1,000 Greatest Songs of the 1960s – 870 to 861
Looking for a part time love to clean my dirty dishes.
870. “Israelites,” Desmond Dekker And The Aces. Songwriters: Desmond Dekker, Leslie Kong; #9 pop; 1968. Desmond Dekker was the first major international reggae/ska star, creating the path that Bob Marley followed and extended during the 1970s. Dekker started recording in 1963 and proclaimed himself as “The King of Ska” in 1964. His 1967 “007 (Shanty Town)” was the first Jamaican recording to become a Top Twenty U.K. hit. “Israelites,” sometimes titled “The Israelites,” did even better, hitting #1 in the U.K. and reaching the Top Ten in the United States. The Clash would later use the poverty stricken “Israelites” as a soundcheck/rehearsal song, reflecting a direction connection between reggae and the U.K. 1970’s punk movement. Dekker had a #2 U.K. pop hit in 1970 with his version of Jimmy Cliff’s “You Can Get if You Really Want,” then faded from commercial relevance after the death of producer Leslie Kong in 1971.
869. “Here I Go Again,” Archie Bell and the Drells. Songwriters: Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff; Did Not Chart; 1969. After hitting #1 on the pop charts in 1968 with “Tighten Up,” Archie Bell and the Drells became the second act, following the Soul Survivors, to work with Philadelphia producers Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff. That partnership resulted in the 1968 Top Ten single “I Just Can’t Stop Dancing” and “Here I Go Again,” which was released as a single in 1969 and hit #11 on the U.K. pop charts in 1972. Gamble and Huff sprinkle electric sitar, xylophone, and baritone saxophone throughout the song and it seems like a short distance from this 1969 release to the mid-1970s disco movement.
868. “Lies,” The Knickerbockers. Songwriters: Beau Charles, Buddy Randell; #20 pop; 1965. The nucleus of The Knickerbockers formed in New Jersey in 1962 with brothers Beau and John Charles handling guitar and vocal duties. The band lineup solidified in 1964 and their first singles were uninspired doo wop (“All I Need is You) and a bad Four Seasons imitation (“Jerktown”). However, they perfected their Beatles emulation on “Lies.” Drummer/vocalist Buddy Randell, who had a #3 hit with “Short Shorts” as a member of the Royal Teens using the name Bill Crandall in 1958, would pass for John Lennon on a blindfold test on “Lies.” In fact, a common music nerd prank during the 1970s was to tell the unenlightened that “Lies” was a lost/rare Beatles track. The Knickerbockers never had another Top 40 hit, but will live on as long as there is an audience for “Nuggets” compilations.
867. “If I Could Build My Whole World Around You,” Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. Songwriters: Harvey Fuqua, Johnny Bristol, Vernon Bullock. #10 pop/#2 R&B 1967. Thomasina Terrell began her recording career at the age of 15 and grew up quickly in the music business, including a tumultuous romantic relationship with James Brown during the early 1960s. She was attending college when Barry Gordy signed her to a contract and changed her professional name from Tammy Montgomery to Tammi Terrell. Terrell never found solo fame, but scored four Top Ten duet singles with Marvin Gaye in 1967 and 1968. The lyrics of “If I Could Build My Whole World Around You” describe moving heaven and repositioning the sun, but Marvin and Tammi sing with such serene grace, you hardly notice the verbal hyperbole.
866. “Magic Carpet Ride,” Steppenwolf. Songwriters: Rushton Moreve, John Kay. #3 pop; 1968. Steppenwolf evolved from a Canadian rock band named The Sparrows and became a sensation when their heavy metal thunder anthem “Born to Be Wild” went Top Five and was included in the 1969 film “Easy Rider.” John Kay on their followup hit, “’Magic Carpet Ride’ was a bass riff to begin with that our original bassist, Rushton Moreve, was always noodling around with during sound checks and what have you. In the midst of recording our second album, the guys picked up their instruments and sure enough Rushton started playing that bouncy bass riff of his again. Mars Bonfire, who is an excellent guitarist and particularly a very tight rhythm guitarist, joined in and pretty soon what became the basic track for ‘Magic Carpet Ride’ emerged. It was really at that point, the first time that everyone involved with the project said ‘if this ain’t a hit, we need to switch professions.’”
