Friday, January 5, 2001

McQ's Best Of 1967 Vol 8 - Nancy's Favorites

1. Soul Man - Sam & Dave
2. Tell Mama - Etta James
3. I Heard It Through The Grapevine - Gladys Knight & The Pips
4. Born Under A Bad Sign - Albert King
5. Pouring Water On A Drowning Man - Albert King
6. Save Me - Aretha Franklin
7. All Along The Watchtower - Bob Dylan
8. Let's Spend The Night Together - The Rolling Stones
9. Penny Lane - The Beatles
10. Groovin' - The Young Rascals
11. Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison
12. Happy Together - The Turtles
13. Love Is All Around - The Troggs
14. Little Bit O'Soul - The Music Explosion
15. The Letter - The Box Tops
16. Different Drum - The Stoney Poneys
17. I Think We're Alone Now - Tommy James & The Shondells
18. The First Cut Is The Deepest - Cat Stevens
19. Never My Love - The Association
20. Hello Goodbye - The Beatles
21. (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher - Jackie Wilson
22. I Was Made To Love Her - Stevie Wonder
23. I Second That Emotion - Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
24. Respect - Aretha Franklin
25. Fire - The Jimi Hendrix Experience
26. 007 (Shanty Town) - Desmond Dekker
27. You Keep Me Hangin' On - The Supremes
28. Ain't No Mountain High Enough - Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
29. What A Wonderful World - Louis Armstrong

Track List / Mix Write-up / Spotify /
McQ's Favorite Albums Of 1967
McQ's Favorite Songs Of 1967
Nancy's Favorites 2007
Nancy's Favorites 2008
Nancy's Favorites 2009
Nancy's Favorites 2010
Nancy's Favorites 2011
Nancy's Favorites 2012
Nancy's Favorites 2013
Nancy's Favorites 2014
Nancy's Favorites 2015

About The Albums/Songs On This Mix: 

Before diving into the wealth of amazing Motown and Bubblegum singles Nancy gravitated towards with her mix, let's first cast our ears towards Jamaica, and Desmond Dekker's 007 (Shanty Town).

There is no overstating Dekker's importance in regards to Jamaican music history.  Bob Marley may have risen to become the island's biggest international star, but Dekker was its first, and this wonderful little single was the very first Jamaican track to ever chart overseas, become a dancehall favorite of the mods in England and hitting number 15 on the U.K. charts. The song would reach an even bigger international population five years later when it was included on one of the two or three most important reggae albums of all time, the soundtrack to Jimmy Cliff's The Harder They Come.

Though never very popular in the States, and more known for lusty early proto-punk and garage hits like Wild Thing, With A Girl Like You, and I Can't Control Myself, Andover England's The Troggs were actually one of the most stylistically versatile of the original British Invasion acts, and never was that counterintuitive versatility more on display than with their classic flower-power ballad Love Is All Around.

Released late in 1967, the sweet, disarmingly simple song would go on to become a major charter in 1968, and has been covered countless times by other acts, including REM, and for Christmas fans, most notably in lyrically reworked form as a shameless holiday commercial ploy by an aging rocker portrayed by veteran British character actor Bill Nighy in Richard Curtis's Love, Actually.

The 1910 Fruitgum Company's Simon Says (featured on Volume 4 - 1967's Super Spectacular Singles Superstars) and The Music Explosion's cover of Little Bit O' Soul (featured here) were two early critical hits for the Buddah Record's bubblegum-oriented production team of Jeff Katz and Jerry Kasenetz.

For the originally more garage-y Mansfield, Ohio-based Music Explosion, Little Bit O' Soul would be their only hit, peaking at #2 in the weeklies and finishing #11 on Billboard's Year End Hot 100, but it would empower the Katz/Kasenetz team and set them on a path of producing several more bubblegum classics.

Simon Says would be more typical of their actual process, pairing an unknown act, in this case, New Jersey's Jeckell And The Hydes, with various anonymous studio musicians to cut the track.

Released in December of 1967, Simon Says peaked at #4 in the weeklies and end up taking the #33 spot in the 1968 Year End Hot 100.  A string of additional hits for the quasi-manufactured act would follow over the next few years.

Another producer-led single, but in this case one that would launch the career of a far more significant act and to an even greater degree its legendary frontman, is the Box Top's The Letter.

