Post by DJDaveMick69 on Feb 12, 2015 6:16:55 GMT -5
Great project! I like most of the songs so far, but especially:
To know him is to love him Venus The happy organ (best one so far) The battle of New Orleans Mr. Blue Theme from A Summer Place Cathy's clown It's now or never The twist Save the last dance for me Calcutta (unlike many of my peers, LOVE this) Pony time
The electronic-like instrumental part in the middle is quite futuristic for 1961. That's easily my favourite part of the song. I also like the desperation of wondering where this girl went. But the "WAH-WAH-WAH-WAH-WONDER"'s are really annoying.
A pretty straightforward song. He can't stand his mother-in-law. It's kinda novelty, but it at least makes me laugh a bit. The deep voiced "mother-in-law" parts and lines like "Satan should be her name; To me they're bout the same" and "She thinks her advice is the constitution; But if she would leave that would be the solution" especially. Idk I guess I just like the snarkiness of those comments. The instrumental is pretty boring, though.
0051. Ricky Nelson - "Travelin' Man" [2 weeks - 1961]
We get it, you like finding a girl to f**k in every country you visit. Though he claims to have fallen in love with all of them. I just find this whole narrative to be pretty ridiculous and he just comes off looking like a chauvinistic womanizer. Though maybe that's the point. This song also includes such amazing lyrics such as "If you're ever in Alaska; Stop and see my cute little Eskimo"; among other stereotypes.
0052. Roy Orbison - "Running Scared" [1 week - 1961]
Well, this sounds a lot different from what I remember listening to so far in this 1961 batch! The operatic-like vocals are definitely strange, but it helps add to the intensity of this song. And it is quite an intense song. The instrumental, which starts as simply an acoustic guitar, builds and builds to a big climax, as it follows Roy's predicament. The lack of chorus is really effective in doing that. Roy is scared of this guy that might steal his girl from him. However, there's a happy ending - she chooses Roy. As nice as that is, I think I actually find the happy ending dampens the song a bit. I would've preferred it to end unresolved. That said, the intensity of this song definitely draws me in, and it's one of my favourite #1's so far.
Sorry it's been a weird month for me, but I'm ready to restart this!
So another #1 about a tragic death. In this one, the narrator finds out that his lover has committed suicide by drowning herself in the river because she had cheated on him and can no longer live with the shame of it. Which is one extreme reaction. Though things like cheating were probably a bigger deal back then. Either way, there's just something about the lyrics and Pat Boone's delivery which don't evoke much emotion out of me. They leave me feeling cold. And the chorus where he blames the river itself is sort of distracting. Other than that, it's a pretty boring sounding song.
0054. Gary U.S. Bonds - "Quarter To Three" [2 weeks - 1961]
A very fun, energetic doo-wop song. Can't hate on the sax! On the one hand, a studio version would've made this sound more polished (which this recording definitely doesn't). But on the other, having a live audience makes it feel more spontaneous and natural, I guess you could say. Makes you want to join in. The exaggerated vocals (like those crazy ad libs) add to that fun feeling. Also it sounds a lot like a big #1 coming up soon.. more on that later.
0055. Bobby Lewis - "Tossin' And Turnin'" [7 weeks - 1961]
The "tossin' and turnin' a-turnin' and tossin'" parts get annoying quickly. But it's another fun uptempo from the early 60's. And if there's one thing I can take away from this time period, it's these light-hearted numbers. The lyrics have a certain charm to them that are hard to hate, as well. The song is about Bobby losing sleep cuz he can't stop thinking about this girl. He's up so late that he "heard the milkman at the door". The song exaggerates a simple, common experience, which is what makes it work.
So "Wooden Heart" is actually an Elvis song. But, it wasn't released as a single in the US. So this random nobody capitalized on that, and released this cheap knock-off cover version. And it actually managed to go #1. It's basically the 1960's version of those fake iTunes covers. It doesn't help that the song itself isn't that good to begin with. It's definitely one of Elvis' most bizarre offerings. He heavily incorporates German influences in it; from the accordion, to the attempt at singing in a German accent, to even singing part of the song in German itself. And... it just doesn't work. The Joe Dowell version sounds almost the exact same; he even tries his best to pull off a convincing Elvis impersonation. And, as I said, it makes it sound so cheap.
This is one of those songs that I don't quite know what to do with. It's not really something I'd go out of my way to listen to, but I can definitely see the appeal and why it would resonate with a large number of people. Especially in a time period when religion was a bigger part of life. It derives from a folk song from the American Civil War period sung by freed slaves. It's a song meant to soothe the soul and lift the spirits. The lyrics draw on Biblical references (though the Highwaymen version isn't as blunt about them), but ignoring that, I can appreciate the tone of the song and what it tries to do. It's just not necessarily for me.
