Many thanks to those "surfers" who have contacted me over the past months regarding my choice of favourite music.
Rather surprisingly, the one track that has attracted the most interest is the 1968 recording by the Sutherland Brothers’ debut group - A New Generation - "Smokey Blue’s Away".
I guess that is because very few details are actually available about the group or the song on the internet (or anywhere else, for that matter!).
And as for actually getting hold of an original recording of the song - well, that is altogether more difficult.
It has been a pleasure to re-introduce Messrs Sutherland’s first band to several correspondents.
On another matter, I still cannot accurately decipher those last few words sung by Bee Gee Robin Gibb on my no.1 choice, "Lamplight" - "If all in the world...etc".
I am convinced the many "official" lyrics sites are wrong - it’s so frustrating.
The National “Hit Parade” was highly anticipated every Friday by my friends and I, and we’d spend many hours debating the merits of the latest entries, hoping that our current tip or favourite would be shooting up the chart. The NME’s arrival on my doormat every Friday morning was the highlight of the week as far as I was concerned! What was No. 1?
My record buying years didn’t get into full swing until a very special Christmas present was delivered somewhat early in mid-November 1959. It was a Dansette Record Player! Now I could play 45’s on my very own equipment, rather than risk the highly breakable 78’s I’d bought previously on dad’s ancient old radiogram - you know the type, the one where you had to change the needle every hundred plays, as it had worn out!
It was inevitable that we produced our own weekly lists of favourite songs and once we had our own collections growing in size, then each Christmas/New Year saw us compare our “Best Of The Year” charts. This continued throughout the 60’s, but as the decade drew to a close we had all grown up and moved on. However, following my appointment as Youth Leader at the local Boys’ Club, I actually retained a great interest, along with the members, in the singles charts and pop music in general (had to be “with it” you know!). So my own Top 20’s continued, and for a number of years from 1971, a cassette tape was produced every December, with Ray Poole acting as a DJ guide to the chosen tracks. Most of those tapes have long since disappeared, but I do have the originals from 1974 to 1978.
My final chart was produced in December 1979, mainly because I did not buy many singles from 1980 onward. CD’s soon came on the scene and although the Club members still brought their records to the Club and were blasted out on the sound system most evenings, I had other things to concentrate my time on. I am a prolific creator - and hoarder - of paperwork (Local Government Officer trained, you see!) and I do have, in a faded old file, the actual lists of all those 60’s and 70’s personal Top 20’s. So, I am able to accurately reproduce them here on this website. They are as I selected and chose them back in those years - between 30 and 50 years ago. My tastes have obviously changed since then and it is doubtful that I would make the same choices today looking back at the records I bought. But, it is really great to recall my likes and dislikes actually at the time.
A very few of the featured singles don’t appear in the actual year of their release in the UK. This was when I bought the 45 in the January when it was actually released a few weeks previously, or secondly, when I created a Chart in mid-December and the 45 was released in the last week of that year.
So, we begin our look at the “Vintage Years” of my vinyl singles record buying - two decades in all, the 60’s and the 70’s - with the years from 1956 to 1959!!!! Sorry folks, but I just had to feature the very first Chart that ever I produced - in December 1959. A Top 10 actually, as I hadn’t bought many records that year. To precede that, I’d like to list 20 more records which became favourites of mine at the time.
PAT BOONE - I’ll Be Home - June 1956
LONNIE DONEGAN - Bring A Little Water Sylvie - Sept 1956
ELVIS PRESLEY - Hound Dog - Sept 1956
JOHNNIE RAY - Just Walkin’ In The Rain - Nov 1956
ANNE SHELTON - Lay Down Your Arms - Sept 1956
TEENAGERS featuring FRANKIE LYMON - Why Do Fools Fall In Love - July 1956
PAUL ANKA - Diana - Aug 1957
HARRY BELAFONTE - Mary’s Boy Child - Nov 1957
PAT BOONE - Remember You’re Mine - Sept 1957
CRICKETS - That’ll Be The Day - Nov 1957
JOHNNY DUNCAN & THE BLUEGRASS BOYS - Last Train To San Fernando - July 1957
RUSS HAMILTON - We Will Make Love May - 1957
TAB HUNTER - Young Love - Feb 1957
PERRY COMO - Catch A Falling Star - March 1958
EVERLY BROTHERS - All I Have To Do Is Dream - July 1958
FOUR PREPS - Big Man - June 1958
KINGSTON TRIO - Tom Dooley - Nov 1958
ELVIS PRESLEY - Don’t - Feb 1958
MARVIN RAINWATER - Whole Lotta Woman - Apr 1958
JIMMIE RODGERS - Oh! Oh! I’m Falling In Love Again - March 1958
One of life’s big steps is the move from Primary to Secondary school - in my case, at 11 years of age. It was late summer 1956 and although aware of the beginnings of rock’n’roll, this 11 year old was somewhat protected from the big bad world and my musical taste was limited, to say the least. Mixing with different kids at my new school - Huish’s in Taunton - I was “introduced” to the new sounds coming from across the Atlantic ocean! Mmmm....OK, but it was just Bill Haley (not really for me!) and Frankie Lymon (better - yes, much better!) and Pat Boone (above) - certainly NOT rock! As my first term passed by at Huish’s, the sound of Elvis’s “Hound Dog” took hold, as did dear old Lonnie Donegan (right). Although my parents were pleased I loved Anne Shelton’s smash hit “Lay Down Your Arms”, I incurred their wrath somewhat by raving about “scandalous” Johnnie Ray! (left) “Just Walking In The Rain” was my favourite and I bought this 78 later on in 1957. Nationally, it topped the British charts for 7 weeks late on in the year, including Christmas 1956.
Now I was heading towards my twelfth year and after making my first ever pop record purchase - “Last Train To San Fernando” - I was also on the trail of two very mature style songs (lyrically!). "Young Love" by actor Tab Hunter (above left), and more surprisingly “We Will Make Love” by Russ Hamilton (above middle). What my mother must have thought as I sang along to this track in a pre-puberty high boy-soprano, I really don’t know. For 1957 they were quite explicit lyrics!!! Listening today - it ‘s just a sweet, gentle love song! Neighbour Peter Rosewarn (a year older and wiser than me) introduced me to the fabulous Crickets (above right) sound (Buddy Holly), while “Diana” was everyone’s favourite, along with Pat Boone’s lovely “Remember You’re Mine”. But, for me, it was back to more “serious” stuff at Christmas with the release of the ever-enduring classic “Mary’s Boy Child” by Harry Belafonte (below).
Isn’t it funny how certain sounds bring back, extremely clearly in some cases, rather insignificant incidents in your past. I was now old enough to pay visits, on my own, to the local travelling fair that invaded the nearby rugby ground for a short week or two every summer. It was here, while riding (and, more often watching!) the Bumper Cars, the Big Wheel, and the other speedy, nausea-inducing round-a-bouts, that I heard the latest hits being blasted out from tinny old sound systems. A toffee-apple or candy floss together with Marvin Rainwater (below left) with his “Whole Lotta Woman”, the Four Preps (below right) wonderful “Big Man” and the Everlies’ many successes including “All I Have To Do Is Dream”. Some of this guy’s most nostalgic youthful moments. Innocent times, yes, but I did run the gauntlet of the teddy boys, who saw my expertise on the Penny Arcade machines that produced a woodbine ciggie if the metal ball-bearing popped into the correct cup, as a chance for a free smoke! Dangerously exciting youthful adventures aiding and abetting my musical education.
Then there was Audrey! She was a twenty-something who lodged in a downstairs room in a house at the top of my street. She had a record player and us 12/13 year-olds had a seat on the wall every Saturday morning outside her “bed-sit” as she played her latest purchases. That’s where I heard “Don’t” by Mr Presley for the first time. Still one of my favourite Elvis tracks to this day - Audrey loved it as much too and answered my shouted pleas to her to “please play it again” by giving it many encores! Perry Como (below left), Jimmie Rodgers (below middle) and the Kingston Trio (below right) were high up there in my list of favourite tracks back in ‘58. Audrey didn’t play them as often though, so I had to buy the 78’s instead!
Times were most definitely changing - and although the wonderful decade of the 60’s was still more than a year away, there was a distinct excitement in the air for young teenagers and their musical “education”. I was to soon become an avid record collector and my “Vintage Years” were just around the corner. I didn’t realise it at the time (we never do) but it was to become a golden era for pop music, with history-making sales and unbeatable sounds drifting across the airwaves from Radio Luxembourg amongst others. I am so pleased to have been alive - and at the best possible age - to have been a part of it all. Elvis, Buddy, the “Big O”, the Beatles - I was there, and it was just wonderful!!!
1 ADAM FAITH - What Do You Want
2 RICKY NELSON - Never Be Anyone Else But You
3 EVERLY BROTHERS - Take A Message To Mary
4 BUDDY HOLLY - It Doesn't Matter Anymore
5 GUY MITCHELL - Heartaches By The Number
6 ELVIS PRESLEY - A Fool Such As I
7 JERRY KELLER - Here Comes Summer
8 DUANE EDDY - Forty Miles Of Bad Road
9 DION & THE BELMONTS - A Teenager In Love
10 JOHNNY & THE HURRICANES - Red River Rock
The trend was, in many respects, set for the following decade by my choice of Adam Faith’s debut national success as my No. 1 for 1959. Only released in November of that year, it soon reached no.1 nationally. I’d preferred Adam as a singer to Cliff Richard throughout their many appearances on TV shows like “Six-Five Special” etc. So, I became a great fan of Mr Faith’s many singles and LP’s, awarding him the top spot in my first ever chart. However, do you notice something? He’s the only British artist in the 10. All the others are American. This was to be a recurring trend throughout my early years as a record buyer. OK, things did change a bit when the British Beat scene was born (thanks to the Beatles, of course), but it was only Adam - and Billy Fury (below right) to a lesser degree - who flew the Union Jack in my music tastes.
