1,000 Greatest Songs of the 1960s – 740 to 731
I am the God of hellfire.
740. “Baby Please Come Back Home,” J.J. Barnes. Songwriters: J. J. Barnes, Don Davis; #61 pop/#9 R&B; 1967. Detroit native J.J. Barnes recorded from 1960 to 1982 and while never achieving any major success, he became so well known on the U.K. Northern soul scene that he relocated to England during the 1970s. Barnes sounds like Marvin Gaye on the pleading dance number “Baby Please Come Back Home,” which has a bit of The Temptations’ “Get Ready” in the arrangement. Alexander Hamilton, “Unofficially, it was number one at inner city skating rinks – skaters loved rolling to its cool, slinky, mercurial rhythm and pinging accents.” Barnes also had a Top Ten R&B hit as a member of The Holidays in 1966, when Edwin Starr, Barnes, and Steve Mancha did an impromptu recording of “I’ll Love You Forever.” After the record became a surprise hit, producer Dan Davis then hired another group of singers to perform tour dates as The Holidays.
739. “Pain in My Heart,” Otis Redding. Songwriter: Naomi Neville (Allen Toussaint); #61 pop/#11 R&B; 1963. Irma Thomas released a non-charting blues number in May of 1963 titled “Ruler of My Heart” with lyrics pining for an absentee lover. Five months later Otis Redding released “Pain in My Heart,” a rewrite that was so obvious that after litigation, the composition credit returned to Allen Toussaint. From the 1992 “Rolling Stone Album Guide,” “’Pain in My Heart’ set the pattern for all his ballads to come—Otis triumphed at rendering agony. Signs of the singer’s virtuosity are already apparent in the almost teasing way he lingers over some lyrics and spits out others; virtually never would he sing a line the same way twice.”
738. “This Will Be Our Year,” The Zombies. Songwriter: Chris White; Did Not Chart; 1967. Bassist Chris White didn’t write any hits for The Zombies, but he penned most of the songs on the classic 1968 “Odessey and Oracle” album, as well as being involved in the production. “This Will Be Our Year,” a simple and effective song of hope that was perhaps inspired by “Penny Lane,” is a Chris White composition that has gotten more popular over the decades. “Our Year” has popped up repeatedly in recent pop culture – as a minor U.K. hit for The Beautiful South in 2004, the original version was featured in the popular “Mad Men” television series, and the song received an alt-country treatment from Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison in 2014. Chris White in 2015, “That’s now become a wedding song! I’ve heard it at so many weddings; it’s not my song anymore.”
737. “You’ve Been Cheatin’,” The Impressions. Songwriter: Curtis Mayfield; #33 pop/#12 R&B; 1965. It’s been said that The Impressions embraced uptempo soul, or perhaps had been listening regularly to Motown, during the timeframe they released the euphoric sounding backstabbing number “You’ve Been Cheatin’.” It’s hard to imagine happier music about infidelity. Steve Philliben, “If you’re ever asked to explain Northern soul, play ‘You’ve Been Cheatin.’ Folks nailed to the floor will be dancing the minute the needle hits the groove.” Despite Mayfield’s stature as a songwriter, this was The Impressions last Top 40 hit until late 1967’s “We’re a Winner,” when Mayfield stopped sugarcoating his commentary on racial issues.
736. “Dirty Water,” The Standells. Songwriter: Ed Cobb; #11 pop; 1965. Perhaps no 1960’s rock band capitalized on their Hollywood connections more than The Standells. Lead vocalist and drummer Dick Dodd had been a Mouseketeer on “The Mickey Mouse Club” in the mid-1950s. The Standells appeared on “The Munsters,” worked as a fictional band on “The Bing Crosby Show,” and performed in the 1967 film “Riot on Sunset Strip.” Producer Ed Cobb, who also wrote Brenda Holloway’s “Every Little Bit Hurts” and the Gloria Jones/Soft Cell hit “Tainted Love,” penned “Dirty Water,” a garage rock ode to Boston’s polluted waters. Rockabilly artist Deke Dickerson, ““When (Dick Dodd) opened his mouth, there was that voice: snotty and authoritative, an American Mick Jagger sort of voice. It’s the sound that captures a particular era in ’60s garage music.” The Standells also influenced punk rock, their 1966 single “Sometimes Good Guys Don’t Wear White” has been covered by Minor Threat and The Cramps.
