50 years ago this month at Wembley stadium the England football team lifted its first, (and as I type this), only major trophy, the daddy of them all, the World Cup. Watch any programme about the ‘swinging sixties’ and chances are you’ll see clips of Carnaby Street, Twiggy, Mini cars, girls wearing mini skirts and the beautiful gold trophy being held aloft by Bobby Moore on the hallowed Wembley turf. Obviously music also played a major part in this wonderful decade, but everything seemed to come to a wonderous climax in July 1966 when anything seemed possible in Britain, and especially its epicentre, London. So we’re going to take you on a musical journey following England’s progress in the competition along with the music that soundtracked that most glorious of months, July 1966.
The competition started on 11 July, with England hosting Uruguay which ended in a 0 – 0 draw at Wembley. Six days previously the latest singles chart was awash with classic soul and beat 45’s, most of them homegrown too! A new entry at 49 was the majestic pop-art of “Making time” by The Creation, at 47 we had the soul from London mod club stalwart Geno Washington with “Water”, at 38 stood the Small Faces with “Hey girl” and at 23 were the Stones with their sitar drenched “Paint it black”. The top twenty included the Yardbirds groundbreaking “Over, under, sideways, down” at 12, up thirteen places to 20 stood Chris Farlowe’s “Out of time” and the top three was surely one of the best ever: Ike and Tina’s “River deep, mountain high” at 3, The Beatles “Paperback writer” at 2 and top of the pile, The Kinks majestic “Sunny afternoon”. The album chart was no less stellar, the top ten alone featuring current releases including “Animalisms”, “Small Faces”, “Pet sounds”, “Aftermath” and Georgie Fame’s “Sweet things”. Ironically topping the pile was the soundtrack to “The sound of music” but you can’t have it all! If none of these releases whetted your appetite, a trip to your local record store this week would find new releases from The Miracles “Whole lotta shakin’ in my heart” on Tamla Motown, The Spidells “Find out what’s happening” on Sue and Herbie Goins and the Nightimers club classic “Cruisin” on Parlophone.
On the 16th July at Wembley, England saw off Mexico 2 – 0, and then on the 20th France were also beaten 2 – 0 by them sending the team into the last sixteen of the tournament with seven points. This week the singles charts saw new entries from Otis Redding with “My lovers prayer”, The Temptations all time Motown classic “Ain’t to proud to beg”, The Lovin’ Spoonful’s claustrophobic transatlantic smash “Summer in the city” and the highest entry, at 29, was the future number one from The Troggs, “With a girl like you”. New albums making an appearance included “Otis Redding’s dictionary of soul” on Atlantic and The Yardbirds self titled final UK album, known by most of us as “Roger the engineer”. Some wonderful new release 45’s available to the British public for the first time this week, and mostly left unsold in the racks, included stellar soul from Donald Height “Talk of the grapevine”, Major Lance “Investigate”, The Orlons “Spinnin’ top”, Edwin Starr’s floor filler “Headline news”, and not forgetting Manchester’s Richard Kent Style with the great blue-eyed mover “Go Go children”.
On the 23rd July the quarter finals were played which saw England beating Argentina by a slim 1 – 0 margin whilst West Germany thumped Uruguay 4 – 0 up in Sheffield. New entries in the hit parade came from the Pretty things “A house in the country”, Four Tops “Loving you is sweeter than ever” and Bob Dylan’s “I want you”. Meanwhile sweet Georgie Fame swept up to the top spot for a second time with his catchy “Getaway” which stayed there for a solitary week. Meanwhile in the LP charts one of the most influential UK blues albums made its first appearance, “The Bluesbreakers featuring Eric Clapton”, complete with its iconic ‘Eric reading The Beano’ front cover. On television, “Ready, steady, go!” featured performances from Madeline Bell and The Yardbirds (unfortunately, as with most RSG footage, long missing from the archives), and new 45 releases included “Shake your hips” from Slim Harpo on Stateside and the Pye released freakbeat mega-rarity “Hungry” by the 5am event.
On the 25th July up in Liverpool, West Germany saw off the USSR 2 – 1 to secure their place in the final of the trophy. The next day England were to join them after beating Portugal at Wembley, also with a 2 – 1 victory. The final two teams were now ready for their showpiece showdown four days later. Meanwhile, in the new chart we saw the appearance of two all time greats from across the atlantic when the The Mamas and Papas “I saw her again” and The Beach Boys double sider “God only knows/Wouldn’t it be nice” both crashed into the UK top fifty, both soon to sail into the top ten. This weeks top three was another jaw dropping corker, with The Troggs at 3, Los Bravos Spanish groover “Black is black” at two, and top of the pile, in its iconic Immediate company sleeve, sat Chris Farlowe’s “Out of time”. On the 30th July 1966, below the twin towers of Wembley Stadium, the host nation England played a thrilling final against West Germany, eventually coming out 4 – 2 winners after extra time and a still hotly disputed third England goal. At that moment in time when the trophy was held triumphantly aloft anything seemed possible in the country that “swinged” but fifty years later we’re still waiting for that elusive second trophy… but lets hope you enjoyed our trip through that magical month of July 1966.
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