It never fails to surprise me how many of you seem to like my trips down memory lane back to the Sixties: these posts always seem to do well in terms of views. So, for a while longer, at least, I’m going to be alternating these with the themed posts I do, until you guys get bored with them (dangerous statement, I know, so if this turns out to be the last one you’ll know no one read it!). I might add some from the Seventies into the mix too: that was also a good decade, until punk and disco came along to spoil it…
Today’s first song is from one of those artists who died far too young – one of that collection of rock musicians who died at the age of just 27 and became a ‘member’ of the so-called 27 Club. This also includes Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain, amongst others. His guitar playing was legendary, and I thought about blasting you out of your seats with one of his louder tunes, but decided to be kind and go with this one:
Jimi Hendrix made three great albums in a little under 18 months, from May 1967 to October 1968. Although he was American, his initial success came over here, and the two other members of his band, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, were both British: Noel Redding and Mitch Mitchell. Hendrix’s record releases differed between the US and the UK: in the US this was on his first album, Are You Experienced, but was only a single here. It was released in May 1967, and reached #6 in our chart, but in the US it came out a month later, as the B-side to Purple Haze, which had already been a #3 hit here. The US version got to #65. I guess the record companies knew what they were doing, though, as the album got to #5 in the US and #2 here. I’ve always liked the brooding feel to this song, which shows off his guitar skills without ever reaching the volume of most of his other hit songs.
This week’s second tune is from a band who I loved back then, and who were the forerunners both to the Electric Light Orchestra and Roy Wood’s Wizzard. They were The Move, and this is them having a bit of fun:
The band had nine top ten singles here between 1966 and 1972, one of which – Blackberry Way – got to #1, and another – Flowers In The Rain – was the first record played on BBC Radio 1 when it started up. This was a #3 UK hit in 1968. They were one of those bands who had next to no success in the US though, their only chart entry there being their final single, Do Ya, which reached #93. That one was written by Jeff Lynne, who joined the band after their UK peak, and led them into their transition into the ELO.
My next one was a big hit on both sides of the Atlantic:
This was released in the US in July 1966, but due to a contractual dispute with his record label wasn’t released here until December of that year. The delay doesn’t appear to have caused much damage, though: it was a #1 in the US and #2 here. Donovan had a string of hit singles here in the Sixties, starting with folk songs like Catch the Wind and Colours, and then branching out into a more rock-based sound. To illustrate his rock credentials, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones, who went on to form Led Zeppelin, both played on this recording (guitar and bass respectively).
Another folk-based artist provides the next tune:
Mary Hopkin was one of the first to be signed to the Beatles’ Apple Records label and was very much a protege of Paul McCartney. Her debut single, Those Were The Days, was a #1 here and #2 in the US. I expect you remember it, the chorus went “those were the days my friend, the Beatles helped no end” or something like that. As well as that single, McCartney produced her debut album, Postcard, which was released in 1969: I bought the album, which was lovely. This was the 1969 follow up single, which he also produced (and wrote). It was a #2 hit here and reached #13 in the US. I’m sharing this one as I prefer it to her first hit, though that is also worth a listen if you like Mary’s beautifully clear voice.
Another folk-rock band provide my next tune, though I’ve crossed the pond for these guys:
I loved the sound of the Lovin’ Spoonful, which rather put me in a minority here. They had big hits here with Daydream and Summer in The City, and a couple of other minor hits, but this wasn’t one of them, failing to make our charts. It was a #10 US hit though, a song of delicate simplicity and beauty which deserved better from us. It was included on a UK compilation album which had all of their big hits on it, and was released here on a budget label: I couldn’t resist a bargain like that, could I?
I’m staying Stateside for this week’s final selection. We throw the word ‘classic’ around, but I think this one really merits it:
An iconic singer, and so important in the Civil Rights movement. Her loss, approaching three years ago, was a sad one. I loved this one when it was first released as a single in 1968, and even my parents noticed that it was a little different from the music I usually listened to. But I was captivated by it: it had an aura of being very special, and not many records have that impact on me. In the charts, this reached #10 in the US but did better here, peaking at #4. If ever a record deserved to be a #1 this was it, though.
Thats all for this week. I hope you’ve enjoyed another trip down memory lane – it is quite a long road, isn’t it! There will be more tunes next Tuesday – until then, stay safe and well, and don’t overdo the celebrations as lockdown eases. I have my doubts about whether this is still too soon, but if the wise man who allegedly leads our country thinks it’s alright, who am I to disagree? Take care 🤞