November 2017

220px-Williams-Best.jpg#20 – Andy Williams – “The Bilbao Song” – (1961)

I had this one as from ’62 but it was actually released a year earlier (hey, we’re getting way before my time here). This was a top 40 hit for Andy Williams. While it has bits that are kind of dated (the female background singers singing some nonsense), it still has a good beat and catchy lyrics.

Quincy_Jones_-_Big_Band_Bossa_Nova#21 – Quincy Jones – “Soul Bossa Nova” – (1962)

Getting pretty far back, musically, at this point. Most everything from here on back is completely foreign to modern FM radio. I’m pretty sure this wasn’t a big radio smash in its day, but probably made most famous by its inclusion as the theme for the Austin Powers films. It’s incredibly catchy.

Cuts_Both_Ways_CD_Cover.jpegGloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine – “Get On Your Feet” – (1989)

As upbeat as this song is – and the fact that it was on the by-this-point-cresting wave of Latin-tinged 1980s hits – it only managed to hit #11 on the Hot 100, but it was still a mainstay on Adult Contemporary radio for the next five years, at least. This was the most fun hit from Gloria’s final album with the Miami Sound Machine.

Rod_Stewart_-_Blondes_Have_More_Fun_(album_cover)Rod Stewart – “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?” – (1978)

This Billboard #1 hit from Rod Stewart incorporates strong disco themes – that is to say, a synth-heavy dance beat. Of all of Rod’s hits, this is among those that I can tolerate most. Strange fact, he donated the royalties from this song (about him asking someone if they think he is sexy) to the United Nations Children’s Fund. Interesting.

220px-TheDoorsTheDoorsalbumcoverThe Doors – “Break on Through (To the Other Side)” – (1967)

From the self-titled debut album of The Doors comes one of their most upbeat songs. This was their first single and it was a great one, even if it was unsuccessful upon release. If you want to hear what an “electric” guitar sounds like, pay close attention here because the guitar in this song sounds like it has a million volts zinging through the strings.

Ronettes#1 – The Ronettes – “Be My Baby” – (1963)

This song is the epitome of the Phil Spector sound that dominated the early 1960s. It’s one of the greatest songs of all time and was released as a single in the fall of 1963 (even through this ridiculously-titled album wasn’t released until the end of 1964). Spector’s process for creating this song influenced music for decades to come. It was the song that gave Brian Wilson the inspiration for pretty much everything he did after he heard it. And the stuff Brian Wilson was doing in the 1960s influenced pretty much everyone after him, including The Beatles, who themselves were, I guess, kind of influential.

220px-TheKingsmenInPerson#2 – The Kingsmen – “Louie Louie” – (1963)

This might be the earliest popular example of that dirty, garage rock sound. A cover of a cover, Portland-based The Kingsmen ran this version up the charts and it’s become a classic. It achieved controversy in its day because apparently the lyrics are naughty, but I’m not sure how anyone could tell because the singer basically slurs half the song. The Kingsmen split into two rival bands before this reached maximum fame and a long legal battle ensued. Wikipedia has a borderline hilarious entry on this song… it’s like someone is writing their senior thesis on it. It’s pretty weird.

IfYouWannaBeHappy45#3 – Jimmy Soul – “If You Wanna Be Happy” – (1963)

While I appreciate Jimmy Soul’s attempt at advice, it seems a little rude doesn’t it? There’s no rule that says ugly women can cook. I love the tempo of this song, especially considering it was 1963, just three years after Bert Kaempfert had a #1 hit. 

220px-The_Angels_LP#4 – The Angels – “My Boyfriend’s Back” – (1963)

This #1 hit was originally written for the Shirelles, but was released by the Angels instead, becoming their biggest hit and making them a one-hit wonder. It’s a good example of the early-60s girl group sound.

Ring_of_Fire_-_The_Best_of_Johnny_Cash#5 – Johnny Cash – “Ring of Fire” – (1963)

This has to be one of Johnny Cash’s signature songs, if not the signature song. It’s at least his most widely known. It’s one of his biggest hits, topping the country charts for seven weeks, something this is nigh impossible these days with country music turning over hits on a weekly basis. Gotta love any song with Mariachi-style horns!

PleasePleaseMe_audio_cover#6 – The Beatles – “Love Me Do” – (1963)

In their early days, the Beatles were excellent at writing simple, catchy pop songs. This exemplifies that nearly as well as any song they recorded. This was their first single in the U.K. (it wasn’t a single in the U.S. until 1964, when it went to #1). Interestingly, the earliest recordings of this track, because of their age, are in the public domain in Europe.


5099994834659_1300x1300_300dpi#7 – Jan & Dean – “Surf City” – (1963)

Surf music strikes again in ’63. Surf City sounds like a great place as there are two girls for every body – good enough anyway to take this to #1. Let’s talk about how this might be the weirdest album of all time. Surf City an Other Swingin’ Cities. Literally every track on this album is about a specific place in the U.S… from “Honolulu Lulu” to “Tallahassee Lassie.” Yep.

Meet_the_Searchers#8 – The Searchers – “Love Potion No. 9” – (1963)

Recorded by a number of artists (including, originally, The Clovers in 1959), “Love Potion No. 9” was the biggest hit for Liverpool, England’s The Searchers. The song also charted best when recorded by these guys: it went to #3 in 1963.