My mind’s eye – A 1966 musical Christmas

My mind’s eye – A 1966 musical Christmas

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Collectors Corner 3

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1966 has been in the news a lot this past year. From the 50th anniversary of England’s only world cup final win, the counterculture exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, through to endless documentaries on BBC4 and magazines celebrating this seismic musical year, 1966 seems to have been everywhere. 1966 was also probably the last year when the POP 45 really was king as a groundbreaking musical device too, album sales would soon overtake it’s 7″ counterpart and the newly labelled psychedelic rock would soon transfer to the much more serious, and expansive LP format. But, although groundbreaking LP’s such as “Pet sounds”, “Revolver” and “Blonde on blonde” were released in this year, the singles chart would still host classic number one hits such as “Paperback writer”, “Paint it, black”, “Sunny afternoon” and “Reach out, I’ll be there” and untold forward thinking 7″ gems from Love, Creation, Yardbirds, The Who, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown and Otis Redding were all vying for the teenagers hard-earned cash. As the year drew to a close and Christmas came a-calling, Psychedelia was still definitely underground and not yet bothering the upper echelons of “Top of the pops” and the Hit Parade, but what was pouring out of transistors and Dansettes in the build-up to the festive season? Let’s have a look at some of the hits, and classic misses of December 1966…

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In the run up to Christmas, the 7th December singles chart was stuffed with great music: Number 47 found Martha & the Vandellas with “I’m ready for love” and prime US garage from Question Mark & the Mysterians “96 tears” was on it’s way up at 37. Nudging towards the top twenty you’d find The Temptations “Beauty is only skin deep” at 30, prime Stax soul from Otis, “Fa, fa, fa, fa, fa” at 28, classic UK beat from The Hollies “Stop, stop, stop” at 13 and The Kinks downbeat “Dead End Street” at 16. Just outside the top ten was a slice of pounding Australian beat from The Easybeats with “Friday on my mind”, and nestling inside the top ten you’d find stellar US soul from Lee Dorsey at 6 with “Holy cow” and blue-eyed UK soul from The Spencer Davis Group, with Stevie Winwood’s blistering vocal lighting up the number three spot with “Gimme some loving”. A trip down your local record shop on this week would find new releases from the pre-Slade combo The N’Betweens’ with “You better run”, Ella Fitzgerald’s cracking version of “These boots were made for walking”, and Herbal Mixture’s mod-psych “Machines”. None of these sold at all and are all now much in-demand slabs of vinyl.

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A week nearer to Christmas day, the charts of 14th December included some classy new entries to the singles charts including Donovan’s proto-psychedelic classic “Sunshine superman” straight in at number 31, classic Motown from The Supremes “You keep me hangin’ on” flying up into the top twenty at 15, and, much to the groups annoyance, The Small Faces “My mind’s eye” shot into the top ten at number 4! Available this week, and destined for the unsold bargain bins, were releases from John Patto with the double-sided aceness of “Love / Can’t stop talkin’ about my baby”, Mike Leslie’s future NUTS favourite “Right or wrong”, The Olympics soul shindig “Baby do the Philly Dog” and The Mirage’s great take on The Fab Four’s “Revolver” LP show stopper “Tomorrow never knows”.

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Onto the week before Christmas and the 21st December saw a multitude of new releases in the lower reaches of the chart, all of which would soon hurtle up to much higher places early in 1967. How about this lot for utter greatness: The Cream “I feel free” at 50, The wicked Wilson Pickett’s “Mustang Sally” one place higher at 49, Motown greatness from The Temptations with “I know I’m losing you” at 47, Andover’s Troggs with “Anyway that you want me” at 39 and The Who’s future top ten hit, and ode to a seaside donkey, “Happy Jack” bursting straight in at number 30. New releases the week before Christmas which ended up in nobodies stocking included Paul Butterfield Blues Band garage stomper “Come on in”, The Flies pop-art madness “(I’m not your) Stepping stone” and The Misunderstood’s truly breathtaking “I can take you to the sun”. As usual, the more parent (and grandparent!) friendly album chart was full of the big selling easy listening gods of the day, with Jim Reeves, The Seekers and Herb Alpert hogging the high sellers league. The Kinks “Face to face”, Beatles “Revolver”, Georgie Fame’s “Sound venture” and Spencer Davis Group’s “Autumn ’66” at least made up some of the numbers below!

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So… finally we reached the last chart of that coolest of musical years, the Christmas chart of 28th December 1966, and only two new releases of note bothered the lower echelons, Smokey and the Miracles Motown stomper “(Come round here) I’m the one you need” entered at 45 and Georgie Fame’s cool mod take of “Sitting in the park” came in just above it at number 43. So what were the top sellers of that mighty week you may ask? Well, the album chart had The Seekers, Jim Reeves, The Beach Boys near the top, with “The sound of music” sitting on top where it had been for months! And the singles chart? The Beatles… Nah, they were in EMI studios working on their 1967 masterpiece. The Stones? The Hollies? Small Faces? The Supremes? Dusty? …. Nope, our top three had Val Doonican at 3, The Seekers at 2, and Tom “The voice” Jones on top of the pile with “The Green, Green grass of home”. Changes were definitely in the air though, as witnessed by one 45 released on 16th December 1966: “Hey Joe” by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. This would blow the UK music aristocracy apart with it’s moving of sonic of sonic boundaries, and soon shot into the UK top ten in January. 1967 was just round the corner and our radios and televisions would be introduced to the new sounds and delights of Hendrix, The Pink Floyd, Kaleidoscope, The Doors, Move and many, many more new and exciting artists. Merry Christmas!


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James Clark

Loves collecting records. My main loves are 50's rock'n'roll, 60's soul and r'n'b, beat, mod and psych and hopefully will be sharing some nuggets with you over the next few months. Apart from being a vinyl junkie I'm a Arsenal obsessive and a hopelessly romantic drunkard, but don't let put you off, we all have our faults.

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December 7, 2016 By : Category : Bands,Front Page,Music,Picks Tags:, , , ,
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