Tag Archives: 1967

Fixing a hole in my knowledge

Time for a confession.

Because I came to know Beatles songs first as singles on the radio and then via the red and blue greatest-hits comps from 1973, I must confess that I’m still not all that familiar with some Beatles songs in the context of their studio records. That is to say, Beatles songs as the Beatles intended for them to be heard.

I’m working on that. Today, I dropped “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” onto the turntable.

Three years ago, one of my birthday gifts was the 50th anniversary edition of “Sgt. Pepper.” It’s a two-record set. The first record is the “Sgt. Pepper” everyone knows, but with a crisp new stereo mix produced by Giles Martin, son of Beatles producer George Martin. The second record is from the “Sgt. Pepper” sessions, presenting alternate takes or instrumental versions of all the songs in order, along with studio chatter here and there. It’s a fun thing to have. Here are a couple of cuts from the “Sgt. Pepper” sessions.

“Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds (Take 1),” from Side 3. Recorded March 1, 1967.

From the liner notes: “Take seven of the instrumental backing from this session was used as the basis for various overdubs. This is the first proper run-through.” John’s lead vocal is here, but the choruses are missing. In their place, dig Paul on the Lowrey organ and George Martin on piano.

“Within You Without You (Take 1 with Indian instruments),” from Side 4. Recorded March 15, 1967. An instrumental version.

From the liner notes: “The song’s recording began with a performance by musicians from the Asian Music Circle based in London. The featured instruments are: tabla (a drum first featured on a Beatles record in “Love To You”), swaramandala (which made the harp-like glissando on “Strawberry Fields Forever”), tamboura (a stringed instrument plucked to create an atmospheric drone for “Love To You” and “Getting Better”) and a bowed instrument called a dilruba.”

Both from “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” 2-LP edition, 2017 re-release of the 1967 original.

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Filed under January 2021, Sounds

The quietest New Year’s Eve

What are we doing New Year’s Eve? Oh, not much. Just sticking close to home, staying socially distanced.

“When the bells all ring and the horns all blow
“And the couples that we know are fondly kissing
“Will I be with you or will I be among the missing?”

We’re all among this missing this year, making this classic all the more poignant as 2020 finally ends. Maybe next New Year’s Eve.

Written by Frank Loesser in 1947, “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve” has been described as the only notable jazz standard with a New Year’s Eve theme. This sophisticated tune tempers an unrequited love with some hope. We all could use some hope these days.

It’s great no matter who does it. Let’s go.

It’s the ’60s. You’re in a roadhouse, the one hard by the tracks. You hear this.

“What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve,” King Curtis, from “Soul Christmas,” 1968. (Recorded on Oct. 23, 1968, at Atlantic Studios in New York. That’s Duane Allman on guitar.)

Then you head uptown to a nightclub. You hear this …

“What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve,” the Ramsey Lewis Trio,” from “Sound of Christmas,” 1961.

… and this …

steveeydieholidayfeelinglp

“What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve,” Eydie Gorme, from “That Holiday Feeling!” Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, 1964. (Steve sits this one out.)

… and this.

“What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve,” Lou Rawls, from “Merry Christmas Ho Ho Ho,” 1967.

Four decades later, you wander into a hotel ballroom …

setzerdigcrazyxmascd

“What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve,” Brian Setzer and Julie Reiten, from “Dig That Crazy Christmas,” the Brian Setzer Orchestra, 2005.

This blog post originally appeared here in different form … 10 years ago. Man. Where does the time go?

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Filed under December 2020, Sounds

Our 3 Christmas wishes

The first wish

Christmas bells, those Christmas bells
Ringing through the land
Bringing peace to all the world
And good will to man

“Snoopy’s Christmas,” the Royal Guardsmen, from “Snoopy and His Friends,” 1967.

In 1965, Charles Schulz started drawing Snoopy as a World War I flying ace battling the Red Baron. But “it reached a point where war just didn’t seem funny,” he told biographer Rheta Grimsley Johnson. Even so, Snoopy and the Red Baron inspired this novelty Christmas song with explosions, with gunfire and with a solid message of hope that came as the Vietnam War escalated.

The second wish

Someday all our dreams will come to be
Someday in a world where men are free
Maybe not in time for you and me
But someday at Christmastime

"Someday at Christmas" LP by Stevie Wonder, 1967.

“Someday at Christmas,” Stevie Wonder, from “Someday at Christmas,” 1967.

My friend Derek reminded me of this one on Christmas Eve morning last year. Thanks, man. When Stevie sings of “men” throughout this one, songwriter Ron Miller clearly means everyone, of any age.

I have this cut on “A Motown Christmas” from 1973, a record we’ve had since we had only a few Christmas records. The others from way back when? “The New Possibility: John Fahey’s Guitar Soli Christmas Album” from 1968 — here’s some of that — and “A Festival Of Carols In Brass” by the Philadelphia Brass Ensemble from 1967.

The third wish

A very Merry Christmas
And a happy new year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

“Happy Xmas (War Is Over),” John Lennon and Yoko Ono, the Plastic Ono Band and the Harlem Community Choir, released as a single, 1971. I’d always had it on “Shaved Fish,” the 1975 compilation LP from Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band, until I found the single.

