Tuesday Tunes 54: Sixties Encore

I mentioned a couple of weeks ago in my most recent post of Sixties songs that I still had some more up my sleeve. It was such great decade for music that there is an almost endless mine into which I can dig! So I thought I’d give you a few more for this week’s tunes.

One of the benefits for me of becoming a teenager (in 1966) was that there was an explosion of new music for my ever expanding tastes to find and enjoy. It was also the time when we were introduced to much more American music than just the crooners who had been their standard export until then. Like this band:

Talk about a rock classic! That was released in October 1966, and topped both the UK and US charts. With its complex mix of harmonies, changes of pace, and all-round brilliance it was unlike anything we’d heard before, and was the song that broadened the musical horizons of many a kid like me. It was still the surfer boys that we knew and loved, but they seemed to have grown up. It was a year later that the song finally appeared on an album – Smiley Smile – having had to await its turn, being released as a single a few months after the band’s masterpiece, Pet Sounds, which to my mind is still one of the greatest albums ever. Smiley Smile wasn’t the band’s most successful album, reaching #9 here but only #41 in the US, but the genius of this song stands out regardless. It was their third successive album in a run of ten which achieved higher chart placings in the UK than they did in the US: I’ve always found that strange.

To show that doing ‘epic’ wasn’t just the province of American bands, here’s one from a British outfit that merits that description:

I loved the Moody Blues, and bought all of their albums, apart from their early pop-based one before they developed into a prog rock band. This was a track on their concept album Days Of Future Passed, released in November 1967. The album only reached #27 here but was a huge hit in the US, peaking at #3. This song was released as a single to coincide with the album, but didn’t do especially well at the time, only reaching #19 here and #103 in the US. It was, however, re-released as a single in 1972, and got to #9 here and #2 in the US. It also reached #14 here in 1979, so it has ultimately had a fair run at the charts. As I said, an epic song from a wonderful album.

A change of tack now for my next tune. This was one I bought at the time, though it was the B-side of the song I’d actually shelled out for! I think you’ll see why I fell in love with it, though:

This one only just sneaks into this selection, as it was released as a single in December 1969. The band was officially ‘Delaney And Bonnie’ but were usually promoted with the additional ‘And Friends.’ They were very much a live act, though they did make some fine albums too. This song was co-written by Bonnie Bramlett with Leon Russell, though husband Delaney gets a credit too. It was the B-side to a track called Comin’ Home, which is a glorious piece of rock with some great guitar work – it reached #16 here but only got to #84 in the US. The band was known for the collection of those ‘friends’ who played their shows, who at times included the Allman Brothers, Dave Mason (of Traffic), Rita Coolidge, George Harrison and Eric Clapton, among others. I think Bonnie’s soulful vocals are incredibly powerful, and still play this song occasionally these days. Not so the cover version by The Carpenters, which you may know: they got to #2 in the US and #18 here in 1971 with a version typical of them – note perfect and completely lacking any heart. The original is in a league of its own, to my mind.

This next one is another which has enjoyed massive sales in a cover version, but is another where I much prefer the original:

For two brief but glorious years, from 1966 to 1968, The Troggs gave us a string of hit singles, starting with the worldwide smash Wild Thing. As with most of their records (but not Wild Thing), this one was written by the band’s lead singer, Reg Presley (real name Reg Ball – I think he borrowed the other bit from someone). They came from the unassuming Hampshire town of Andover, but they certainly made their mark in the wider world. Probably known better for their more upbeat tracks, they could also turn their hand to a good rock ballad, and this one perfectly captured the mood of the 1967 summer of love. The song peaked at #5 in the UK chart in November 1967, but took a little longer in the US, where it reached #7 in spring 1968. That cover version? A little thing by the Scottish band Wet Wet Wet, which was featured in the movie Four Weddings And A Funeral. They were given a choice of three songs to record for it – all covers – and went for this one as they felt they could make it their own. Released in 1994, it only got to #41 in the US but was #1 in twelve other countries, including here in the UK where it spent fifteen weeks at the top, and has sold around 2m copies. As I said, I much prefer the original, but I’m sure Mr Presley won’t have minded the improvement to his bank balance. Sadly, he passed away in 2013 from lung cancer.

I like to drop in an occasional song which I know is obscure, in the hope that it will be the first time that any reader has heard it. I think this one qualifies under that heading:

Eclection were another short-lived band, together only from 1967 to 1969. They originally comprised a Norwegian (Georg Hultgreen, who later took his mother’s name of Kajanus and had some hit singles with the band Sailor), two Australians (the amazing vocalist Kerrilee Male and Trevor Lucas, who later went on to form Fotheringay with his then girlfriend, and later wife, Sandy Denny, and was also in Fairport Convention for a time), a Canadian (Michael Rosen, guitar, vocals, and some songwriting), and a token Brit (Gerry Conway, their drummer, who has been in several bands – including Fotheringay – has played with loads of other artists and is to this day with Fairport Convention). In their time together they made one self-titled album, and this track was going to be on their next release. However, plans changed when Kerrilee left to go back to Australia, and a new version – Please Mk.II – was released as a single in October 1968 with the replacement vocalist, Dorris Henderson. I loved that and, like the album, bought it at the time, but when this version surfaced on YouTube a couple of years ago I realised what I’d been missing. Kerrilee’s vocals just soar. It is such a pity that she had apparently decided that music wasn’t for her, as she could have been a huge star with a voice like that. Needless to say, the band didn’t enjoy any chart success, though they did well as a live act, both as headliners in smaller venues and supporting bigger acts: they opened for The Beach Boys on a UK tour in autumn 1968. After much coming and going of band members they finally called it a day in 1969, but their album is one of the few to enjoy the ultimate accolade – having been bought by me on vinyl, cassette and CD.

