Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Back to the '60's ... This Week In Forgotten Hits!

Contrary to what radio today would lead you to believe, the 1960's did NOT begin in 1964 with The Beatles and The British Invasion.  

While I would be the first to agree that these new sounds did more to invigorate the sounds of the decade, the four years preceding the onslaught of foreign talent on these shores were pretty interesting, too.  (It has often been reported that music was in the doldrums … the country was grieving the assassination of  their young president … and The Beatles just happened along at a time when this country most needed something to brighten our spirits again … and there may be a certain amount of truth to this statement.  However, a closer look at the music we were listening to, circa 1960 - 1963 makes a pretty good case for the continued development of rock and roll.)  

Elvis was back from the Army … and, although he had "cleaned up" quite a bit, he still managed to place 28 songs on Billboard's Hot 100 Singles Chart in that four year period … and all but three of them made The Top 40.  In fact, Elvis notched 13 more Top Ten Hits in his King Of Rock And Roll belt … and topped the charts with tracks like "Stuck On You", "It's Now Or Never", "Are You Lonesome Tonight", "Surrender", "Good Luck Charm" … and JUST missed with timeless tracks like "Can't Help Falling In Love" (#2, 1962), the two-sided hit "(Marie's The Name) His Latest Flame" / "Little Sister" (#4 and #5 respectively), "Return To Sender" (#2, 1962) and "(You're The) Devil In Disguise" (#3, 1963).  

Motown was in its infancy … before the decade was over it would explode and become a driving force in the way America listened to soul music, crossing over to win fans of both black and white young America.  

Groups like The Four Seasons on the East Coast and The Beach Boys on the West Coast kept both their lead vocals on their hot new sounds HIGH on the charts.  In fact, the whole Surf Music Craze had its deepest roots in the 1960 - 1963 era.  

So did folk music … what has since become known as The Girl Group Sound … The Wall Of Sound from Phil Spector … and the music created in The Brill Building.  

We had great novelty hits like "Alley Oop", "Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka-Dot Bikini", "Mr. Custer", "Mother-In-Law", "Monster Mash" and "If You Wanna Be Happy", all of which topped the charts … along with classic instrumental hits like "Theme from 'A Summer Place'" (one of the biggest hits of the decade), "Wonderland By Night", "Calcutta", "The Stripper", "Stranger On The Shore" and "Telstar" … Dance Craze Songs that exemplified The Philly Sound like "The Twist", "Let's Twist Again", "Limbo Rock", "The Loco-Motion" and "Peppermint Twist".  Feel-Good Songs like "Cathy's Clown", "Everybody's Somebody's Fool", "Stay", "Tossin' And Turnin'", "Hit The Road Jack", "Runaround Sue", "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", "Duke Of Earl", "Hey Baby", "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do", "I Will Follow Him", "It's My Party", "Sugar Shack" and "My Boyfriend's Back".  Teen tragedy songs and pining love songs like "Teen Angel" and "Running Bear" … "I'm Sorry" and "Georgia On My Mind" … and songs that just defy description and classification like "Big Bad John", "Sukiyaki", "El Paso", "Travelin' Man" and (what the hell?!?!?) "Dominique"!  

This week Forgotten Hits takes a closer look at the Top 100 Singles, 1960 - 1963 … the years BEFORE "The British Are Coming, The British Are Coming" became the phrase of the day … a time when American artists still dominated the charts and our hearts.  (OK, OK … you WILL find "Telstar" by The Tornadoes on this list … but that's about as cockney as we're going to get!)  

The countdown begins tomorrow ...

Enjoy the ride!