The melodic voices of Ricky Nelson, the Everlies and Guy Mitchell still endure today, and the inclusion of Elvis and Buddy - well, sheer talent always comes shining through. Dion’s disc just about summed up perfectly our 13/14 year-old feelings, and Jerry Keller's hit reminds me of what a great time we had every summer. Instrumental discs are featured too with Duane Eddy twanging that great bass guitar (oh, so much more gutsy than the Shads!!) and Johnny & the Hurricanes introduced us to the great new sound of an electric organ.
So, a very nostalgic list of 10 great tracks gets us under way, all topped by dear old Adam.
1 ROY ORBISON - Only The Lonely
2 ADAM FAITH - How About That
3 ADAM FAITH - Poor Me
4 DUANE EDDY - Because They're Young
5 EVERLY BROTHERS - Cathy’s Clown
6 JIMMY JONES - Good Timin'
7 ELVIS PRESLEY - The Girl Of My Best Friend
8 EMILE FORD & THE CHECKMATES - Counting Teardrops
9 EDITH PIAF - Milord
10 FRANK IFIELD - Lucky Devil
11 ELVIS PRESLEY - It's Now Or Never
12 BOB LUMAN - Let's Think About Livin'
13 JOHNNY PRESTON - Running Bear
14 BOBBY RYDELL - Wild One
15 EVERLY BROTHERS - So Sad
16 ADAM FAITH - When Johnny Comes Marching Home
17 RICKY VALANCE - Movin' Away
18 EDDIE COCHRAN - Three Steps To Heaven
19 FREDDIE CANNON - Way Down Yonder In New Orleans
20 JERRY LORDAN - Who Could Be Bluer?
The new decade - the 60’s had arrived! We didn’t really know what a wonderful period in our lives it would turn out to be, musically. And as the years rolled by, we just accepted, as young people do, each new sound, each ground-breaking act without realising how history would treat those great years. To be a teenager, actually growing up in the 60’s, was great at the time. Now, it’s seen as magical and world-changing.
1960 though, as was 1961 and 1962, pre-Beatles. The pop world had yet to be forever changed by the Liverpool 4, so we had to make do with the developing rock and roll scene - which saw Elvis, Cliff, Adam selling millions of discs here in the UK. Then, a great star - a man with probably the greatest pop-voice of all - finally made a hit record. Roy Orbison (left) had finally made his mark. His earlier releases on Sun Records hadn’t scored here in the UK - in fact I’d never heard of him! “Only The Lonely” did it. We had our first glimpse of the “Big O” and he wasn’t the atypical pop idol. No mean, youthful curl of lips, no flopping hair, no sensual movements.
Just an ordinary guy with a beautiful voice. The record kept two of Adam’s big hits off my no. 1 spot. The other usual suspects made the chart, but there’s a female solo star there too! Not a Brit or a Yank though! A French superstar of great proportions (success and voice-wise, not in stature as she was a tiny lady). My love of all things French was already manifesting itself! Edith Piaf (right) was there with “Milord”. C’est Magnifique, Madame Piaf.
Entries too for Aussie star Frank Ifield (pre “I Remember You”), Welsh lad Ricky Valance who had a banned national no.1 with “Tell Laura I Love Her” previously, an Adam Faith-style hit for Jerry Lordan and a lovely little song from Emile Ford. American stars making their only appearances were Jimmy Jones, Bob Luman, Bobby Rydell, Eddie Cochran and Freddie Cannon.
Quite a mixture, then, of styles and artists making up the first chart of the 60’s.
1 ADAM FAITH - The Time Has Come
2 ELVIS PRESLEY - Wooden Heart
3 ROY ORBISON - Running Scared
4 BILLY FURY - Halfway To Paradise
5 DEL SHANNON - Runaway
6 EVERLY BROTHERS - Walk Right Back
7 ADAM FAITH - Who Am I?
8 GENE PITNEY - Love My Life Away
9 ADAM FAITH - Easy Going Me
10 ROY ORBISON - Crying
11 BILLY FURY - I'd Never Find Another You
12 STRING-A-LONGS - Wheels
13 BOBBY Vee - How Many Tears
14 NEIL SEDAKA - Happy Birthday, Sweet Sixteen
15 WAIKIKIS - Hawaii Tattoo
16 LEE DIAMOND & THE CHEROKEES - I'll Step Down
17 KOKOMO, HIS PIANO & ORCHESTRA - Asia Minor
18 DON GIBSON - Sea Of Heartbreak
19 BOBBY VEE - More Than I Can Say
20 DUANE EDDY - Pepe
Adam was back at the top of the pile again in 1961. In addition, he had 3 entries in the top 9 - the most successful year for any artist in the entire 21 years. He was holding back that tide of Stateside performers too, with Elvis and Roy Orbison both pushing very hard to claim the top spot. The Everlies (left) continued on their winning way with the superb “Walk Right Back”.
Debuts too for three wonderfully successful American stars - Bobby Vee, Del Shannon and more significantly, Gene Pitney (with “Love My Life Away”) who was shortly to assume the mantle of my “Chart Champion”.
Instrumental hits continued with the String-a-longs, Waikikis (a Belgian group which specialised in Hawaiian style music!), Kokomo (rocking up a classical piece composed by Greig) and the ever-popular Duane Eddy (right).
An obscure British act, Lee Diamond & the Cherokees, crept into the 20 with a quite modern group sound on “I’ll Step Down”.
I am, however, able to enlarge a little on this "obscure" recording, thanks to my being contacted by the group's guitarist at the time, Ron Bowdery.
Home Counties boys, The Cherokees were Lee Diamond, Ron Bowdery, Pete Hoskins, Paul Brice and Norman Evans. Playing previously, in the main, as the Offbeats, backing singer Ricky Wayne, in 1960 Ricky and the lads were recorded by the legendary Joe Meek. Lee & the Cherokees recorded "I'll Step Down" in six takes on the very day Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was blasted into space - the first human being to do so! The song was penned by the highly successful American song-writers Sid Pepper and Roy C. Bennett, who have composed hits for Elvis Presley and Cliff Richard (including both "Travellin' Light" and "The Young Ones"), as well as earlier classics such as "Red Roses For A Blue Lady" and "The Naughty Lady of Shady Lane"!!
"I'll Step Down" was also recorded by the moderately successful star Garry Mills, and it was he who had the small hit with a "country" style version of the song. Lee Diamond & the Cherokees' "Buddy Holly-style" recording sold well, but not well enough to register in the charts, more's the pity. This was the only single released by the group with Lee, who then went on to have one further disc issued by Fontana Records, "Stop Your Cryin'", backed by the Harry Robinson Orchestra. This wasn't a hit either. The Cherokees (NOT the group who charted briefly in 1964 with "Seven Daffodils" by the way), having split with Lee then actually backed, believe it or not, the aforementioned Garry Mills for a short time at various gigs. Remarkable!! They finally disbanded later in the 60's.
Thank you so much, Ron, for all the info. you provided and the photos - I really enjoyed reading your fascinating story. Good luck with that proposed website of yours - the story will make great reading, you know!! I'll be the first to log-on and contribute, I promise.
Lee Diamond & the Cherokees
(photo provided by Ron Bowdery)
Ron Bowdery - 21st Century style
The wonderful Billy Fury made his long-deserved breakthrough following his major National smash hit “Halfway To Paradise”. Billy was a great singer and produced some of the finest British rock and roll in the late 50’s. However, it was a big string-backed ballad that finally shot him to total stardom.
1 GENE PITNEY - If I Didn't Have A Dime
2 ELVIS PRESLEY - Can't Help Falling In Love
3 BRUCE CHANNEL - Hey! Baby
4 TORNADOS - Telstar
5 LEROY VAN DYKE - Walk On By
6 CHRIS MONTEZ - Let's Dance
7 EVERLY BROTHERS - Crying In The Rain
8 ADAM FAITH - Don't That Beat All
9 NEIL SEDAKA - King Of Clowns
10 GENE McDANIELS - Chip Chip
11 BUDDY KNOX - She's Gone
12 ADAM FAITH - As You Like It
13 BILLY FURY - Last Night Was Made For Love
14 ROUTERS - Let's Go
15 DEL SHANNON - The Swiss Maid
16 JOHN D. LOUDERMILK - Language Of Love
17 TOMMY ROE - Susie Darlin'
18 BEN E. KING - The Hermit Of Misty Mountain
19 BOBBY DARIN - Things
20 PAUL ANKA - Everynight
Adam Faith remained supreme as the top British male solo singer, but American dominance was almost total in 1962. Gene Pitney was still to make his big breakthrough nationally, but the delicate and clever “Dime” was to pip Elvis’s wonderful ballad “Can’t Help Falling In Love” to my own no. 1 spot. I was trying like mad to promote Mr Pitney among all my friends (with only limited success!).
1962 was a very strong year with some absolutely fantastic pop records released. It was the year that the Beatles made their debut on Parlophone with “Love Me Do” - but it failed to reach my chart - only just though. Debuts for Bruce Channel (below right), Leroy Van Dyke, Chris Montez, Gene McDaniels, Buddy Knox, John D. Loudermilk, Tommy Roe, Ben E. King and Bobby Darin added to U.S. male solo singers’ successes.
“Telstar” and “Let’s Go” kept the instrumentalist’s flag flying - the latter a play on a well-known football supporters chant. I suspect it was used first in the States sporting arenas before being taken up over here in the UK. The Everly Brothers’ run of success continued with the lovely “Crying In The Rain”.
What a year!
1 GENE PITNEY - Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa
2 ADAM FAITH - The First Time
3 LEE STIRLING - My Heart Commands Me
4 JAMES GILREATH - Little Band Of Gold
5 BILLY FURY - When Will You Say I Love You
6 ROY ORBISON - In Dreams
7 FREDDIE & THE DREAMERS - I'm Telling You Now
8 BEATLES - Please Please Me
9 TORNADOS - Robot
10 GENE PITNEY - Half Heaven, Half Heartache
11 JOE BROWN - That's What Love Will Do
12 BEATLES - She Loves You
13 ROY ORBISON - Blue Bayou
14 PETER, PAUL & MARY - Don't Think Twice, It's Alright
15 JAMES GILREATH - Lollipops, Lace and Lipstick
16 CLAUD KING - Wolverton Mountain
17 BUDDY KNOX - Open
18 DEL SHANNON - Little Town Flirt
19 JIMMY SOUL - If You Want To Be Happy
20 MIKE BERRY - Don't You Think It's Time
I bought more 45’s in 1963 than in any other year in these “Vintage Years”. Well, I was a working lad now, having left school in the summer of the previous year. Nationally, the British, led by the Beatles, were beginning to make their mark and they are featured twice in my Top 20 for 1963, together with Manchester-based favourites Freddie & the Dreamers.
