: Get Off of My Cloud • The Rolling Stones (1965) Influence on: Skeleton Key • The Coral (2002) Covered by: Alice Cooper (1981) • Billy Bragg (1990) • The Ramones (1993) • The Electric Prunes (2001) • Amoeba (2004) • Rush (2004) A band and a song that I’ve never heard of, though the names of some of the bands that covered this song speaks volumes about their influence/interest. Turning from a folk song when written by the lead singer into a galloping folky-punk with barely audible lyrics, it was the bands only top 40 hit. The build to the ‘explosion’ (a slowed down gunshot noise) is a great touch as things threaten to go completely off of the rails. A really good song that I’m glad to have unearthed. 204. ’96 Tears’, ? and The Mysterians (1966) An apparent favourite amongst a number of garage bands, as well as Bruce Springsteen (who was able to launch into a cover of this by request on a 2009 tour), this is an interesting slice of 60s…rock? What is most interesting is ?, the lead singer who claimed to be 10,000 years old. I feel this is the first time I really am aware of someone presenting themselves as a persona rather than themselves. The organ grooves and the vocals are hooky enough to make this an interesting song, if one that feels a little dated and of its time in spots.
  10. 199. ‘El Muerto Vivo’, Peret (1966) Part of my interest when it comes to music from other cultures on this list is as to whether I will recognise it or not. This definitely sounds like a tune I’m aware of, yet I also feel a little bit like this rumba flamenco style (stolen from the book) can occasionally sound very samey. That isn’t to knock the song whatsoever; the flamenco guitar and layered vocals work together to create a very catchy tune. On the list primarily for its influence perhaps, it is still worth a few minutes of your time. 200. ‘Tomorrow Is A Long Time’, Elvis Presley (1966) Presley is the perfect example of an artist that I’ve not really heard as much of as I feel I should have done. This is actually a Bob Dylan cover song, an artist that Presley covered at least four time. Though I’ve not listened to Presley that much, this definitely feels at odds with my expectations of his sound. A lot more ‘country’ in tone and with a long running time, there is a mournfulness that challenges Presley’s usual rock and roll swagger. It doesn’t do much for me truth be told, but it was Dylan’s favourite version of the song, so that’s something. 201. ‘Eleanor Rigby’, The Beatles (1966) Influenced by: Vivaldi Influence on: A Rose for Emily • The Zombies (1968) Covered by: The Standells (1966) • Richie Havens (1967) • Vanilla Fudge (1967) • P. P. Arnold (1968) • Aretha Franklin (1969) • Four Tops (1969) • John Denver (1970) • The Crusaders (1974) My own personal favourite Beatles song (next to ‘Norwegian Wood’) is up at 201. Somewhat hilariously, this was placed on the opposite of a single with ‘Yellow Submarine’, two very different songs tonally. Having mentioned how much was going on with ‘Ticket to Ride’, this takes things up a notch with the echoing vocal runs, the harmonising and the violin work. A rare example of a Beatles song where none of them played an instrument, ‘Eleanor Rigby’ stands head and shoulders above some of the more dated pop that the Beatles put out into the world and is testament to the quality of McCartney’s songwriting at times.
  11. 196. ‘God Only Knows’, The Beach Boys (1966) Just an absolute tune – well, as much of a tune as a song with what could be perceived as such a saccharine sentiment. This was a step above the surfer pop that the Beach Boys had become known for and the layering of sound here is ridiculously intricate (and clever) for what was essentially a pop song. Over twenty studio musicians added their own sound to Brian Wilson’s work and helped to sculpt a masterpiece that has an ethereal, spiritual tone throughout. 197. ‘(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone’, Paul Revere and the Raiders (1966) The book suggests that the decision to attire themselves in Revolutionary War outfits ultimately cost Paul Revere and the Raiders when it came to their legacy. Still, what it did claim was that Mark Lindsay’s snarl, fuzzy organ and the jabbing guitar noise added up to a potential claim for being an early onset version of punk. The dynamics of the song heading into and out of the chorus are fun, with Lindsay’s lyrically delivery was dripping defiance. 198. ‘Mas que nada’, Sergio Mendes and Brazil 66 (1966) One of those songs that transcends time and borders as it has had success globally. Not the first version of this song, but the most popular. Lani Hall, the vocalist, sang the Portuguese words phonetically so well that people assumed she knew the language – which she didn’t. Swinging, lively, sexy; a top song that has had significant longevity.