This week’s final selection is a slightly odd one for me. I’m not religious, so to choose a song with ‘God’ in its title has surprised even myself! However, I don’t think you need to be religious to appreciate this song, as its message of what our world needs to be is universal:

Billy Preston was a deeply spiritual person, and he clearly wrote this song from his heart. But, as I said, you don’t really need to be religious to listen to his words and know that he is right. It is a timely reminder for many who call themselves Christians as to what that actually means, I think. Billy was a friend of The Beatles, and played (and was credited) on their single Get Back. This friendship is reflected in the list of musicians who were assembled for this track: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Keith Richards, Ginger Baker, and backing vocals from Dorris Troy and Madeleine Bell – a veritable roll call of the UK’s late 60s top musicians! This was a single in 1969, reaching only #62 in the US but getting to #11 here in the UK. I think it’s a wonderful song, and a fitting one with which to leave you this week, to reflect on.

Have a good week, take sensible precautions against the plague, and I’ll see you again next Tuesday. The theme is already in my mind, I just need to find a few tunes for it 😉

36 thoughts on “Tuesday Tunes 54: Sixties Encore

  1. Pingback: Tuesday Tunes 59: More Seventies | Take It Easy

    • Thank you, Robbie, that’s kind of you. Nights In White Satin still gives me tingles when I hear it, after all these years. I deliberately chose not to include Wild Thing – I wanted to go for one that might be less well known outside the UK.

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  2. Clive, thanks for another great selection and fascinating to read about them. My husband introduced to the Moody Blues and love this Beach Boys song. Recently we saw the Brian Wilson biopic ‘Love and Mercy’ .yikes! Such a gifted musician and composer but a tortured soul. .

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Annika, I’m glad you enjoyed them. With introductions like that I think your husband is a keeper 😉

      I’ve not see the film but I know he’s been through a lot. His talent is still there, though.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. The Beach Boys harmonies are right up there with my favorite groups, although I’d put The Eagles even a notch above them. My oldest brother was a Moody Blues fan, so I’ve been a fan as long as I can remember. There really was no other group who sounded like them. I agree that this version of Delaney and Boonie is much more soulful than the Carpenters. I’m always curious about groups such as The Troggs, who had a string of hits over a short span, what it was that ended their run? As you probably gathered, this is my first listen to Eclection. Their sound reminds of other groups. I’m familiar with Billy Preston but not this song. I wonder if it was played on mainstream radio.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I agree on the harmonies – both bands are excellent but I think The Eagles just have the edge. Their uniqueness was what I liked about the Moody Blues too – there were plenty of other prog rock bands but they didn’t have the tunes. As I said in the piece, I think the D&B version knocks spots off the Carpenters, who to me were a group our mums liked.

      I’m hoping that no one will have heard of Eclection before – so far, so good. They were fairly typical of their time, I think, though their only album has leanings towards a more prog rock feel mixed in with the folk base.

      Billy Preston was known over there as a gospel artist, so I’m guessing you could be right about his radio plays being restricted. To us he was the guy who played keyboards on Get Back and being on the Beatles’ label was good enough to get him airplay. It’s a great song too, which always helps. He himself put it down to the fact that the label weren’t well prepared for the US market and didn’t get much promotion.

      As to bands having a brief run of hits then disappearing, I think it’s always been like that. Pop audiences are fickle: one duff record and they go off to find the next big thing!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. great choices once again. Can’t go wrong with the Beach Boys or the Moody Blues. At first I did not know the song Groupie by its name, and then once I played it, I knew it. I was not familiar with the Troggs song or Eclection (as you properly guessed). And you are right, Kerrilee has a great voice, reminded me a bit of Joan Baez. And I enjoyed the last song.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Two of my favourites here. I loved the Troggs, and I have several of the Moody Blues albums – come to think of it, I loved Good Vibrations, too. I need to charge up my iPod Classic! Thanks (for the memories!)

    Liked by 3 people

  6. OMG! The best line up ever. I was lucky enough to see the Moody Blues perform under the stars with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra at Burnaby Lake in BC Canada. One of my favourite performances ever. I´ve also seen the Beach Boys, however, they were the Beach Grandpas by then but still put on a great show. I am a huge Delaney and Bonnie fan and love the Troggs tune. I hadn´t heard the Eclection song but liked it a lot and Billy Preston´s song is as relevant today as it was back then. Thanks for making my Tuesday extra special. xo

    Liked by 2 people

  7. The budgie finally thinks I’ve gone mad. Rocking round the room on my crutches obviously qualifies and he’s turned his back on me. Great selection thanks Clive. I really enjoyed Eclection and agree about Kerrilee’s voice. If you’d done the Carpenter’s version of Superstar I’d have turned off, never had time for them.
    Have a good week
    Hugs

    Liked by 3 people

    • That’s quite an image, David! I hope we haven’t done your budgie any irreparable harm! Glad you enjoyed them, and that you agree on both Kerrilee and the Carpenters. You have a good week too 😊

      Liked by 2 people

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