Don’s Top 10 From July 27, 1968
amazon.com Wayyy back this time, to a summer of bad news but great music. It’s Saturday, July 27, 1968, & these are the local top 10 singles.
"The Horse" by Cliff Nobles & Co.
(#7 last week) Poor Cliff Nobles. You see him dancing in this performance of "The Horse", but he is not singing. That's because "The Horse" was originally the throwaway instrumental "B" side of his vocal of "Love Is All Right". However, radio somehow flipped the 45 over & made the "B" side the hit. Not only did the horn section really have the hit, they had others, eventually becoming MFSB ("TSOP")!
"People Got To Be Free" by The Rascals
(#19 last week) It wasn't until their previous hit "A Beautiful Morning" that The Young Rascals shortened their name to The Rascals. So nice that Steve Van Zandt was able to convince them to put aside their difference & tour again last year & this one. Now how about some new music, guys?
"Grazing In The Grass" by Hugh Masekela
(#9 last week) Yes, there were TWO instrumentals in this week's top 10. Whatever happened to hit instrumentals? I miss them. This one was recorded by South African trumpeter Masekela, married at the time to fellow South African singing star Miriam Makeba (1967's "Pata Pata"). "Grazing in the Grass" was inspired by an earlier Masekela recording, "Mr. Bull No. 5". The composer, Philemon Hou, an actor and singer, came up with the melody while the backing track was already being recorded, in Hollywood..
"Lady Willpower" by Gary Puckett & The Union Gap
(#3 last week) As Gary Puckett's star quickly rose in 1968, the artist name on each of his hits changed. "Woman Woman" was by "The Union Gap". "Young Girl" was by The Union Gap Featuring Gary Puckett". and "Lady Willpower" was by "Gary Puckett & The Union Gap". Gary Puckett was from Yakima, Washington, near the town of Union Gap, hence the name. But he was born in Hibbing, Minnesota, also the hometown of Bob Dylan.
"Stoned Soul Picnic" by The 5th Dimension
(#5 last week) The first thing people usually say when they hear this sunny smash is, "what's SURRY mean?" Songwriter Laura Nyro never made it totally clear. The verb surry is spelled differently from the noun surrey (an old-time carriage). When asked by producer Charles Calello what the word meant, Nyro told him, "Oh, it's just a nice word." One possible meaning is that surry is a shortening of "let's hurry.". A word on one of my all-time favorite groups, The 5th Dimension. They were hugely popular for 5 years but never really got their due from their peers, perhaps because their music fell into a never-never land between sunshine pop & soul. Their harmonies were incomparable.
"Jumpin' Jack Flash" by The Rolling Stones
(#2 last week) Called "supernatural Delta blues by way of Swinging London" by Rolling Stone Magazine, the song was perceived by some as the band's return to their blues roots after the psychedelia of their preceding albums. Keith Richards has stated that he and Mick Jagger wrote the lyrics while staying at Richards' country house, where they were awoken one morning by the sound of gardener Jack Dyer walking past the window. When Jagger asked what the noise was, Richards responded: "Oh, that's Jack – that's jumpin' Jack."
"Hello, I Love You" by The Doors
(#11 last week) This salacious classic was composed while the band was recording their third album, Waiting For The Sun. There was some difficulty as Jim Morrison's drinking was making work impossible. Drummer John Densmore threatened to quit the band and the rest of the band decided to look through some of Morrison's old poems in an effort to calm him down. One of the poems, "Hello I Love You", had been written one afternoon several years earlier, while Morrison and Manzarek watched a girl walking on the beach. The music is similar to The Kinks' 1964 song "All Day & All Of The Night". So similar, that The Doors had to pay royalties from the British single to The Kinks after Ray Davies sued them. But Davies laughs it off now.
"Hurdy Gurdy Man" by Donovan
(# 8 last week) Written while on a trip to India, this hippy-dippy classic features a harder rock sound than Donovan's usual material, supplying a range of distorted guitars. It also features an eastern influence with the use of a tambura. The song may have been influenced by 'Green Circles', a psychedelic 1967 UK single by Small Faces. There is also the question of whether soon-to-be- Led Zeppelin guitarist Jimmy Page played on this recording session. Strange how this groovy tune has completely disappeared from the public mind.
"This Guy's In Love With You" by Herb Alpert
(#1 last week; was #1 for 5 weeks) An unexpected vocal smash by Tijuana Brass leader Alpert! As documented in a Tv documentary featuring composer Burt Bacharach, the recording originated when Alpert asked Bacharach, "Say, Burt, do you happen to have any old compositions lying around that you and Hal never recorded; maybe one I might use?" Alpert said he made it his practice to ask songwriters that particular question; often a lost "pearl" was revealed. As it happened, Bacharach recalled one, found the lyrics and score sheet, and offered it to Alpert: "Here, Herb ... you might like this one." He did. So did the listening public.
"Reach Out Of The Darkness" by Friend & Lover
(#4 last week; 1st week at #1) One of the most obscure acts to ever hit #1 locally, this midwestern duo, then-married couple Jim & Cathy Post, never came close to another hit. One of the strange things about this song were how the exact title is never sung. Instead, they sing "Reach Out IN The Darkness". So why wasn't that the title? There was some stellar talent helping out here: Ray Stevens plays the keyboards, & the record was co-produced by Joe South (the writer of "Hush" & the singer of "Games People Play" While this was a local #1 hit, it only got to #10 nationally. Still sounds great.