However, it’s Gene’s first major Top 10 hit internationally, “Tulsa”, that achieves the no. 1 spot here, easily holding off Adam’s new-style song “The First Time”. Good to see other British stars, Joe Brown and Mike Berry feature too. There’s a first entry as well for a really great British solo singer who didn’t ever really achieve the success he deserved. He’s unique too in that he appears three times in my lists under three different names! In 1963, he’s Lee Stirling (right). In 1966 he re-appears as Peter Lee Stirling and then in 1972 he emerges as Daniel Boone, when he did have national chart success.
Country and Western performer James Gilreath has two interesting entries - both very similar in style and delivery and there’s another C&W success in “Wolverton Mountain” for Claud King. Folk music is represented by the superb US trio Peter, Paul & Mary (left). Friends and I were to travel to Bristol on 30th September 1965 to see them in concert at the Colston Hall and at a time when Package Tours featuring 6 or more acts were all the rage, Peter, Paul & Mary did the 2 hours-plus on their own. Fantastic talent and personality.
1 ROY ORBISON - It's Over
2 GENE PITNEY - I'm Gonna Be Strong
3 FOUR PENNIES - Juliet
4 DRIFTERS - Under The Boardwalk
5 CHUCK BERRY - You Never Can Tell
6 GENE PITNEY - It Hurts To Be In Love
7 EVERLY BROTHERS - The Ferris Wheel
8 BRIAN POOLE & THE TREMELOES - Someone, Someone
9 KINGSMEN - Louie, Louie
10 ADAM FAITH - A Message To Martha
11 RIVIERAS - California Sun
12 ADAM FAITH - If He Tells You
13 DRIFTERS - Saturday Night At The Movies
14 DEAN & JEAN - Tra La La La Susie
15 RICHARD ANTHONY - If I Loved You
16 SEARCHERS - What Have They Done To The Rain
17 PETER & GORDON - A World Without Love
18 GENE PITNEY - That Girl Belongs To Yesterday
19 BEATLES - Can't Buy Me Love
20 JOAN BAEZ - We Shall Overcome
1964 - now the Beatle-led “British Invasion” of world pop music was taking a vice-like grip. But not in Ray Poole’s chart! That wonderfully “unhip” guy from Texas, the “Big O” was bucking the trend. Actually, he was also doing something very similar internationally and in the spring of this historically brilliant musical year, Roy Orbison hit no. 1 in the British charts. He toured with the Beatles - and there was great mutual admiration between them. Roy’s beautiful “It’s Over” is my chart topper too.
Mr Pitney’s success is confirmed with two more tracks in the top 10 and Adam Faith made it six years in a row in the list. British groups also begin to show, if only modestly. Lionel Morton’s Four Pennies (above left) are highest placed at 3 with the ballad “Juliet” (not many songs use the word “reminiscent” in their lyrics - lovely word that!!) with Brian Poole & the Tremeloes. Searchers and Peter & Gordon also featuring.
I was soon to become a massive soul/r&b music fan and the first true Atlantic label entry features the incredible Drifters (below) in 1964. Just how many Drifters recordings were covered by other much lesser talented British artists to deny this wonderful group numerous hit records here? Other Stateside successes in ‘64 - Chuck Berry, Kingsmen, Rivieras, Dean & Jean and Joan Baez. French star Richard Anthony is also featured in what proved to be a very satisfying twelve months.
1 SEEKERS - The Carnival Is Over
2 DRIFTERS - Come On Over To My Place
3 MANFRED MANN - Come Tomorrow
4 MURRAY HEAD - The Bells Of Rhymney
5 JOAN BAEZ - There But For Fortune
6 GENE PITNEY - I Must Be Seeing Things
7 HOLLIES - I'm Alive
8 BILLY JOE ROYAL - Down In The Boondocks
9 FORTUNES - Here It Comes Again
10 ANIMALS - We've Gotta Get Out Of This Place
11 PETER, PAUL & MARY - Early Morning Rain
12 GENE PITNEY - Princess In Rags
13 BOBBY DARIN - We Didn't Have To Be Brought Here
14 DRIFTERS - At The Club
15 ROY ORBISON - Crawling Back
16 ROCKIN' BERRIES - Poor Man’s Son
17 GENE PITNEY - Looking Through The Eyes Of Love
18 DONOVAN - Catch The Wind
19 BEAU BRUMMELS - Just A Little
20 SIR DOUGLAS QUINTET - She's About A Mover
No Adam? 3 more Pitney entries and two massive Drifters hits in 1965. British stars ruled the world, but no Beatles here? Manfred Mann, the Hollies, Fortunes, Animals and the Rockin’ Berries are the successful groups in my chart. Donovan debuts with the Dylan influenced “Catch The Wind” and Murray Head (left) - a future West-End Musical star in “Chess” - remarkably achieves the no. 4 slot with an old Welsh folk song “Bells of Rhymney”. I always loved that song and Murray gave a splendidly powerful performance. Wasn’t a national success though, more’s the pity.
American successes include Sir Douglas Quintet (a Texas group that, later in the 1970's, took on board two members of super-group Creedence Clearwater Revival, Stu Cook & Doug Clifford when the Fogerty Brothers "went solo"), Beau Brummels, Bobby Darin, Billy Joe Royal (with a Pitney-esque rendering of “Down In The Boondocks), Joan Baez and Peter Paul & Mary.
All this lot were topped though by a slightly less hip recording by an Australian folk-style group, fronted by a young woman with a clear, sweet voice! The Seekers (below) had been registering successes for quite a while, and it was no surprise when the wistful, emotional, “The Carnival Is Over” shot to national no. 1 in the late Autumn of 1965. It was my choice at that time as my favourite 45 of the year. Judith Durham has always remained one of my favourite female artists and it was a sheer delight to finally see her live, in concert in the mid-1990’s at the now sadly demolished Paignton Festival Hall. A lovely person in every respect.
1 GENE PITNEY - Backstage
2 GENE PITNEY - Just One Smile
3 MANFRED MANN - Pretty Flamingo
4 BOBBY GOLDSBORO - Broomstick Cowboy
5 PETER LEE STIRLING - The Sweet and Tender Hold Of Your Love
6 DRIFTERS - Memories Are Made Of This
7 ROY ORBISON - There Won't Be Many Comin' Home
8 ADAM FAITH - Cheryl's Goin' Home
9 DAVID & JOHNATHAN - Lovers Of The World Unite
10 LOU CHRISTIE - Lightining Strikes
11 LOVIN' SPOONFUL - Daydream
12 BEATLES - Eleanor Rigby
13 BEACH BOYS - Good Vibrations
14 LOVIN' SPOONFUL - Summer In The City
15 OTIS REDDING - I Can't Turn You Loose
16 IKE & TINA TURNER - River Deep, Mountain High
17 MITCH RYDER & THE DETROIT WHEELS - Jenny Take A Ride
18 GENE PITNEY - Nobody Needs Your Love
19 TOMMY McLAIN - Sweet Dreams
20 SONNY & CHER - Little Man
The only occasion when my top 2 records of the year were performed by the same artist occurred in 1966. Gene Pitney (right) was now a genuine superstar, internationally, and the many years that I had been trumpeting the man’s talent among my friends, relations and work colleagues finally endorsed my credibility somewhat. The man’s powerful vocal delivery, the classy material he always produced, the charismatic personality. This was to be his greatest year.
Adam was back, making his final ever appearance in one of my yearly charts at no. 8 with the country-style “Cheryl’s Goin’ Home” and Lee Stirling (now “Peter”) had great success with a strong, tuneful performance. Manfred Mann's (below left) excellent “Pretty Flamingo” charted at 3 and there were British successes for David & Johnathan and the Beatles. But it was very much American success once again, as 15 of the 20 songs were recorded across the pond. Some one-hit wonders among those 15 though. Bobby Goldsboro’s excellent protest song, Lou Christie’s falsetto acrobatics, the early Tina Turner classic with Ike, rock-revival-style Mitch Ryder, balladeer Tommy McLain and superstar Cher with Sonny Bono all make their only appearances in my lists.
John Sebastian - a fantastic song-writer, story teller and all-round good bloke - was the lead vocalist in the great group Lovin’ Spoonful, and they notched up 4 great successful entries in ‘66 an ‘67. A mention too for Otis Redding - a soul singer supreme who did so much to point me in the Stax/Volt label direction (Atlantic label here at that time) which was to dominate my favourite tracks over the following months and year.
Classic national favourites the Beach Boys stake a claim too with Brian Wilson’s unforgettable “Good Vibrations”, and another protest song is featured - Roy Orbison’s “There Won’t Be Many Comin’ Home”. Finally the Drifters, normally associated with having their songs nicked by others, revive a classic themselves. Turning the tables with an old Dean Martin favourite and producing a very palatable version of “Memories Are Made Of This”. 1966 - American Music Rules!!