  12. In an effort to get up to speed with the other forum where I am posting these, I thought I might as well just post the next lot - apologies for posting so many in such a quick space of time. 193. ‘Sunny Afternoon’, The Kinks (1966) Influenced by: Let’s All Go down the Strand• Clarence Wainwright Murphy (composed 1904) Influence on: Everybody Knows (Except You) • The Divine Comedy (1997) Covered by: Bob Geldof (1992) • Jimmy Buffett (1994) • Stereophonics (1999) A second entry for the Kinks that charts very different waters to ‘You Really Got Me’. Moving away from the rock of the first song to more music-hall stylings. Musically, the jangly nature of the piano evokes creates an oddly relaxing tone, though the lyrics do speak to things more severe than just lazing about. The implication here is to not necessarily follow the status quo and embrace the counterculture instead. What seems like a simple song is a greater whole than the sum of its parts. 194. ‘Paint It Black’, The Rolling Stones (1966) Inspired by: Ulysses • James Joyce (1922) Influence on: Thirteen • Big Star (1972) Covered by: Chris Farlowe (1966) • Eric Burdon & The Animals (1967) • After Hours (1987) • Echo & The Bunnymen (1988) • Deep Purple (1988) • Dominion (1998) • Acid Mothers Temple (2003) Nihilistic, insistent, unnerving; ‘Paint It Black’ feels odd to consider as a single when you compare it to other songs that were being released around this time. However, it is an absolutely cracking song that starts up at a pace and never relents. What brought it together, giving the song that touch of psychedelia, was the sitar playing by Brian Jones, something acknowledge by both the band and the book. It adds a hint of menace to everything, even on top of lyrics that are unremitting in their negativity. 195. ‘Summer in the City’, The Lovin’ Spoonful (1966) A song that I realised I’d never heard the whole of until today. All I’d ever been exposed to was the introductory verse, therefore never getting to the point where things brighten up and the ‘summer in the city’ becomes better evoked by the melody. A catchy ear-worm with the dynamic shift between the two moods making this a more engaging song that it otherwise might have been, especially the use of the keyboard and snare during the verses.
  13. 190. ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’, The Thirteenth Floor Elevators (1966) A cracking song that I’ve never heard of before. The Thirteenth Floor Elevators (so named as the 13th letter in the alphabet is ‘m’ and makes the link to marijuana) were a psychedelic rock band who used to hand out LSD to fans at gigs. The first thing that struck was the odd ‘womp’ sound that occasionally appeared; I believe that now to be the sound of the jug player. This is another song that feels like it does a lot over a short period of time as it moves from the paceier opening to a surf rock breakdown section that eases things somewhat. Really fun tune and doesn’t outstay its welcome. 191. ‘Substitute’, The Who (1966) Influenced by: 19th Nervous Breakdown • The Rolling Stones (1966) Influence on: Pretty Vacant • Sex Pistols (1977) Covered by: Sex Pistols (1979) • The Glitter Band (1986) • Ramones (1993) • Blur (1994) • Richard Thompson (2006) • Crosbi (2007) This song took me a moment to remember, though I do feel it is one that I’ve perhaps only heard a few times in my life. Loving the way that Smokey Robinson used the word in ‘Tracks of My Tears’, Pete Townshend named a whole song ‘Substitute’ and it is a fine slice of rock. The prominence of the acoustic guitar and the loudness of the bass in parts adds to a hook-laden set of lyrics, though ‘I look all white but my dad was black’ was cut from the US version for being deemed too controversial. By no means a world beating song, it is an enjoyable addition to the Who’s repertoire at this time and a song that went on to be a live staple. 192. ‘Eight Miles High’, The Byrds (1966) Influenced by: India • John Coltrane (1963) Influence on: Raga rock Covered by: Golden Earring (1969) • Roxy Music (1980) Hüsker Dü (1984) • Ride (1990) • Robyn Hitchcock and The Egyptians (1996) • Dave Cloud (1999) • Chris Hillman (2005) • The Postmarks (2008) A song that aimed to cover the experiences on an underwhelming tour of the UK (as well as the obvious drug references), the song was banned in the US. The Byrds were a favourite band of the Beatles and the blissed out pop-rock does sound – at points – like the Fab Four put through an American blender. The plucky guitar solos are great, whilst the airy vocal delivery just adds to the drug-fuelled vibe. A very worthwhile listen.
