Thursday, November 5, 2015

60 Years Of Soul Hits (Part 1)

I'm still feeling soulful this morning ...  

So let's take a look back at The Top Ten R&B Soul Hits for the month of November ... circa 1955, 1960 and 1965 ...  


#10 - Maybelline - Chuck Berry

#  9 - Blackjack / Greenbacks - Ray Charles
#  8 - Don't Start Me Talkin' - Sonny Boy Williamson
#  7 - All By Myself - Fats Domino
#  6 - All Around The World - Little Willie John
#  5 - Play It Fair - LaVern Baker
#  4 - I Hear You Knocking - Smiley Lewis

#  3 - Hands Off - Jay McShann and Priscilla Bowman
#  2 - At My Front Door - The El Dorados

#  1 - Only You - The Platters

Rock and Roll was brand new ... and Chuck Berry, The Grandfather of Rock And Roll, was first making his mark with his big cross-over hit "Maybelline" ... but the R&B / Soul / Black stations were still quite separate from traditional, mainstream radio in 1955, playing what only a few years before was still being referred to as "Race Music". 

The ONLY hit common to both the R&B Top Ten and the Pop Top Ten this month was "Only You" by The Platters.  (It ranked at #6 on the Pop Chart for the month of November, 1955). 

That's not to say that these R&B hits weren't making themselves known to the white audience ... they were just being presented a little differently.   

Pat Boone charted at #10 with his white bread version of "At My Front Door" ... and Gale Storm had the #8 hit of the month with her clean and pure version of "I Hear You Knocking".  

#10 - A Fool In Love - Ike and Tina Turner
#  9 - Kiddio - Brook Benton
#  8 - Last Date - Floyd Cramer

#  7 - New Orleans - Gary "US" Bonds
#  6 - Stay - Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs

#  5 - My Dearest Darling - Etta James
#  4 - Georgia On My Mind - Ray Charles

#  3 - Save The Last Dance For Me - The Drifters
#  2 - He Will Break Your Heart - Jerry Butler
#  1 - Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go - Hank Ballard and the Midnighters

Radio was experiencing lots more common ground by 1960 .. "Let's Go, Let's Go, Let's Go", "Save The Last Dance For Me", "Georgia On My Mind" and "Stay" are all in The Pop Top Ten for the month of November, too. 

Perhaps MOST surprising is the cross-over hit "Last Date" by Floyd Cramer ... a white, Nashville session pianist who has a Top Ten Hit on BOTH charts this month.  (Not sure how folks found this one so "soulful" in 1960 ... but evidently they did!)  This one followed the "contray rule", crossing over from the Pop Chart to the R&B Chart.  (That wasn't really so unusual back in the day ... early hits by Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and The Everly Brothers regularly made their mark on both charts ... but Floyd Cramer?!?!?)


#10 - Make Me Your Baby - Barbara Lewis
#  9 - Think - Jimmy McCracklin
#  8 - Cleo's Back - Jr. Walker and the All-Stars
#  7 - I Got You - James Brown
#  6 - Take Me In Your Arms - Kim Weston

#  5 - A Lover's Concerto - The Toys

#  4 - My Baby - The Temptations
#  3 - My Girl Has Gone - The Miracles
#  2 - Ain't That Peculiar - Marvin Gaye

#  1 - Rescue Me - Fontella Bass

The biggest surprise here has gotta be "A Lover's Concerto" charting so high on the R&B Chart.  Based on a classical piece, this one evidently had mass appeal ... it also topped the pop charts.  

Lots of Motown this month, too, as Jr. Walker and the All-Stars, Kim Weston, The Temptations, The Miracles and Marvin Gaye are all represented with Top Ten Hits ... that's half the chart!  (The Doobie Brothers would rework "Take Me In Your Arms" as a rock track a decade later and have some success with it.)  Gaye and Weston would team up a couple of years later for the timeless hit "It Takes Two". 


Tomorrow in Forgotten Hits we'll take a look at The Top Ten Soul Hits of November, 1970, 1975 and 1980. 

These charts are based on a book put together by Joe Edwards, who collected the weekly chart data from Billboard Magazine and then accumulated those points on a month by month basis, ultimately ranking The Top Ten Pop and R&B Hits for every year, 1950 - 1980. 

Glancing through the book today we find the nearly 300 pages of trivia questions riddled with mistakes ... but the chart data as a monthly popularity consensus is quite valuable ... and cause for celebration for at least a couple of days in Forgotten Hits.