735. “Lonely Lonely Girl Am I,” The Velvelletes. Songwriters: Norman Whitfield, Eddie Holland, Eddie Kendricks; Did Not Chart; 1965. The Velvelletes may be the most underappreciated act from Motown’s 1960’s roster and it’s impossible to understand how singles like “Lonely Lonely Girl Am I” and “He Was Really Sayin’ Somethin’” weren’t hits. The Motown Junkies website on “Lonely Lonely Girl,” “The Velvelettes have never sounded better, their harmonies like multi-coloured ribbons streaming through the sky, wrapping into spirals and loops and complex shapes and then gracefully unravelling like silk on silk. And Cal (Carolyn Gill), who manages to best her incredible lead vocal performance from ‘He Was Really Sayin’ Somethin’, is mesmerising as she rolls the words around her mouth, sounding like a veteran singer twice her age as she purrs and growls her way through what might just be the best lead vocal we’ve yet encountered on any Motown record. This is their masterpiece.”
734. “Fire,” Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Songwriters: Arthur Brown, Vincent Crane, Mike Finesilver, Peter Ker; #2 pop; 1968. Arthur Brown studied philosophy and law before developing his niche in psychedelic rock performed with extravagant theatrics that would later be used by acts like Alice Cooper and Kiss. On “Fire,” Brown’s introductory exclamation that he is the “God of Hellfire” is stated with authentic conviction and he often performed while wearing a burning helmet. Brown, “As a new kind of imagery, we met a lot of resistance and violence. I would recite small poems and monologues between numbers on very disturbing themes. I would also do comic duets with Crane about the Queen, police brutality, or drug busts. At one gig, the audience began to charge the stage. When I appeared in my make-up and robes, with flames pouring five feet above my head, wielding a genuine double-headed steel Viking axe, they changed their mind!”
733. “Fannie Mae,” Buster Brown. Songwriter: Buster Brown; #38 pop/#1 R&B; released in 1959, but peaked on the charts in 1960. Georgia blues harpist Buster Brown (whose real name is unknown) made a few Library of Congress recordings in 1943, but didn’t record professionally until 1959, when he was pushing sixty. Brown has the blues about his straying woman on “Fannie Mae,” but the song’s appeal is in the simple riff that was later appropriated by The Beach Boys for “Help Me, Rhonda” and The Rolling Stones for “The Under Assistant West Coast Promo Man.” Brown had another R&B Top Twenty hit in 1962 with the harmonica driving “Sugar Babe” and was saved by obscurity in the 1970s with the inclusion of “Fannie Mae” on the “American Graffiti” soundtrack.
732. “See Emily Play,” Pink Floyd. Songwriter: Syd Barrett; Did Not Chart; 1967. Geography can shape your perspective in pop music. “See Emily Play” would be considered an early Pink Floyd obscurity in the United States, but it was a Top Ten pop hit in the U.K. The band didn’t have another charting single in their home country until 1979’s “Another Brick in the Wall.” “See Emily Play” was written when Syd Barrett was beginning to show signs of possible mental illness. The lyrics have a child nursery rhyme quality that is counterbalanced by a sense of trauma. David Gilmour, an associate of Barrett who was not yet a member of Pink Floyd, was invited to the studio when “See Emily Play” was recorded, but Barrett did not appear to recognize him. Gilmour, “I’ll go on record as saying, that was when he changed.”
731. “I’m into Something Good,” Herman’s Hermits. Songwriters: Gerry Goffin, Carole King; #13; 1964. Herman’s Hermits formed as a teenage act in Manchester, England, fronted by Peter Noone, who had been a child star as an actor on Britain’s famed soap opera “Coronation Street.” The band started working with producer Mickie Most in 1964 and found instant success when “I’m into Something Good,” their first single, topped the U.K. charts. This Goffin/King number was originally recorded by Earl-Jean Reavis of the Cookies, whose rather stiff version peaked at #38 on the U.S. pop charts. Peter Noone describing the band’s excitement at the time, “”On the record you can hear the enthusiasm of this band who believe that they were going to be heard on the radio. When the record was on the radio, we thought we’d made it.”