*Survey courtesy of Geno Rice and ARSA site
I love it ... the entire Beatles White Album is shown as the 6th most popular song in Portland, Oregon this week! (We haven't seen the likes of this since the Beatlemania days ... although "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" DID receive the same treatment last year.) BOTH were landmark LP's for different reasons. And could there be a more deliberate difference in sight and sound?
"Pepper" pulled out all the stops with its elaborate montage cover, featuring photos of dozens of luminaries, all selected by The Beatles themselves ... and what greater contrast could there be than a stark white cover for their first album release under their own record label, Apple Records. (Sure, the OFFICIAL title was "The Beatles" ... but it was immediately and forever after known as "The White Album.")
Likewise, '"Pepper" took hundreds and hundreds of hours in the studio to record, with no expense spared to bring in full orchestras and Indian musicians to achieve the desired sound ... while a good chunk of The White Album seems to be solo tracks, some of which never seem to have gotten much past the demo stage.
I don't know that half the tracks on that deserve Top Ten status (our recent series "Redesigning The White Album" gives you some idea as to what tracks most of our readers felt could have been eliminated to create a much more powerful single LP) ... but "Back In The USSR," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," "Rocky Raccoon," the slowed-down version of "Revolution 1" and other favorites like "Mother Nature's Son," "Julia," "I Will," "Blackbird," "Birthday,"Sexy Sadie" and "Cry Baby Cry" found themselves immediately "radio friendly."
Elvis makes a HUGE leap this week (from #32 to #9) with the song that closed his NBC Television Special a couple of weeks ago, "If I Can Dream" ... and B.J. Thomas seems to have a runaway hit, too, with "Hooked On A Feeling," which leaps thirty places (from #44 to #14) in a single bound!
Interesting to see Spanky and Our Gang and Peppermint Rainbow (who sounded EXACTLY like Spanky and Our Gang) side by side on this week's chart and #'s 21 and 22 ... while the top debut belongs to Tommy James and the Shondells with their classic, "Crimson and Clover." (kk)
Let's get to the true west coast this week. Of this suburb of Portland, Oregon (just across the Columbia River), Meriweather Lewis (of Lewis & Clarke) wrote that it was "the ONLY area west of the Rockies worthy of settlement."
One really cool radio station settled there with a top 50 chart that yielded great music in the 60's. This week in '68, it would be very odd to see the Beatles have an entire album charting at #6 (later known to all of us as "The White Album") AND Elvis back in the top 10 with the incredible comeback "If I Can Dream." The 4 Seasons are going "electric," Brian Hyland continues his long string of chart records and Otis Redding is charting a year after his death (12/10/67.)
Attempting to be the next Davy Jones, Sajid Kahn tried turning actor to teen singing idol at #43. Andy Williams was at #33 with the national song he sang at Robert Kennedy's funeral. Tommy James and Joe South (who won the Grammy for Song of the Year with this one) were to reach new heights in their career with their new hits. YET, I am going with two songs sandwiched between those mega-hits.
One is by the future original host of "Wheel of Fortune," Chuck Woolery as a member of the duo known as Avant-Garde. Woolery was best known as a game show host and his "Love Connection" 1980's show set him on a long journey in that direction. Still, the three singles Avant-Garde made for Columbia Records in 67-8 are ALL good and worthy of seeking out. "Fly With Me" was the last of these and arguably, the best, following the top 40 hit "Naturally Stoned." It failed, altho Woolery would sign a Columbia deal as a solo artist in 1970.
"The Rock & Roll Dubble Bubble Trading Card Trading Card Company of Philadelphia - 19141" must be about the longest name for an artist to ever hit the Hot 100. In 1968, this song built on Buddah Records' bubblegum song title hits of the past year seemed like a no miss situation. Written by the Strangeloves (remember last week's obscurity?), the song sold mildly and probably soon inspired Fun & Games' "Grooviest Girl in the World" mild hit using bubblegum titles from many record labels. For me. "Bubblegum Music" summed up much of the year's music, take it or leave it!
-- Clark Besch
-- Clark Besch
THIS WEEK IN '68:
12/22/68: The Vogues perform “Turn Around, Look At Me” as part of a medley on The Ed Sullivan Show