0058. Bobby Vee - "Take Good Care Of My Baby" [3 weeks - 1961]
What is with these bleating-like vocals? He sounds like he's shivering. I guess maybe he's trying to sound like he's crying, but it's very distracting. Anyway. Another man has stolen Bobby's girl. And Bobby simply advices him to treat her right. But then later adds: if he fails to do so, send her back to him instead. Well, so much for that selfless request.
0059. Ray Charles And His Orchestra - "Hit The Road Jack" [2 weeks - 1961]
The "don't you come back no more, no more, no more, no more" hook is very recognizable. Probably one of the most recognizable hooks of this era. Definitely something that gets stuck in your head. This song is an exchange between Ray and the female backing singer, and I always like these songs that have that back and forth drama in them. The woman is telling him to get lost and Ray plays the role you sympathize with. The only thing that brings it down is the boring early 60's production.
Wait "Dear Future Husband" isn't for another 50+ years! I kid. This was the song I was alluding to in "Quarter To Three". If there was one song to choose as the face of the doo-wop era (keeping in mind that's something I don't know a lot about), I'd say this would be a strong contender. It captures everything about that genre perfectly. The backing vocals especially; as well as the fun not-so-serious nature of it. Said backing vocals obviously make this song. It's a really infectious song because of them. Lyrically, it's about Dion advising all the guys to watch out for the town whore; nicknamed "Runaround Sue". Say what you will about that, but I don't think song is meant to be taken all that seriously. And I don't take it all that seriously.
0061. Jimmy Dean - "Big Bad John" [5 weeks - 1961]
I'm not exactly sure how to explain why, but these folk songs just aren't my thing. It doesn't help that this is barely even a song. There isn't much singing aside from the vocally apathetic "Big John"'s in the chorus and there's barely anything happening in the instrumental. However, the narrative is quite captivating. "Big Bad John" is a large, very muscular, very mysterious, very intimidating man who escaped New Orleans to start a new life. Now he's in this new town working in the mines. One day, 20 miners get trapped in the mine, and John heroically saves them. But in doing so, he traps himself in the mine and dies.
0062. The Marvelettes - "Please Mr. Postman" [1 week - 1961]
This is significant for being the first Motown #1. This has also been covered a lot over the years - from The Beatles to The Carpenters to The Saturdays (lol). The song expresses the desperation this woman is feeling to receive a letter from her significant other who's away fighting in the war. She's begging and pleading the postman for a letter. She's an emotional mess and falling apart. And I always appreciate songs that have such raw emotion in them. It also has a pretty strong melody. I just don't like the backing vocals that much.
0063. The Tokens - "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" [3 week - 1961 / 1962]
The #1's of the early 60's are completely all over the place when it comes to genre and style. So much so that I'm not even surprised that "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" went #1. It's impossible to listen to this with a straight face. The nonsensical lyrics, the "Wimoweh" chanting, the exaggerated ad libs, the lead vocals being in falsetto, etc all make this song so ridiculous and silly. But it manages to be a child-like without being very childish. If that makes sense. Definitely the best novelty song I've come across so far.
0064. Joey Dee And The Starliters - "Peppermint Twist - Part I" [3 weeks - 1962]
The year of 1962 begins with the "twist craze". It started with "The Twist" returning to #1 (I obviously don't need to review that song a second time). And it continues with this song. Unlike Chubby Checker's song, I find this one doesn't have quite the same magic. These lyrics are just too mindless for me. It's still an enjoyable; danceable song, though. And I do like the instrumental breakdown in the middle.
This song was basically born from an inside joke. Gene was a member of this vocal group, and they would do these vocal exercizes involving repeated phrases such as "do do do do..." One day, they threw in Earl's name (Earl was another member of this group) and it evolved into the "Duke Duke Duke Of Earl" hook. Eventually, verses were written to accompany it. Should note that there's no such thing as a "Duke Of Earl".. dukes and earls are separate titles in the British monarchy. So this song isn't alluding to anyone specific. Gene refers to himself as the "Duke Of Earl" as way of saying he'll be the perfect gentleman. I'm undecided if the concept behind this is brilliant or silly. One thing I know for sure - the hook is bloody annoying.