1 PROCOL HARUM - A Whiter Shade Of Pale
2 DAVE CLARK 5 - Everybody Knows
3 BEE GEES - Massachusetts
4 SAM & DAVE - Soul Man
5 GLADYS KNIGHT & THE PIPS - Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me
6 DRIFTERS - Baby What I Mean
7 ARTHUR CONLEY - Sweet Soul Music
8 MARVELETTES - When You're Young And In Love
9 LOVIN' SPOONFUL - Nashville Cats
10 BEN E. KING - What Is Soul?
11 EDDIE FLOYD - Knock On Wood
12 DAVE DAVIES - Death Of A Clown
13 ROY ORBISON - She
14 OTIS REDDING - Try A Little Tenderness
15 TURTLES - She'd Rather Be With Me
16 BEATLES - Penny Lane
17 BEE GEES - World
18 GENE PITNEY - Something's Gotten Hold Of My Heart
19 SAM & DAVE - You Don't Know Like I Know
20 LOVIN' SPOONFUL - Rain On The Roof
Oh boy! Another USA dominated year was 1967, except surprisingly for the top 3. It was also the year when soul music got me boppin’! I had joined the Official Atlantic Label Appreciation Society entitled “Uptightanoutasight”!! Those wonderful earthy, raw, black sounds from the likes of Otis, Sam & Dave, Arthur Conley, Ben E. King, Eddie Floyd and the Drifters. Wonderful stuff, all registering strongly here. Then there was the ever-so-slightly more commercial Motown tracks from Gladys Knight & the Pips and the Marvelettes. Great tunes, lyrics and vocals to inspire the listener.
In addition, U.S. stars Orbison, Pitney, Turtles & Lovin’ Spoonful (left) maintain their countries’ dominance. But there are creditable British appearances from Dave Davies (a solo offering from the Kinks lead singer’ Ray Davies’ brother, Dave) and, of course, those Beatles (with “Penny Lane”). Oh yes - and honorary Brits, the Bee Gees!
Born in the UK, youthful stars in Australia after emigrating there, then returning “home” to start their long, successful careers - the Gibb brothers make two appearances in this 20. “Massachusetts” was a world-wide success, reaching no. 3 here. More about them later. The success of the Dave Clark 5 nationally since 1963 - 13 chart hits alone in the U.K. - hadn’t been reflected in my charts at all until they changed style and released “Everybody Knows” in November 1967. It peaks at no. 2 here - the same position as it did in the British charts. A lovely little song with an easily-remembered tune - and a simple orchestral backing, highlighted by a plaintive cello in the final verse. Beautiful.
Of course, the number one in 1967 has to be one of the decade’s most original recordings. A debut disc by an excellent set of musicians led by vocalist Gary Brooker, who also was responsible for that unforgettable organ working in Bach-like style. The Summer Of 1967 belonged to Procol Harum (below). At number one in the U.K. charts for 6 weeks from early June, it really signalled a change in the pop music scene towards a more colourful, complicated, “psychedelic”, style. I recall that my “summer of 67” was totally dominated by “A Whiter Shade Of Pale”. It effortlessly tops the lot in my Chart that year too. I “skipped the light fandango” and “turned cartwheels across the floor” in 1967!!
1 KINKS - Days
2 A NEW GENERATION - Smokey Blue's Away
3 IDLE RACE - The Skeleton And The Roundabout
4 AMORY KANE - Reflections Of Your Face
5 MARY HOPKIN - Those Were The Days
6 ROGER JAMES COOKE - Skyline Pigeon
7 BRUCE CHANNEL - Keep On
8 GENE PITNEY - Somewhere In The Country
9 OTIS REDDING - Dock Of The Bay
10 DORIS TROY - I'll Do Anything
11 BEE GEES - Words
12 BEATLES - Hey Jude
13 ROYALETTES - Something Wonderful
14 TURTLES - Elenore
15 MARTY WILDE - Abergavenny
16 PETR and PAVEL - Laska
17 ROY ORBISON - Walk On
18 MANFRED MANN - Mighty Quinn
19 HOLLIES - Jennifer Eccles
20 MOVE - Fire Brigade
A strange thing happened in 1968.    The American domination of my record collecting was reversed, and the UK achieved 12 of the 20 places up for grabs.    There was also a place for a duo from Czechoslovakia singing a protest song following the Russian invasion of their country.    “Laska” was released in November 1968 on the Page One label (POF112) by Petr and Pavel, with "Wenceslas Square" as the "B-side".    Both songs were composed by Ken Howard & Alan Blaikley who were prolific song-writers in the 60's and 70's, providing many hits for the likes of the Tremeloes, Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Titch, Honeycombes, Herd, Bay City Rollers, Petula Clark & Engelbert Humperdinck.    Page One records was the "baby" of Larry Page & Dick James - the latter eventually creating the DJM Label which featured the early Elton John recordings.    Larry Page was once upon a time the manager of the Kinks & the Troggs.    "Laska" is very "Eastern European" in style and content, with a spoken-word "segue" in the Czech language.    I don't think any other record was released by the duo - single or album, and "Laska" was not a hit here in the UK.    But it was a good song - good enough for an entry at no. 16 here anyhow!    Peter has kindly provided me with a translation of the spoken part.    "My dear friend, we must learn to live in the New World - memories are good and bad - and look forward to peace and love".    So now I finally know - thank you to the "British Bohemian from Sudetenland".
All the “big” names make welcome appearances however - including Gene Pitney, the so very sadly deceased - and much missed - Otis Redding (left), Bee Gees, Beatles. Roy Orbison and Manfred Mann plus return visits for the Hollies and Bruce Channel. There is a significant debut too for a man who was soon to make a real impact on my tastes - the guy? The mercurial, wonderful, highly talented Roy Wood. He was a member of the Move who scraped in at no. 20 with “Fire Brigade”. And what on earth is Marty Wilde doing in here singing a strange song about taking a trip to a Welsh town? One time successes are recorded by Doris Troy and the Royalettes.
But the top 6? Now there’s a real change here in the type of records I was buying. Roger James Cooke for instance. He’s the Roger Cook of songwriters Greenaway/Cook fame - the Roger Cook of Blue Mink (with Maddie Bell). The song, “Skyline Pigeon” released as a solo single by him in 1968. It was later recorded and released as the flip-side of “Daniel” by Elton John - a hit in 1973. Mr Cook got there first - and it’s a vastly superior recording. Gene Pitney also recorded the song. Mary Hopkin is deservedly at no. 5 with a British singer Amory Kane at 4th with a strong, but unsuccessful ballad “Reflections Of Your Face” - a song with the rather unique line “with flour on her hands and face” - honest!!!
Top 3? The Idle Race, soon to be the Move, sing about a guy who is employed at a fairground turning the handle of a roundabout, but becomes so thin that he has to take a job as a skeleton on the Ghost Train instead. Honest!!! “Smokey Blue’s Away” we all know about - Dvorak/Black American/Scottish Spiritual melody with words added by Iain Sutherland about a freedom-loving pet dog. A New Generation (photo below) comprised of Iain & Gavin Sutherland, Chris Kemp, John Wright and until shortly after the release of "Smokey", Peter MacLennan. Gavin & John shortly progressed to the 1970's/1980's band, Demon. And number one? The only Kinks (right) record to grace my lists - and it’s the simply wonderful Ray Davies song, “Days”. There is something so moving and sad about the lyrics and the simple tune. A perfect pop record, fully deserving of its place here. It was later beautifully recorded by the much-missed Kirsty McColl.
So, there’s 1968 - I really am stumped as to why my record-buying preferences shifted in such an unusual direction, but it’s great to recall these, in some cases, very obscure releases and I wonder if many of you recall them - or even bought some (surely I wasn’t the only guy to part with my pounds, shillings and pence in those days buying them!!).
A New Generation
1 BEE GEES - Lamplight
2 ELVIS PRESLEY - In The Ghetto
3 CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL - Bad Moon Rising
4 ROBIN GIBB - Saved By The Bell
5 FORTUNES - Seasons In The Sun
6 MARY HOPKIN - Goodbye
7 CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL - Proud Mary
8 ROY ORBISON - Penny Arcade
9 J. VINCENT EDWARD - Run To The Sun
10 JACKIE DE SHANNON - Put A Little Love In Your Heart
11 LOU CHRISTIE - I'm Gonna Make You Mine
12 FRIDA BOCCARA - Through The Eyes Of A Child
13 BEE GEES - First Of May
14 ROBIN GIBB - One Million Years
15 PROCOL HARUM - A Salty Dog
16 GENE PITNEY - Maria Elena
17 BEE GEES - Don't Forget To Remember
18 CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL - Green River
19 TIM HARDIN - Simple Song Of Freedom
20 SHY LIMBS - Reputation
A rare vintage in my “Vintage Years” was 1969!! 3 great tracks from the Bee Gees, 2 solo efforts from the “estranged” Robin Gibb, a triple bill of classic debut performances from Creedence Clearwater Revival plus the return of old favourites Pitney, Orbison and Presley. Add a lovely French entry in that year’s Eurovision Song Contest and a really lovely English version of another French classic written by Jacques Brel and one can see why I consider 1969 to be the strongest year of all of my “Vintage Years”. What a wonderful selection of songs - a heady mix of styles, arrangements, lyrics and melodies. As far as I’m concerned, 1969 is a totally unforgettable twelve months.
Lower in the list is a great single, “Reputation”, from the Shy Limbs. They were Greg Lake’s debut band and his vocals are unmistakeable (did you know that!). Tim Hardin sneaks into the 20 with a strong protest song, “Simple Song Of Freedom”. Really top quality singers Lou Christie, Jackie De Shannon and J. Vincent Edward all make their considerable presence felt and Mary Hopkin (right) confirms her status as a great favourite of mine with the pretty little release, “Goodbye”. And also deserving a mention is a quality performance from Procol Harum. “A Salty Dog” wasn’t a great national success, but certainly rivalled their earlier efforts.
“Lamplight” (as I’m sure you know!) is my favourite pop-song of all time - not just ‘69! It “moved” me then and it still does today. What a single - it was the “B” side of “First Of May”, and that also features in the 20 at no. 13. One of only two double-sided “hits” in the 24 years featured here. Robin Gibb, the lead vocalist on “Lamplight”, attains 4th spot with his debut single “Saved By The Bell” (first heard by me as I was wandering on St Ives beach in Cornwall that summer - one of “those” moments again!) and again with a follow-up “One Million Years”. The, for a short while, “Robin-less” Bee Gees (below left) continued to be a great success though, as “Don’t Forget To Remember” is there at no.17 too.