865. “Part Time Love,” Little Johnny Taylor. Songwriter: Clay Hammond; #19 pop/#1 R&B; 1963. Little Johnny Taylor was constantly confused with Johnny Taylor of “Who’s Making Love” fame, that error was even made in the obituary that ran in his adopted hometown of Conway, Arkansas in 2002. Little Johnny Taylor was born in Gregory, Arkansas, moved to Los Angeles in the 1950s, performed with the gospel act The Mighty Clouds of Joy, then turned his sights to secular music. “Part Time Love” was a bizarre crossover pop hit, a hard blues number where Taylor speculates about the bones and dust in the graveyard, then states his goal for a side piece to grow old with him and clean his dirty dishes. Session guitarist/T-Bone Walker fan Arthur Wright serves up a platter of blues licks in the background. Taylor had intermittent success, returning to the Top Ten of the R&B charts in 1971 with the cheating number “Everybody Knows About My Good Thing.” Little Johnny eventually retired from the chitlin’ circuit, trading his microphone for a fishing pole.
864. “Tired of Waiting for You,” The Kinks. Songwriter: Ray Davies; #6 pop; 1965. There are different accounts on the origin of the fatigued love song “Tired of Waiting for You.” It’s been reported that Davies wrote the song when he was fifteen years old, that he penned the song at Art School while he was in his late teens, and that he improvised the lyrics in the studio. The reflective number was the third consecutive Top Ten single for The Kinks in the U.S. and a #1 U.K. hit. Dave Davies, “The recording went well but there was something missing and it was my raunchy guitar sound. Ray and I were worried that putting that heavy-sounding guitar on top of a ponderous song might ruin it. Luckily it enhanced the recording, giving it a more cutting, emotional edge. In my opinion ‘Tired of Waiting’ was the perfect pop record. It was a change of style for us, we got a bit posher! Our material started to get a bit more melodic after that.”
863. “Do I Make Myself Clear,” Etta James & Sugar Pie DeSanto. Songwriters: Shena DeMell, Peylia Parham; #96 pop; 1965. Big band leader turned R&B star Johnny Otis discovered Umpeylia Marcema Balinton during the mid-1950s and gave the diminutive singer the name “Sugar Pie” DeSanto. DeSanto served as the opening act for James Brown in 1959 and 1960. She scored her biggest hit in 1960 with the #4 R&B single “I Want to Know.” DeSanto had been teenage friends with Etta James and Chess Records requested duet recordings from them during the mid-‘60s. The check yourself before you wreck yourself “Do I Make Myself Clear” showcases the complementary voices and tough girl attitudes of James and DeSanto. DeSanto co-wrote this song and used the pseudonym Pelia Parham in the credits.
862. “Right or Wrong,” Wanda Jackson. Songwriter: Wanda Jackson; #29 pop/#9 country; 1961. Wanda Jackson grew up in Oklahoma and California, where she witnessed Western swing acts Bob Wills, Spade Cooley, and Tex Williams as a young girl. She received a regular radio slot at the age of 15 and was soon discovered by Hank Thompson. She had a Top Ten country hit in 1954 with “You Can’t Have My Love,” a comically themed duet with Thompson’s bandleader Billy Gray. While still a teenager, she often shared billing with Elvis Presley and they had a short romantic relationship. Not a cover of the jazz ballad popularized by Bob Wills, “Right or Wrong” is an original composition from Wanda Jackson that was a pop (#29) and country (#9) hit. Wanda moved away from her growling late 1950’s rockabilly mode on this effort, which sounds like a doo wop influenced prom slow dance number.
861. “(I’m a) Road Runner,” Jr. Walker and the All Stars. Songwriters: Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Eddie Holland; #20 pop/#4 R&B; 1966. Jr. Walker and the All Stars had a harder R&B edge than most Motown acts and that sound and attitude are on display on “(I’m a) Road Runner.” Thematically, this is an R&B “Free Bird,” where Walker keeps on keeping on, more worried about freedom than stability. The BBC’s Brian Matthew, “Written by Holland, Dozier and Holland, who, when they came to produce the record, discovered that Junior could only play his instrument in two keys, so they had him sing in a key he couldn’t play and when it was time to add the sax to the track, they would record it then change the speed of the track to the required pitch, giving the whole recording a unique sound.”