Saturday, 3 December 2016

The Grønmark Blog list of Great Records from 1961

Half of the tracks featured in my previous post were released in 1961. Not one of them would have got anywhere near the pop charts that year, but, just to convey some sense of what a rich year it was for popular music in America - when the US was supposedly waiting for the Brits to come and save its musical butt - here are just some of the Top 100 US chart hits from 1961 (to be clear, these are all, with a handful of exceptions, songs I've given four or five stars to on my iTunes list - so no rubbish ) :

Tossin' and Turnin', Bobby Lewis
I Fall to Pieces, Patsy Cline
Crying, Roy Orbison
Runaway, Del Shannon
Running Scared, Roy Orbison
Dedicated to the One I Love, The Shirelles
Last Night, The Mar-keys
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow, The Shirelles
Hit the Road Jack, Ray Charles
Mother In Law, Ernie K-Doe
Travelin' Man, Ricky Nelson
Shop Around, The Miracles
A Hundred Pounds of Clay, Gene McDaniels
The Mountain's High, Dick and Deedee
On the Rebound, Floyd Cramer
Quarter to Three, Gary "U.S." Bonds
I Like It Like That, Chris Kenner
Little Sister, Elvis Presley
Blue Moon, The Marcels
Runaround Sue, Dion
Hurt, Timi Yuro
Hello Mary Lou (Goodbye Heart), Ricky Nelson
Surrender, Elvis Presley
Ya Ya, Lee Dorsey
School Is Out, Gary "U.S." Bonds
Walk Right Back, The Everly Brothers
Moody River, Pat Boone
One Mint Julep, Ray Charles
Stand By Me, Ben E. King
Spanish Harlem, Ben E. King
It's Gonna Work Out Fine, Ike and Tina Turner
Hats Off to Larry, Del Shannon
His Latest Flame, Elvis Presley
Mama Said, The Shirelles
Let the Four Winds Blow, Fats Domino
Big Bad John, Jimmy Dean
Let's Twist Again, Chubby Checker
Take Five, The Dave Brubeck Quartet
Sea of Heartbreak, Don Gibson
The Lion Sleeps Tonight, Tokens

And here are a dozen singles from the Top 100 UK chart hits of 1961:

John Leyton, Johnny Remember Me
The Shadows, FBI
Bobby Darin, Lazy River
Johnny Burnette, You're Sixteen
Johnny Dankworth, African Waltz
The Ramrods, Riders In The Sky
Sam Cooke, Cupid
Eddie Cochran, Weekend
Jerry Lee Lewis, What'd I Say
Kenny Ball & His Jazzmen, Midnight In Moscow
Brenda Lee, Let's Jump The Broomstick
The Ventures, Perfidia

And here are some of the records that didn't make it into the overall Top 100 list on either side of the Atlantic:

The Impressions, Gypsy Woman
Jimmy Reed, Bright Lights Big City
Freddie King, Hide Away
Mary Wells, Bye Bye Baby
Roy Hamilton, You Can Have Her
Jerry Butler, Find Another Girl
Gene McDaniels, Tower of Strength
Jerry Butler, I'm A Telling You
The Drifters, Sweets for My Sweet
Chuck Jackson, I Wake Up Crying
The Drifters, I Count the Tears
Jimmy Reed, Big Boss Man
Leroy VanDyke, Walk on By
Rusty & Doug, Diggy Liggy Lo
Beach Boys, Surfin'
Coasters, Little Egypt
Bobby "Blue" Bland, I Pity The Fool
Fats Domino, Jambalaya
Gene Pitney, Town Without Pity
Elvis Presley, I Feel So Bad
James Ray, If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody
Marathons, Peanut Butter
Ernie K-Doe, A Certain Girl
Showmen, It Will Stand
Marvelettes, Please Mr. Postman
Everly Brothers, Crying in the Rain
Arthur Alexander, You Better Move On
Joe Barry, I'm a Fool to Care
The Duals, Stick Shift

I wonder if there'll be some old geezer in 2081 making a similar list of over 80 great records from 2016? Doubt it, somehow. Many, many things have improved since 1961 - but, sadly, music isn't one of them.

As I've featured nothing but black performers on this blog today, I'd better redress the balance by including the whitest white man who ever entered a recording studio. I caught a snatch of Pat Boone performing his version of 'Tutti Frutti" on a documentary the other night, which confirmed what I'd long suspected - that it is undoubtedly the worst abomination in the history of popular music. I managed to quell an urge to smash the TV set by reminding myself that Boone somehow managed to record two decent records, in the early '60s. The best was the disgracefully racist "Speedy Gonzalez" (which I half-expected Donal Trump to choose as his campaign song), and the other was "Moody River", which is the only track from the above list that I'd class as a guilty pleasure rather than a guilt-free delight - but I love it, and loving it makes me feel very, very guilty indeed:


  1. At least it was not Fabian or Bobby Rydell.
    Arthur Alexander deserved better.
    I bought The Stones EP on the strength of their cover version of the superb You Better Move On.

  2. Seriously underrated talent, Arthur Alexander. The Beatles recognised what a great songwriter he was in their cover of Anna in 1963. I often wondered whether the young Mick Jagger's vocals were influenced by Don Covay, another from the same era who never quite made it..

  3. Agree 100% with both of you re Arthur Alexander. Not only did he write "Go Home Girl", "Anna", "Every Day I Have to Cry", "You Better Move On", but he was the first to record "A Shot of Rhythm 'n' Blues" and "Burnin' Love".

    As to your thoughts on Don Covay, ex-KCS, we are again in agreement. here's what I wrote in 2012:

    "I was listening to Don Covay’s “Mercy Mercy” last night, when it struck me that the chap sounded suspiciously like Mick Jagger. Then realised that it had to be the other way round. Note the similarities - especially on words like “gypsy”, “mercy” and "read” - on the Stones' version here. Jagger had already recorded lots of vocals before Don Covay's first solo hit came out, so it may just be that their voices are naturally similar - but I can't help suspecting that Covay had a big effect on old liver-lips' singing style from that moment on. (As Jagger soon afterwards gave up his pathetic attempts to dance like James Brown, we'll forgive him for "borrowing" Covay's voice.)"

    So you won't get an argument from me!

  4. Arthur Alexander also recorded the excellent 'Soldier of Love", which was for a long time an unreleased Beatles cover and much sought after by Fab Four completists before it appeared as a disappointing throwaway on the Beatles at the BBC. There is a superb version by Marshall Crenshaw from 1982 in which you suspect he is impersonating them in that Jagger v Covay way, with equal amounts of affection and reverb.