The Eurovision Song Contest? That year, Frida Boccara, a “Piaf-style” performer, had considerable success with the lovely “Un Jour, Un Enfant”. It was joint-winner with 3 other songs including Lulu's "Boom Bang A Bang"! It was released in the UK as “Through The Eyes Of A Child”. Lovely stuff! And, “Le Moribund” a French hit for Jacques Brel also made my list - as the English version by the talented British group The Fortunes’ minor success “Seasons In The Sun”.
Any other year would surely have seen the moving, social-comment track from Elvis, “In The Ghetto”, achieve the top spot. One of the “King’s” most poignant releases, for me it was the last really great track from the legend. And onto the scene came a band playing some great American music from the south.
The Fogerty brothers, Stu Cook and Doug Clifford twanged their way into the national charts of the USA & the UK - and I was just blown away! Always preferring the American sound to the British beat boom, here was the ultimate American band as far as I was concerned - Creedence Clearwater Revival were about to make a short but glorious appearance on the music scene. “Proud Mary” started it off and it was a big hit at the Boys’ Club where I was leader, and our soccer team - Rowlyng FC - used it as their song - well, the words did go something like, “Rolling, rolling on the river“!!! “Green River” was the third hit for the group, who that year, also beat the Beatles in the NME Readers National Poll for Top World Group - GLORY BE!!! Sandwiched in between these two big hits is “Bad Moon Rising” - the group's highest entry here in 1969 at no. 3. Still love John Fogerty’s stuff today!
What a year - and believe it or not, checking back on the singles I bought in ‘69, there are simply dozens more great chart hits that didn’t make my Top 20. A fitting end to the most enigmatic of all the decades of the 20th century - the unbeatable 60's!
1 SIMON & GARFUNKEL - Bridge Over Troubled Water
2 CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL - Down On The Corner
3 ROY ORBISON - So Young
4 ROBIN GIBB - August October
5 ROGER WHITTAKER - I Don't Believe In If Anymore
6 MARY HOPKIN - Think About Your Children
7 EVERLY BROTHERS - Yves
8 RICHARD BARNES - Go North
9 NORMAN GREENBAUM - Spirit In The Sky
10 JOAN BAEZ - Joe Hill
11 WILLIAM TRUCKAWAY - Bluegreens On The Wing
12 ROD McKUEN - Soldiers Who Want To Be Heroes
13 BEATLES - Let It Be
14 CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL - Travelin' Band
15 MARY HOPKIN - Temma Harbour
16 MUNGO JERRY - In The Summertime
17 PETER, PAUL & MARY - Leaving On A Jet Plane
18 ELTON JOHN - Border Song
19 HOLLIES - Gasoline Alley Bred
20 PETER E. BENNETT - The Seagull's Name Was Nelson
The 60’s are now finally left behind and a new decade is heralded in with a classic. Sat at the breakfast table one dark winter’s morning in early 1970, radio tuned to Tony Blackburn on Radio 1, I heard the dear old chap (OK, not “dear”, but definitely “old”!) play a new release. After it’s completion, Mr. B. trumpeted that he didn’t think it would be a hit - as it was “too long”. Hmmmm... wrong again, Tone! That was my first hearing of Simon & Garfunkel’s supreme “Bridge Over Troubled Water”. Many people’s choice as the best pop music record ever released, it easily finished as my no. 1 choice come the end of the year. The beautifully pure, soaring vocals, the emotional and uplifting lyrics. It was a triumph for the American duo - their ultimate achievement. Without any doubt, an historical pop record and Simon & Garfunkel (below left) are true music legends.
After the remarkable quality of 1969 I doubted whether the following year would be as memorable. But in many ways, it almost was. As well as continued success for Creedence Clearwater Revival (right) - “Down On The Corner” introducing us all to the delectable “Willie & The Poorboys” album, some long-established favourites returned with their best releases for years. Roy Orbison hit the top 3 again after a six-year gap with a superb ballad, “So Young” - the track used in the acclaimed “underground” film “Zabriske Point”. The Everly Brothers were at 7 with their classic “Yves”, Joan Baez’s “Joe Hill” reached a high position - a protest song with a difference and the Hollies, Peter Paul & Mary, the Beatles and Mary Hopkin (twice) also made it a great year for the “old favourites”.
But there were some new faces too. Included down there in 17th spot was the very first single released by someone who in the ensuing three decades would achieve pop immortality. Yes, Elton John. I am really pleased that I actually bought Elton’s first 45, “Border Song” at the time of its release. Certainly never a “in” figure in modern music, Roger Whittaker released some outstanding records over the years and the first of a number of entries in my charts appears in 1970 - “I Don’t Believe In If Any More”. The good-time British group Mungo Jerry also make an appearance with the great summer hit of the year, appropriately titled “In The Summertime”!
It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t include a few unknown, nationally relatively unsuccessful, recordings! In 1970 I championed the cause of one Peter E. Bennett who performed a little number entitled “The Seagull's Name Was Nelson”, as I also did with a great ballad from Richard Barnes called “Go North” and Rod McKuen’s “Soldiers Who Want To Be Heroes”. And what about a William Truckaway? I did acknowledge the success of William Greenbaum though!!!
1 WHITE PLAINS - When You Are A King
2 ROD STEWART - Maggie May
3 JOAN BAEZ - The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down
4 ROGER WHITTAKER - Why
5 GORDON LIGHTFOOT - Me And Bobby McGee
6 SAMMI SMITH - Help Me Make It Through The Night
7 MICHAEL NESMITH & THE FIRST NATIONAL BAND - Silver Moon
8 MOVE - Tonight
9 CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL - Have You Ever Seen The Rain
10 T-REX - Hot Love
11 FACES - Stay With Me
12 HOT CHOCOLATE - I Believe (In Love)
13 ELTON JOHN - Your Song
14 FORTUNES - Freedom Come, Freedom Go
15 GENE PITNEY - Stand By The One Who Loves Me
16 SCOTT ENGLISH - Brandy
17 CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL - Sweet Hitch-hiker
18 JOSE FELICIANO - Destiny
19 DANYEL GERARD - Butterfly
20 CHRIS NEAL - Blame It All On Eve
One-off entries for Chris Neal, Danyel Gerard and Scott English (with the original version of “Mandy” - the 1975 hit for Barry Manilow, actually titled “Brandy“). 1971 also saw my top 20 acknowledge the national successes of Hot Chocolate, T-Rex and the Fortunes. It was the year Creedence had their two final hits and Monkees’ star Michael Nesmith recorded his solo hit “Silver Moon”. That’s a great song. Sadly, Sammi Smith, who recorded the original version of “Help Me Make It Through The Night” and achieved the very high placing of no. 6 here, died in early 2005. She never had a hit record in the UK but was an excellent performer. I’d also like to mention Jose Feliciano, a very talented guy whose “Destiny” was to appear here at 18th.
However, 1971 sees the debut appearances of two real BRITISH superstars! One who has gone on to earth-shattering success and a change of style and the other who has remained totally true to his roots and is a national treasure! Rod Stewart was magical in those rough and ready early days both as a solo artist and as the lead vocalist with the wonderful Faces. “Maggie May” was his first hit - and for me, his greatest track. It is so raw and, above all, original. Rod was at his best in the early 70’s and on “Stay With Me” - the Faces classic hit - we can get the true sense of the man and his unique style. I was lucky enough to see the group live on stage in Taunton during this period and it was an unforgettable night. Rod and the guys were British through and through.
Who’s the national treasure then? In 71, the Move were at the height of their popularity with great songs like “Tonight”. There, singing away in that unique nasal style, was a guy with a shock of fuzzy black hair. Soon, that hair was multicoloured and the unmistakeable face painted in many colours too. This was his own band. At the same time though, a parallel solo career developed! In 2005 the now 60+ year old has a new band, slightly less fuzzy hair, but is still rocking away deliciously well in that completely unique way. A British pop legend - dear Roy Wood. We have to wait a couple of years though before the man is seen to dominate my Top 20’s.
In the meantime, let’s pay tribute to some great ‘71 releases. I was on a Youth Club summer camping trip to France and Spain when on the radio - in Andorra of all places - I heard a great track. It was available at a local record store (asking for it in Spanish proved very tricky) and it was now in my collection. Canadian Gordon Lightfoot’s top quality rendition of “Me And Bobby McGee” - a double sided hit in Europe along with “If You Could Read My Mind”. A fabulous record. Joan Baez finally hit the national charts big time with “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” and big-voiced Roger Whittaker (above right) recorded a song submitted to him by a fan - “Why” - and produced a classic.
But Number One in 1971 was a simply gorgeous little love-song from a British harmony group who have had just a few national successes over the years. Not the usual style of love-song though, because “When You Are A King” is sung by a proud father to his young son. White Plains (left) still perform this song today and I know it is a great favourite of theirs.
There are many other songs about a parent’s love for their child (including the lovely “Shine Son” by Dennis Locorriere), but I challenge anyone to find a better, more unique, example than White Plains lovely “When You Are A King”. And no, it isn’t Elizabeth singing to Charles, or Charles to William. It’s much more loving than that!
1 NILSSON - Without You
2 DON McLEAN - Vincent
3 CHAIRMEN OF THE BOARD - Elmo James
4 ROD STEWART - What's Made Milwaukee Famous
5 CHRIS MONTEZ - Loco Porti
6 DR HOOK & THE MEDICINE SHOW - Sylvia's Mother
7 BILL WITHERS - Lean On Me
8 ROXY MUSIC - Virginia Plain
9 ELVIS PRESLEY - American Trilogy
10 MICHAEL JACKSON - Ben
11 DAVID BOWIE - Starman
12 HOYT AXTON - Less Than The Song
13 MAC DAVIS - Baby Don't Get Hooked On Me
14 ROD STEWART - You Wear It Well
15 HOT CHOCOLATE - You'll Always Be A Friend
16 ARLO GUTHRIE - The City Of New Orleans
17 DON McLEAN - American Pie
18 GALLERY - Nice To Be With You
19 FITZ & DENNIS - I'd Give Anything For Your Love
20 DANIEL BOONE - Beautiful Sunday
This is the year when Dennis, Ray, Bill, George & Jay - collectively, Dr Hook & the Medicine Show - arrived! Of course it’s only the beginning, but the beginning of my loyal support of the group (and the charismatic lead singer, Dennis Locorriere) now lasting well over 30 years. I must be honest though, it’s very much a case of large oak-trees growing from little acorns as the Hook had just the one entry in my 1972 chart and disappeared from sight for three long years! A significant entry though as “Sylvia’s Mother” still registers with many as the ultimate Dr Hook track.
