Freebie week, so I chose some not-quite-as-frequently played songs from the ’60’s I like. There are a dozen here, but they’re short.
- Hedgehoppers Anonymous, “It’s Good News Week” Hedgehoppers Anonymous was a British folk-rock band. This was written by Jonathan King, who intended it as a protest song against the media’s obsession with bad news. It was a #5 in the UK on Decca, and a #48 in the US on Parrot in 1964. The line “Lots of blood in Asia now, they’ve butchered off the sacred cow, they’ve got a lot to eat” was changed in the British version of the song to “families shake the need for gold by stimulating birth control, we’re wanting less to eat.”
- Keith, “98.6” James Barry Keefer, a/k/a Keith, was and evidently still is a singer from Philadelphia. This song was written by Tony Powers and James Fischoff and reached #7 in the US and #24 in the UK. This was his biggest hit, but not his only Top 40 song.
- The Box Tops, “Neon Rainbow” The Box Tops were a blue-eyed soul band from Memphis that had two Top 10 hits, “The Letter” (#1 in 1967) and “Cry Like A Baby (#2 in 1968). This song came in between them, and failed to reach the Top 40. A shame, too, becaue I thought it was a great song.
- Nancy Sinatra, “Sugar Town” I remember my dad went around singing this (or at least the refrain), thinking the name was “Sugar Fly.” It’s one of the fonder memories I have of my dad. Anyway, Nancy Sinatra, Frank’s daughter (who was mighty chagrined that his daughter resorted to cheesecake album jackets to sell records), had a Top 10 hit with this (#5 on the Hot 100 and #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart) in 1966.
- Jimmy Gilmer & The Fireballs, “Sugar Shack” The Fireballs started as an instrumental band in the late ’50’s and had a couple of minor hits before Jimmy Gilmer joined on piano and vocals. They took this to #1 in 1963, and had another hit in 1967 with “Bottle Of Wine” (#9).
- Oliver, “Jean” I liked this song because well, I had my eyes on a girl named Jean (actually Jeanne) at the time (I was what, 13?). From the movie The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, it was written by Rod McKuen (who later wrote “Seasons In The Sun”) and sung by Oliver, who had had a #3 with “Good Morning, Starshine” earlier that year. This did even better, reaching #2.
- Kyu Sakamoto, “Sukiyaki” This song has nothing whatsoever to do with food. Its actual name is “Ue O Muite Arokou” (“I Look Up As I Walk”), but the record company, probably thinking “they’re gonna go in and ask for ‘oo ee oo ah ah ting tang walla walla bing bang’,” chose to rename it “Sukiyaki.” The words are listed in the video, and I think you’ll agree they’re quite lovely. It peaked at #1 in 1963.
- Terry Stafford, “Suspicion” Doc Pomus and Mort Shuman wrote this for Elvis, but Terry Stafford, who sounds a lot like Elvis, recorded it and reached #3 nationally, breaking the death grip The Beatles held on the Top 5 in April and May 1964. It peaked at #2 and #4, respectively, on LA’s Top 40 stations, KRLA and KFWB.
- Lou Christie, “Rhapsody In The Rain” A song that was banned from a lot of stations because of the controversial nature of the lyrics, this nevertheless reached #16 on the Hot 100 and #10 in Canada in 1966.
- The Statler Brothers, “Flowers On The Wall” Tomorrow is Kip’s birthday (happy birthday, Kip!), and I know he likes this song. “Playing solitaire ’til dawn with a deck of 51” and “smokin’ cigarettes and watching Captain Kangaroo” could describe my summer one year. Anyway, this reached #2 on the Hot Country Singles chart and #4 on the Hot 100 in 1966.
- The Hombres, “Let It All Hang Out” This 1967 song was the title track for The Hombres’ one and only album. It was a “a deadpan, southern-fried parody” of Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” according to AllMusic’s Stewart Mason. Trivia time: The Box Tops’ Bill Cunningham and The Hombres’ B. B. Cunningham were brothers. During the week of October 20-27, 1967, “The Letter” and “Let It All Hang Out” were #1 and #2 on the WLS Silver Dollar Survey. More trivia: The way the song starts (“A preachment, dear friends, you are about to receive on John Barleycorn, nicotine and the temptations of Eve”) is the same way the 1947 song “Cigareets, Whuskey and Wild Women” starts.
- Slim Harpo, “Baby Scratch My Back” This 1966 hit was blues singer Slim Harpo’s attempy at crossing over from the R&B chart to the pop chart, and in addition to reaching #1 on the R&B chart, he reached #16 on the Hot 100.
And that’s Monday’s Music Moves Me for November 12, 2018.