0066. Bruce Channel - "Hey! Baby" [3 weeks - 1962]
I'm quite familiar with this song in another form - DJ Otzi's ridiculous and camp cover from 2001. Bruce's version is noticeably more toned down and the tempo is slower (maybe too slow), but it's quite infectious. The harmonica is a nice touch. It adds a laidback vibe to an eager song. So he sees a girl walking by on the streets that he likes. But she ultimately walks away. The "hey baby I want to know if you'll be my girl" line has a certain charm. Though it might seem a little too forward to say that to a stranger on the street... the fact that he doesn't get the girl is sort of what makes the song work.
0067. Connie Francis - "Don't Break The Heart That Loves You" [1 week - 1962]
This is Connie's last #1, and her career kind of takes a downward trend from here on out. Though most artists of this era do once the British Invasion happens. Anyway. As usual with Connie, the vocals are a highlight. Very deary but also very heartbreaking. Connie questions why her lover keeps treating her so badly. But she loves him too much to ever walk away, I guess. I really like the "Please don't break my heart like a child breaks a little toy" line for some reason.
Oh, teenage love. Shelley fantasizes of being with Johnny Angel. She even turns down other offers because she only has one boy on her mind. But Johnny doesn't even know she exists. The instrumental and backing vocals have a very daydream-y-like quality to them. I like how it captures the mind of a lovestruck teenage girl. I can't help but feel like she's about to have her heart broken, though. But it's that young naivety that makes this song endearing for me.
Very average as far as Elvis songs go. Kinda boring and he really goes overboard with his stereotypical "uh huh"'s and other vocal exaggerations in this one. He doesn't need a good luck charm because his significant other is already his good luck charm. And that's about it. Not a lot of substance to this one. This is actually his last #1 until 1969.
0070. The Shirelles - "Soldier Boy" [3 weeks - 1962]
Unlike their other #1, which I really love, I find this one rather blah. They just sound a bit disinterested singing it. It lacks something and feels a bit flat. I do appreciate the sentiment of it, though. Her boyfriend has gone off to war, and she promises to stay faithful to him while he's gone.
0071. Mr. Acker Bilk - "Stranger On The Shore" [1 week - 1962]
Interestingly, this is the first song by a British artist to top the Hot 100. It's another instrumental #1. It heavily features the clarinet. Which is used to express dreariness. Like moving on after the loss of something / someone special. It's a very sad tune and sounds like something from a movie. I'm actually surprised I like this as much as I do. A little bit on the boring side, though.
0072. Ray Charles - "I Can't Stop Loving You" [5 weeks - 1962]
Dull dull dull. And dear god these backing vocals are too much. The one with the operatic voice is just no. They sound especially out of place when paired up with Ray's R&B / soulful voice. This was originally a country song from 1957. So Ray meshed together multiple genres with this. As innovative as that is, it doesn't quite work for me. Lyrically, though, it's a depressing break-up song; very mature lyrics I might add. He's realized that his efforts to get over his ex are futile. So he has to learn to accept his eternal misery. But, as I said, it's too dull for me. Especially the instrumental.
0073. David Rose And His Orchestra - "The Stripper" [1 week - 1962]
Ray sandwiched between two instrumental one-weekers! This quirky jazzy attention grabbing number was made to sound like something a strip tease artist would *perform* to. And it definitely accomplishes its goal lol. Very bizarre to see this at #1 in 1962. But the fact that it stands out so much is why I rate it so high.
0074. Bobby Vinton - "Roses Are Red (My Love)" [4 weeks - 1962]
Like most music of this time period: pretty boring sounding and I don't care for the backing vocals much. It's a heartbreaking song, though. He keeps reading back the note his high school girlfriend wrote in his year book; as he finds out about her new love, her new family, etc. So often, people go their separate ways after high school. These high school romances never last, do they? However, the usage of the phrase "roses are red, violets are blue" is so cheesy.
0075. Neil Sedaka - "Breaking Up Is Hard To Do" [2 weeks - 1962]
Indeed, it is. Neil tries to convince his significant other to not break up with him because, well, "breaking up is hard to do". But you can tell his pleas are falling on deaf ears. I expected this to be a ballad based off the title and lyrics. But I was surprised to find this to be a pretty catchy uptempo number! In a ballad, he'd be desperately begging her to stay. Instead, in an uptempo, he's showing her that he's a happy-go-lucky kinda guy. And she'll be missing out on this fun. The song also has a pretty strong melody and those "Down dooby doo down down"'s instantly get stuck in my head. And it actually sounds like something from the other half of this decade. Like it's a pretty poppy sounding song. My only complaint is that the production needs a bit more oomph.
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