American artists dominate again in ‘72 after a few years when the Brits were in the ascendancy. The Top 3 are all U.S. recordings, led by the superb love song “Without You” - the biggest success for the late, great Harry Nilsson (below left). The man had a very pleasant, soaring voice and “Without You” showcases it best of all. Able to perform any number of song styles (check out the sensational “A Little Touch of Schmilsson In The Night” album) I truly believe he was one of the 20th Centuries most under-rated artists. A most worthy no. 1 here in 1972. Don McLean (right) has two entries in the chart. “Vincent” - his song about the famous painter Vincent Van Goch - is up there in 2nd spot. I challenge anyone to look up at a moonless but clear night sky and not think of Don’s words, “Starry, starry night”. A beautifully crafted song with unforgettable words, as is his first hit, “American Pie” - “the day that music died”, mourning the loss of Buddy Holly and Co. of course. Soul classic “Elmo James” bounces into 3rd place - one of only a very few national successes for Chairmen Of The Board. There’s great rhythm in this piece.
10 years after Chris Montez’s previous entry “Let’s Dance”, the Mexican-American appears once again - at no. 5 with the Spanish-style “Loco Porti” (“Crazy For You”). A happy, distinctive track, it didn’t sell at all well, but I loved it and played it a lot. Woodie Guthrie’s son Arlo rides a train to no. 16 and, hey, at 20th there’s the third entry for Mr Peter Green! Sorry - who? Peter Green!!! Born Peter Green, he was a member of Birmingham outfit, Pat Wayne & the Beachcombers, then the Bruisers - backing Tommy Bruce (Ain’t Misbehavin’) - before changing his name and going solo as Lee Stirling. He then changed again to Peter Lee Stirling before trying again as Daniel Boone - and finally getting some well-deserved chart success nationally. The only singer to appear in my “Vintage Years” under three different guises! Great voice - he was a very fine composer too.
Some BIG stars make their debuts in 1972. Bryan Ferry - as lead singer of the wonderful Roxy Music, Michael Jackson with a song about a rat and David Bowie as his alter-ego Ziggy and “Starman”. Does anyone know anything about Mac Davis, Gallery and Fitz & Dennis? Finally, lyrics play an important part in the success of a song or two, as Bill Withers, Hot Chocolate and Hoyt Axton express similar sentiments in their entries.
That’s ‘72 done and dusted!
1 NEIL SEDAKA - Our Last Song Together
2 ROBERTA FLACK - Killing Me Softly With His Song
3 GENE PITNEY - 24 Sycamore
4 WIZZARD - See My Baby Jive
5 MOCEDADES - Eres Tu
6 WIZZARD - Angel Fingers
7 ROY WOOD - Dear Elaine
8 ALBERT HAMMOND - The Free Electric Band
9 TOM FOGERTY - Joyful Resurrection
10 FACES - Pool Hall Richard
11 LOU REED - Satellite Of Love
12 ROY WOOD - Forever
13 10cc - Rubber Bullets
14 BRYAN FERRY - A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall
15 IKE & TINA TURNER - Nutbush City Limits
16 WIZZARD - I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day
17 FACES - Cindy Incidentally
18 ELTON JOHN - Daniel
19 COZY POWELL - Dance With The Devil
20 JOHN D. BRYANT - Peace Will Be Mine
It’s always a delight when you buy an album by an artist on the strength of previous successes and then discover upon sitting down to listen to it that there’s one track in particular that is a total blockbuster. Such is the case in 1973, when in August of that year I bought “The Tra-La Days Are Over” - the new Neil Sedaka LP. As the album played, I found myself really loving every classy track, realising that the promised change of style hinted at in the album title had shown the guy in a completely new light. So, with songs like “Standing On The Inside”, “Let Daddy Know” and “Love Will Keep Us Together”, I was just knocked out. Then came the last track of all - the sad, yet somehow optimistic, “Our Last Song Together”. Oh, how it hit the spot! Only about a dozen tracks have ever had that immediate effect on me - some tracks grow on you, but this one shouted “BRILLIANT” at me straight away. Soon released as a single, it did reasonably well nationally, but it will always bring back memories of August 1973 and my enjoying it so much for that first time. A wonderful number one. for a lovely, friendly, charming man - Neil Sedaka (below right).
More success, too, for Rod and the Faces and there’s Gene Pitney back in favour with “24 Sycamore”. Gibraltar based singer/composer Albert Hammond has a deserved entry and Tom Fogerty - now ex-Creedence - has a success hit with “Joyful Resurrection”. Another Eurovision Song Contest entrant achieves hit status here! Spanish superstars, Mocedades (above) were runners-up to Luxembourg (it beat Cliff into 3rd place!) in 1973 with the lovely “Eres Tu” ("Touch The Wind"). I bought the single (in the original Spanish) in a small record shop in Holland, while on a Youth Club visit to Belgium!
However, the year belongs to one man. Roy Wood. Reviving the rock’n’roll sounds of the past, emulating the Phil Spector “Wall of Sound” and managing to embrace the 1970’s “glam-rock” style without compromising quality, Roy (right), both as a solo artist and as lead singer of the wonderfully eccentric band Wizzard (below), had a fantastic year. 5 entries in the Top 20 here are Roy’s, including the forever popular Christmas single! His solo LP from which “Dear Elaine” and “Forever” come, is a remarkable album in that Roy plays all the instruments and through multi-tracking, does all the backing vocals as well. As I said in an earlier year’s comments, Roy Wood is a national treasure - he should be knighted!!!
I must also make mention of Roberta Flack - a beautiful lady with a silky smooth vocal style who finishes right up there in 2nd spot with an unforgettable composition, “Killing Me Softly With His Song”. Also, Lou Reed who does a great job on his self-penned version of “Satellite Of Love”. Top quality British talent is very much to the fore, with the delicious 10cc’s “Rubber Bullets” showing well. 10cc are, undeniably, one of the best bands ever to come out of the UK and we have some great tracks to remember them by.
1 HOLLIES - The Air That I Breathe
2 ALAN PRICE - The Jarrow Song
3 STYLISTICS - You Make Me Feel Brand New
4 ROD STEWART - Farewell
5 SWEET - The Six Teens
6 CHARLES AZNAVOUR - She
7 COCKNEY REBEL - Judy Teen
8 ROXY MUSIC - All I Want Is You
9 GENE PITNEY - Blue Angel
10 CHILITES - Homely Girl
11 LEO SAYER - One Man Band
12 ROY WOOD - Going Down The Road
13 JOHN DENVER - Annie’s Song
14 SPARKS - Never Turn Your Back On Mother Earth
15 BRYAN FERRY - Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
16 SPARKS - Amateur Hour
17 CHESTER BAYNES - Til The Music Begins
18 DOBIE GRAY - Drift Away
19 COCKNEY REBEL - Mr Soft
20 WIZZARD - Rock & Roll Winter
Bloomin’ heck! Here’s a diverse selection if ever there’s one! Naturally there are the old favourites popping up - Gene Pitney’s very final entry for example - plus Rod Stewart and Roy Wood certainly making their presence felt once again but, come on, who on earth has ever heard of Chester Baynes? I have searched high and low for some scrap of information on this guy, but cannot elaborate more other than to recall that “Till The Music Begins” is a vocal version of an original Scott Joplin composition, “The Entertainer” (used as the theme music to the movie “The Sting“). Words are by Barlby Lawrence and the record is released on the Santa Ponsa label (PNS 13) through Pye Records - and is a Teleny Music Production. Help! Lovely little song with a very unique vocal delivery from the elusive Mr Baynes!
Steve Harley’s Cockney Rebel (below left) certainly make a good impression in 1974. Their two earliest chart successes in the UK, “Judy Teen” and “Mr Soft” both reach my list, as does their only British no. 1, “Make Me Smile”, in my 1975 favourites. But that’s it as far as Mr Harley is concerned! A “double” success is also notched up by a debut band in ‘75 - the unique Mael brothers’ group, Sparks. Visually very interesting, the falsetto style of Russell certainly received many accolades nationally. A couple of excellent albums established Sparks in the UK and they are still popular in the 21st century.
Bryan Ferry and Roxy Music prove that their 1972 success wasn’t a fluke and there’s two American “new-style soul” entries in the top 10 - the Chilites’ lovely “Homely Girl” and, at the very lofty position of 3rd, the Stylistics with a beautiful song, “You Make Me Feel Brand New”. There was a big surprise national chart topper in 1974 - French superstar Charles Aznavour. There was a TV strike in the UK during the summer and the highly influential Top Of The Pops was off air. Consequently, some less fancied discs were achieving surprise success - and “She” was one such surprise. I loved the song and was delighted it did so well. The other side of the coin, so to speak, was the relative failure of Sweet’s “The Six Teens” which only just made the national top 10 after six consecutive top 5 smashes. I didn’t really like the group (unlike the members of the Boys’ Club) but thought “The Six Teens” was excellent - by far their best single. Sweet relied on their highly colourful appearances on TOTP.
The two leading records in this musically-diverse year were both classics in their own way. Alan Price was a founder member of the excellent Geordie band the Animals, before going solo and having many solo hits from 1966 onwards. His tuneful, complex and lyrically triumphant tribute to the Jarrow marchers was another of those early-summer successes in ‘74 and it just knocked me out! It was just a hairs-breadth away from the top spot, to be honest. That honour, though, went to a track that today I rate as one of the best singles ever released. The great Hammond/Hazelwood song, “The Air That I Breathe” recorded by the Hollies. This wonderful group (still touring today) had been making excellent records since 1963 with a couple of entries in earlier years here, but Allan Clarke and the group truly excelled themselves vocally on this track with a powerful rendition of a classic love song. The song proudly stands the test of time and is as fresh today as it was 30 years ago.