  14. 187. ‘Et moi et moi et moi’, Jacques Dutronc (1966) Apparently an example of a song from the French Yé-yé scene, it was a playful mix of the guitar sounds of bands like the Kinks with Gallic sarcasm. This is definitely the French song that has sounded the ‘coolest’ as much as that actually matters, with Dutronc’s playful vocal delivery effective even without knowledge of the lyrics. The bounciness of the whole tune also makes it something that transcends the need to know the words – it is hard not to nod along or tap your feet to the jangly guitar. 188. ‘Stay With Me’, Lorraine Ellison (1966) This is one powerful tune and Ellison’s voice is ridiculously good for it. Filling a gap in a recording schedule due to an illness to Frank Sinatra of all people, Ellison delivered. She was originally a gospel singer, yet the lyrics of this song (and songs in the lead up to this) had seen her move away from the chaste lyrical content of that style of music. Without that, we wouldn’t have this. Ellison pours her heart out for a lover who is walking out of the door. Few songs can match this in terms of pure delivery; Ellison is truly believable as the desperate lady who longs for one more chance to make things work. 189. ‘Al-Atlal’ Oum Kalthoum (1966) This was definitely a song. … …ok, so this is where the music in here does go somewhat beyond my own knowledge, interest, engagement. Impressive and skilful, it just isn’t the type of music I particularly care for. Though that didn’t stop me from enjoying over music from the list thus far, it was a barrier to my enjoyment for this song. It was difficult enough just to find a version of the song, so you’ll have to make do with the live one from 1967.
  15. 184. ‘The Sounds of Silence’, Simon and Garfunkel (1965) Influenced by: Masters of War • Bob Dylan (1963) Influence on: Catch the Wind • Donovan (1965) Covered by: The Bachelors (1966) • Bud Shank (1966) • The Ventures (1970) • Edward Woodward (1970) • James Last (1974) • Nevermore (2000) • Shaw-Blades (2007) Written in the aftermath of John F. Kennedy’s assassination, the song had an interesting gestation period. Originally released with just a guitar as backing in 1964, the duo broke up due to general lack of interest in their work, or so it seemed. Tom Wilson, a producer, then overdubbed electric guitar, bass and drums without the duo’s permission, yet it turned it into the song that we all enjoy (or at least I do). There is something unsettling about the whole song, from lyrics to harmonies, and it has been used to great effect in a multitude of different films and television shows. A personal favourite from the list so far. 185. ‘My Generation’, The Who (1965) ‘I hope I die before I get old’ is a lyric that pretty much encapsulated the disaffection of the youth at this time, whilst also acting a microcosm for the devil may care attitude espoused by many a rock star. Though the drums, guitars and bass all add up to create a wonderful cacophony of noise, at the core this is a pop song (as mentioned in the book) and it is the hookiness of the vocals that sends this song into orbit. The co-manager told Roger Daltrey to stutter on the line ‘Why don’t you all f-fade away?’, a hint at a potentially stronger phrase that might have been uttered in this chaotic three minutes. Simple things make a big impact. 186. ‘Unchained Melody’, The Righteous Brothers (1965) One of my ex-stepmum’s favourite films was ‘Ghost’, thus this song was imprinted on my memory from a very young age. What is staggering is the number of times and the number of different people who released this song before this version, with 1955 seeing six different interpretations alone (if my maths is correct). This is naturally the most popular version of the tune with Bobby Hatfield’s voice in particular given a chance to shine (he of the higher notes compared to Bill Medley who sung the lower stuff, though Medley also produced the song even though a credit was given to Phil Spector – a convoluted set up indeed). Apparently Spector was angry that the A side of this, a song called ‘Hung On You’, didn’t get more airtime, but it probably isn’t hard to hear why that was the case as the soaring vocals work their dizzying way to the end of this song.
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