25 February 2006

Eight Records on the Radio, Summer of 1966-67

A list of songs that I heard on the radio December 1966-January 1967:
The Cryan' Shames - I Want To Meet You
The Innocence - There's Got To Be A Word!
Twice As Much - True Story
The Small Faces - My Mind's Eye
The Settlers - Till Winter Follows Spring
The Cyrkle - Please Don't Ever Leave Me
The Righteous Brothers - On This Side Of Goodbye
Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra - Summer Wine

This must be from the summer vacation of 1966-67, December or January, going by the release or chart dates of the songs. In Australia our summers begin in December, and the new school year starts around the end of January. I was sixteen, about to start my final year of high school.

For a few days, as I heard a new song I liked on the radio, I wrote it down on the back cover of a foolscap writing pad left over from the school year. If I knew the label I wrote that as well, probably because at the local music shop it was easier to order a record if you could tell them the label. I was in Swan Hill, a town on the Murray River in northern Victoria.

In reality, I couldn't have afforded even one-half of one of those records, let alone eight. It’s only recently that I’ve finally got hold of every song on the list, helped along by the coming of the Net, file-sharing, and emailing mp3s, as well as CD reissues of every other song ever recorded.

I've heard of kids back then keeping their own charts, their personal Top 20 of current favourites, complete with hit picks, new entries, and drop-outs, as they got hooked on a song then got sick of it. A guy from Delta, British Columbia, who uses the name Taliesyn, had his personal charts published in the local paper: nowadays he regularly posts them on Usenet.

I wasn't so organised. I just wrote a bunch of songs in Pentel Sign pen on the cardboard at the back of a writing pad. I didn't even manage to find the same coloured pen each time. Years later, I threw out the pad, but tore off the list for nostalgia's sake.

The list doesn’t include any huge international hits, and some of the artists are barely known, but they were being played on the radio, probably on small-town stations such as 3SH Swan Hill, 3BO Bendigo, 2QN Deniliquin and 2WG Wagga. Regional radio stations back then usually had their own eager young disc jockeys on their way to the big city, and they would have had some say in the music they played. Some of the songs might not even have been heard on big city stations like 3UZ in Melbourne.

The Righteous Brothers - On This Side Of Goodbye (Carole King – Gerry Goffin)
This is my favourite from the list, and the only one I still listen to regularly. It’s also my favourite Righteous Brothers song, a big production of a moody Goffin-King ballad, a bit in the vein of The Righteous Bros' earlier records with Phil Spector. I’ve never understood why this isn’t better known, or why it wasn’t a hit. (I also have a version by Alan Price that has a different arrangement, a different feel: not in the same league, as much as I like Alan Price.)

Lee Hazlewood & Nancy Sinatra - Summer Wine (Lee Hazlewood)
#2 Melbourne, #7 Brisbane #4 Adelaide
This is the only song on the list that was a hit in Australia (though not in the USA), recorded by seasoned producer-singer-songwriter Lee Hazelwood with his younger client, daughter of Frank Sinatra. Australians were nuts about this duo, especially in Melbourne and Adelaide, where they had seven charting records, compared with three nationally in the US.

The Small Faces - My Mind's Eye (Ronnie Lane - Steve Marriott)
#4 UK
Regularly included on Small Faces Best Of… collections, thanks to its success in the UK.

The Cyrkle - Please Don't Ever Leave Me (Susan Haber)
#43 Adelaide
American band, associates of The Beatles and Simon & Garfunkel. Their best-known song was Red Rubber Ball (1966), written by Paul Simon with Bruce Woodley of The Seekers, a hit in the US and in Australia.

The Innocence - There's Got To Be A Word! (Don Ciccone)
#37 USA
The Innocence were Pete Anders and Vini Poncia, who also recorded as The Videls and The Trade Winds (New York’s A Lonely Town, 1965) and as a duo under their own names. They produced the original version of Zoom Zoom Zoom, by Our Patch of Blue, covered by Australian band Cam-Pact.

The Cryan’ Shames - I Want To Meet You (Jim Fairs)
Jaunty pop song with harmonies by Chicago band, popular in their home region, whose version of Sugar and Spice is on Nuggets 1. I Want To Meet You was written by Cryan’ Shames guitarist Jim Fairs.

Twice As Much - True Story (Andrew Rose – David Skinner)
Recorded for Andrew Loog Oldham’s Immediate label by duo Andrew Rose and David Skinner, who had a bit of a hit in the UK with Sittin’ On The Fence (1966, #25), written by Mick and Keith of The Stones. David Skinner is mentioned below for co-writing P.P. Arnold’s Everything’s Gonna Be Alright.

The Settlers - Till Winter Follows Spring (Kent, Jones, Fyffe)
Pop-folk song, pretty much in the vein of The Seekers, by group from Birmingham. This is on the anthology Autumn Almanac, one of the Ripples series of compilations of 60s British pop obscurities (The Settlers' Major To Minor is on Dreamtime, another in the series).

What does the list say about either my musical tastes at the time, or the playlists of the stations I was listening to? Let's face it, these songs are mainstream pop: no garage rockers or frantic r&b here, and the Righteous Brothers' nod to soul stands out amongst all that jaunty, sunshiney jingle-jangle and folk-pop harmonies. (Ah well, it was Summer, after all.)

One more thing I noticed: there are five American records, three British, and none from Australia. Sorry, mate.

1 comment:

Jeff Smith said...

lyn,

re the cryan' shames - that should be Jim Fairs, not Fair.

cheers

Jeff Smith

ps somewhere I have a dozen or so or these, 1970-1973, painstakingly recording time/date/artist/song/station - I wonder where they are?