1 QUEEN - Bohemian Rhapsody
2 ROD STEWART - Sailing
3 ROGER WHITTAKER - The Last Farewell
4 DR HOOK - The Ballad Of Lucy Jordan
5 JOHN FOGERTY - Rocking All Over The World
6 HOT CHOCOLATE - Cheri Baby
7 ROD STEWART - Stone Cold Sober
8 HOT CHOCOLATE - You Sexy Thing
9 DUANE EDDY - Play Me Like You Play Your Guitar
10 COCKNEY REBEL - Make Me Smile
11 FOX - Only You Can
12 IAN HUNTER - Once Bitten, Twice Shy
13 JOHN LENNON - Imagine
14 JIM CROCE - I’ll Have To Say I Love You In A Song
15 WIZZARD - Are You Ready To Rock?
16 FACES - You Can Make Me Dance, Sing Or Anything
17 NEIL SEDAKA - The Queen of 1964
18 CHIP HAWKES - Friend Of A Friend
19 ANDY FAIRWEATHER-LOW - Mellow Down
20 REPARATA - Shoes
OK, Dr Hook’s re-emergence with the classic Shel Silverstein song “The Ballad of Lucy Jordan” after a 3 year gap is significant, but 1975 can only really be remembered for one momentous, historical song. In the history of popular music, “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen (above) is highly likely to be a contender for “Greatest Single of All Time”. It eclipsed all others in the year of 1975 - topping the UK charts for 9 weeks over the Christmas/New Year period and achieving critical acclaim from sources not known for their appreciation of pop music. Freddie Mercury had achieved pop perfection and the music world acknowledged his achievement. No other song could possibly challenge for the top spot in my top 20 in 1975. I can remember quite clearly hearing the song for the first time - in charge of a “Survival Weekend” in a small hut in the middle of the Mendip hills in Charterhouse, Somerset along with 10 kids!!!!! I was reduced to silence as it played on the transistor radio - as were the kids. I raved - they weren’t so sure at the first hearing. They raved too - eventually!!
Rod’s the runner up with “Sailing”. It would have been a no. 1 in any other year. It was the year we saw Rod and the Faces in Taunton and Mr Stewart didn’t sing “Sailing” - the audience did! He turned his back on us and the Faces played the music - we all sang the song for him. That’s super-stardom for you!! He did sing “Stone Cold Sober” though - one of my top 10 favourites that year.
Some more lesser-known tracks make the 20. Reparata (her of the Delrons, you remember?!) dips in with a most unusual number - listening to the tape I made of the 1975 chart, I am a little puzzled why I chose it! It’s kind of Greek-ish with a Eurovision style feel. Hmmmmm. Little old Andy Fairweather-Low, fresh out of Amen Corner, also shows up with an inoffensive little ditty, “Mellow Down” and Chip Hawkes. Who was Chip Hawkes? Ex-lead with the Tremeloes actually and father of Chesney (he who made no. 1 in the UK in 1991). “Friend of a Friend” isn’t that bad actually!
Look at what’s at no. 13 - Lennon’s “Imagine”. It was actually released as a single for the first time in 1975 and only made it to 6th nationally, believe it or not. Other 1975 one-hit wonders in my lists of top 20’s include the late Jim Croce (a fine American country-folk-rock singer), Ian Hunter, ex-lead of Mott The Hoople with a very Bowie-esque track, and John Fogerty (ex-Creedence, of course) with a track Status Quo were destined to record two years hence (Rocking All Over The World) - the only song to make it twice into my Vintage Years by two different acts.
Duane Eddy returns after a lengthy gap of 14 years and dear old Roger Whittaker makes the top 3 with a big national hit. This song made interesting first-time listening on a radio in Ostend while on a Youth Group Holiday to the Belgian coastal resort - just before taking the ferry back to Dover in a force 9 gale. Why is it that “The Last Farewell” conjures up vivid memories of seasickness and green faces when I hear it today? Thank goodness for the Channel Tunnel!!! Hot Chocolate (above right) reach the peak of their powers in ‘75 with two Top 10 successes and finally, a very interesting group, Fox (below), reach no. 11. Lead singer, Noosha Fox returns here in 1977 as a solo artist. She’s an Aussie lady, born Susan Traynor, with a very distinctive and sexy vocal style. Good though!
1 ABBA - Fernando
2 DR HOOK - A Little Bit More
3 10cc I’m Mandy, Fly Me
4 RUBETTES - Under One Roof
5 CLIFF RICHARD - Miss You Nights
6 DR HOOK - If Not You
7 HOLLIES - Boulder To Birmingham
8 ROD STEWART - The Killing Of Georgie Parts 1 & 2
9 HANK MIZELL - Jungle Rock
10 ROD STEWART - Get Back
11 MIKE OLDFIELD - Portsmouth
12 MARY HOPKIN - If You Love Me
13 CLIFFORD T. WARD - Ocean Of Love
14 ANDY FAIRWEATHER-LOW - Travelin’ Light
15 DR HOOK - A Couple More Years
16 BELLAMY BROTHERS - Let Your Love Flow
17 STRAWBS - I Only Want My Love To Grow In You
18 QUEEN - You’re My Best Friend
19 RONNIE LANE’S SLIM CHANCE - Don’t Try And Change My Mind
20 JOHN FOGERTY - Almost Saturday Night
Now we can truthfully say that it is the Dr Hook era with 3 tracks from Ray Sawyer & Co. in my 1976 Top 20. An unforgettable evening at the Colston Hall in Bristol cemented my total admiration for this unique band from across the water. There was absolutely nothing like them, anywhere, anytime, before - or since. Live, on stage, they were a jaw-dropping mix of comedy, rock, country and...........well, Hook-ness!!! Billy Francis outwalked John Cleese with a leggy stepping out, little Rick won our heartfelt sympathy claiming everybody was makin’ it big except him and then there was that long-haired, bearded one who clowned and fell around before opening his mouth and singing like...... well, as only the charismatic Dennis Locorriere can - emotionally and dramatically.
1976 is a particularly strong year with some absolutely great tracks by a series of unforgettable artists gracing my Top 20. 10cc (right) were such a great talent and made some classic recordings in this period including the massive hit “I’m Mandy, Fly Me”. I feel that I must make mention of the peerless Ronnie Lane and the seriously, unforgivably, under-rated Clifford T. Ward. Both sadly no longer with us anymore, these two wonderful British artists hold a place dear in my heart these days and they make fleeting appearances for the very first time here. Clifford was a tremendous song-writer with a clear, pure, vocal delivery and Ronnie? Well, the ex-Faces guitarist had the bravery to be true to his roots with a series of folksy, original performances. I remember them both with great affection.
Mr. L. was soon destined to become my favourite singer and to take his place alongside Roy Orbison and Gene Pitney in Ray Poole’s American Hall of Fame. The really only big surprise is that I didn’t choose “A Little Bit More” as my no. 1 that year (incredibly, Dr Hook never attained that position here, ever - oh, the folly of my younger years!) as it peaked at 2, beaten by a Swedish ballad of true commercial quality. Abba (below left) took the prize in ‘76 with “Fernando” - yes it did and it beat some classic songs that year. It probably wouldn’t now, in fact I’m sure that it wouldn’t - but it was how I felt back then. They’ve recorded much better songs, but I rated it that highly all those years ago.
I’m not a big Cliff Richard fan, but admire “Miss You Nights” so much - a great song penned by a Taunton guy, Dave Townsend, who worked for a short while in the same establishment as I did before he left to achieve greater things in the music world. “Under One Roof” was controversial and very much ahead of its’ time in 1976. The Rubettes had the courage to sing a song about a gay couple’s relationship before such things were totally accepted. It’s a most appealing song but suffered from not being played at all by the beeb - yet they did feature Rod’s “Killing Of Georgie” didn’t they, or was that blacklisted too? Can’t remember!
There’s a couple of quirky little entries here too. Hank Mizell’s “Jungle Rock” (actually recorded years before) and Mike Oldfield’s “Portsmouth”. The latter was a particular favourite at the Boys’ Club with some of the younger members (and one or two older ones who should have known better!) letting off steam by performing a somewhat strange dance at a less-than-serene pace around the Club at closing time (remember that Mr Burgess?). Funny what a hornpipe and flutes would do back in the late 70‘s!!!! Making a deserved re-appearance, after several years absence, is Mary Hopkin. She sings the beautiful French song often associated with Edith Piaf, “If You Love Me” and does a mellow, sweet job of it. Lovely stuff. A mention too for the excellent Bellamy Brothers, who were to become a particular favourite of mine in the coming years and finally the Strawbs - they recorded a top quality ballad, “I Only Want My Love To Grow In You” in 1976 - it did nothing nationally, but I thought it was an outstanding recording.
1 POCO - Rose Of Cimarron
2 ROD STEWART - You're In My Heart
3 EAGLES - Hotel California
4 BOZ SCAGGS - Lido Shuffle
5 ROD STEWART - I Don’t Want To Talk About It
6 STATUS QUO - Rocking All Over The World
7 BONEY M Belfast
8 NOOSHA FOX Georgina Bailey
9 RITA COOLIDGE - We’re All Alone
10 WINGS - Mull Of Kintyre
11 ROD STEWART - The First Cut Is The Deepest
12 DAVE EDMUNDS - I Knew The Bride
13 DR HOOK - Walk Right In
14 BELLAMY BROTHERS - Crossfire
15 DON EVERLY - Oh I’d Like To Go Away
16 WALES O’REGAN - If The Lady Won’t Dance
17 ERIC CLAPTON - Lay Down Sally
18 DR HOOK - Sleeping Late
19 QUEEN - We Are The Champions
20 DOLPHIN - Only Seventeen
In 2005, the British music world lost DJ John Peel. So many genuine heart-felt tributes were paid to the great man with each and every one being richly deserved. He passed away much too early and cannot possibly be replaced. It was John Peel who, through his late night BBC programme, introduced me to my favourite track of 1977. No-one else was playing Poco (above). The Eagles, yes, but Poco? No. Everyone who knew me at the Boys’ Club expected Rod Stewart to walk away with my no. 1 spot as “You’re In My Heart” was a big, BIG favourite of mine, but I was won over by John Peel, who was imploring us all to take note of this very long track by this unknown American band. “Rose Of Cimarron” is a true classic. Today, I listen to it and treasure the track. In a way I’m glad it wasn’t a commercial success here in the UK. It makes me proud that I discovered it (through J.P.), played it and played it and championed it. (I was to do something similar in the 80’s with the peerless Steve Earle) It would have spoilt it for me if “Cimarron” had charted nationally, I think!
