So if I ask you about great pop songs of the 1960s – what would you say?
Decades of music often get narrowed down to a handful of bands. If TV music channels are to be believed, the 80s could be reduced to Duran Duran while the 60s were all about the Stones and the Beatles. I love the Stones. I’m more lukewarm about the Beatles. But that decade had a massive variety of pop songs and I want to share some gems here.
Let me broaden your horizons!
Going to start with The Easybeats and the song Friday on My Mind. Such a cute number from the Australian popsters and this performance below was on French TV in 1967. Lead singer Stevie Wright had something of a long and sad decline after the band split up. He was the subject of a less than flattering biography which detailed his drug addiction in painful detail.
On a happier note, rhythm guitarist George Young was the brother of Malcolm and Angus who went on to form the hugely successful rock combo – AC/DC.
When looking at the greatest 1960s pop songs – then you have to check out this chap. Chris Farlowe was never going to win a beauty contest but what a voice. Just hypnotic. Out of Time is such a heart string plucker of a number. Farlowe started out in skiffle bands and then after this crooning phase ended up in the 70s rock band Atomic Rooster for a while. They were one of those bands that had never ending line-up changes including drummer Carl Palmer who went on to form the 70s mega prog rock outfit: Emerson, Lake and Palmer.
Carl Palmer is still going strong and has been growing radishes during the Coronavirus lockdown!
The Box Tops started out looking like your average clean cut early 1960s soul pop combo but then embraced a more grungy hippy vibe. Lead singer Alex Chilton had been drafted into the band at quite short notice and told by the record company to affect a growly voice. Incredibly, he’s only about 16 in this recording below. He went on to form Big Star, which influenced groups like REM. But he never attained – or maybe wanted – the kind of stardom he deserved. This song – The Letter – is for me, one of the top 1960s pop songs.
The Dutch 1960s pop combo Shocking Blue released Venus in 1969. I just find it hard to believe that this is 50 years old. And it still pops up on TV in various guises. It’s one of those quintessential pop songs of the 1960s that nobody can name the band.
Dionne Warwick and Don’t Make Me Over. Dionne was a backing singer for Elvis who got the recognition she richly deserved. And as you may know, she was related to the late Whitney Houston. I hardly need to argue the case for this being one of the great pop songs of the 1960s.