War is over, if you want it

Merry Christmas, mein friends!

Enjoy your holidays, everyone!

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Filed under Christmas music, December 2020, Sounds

Loitering in the driveway

Yesterday was one of those long days that turned into a long night.

As I pulled into the driveway 14-plus hours after I’d left for work, a cool old song came on the radio. At first I thought it was Wilson Pickett. Then I realized, no, he didn’t cover that Beatles song.

It was Otis Redding doing “Day Tripper,” from 1966. So I sat there under the garage light, tired and wanting to go into the house, but hey, it’s Otis.

Today, we had king cake and paczki at work for Fat Tuesday, so I brought some home for Janet over the noon hour. Another cool old song came on the radio.

So I sat there in the driveway in the middle of the day, listening to Nancy Sinatra doing “Drummer Man” with the great session man Hal Blaine on the drums.

Been looking for that song, but it’s not on the LP shown above, at least not the original 1967 version. They did stick it on a 1996 CD reissue as one of the three extra tracks. Guess I’ll just have to keep digging.

Sometimes, it’s just that simple. You sit in the driveway and listen to one more song.

Today, by the way, is the 13th anniversary of this blog.

I wrote the first post on AM, Then FM on this day in 2007.

More to come, including the rest of a story started here not too long ago and what I hope will be an enjoyable new series of posts.

Thanks as always for reading!

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Filed under February 2020, Sounds

The rise and fall of Stiller’s Top Ten

On Memorial Day weekend in 1965, the folks in the music department at the Stiller Co. in downtown Green Bay, Wisconsin, launched a Top 10 singles chart just as summer started.

They put it in an ad, which was published in the Green Bay Press-Gazette on Friday, May 28, 1965. The Stiller’s Top Ten singles chart appeared in the Green Bay paper every Friday evening for the next 245 weeks, give or take a week or two when it was left out for some reason.

The last Stiller’s Top Ten chart appeared 50 years ago this week, on Friday, Feb. 6, 1970. It’s on the right, opposite the first chart.

The first and last Stiller Top Ten singles charts from the Stiller Co. in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

The Stiller charts are a fascinating look into pop music tastes in a conservative Midwest town during the latter half of the ’60s.

Though the early charts say the Top Ten was based on record sales, the first Stiller Top 10 chart is exactly the same as the Top 10 chart from WDUZ radio in Green Bay for that week. That practice continued well into 1966. After that, and until the end of the run, the Stiller charts and the local radio charts are similar but not mirror images of each other.

The “By Actual Sales” notation eventually disappeared from the ads in the paper. In fact, actual sales may rarely have been a factor. I’ve been told that young women who worked at the store were influential in shaping each week’s Top Ten, picking their favorite records. For that reason alone, the Stiller charts may not be representative of what Green Bay listeners really liked.

The Stiller charts were flawed in another, more culturally significant way. Though the Supremes and the Dixie Cups show up in the first chart and Eddie Holman in the last chart, black artists were underrepresented.

That said, black artists also were underrepresented on the playlists at WDUZ radio and WBAY radio, Green Bay’s Top 40 stations. The Stiller store was tight with both stations throughout the Top Ten’s four-year-plus run, sponsoring radio shows that almost certainly hyped records the store wanted to sell.

The great value of the Stiller charts is when local and regional groups turn up with singles in the Top Ten.

The first chart has one such entry at No. 4 — “Baby Doll” by the Dupries. They were a local group featuring three Duprey sisters — Annie, Joanie and Carol — along with three guys. The band’s name was a play on their last name.

In early May 1967, “Rapid Transit” by the Robbs, a Milwaukee group, was No. 1 on the Stiller chart for two weeks.

In November 1967, just before Thanksgiving, “Stop and Listen” by the Shag, another Milwaukee group, was No. 1 on the Stiller chart for a week.

The arc of the Stiller charts sort of parallels the Beatles’ career arc. The chart debuts as the summer of 1965 begins, with Beatlemania going strong in America for at least a year. From 1965 to 1969, at least 10 Beatles singles reach No. 1 on the Stiller charts. In the last chart, the store hypes a new Beatles LP as “coming soon.” That record is “Let It Be,” the Beatles’ last LP.

As the ’60s give way to the ’70s, the Stiller’s Top Ten chart seems to be staggering to the end. Is it still relevant? The editing gets sloppy. Does anyone care?

Led Zeppelin is listed as “Leo Zepplin” and remains that way for three weeks before being corrected to “Led Zepplin.” Not getting a whole lotta love there. “Creedance Clearwater Revival” has a new LP, “Willy Poor Boy.” “Laura Nyrol” and “Rod McKuern” have new LPs, too.

In the final chart, there are four typos in artists’ names — “Vanity Fair” instead of Vanity Fare, “By Jefferson” instead of Jefferson, “Lenney Welch” instead of Lenny Welch and “The Bad Finger” instead of Badfinger — and an extra S tacked on to “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

The last Stiller’s Top Ten chart seems to be sending a farewell message. It’s right there, at No. 6 and No. 7.

Oh, well. Breaking up is hard to do.

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Filed under February 2020, Sounds