3 more major successes for Rod Stewart - all strong ballads, performed in that unique way of Rod’s. But it was only one more year before I became less of a fan as the rawness, the sheer Faces-style purity, was lost to an American-led slickness and Rod was no longer doing it right for me (well, almost anyway!). A very interesting entry too at 15. It’s the only solo Everly Brother entry. Deeper-voiced Don with the excellent “Oh I’d Like To Go Away” - a track from his excellent album, “Brother Jukebox”. And, yes, who are Dolphin and Wales O’Regan? Internet searches reveal absolutely nothing about them, despite the two excellent tracks featured here.
British rock & roll revivalist favourite, Dave Edmunds (former lead singer of Rockpile) makes an appearance, as does Noosha Fox with the excellent track “Georgina Bailey”. However, the ladies are also very well represented by the lovely Rita Coolidge (above right). “We’re All Alone” certainly had a good run of success nationally, reaching no. 6 in the summer of 1977 (9th here). The Eagles, not to be outdone too much by Poco, take 3rd place in my listing with the classic hit single “Hotel California”, with Boz Scagg’s memorable “Lido Shuffle” just behind it in 4th spot.
Finally, Eric Clapton and Boney M (god, how can I possibly mention these artists in the same breath, tell me?!) hint at what was to be an extremely successful year to come for them by taking “Lay Down Sally” and “Belfast” to successful placings in my 1977 chart. Fascinating!
1 GERRY RAFFERTY - Baker Street
2 BONEY M - Rivers Of Babylon
3 ERIC CLAPTON - Promises
4 ROD STEWART - I Was Only Joking
5 BONEY M - Brown Girl In The Ring
6 GLADYS KNIGHT - The One And Only
7 ERIC CLAPTON - Wonderful Tonight
8 JEFFERSON STARSHIP - Count On Me
9 LEO SAYER - I Can’t Stop Loving You
10 DR HOOK - More Like The Movies
11 ELO Wild West Hero
12 HOT CHOCOLATE - I’ll Put You Together Again
13 BONEY M - Rasputin
14 DR HOOK - I Don’t Want To Be Alone Tonight
15 COMMODORES - Three Times A Lady
16 FRANKIE MILLER - Darlin’
17 LEO SAYER - Dancing The Night Away
18 DAVID ESSEX - Oh What A Circus
19 BRYAN FERRY - Sign Of The Times
20 SMOKIE - Oh Carol
My record buying - well, singles anyway - was now “in decline” and the end of my Vintage Years is very much in sight. 1978 is far from a vintage twelve months and it is a sure thing that a number of the entrants would not have made a top 100 ten years previous. That should not, however, detract from the fact that there are a number of gems here. The beautiful Commodores track with Lionel Ritchie’s excellent vocals thoroughly deserve a mention as does Errol Brown’s interpretation of “I’ll Put You Together Again”. Hot Chocolate produced some classic pop singles over a very long period of time - a most under-rated British group.
There’s a great track featured at no. 8 - by U.S. group Jefferson Starship (below left). They progressed from being an Airplane to issue a melodic, highly impressive track in “Count On Me”. In 1985 they hit the charts again as just Starship - Jefferson was out!!! A lovely song which surely deserved greater recognition nationally and internationally?
How on earth did “Rasputin” by Boney M (right) manage to drag itself to 13th? But there are two British bands who make their only appearances in ’78. Electric Light Orchestra (now light of Roy Wood though!) and the excellent Smokie - they, like Hot Chocolate, issued top quality British pop music for many years, “Oh Carol” being just one. Lead singer Chris Norman and the group were European superstars, especially in Germany. Got good taste, then, in the Rhineland despite some Boney M releases emanating from there! I’m being a little unkind on Bobby Farrell, Marcia Barrett and Co., as the German based West Indian combo did produce a catchy, successful and ultra-commercial double-sided smash in the UK in 1978 and both tracks make my top 5. That in itself is a unique feat!
The peerless Gladys Knight does stand the test of time though. This wonderful singer is surely one of the world’s best female vocalists - with a silky smooth voice and an excellent interpreter of soul ballads. Listen to “The One And Only” today and it is still a fabulous track - goosebumps time! A brace of Eric Clapton tracks up the overall quality of the chart. “Promises” hits the top 3 and the classic tribute to women everywhere, “Wonderful Tonight” is there at no. 7.
Finally a word about the number one. Gerry Rafferty is a national treasure! “Baker Street” is his most famous solo track, but earlier material with Stealer’s Wheel in ‘73/4 deserves more than just a passing acknowledgement. Gerry’s vocals here are really first rate on a song of such durable quality. I think “Baker Street” is also remembered and praised because of the superb orchestration - the saxophone and guitar solos surely the best instrumental breaks in any pop record, ever. Quite simply a classic track which was so far ahead at no. 1 in my 1978 list that it was a one-horse race all year! 1978 will be remembered if only for “Baker Street” by Gerry Rafferty.
1 ELVIS COSTELLO - Oliver's Army
2 BILLY JOEL - Until The Night
3 ABBA - I Have A Dream
4 QUEEN - Love Of My Life
5 NILS LOFGREN - Shine Silently
6 ABBA - Chiquitita
7 DAVE EDMUNDS - Queen Of Hearts
8 UNDERTONES - Here Comes The Summer
9 DR HOOK - When You're In Love With A Beautiful Woman
10 ROXY MUSIC - Dance Away
11 BLONDIE - Sunday Girl
12 BOOMTOWN RATS - I Don’t Like Mondays
13 DAVE EDMUNDS - Girls Talk
14 STATUS QUO - Living On An Island
15 UNDERTONES - Jimmy Jimmy
16 ROXY MUSIC - Angel Eyes
17 BLONDIE - Heart Of Glass
18 IAN DURY & THE BLOCKHEADS - Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick
19 ELVIS COSTELLO & The ATTRACTIONS - Accidents Will Happen
20 ART GARFUNKEL - Bright Eyes
And so we reach the last year of my singles record-buying frenzy. Actually it was far from a frenzy with most of the tracks featured here not in my singles collection at all - they are tracks on LP’s I bought in 1979, but obviously qualify as they are singles too.
The early “punk music” movement had largely passed me by - it’s not that I was offended by the Pistols, Clash etc., in fact they did liven up what was becoming a very stagnant British music scene and played an important part in the history of popular music in the UK - it’s just that a self-respecting 34 year-old couldn’t come out to his young Youth Club charges and declare he was a fan of punk rock! Despite my hidden likes, I did find it possible to include a few of the latest British stars in my final Top 20. Take the Undertones (right), for example.
Now I did rate this Irish band highly and remember making extravagant forecasts on how Feargal Sharkey was going to be the biggest star in years! It didn’t really happen, but boy, wasn’t he a first-rate vocalist - listening today to those early Undertones’ efforts, I still think he‘s great. The Boomtown Rats - well Sir Bob (bet he didn’t think that would happen back in ’79) did go on to greater things and “I Don’t Like Mondays” is still his signature dish!! Oh yes, Mr Blockhead too! The incomparable Ian Dury - that great LP “New Boots & Panties” was so popular at the Boys’ Club (yes, I know, the colourful language and all that!).
Debbie Harry was a little bit punkish too wasn’t she - despite being from the other side of the pond! “Sunday Girl” and “Heart Of Glass” are excellent singles which achieved great things for the very desirable lady from the US of A. Blondie - the melodic side of punk. Included in the new style has to be the other Elvis. Mr Costello, I refer to, of course. Low down at no. 19 is “Accidents Will Happen” - excellent fare - but there, my final number one, the last single I bestowed that honour to, to rest beside the Adam’s, the Gene’s, the Big O’s of this world, is Elvis Costello’s catchy “Oliver’s Army”. No, I don’t regret selecting it in any way at all - it really is a marvellous single and worthy of its lofty heights. It beats off the great Billy Joel (who was to become a massive favourite of mine from the early 1980’s right up to today) and the classic Abba track “I Have A Dream”.
Honourable mentions to Nils Lofgren’s (left) “Shine Silently” - a track still played on Radio 2 today, and two rockers from Dave Edmunds that also sound gutsy and fresh in 2005. And, a sad way to end it, perhaps. Art Garfunkel, a singer of such purity and beauty, who was number 1 in the UK national charts with “Bright Eyes” on the day my dear old mum passed away. For me, the words of this song were too much to bear for quite a while, but now I can smile and recall her fondly as I listen to Art sing those very relevant lyrics. I dedicate this, my final comment on these 430 singles, to her memory.
A long journey through my Vintage Years comes to a close as the 1970’s come to an end.
Britain now was a very different place to when I cycled excitedly down to Lock’s Record Shop in Station Road on a Friday lunchtime to look through all the new releases on offer on the shelves and make a considered choice of maybe one or two 45’s.
CD’s were soon to explode onto the scene and the singles market had begun to assume a great deal less of an importance in my life.
But nothing can take away the great pleasure I had over all of these Vintage Years by holding a much looked forward to new 45rpm single in my hands in Lock’s Record Shop.
Mr & Mrs Pascoe and Eileen Gibbs looked after me well in the shop - I guess I was a pretty good customer!
I’m glad I was an avid collector, though, for now as I enter my own 60’s I can, by looking through the piles of 7” black plastic discs, recall some wonderfully happy times where a song could do so much.
Yes - my Vintage Years they certainly were and a source of untold pleasure as I continue through my life here in the 2000’s. I’m sorry the kids of today won’t have a similar experience, ‘cos it was magic.