The song, written by Nashville-based country artist Wayne Carson Thompson, found its way into the hands of Carson Thompson's friend Chips Moman, owner over Memphis's famed American Sound Studio, who agreed to record the song with a new band. When one of Moman's young assistant producers, Dan Penn, grew tired of collaborating with others and asked for a chance to record an act - any act no matter how low on the totem pole - on his own, Moman gave him the shot and also let him run with some of Carson Thompson's songs, including The Letter.

To record the song, Penn picked blue-eyed soul teenage-act The Devilles, fronted by 16-year-old Alex Chilton, who had been regular competitors in a local weekly battle of the bands competition. Despite the band's youth and inexperience in the studio, they proved to be quick studios. Though session men did contribute to the session, all original band members did play on the recording.

Once the single was cut, the band changed their name to The Box Tops to avoid conflicts with another similarly named recording artists, and the rest is history.  The song, I believe the shortest to every top the Billboard charts, was the #2 song on the year, and the first in a string of hits for the band  through over the next couple years before most of the members, quickly jaded by the myriad ways they were being ripped off by the industry, choose to leave for various colleges instead.

Chilton, obviously, went on to much underground acclaim as a solo artist and leader of the beloved mid-70s power-pop trio Big Star.

Different Drum was the one-and-only top-twenty hit for the Linda Ronstadt-fronted folk-rock act The Stone Poneys before unrelenting record label pressure to repackage Ronstadt as a solo artist tore the group apart, even though Ronstadt's ties with guitarist and principal songwriter Bob Kimmel went  deep.

Six years Ronstadt's senior, Kimmel had been performing with Linda intermittently since he discovered her as an Arizona high school freshman in 1960 singing with her brother and sister at local Tuscon haunts. The two maintained a correspondence whenever Kimmel returned to Los Angeles, and by 1964, he had convinced her to come to LA and form a proper band. The two teamed up with Kimmel's occasional songwriter partner Kenny Edwards, and the Stone Poneys were soon regulars on the LA club scene.

But right from the start, label interest was exclusively on Rondstadt.

The group held out, and eventually signed with the newly formed FolkWorld arm of Capital Records, the one label that would allow them to stay intact, but the pressures to put Ronstadt front and center  continued. Originally a Peter, Paul, & Mary-styled outfit that shared tight group vocals and worked almost exclusively from high-quality Kimmel/Edwards compositions, the inclusion of Different Drum (written by Monkee Mike Nesmith and recorded with just Ronstadt and session musicians instead of Kimmel/Edwards) on their more rocking sophomore LP Evergreen, Vol. 2 was basically  the group's death knell, even though they would manage to release one more record before officially disbanding in 1968.

Ronstadt, obviously, went on to have a significant solo career...just as label execs had predicted.

Cat Stevens' The First Cut Is The Deepest was a hit not just for him in 1967 but also hot at that moment American ex-patriot soul singer P. P. Arnold.

Though Stevens had recorded a demo of the song in1965, he was still primarily focused on his songwriting career rather than his performing career in early 1967, so he sold the song to Arnold for a mere thirty pounds. But after the song became a huge hit for Arnold in the U.K.,  Stevens decided to record his own version of the song for his second album New Masters. It didn't chart as well as Arnold's version at the time, but is now considered by many the definitive version of the song, no matter how much Arnold or other artists who scored hits with it through the years like Rod Stewert or Cheryl Crow may disagree.

Another twice a hit in 1967 song was the Holland-Dozier-Holland-penned Motown classic You Keep Me Hangin' On, first entering 1967 still clinging to the #21 spot for Diana Ross & The Supremes after having landed at number 1 on the charts for two weeks late in 1966. That version is included here.  Long Island psychedelic cover band Vanilla Fudge's ultra-heavy version of the song released later that year is included on our 1967's Super "Sensational" Summer Of Love mix.

Motown wasn't just a label in 1967, it was a cultural force, its songs often the one brand of music that would consistently get individuals both white and black to drop the racial tension of the time and for a few brief minutes, have at it...and 1967 was among the labels best years ever.  No surprise thenthat Nancy has selected several of the labels top 1967 hits for her mix.

I Was Made To Love Her wasn't Stevie Wonder's first hit, he'd had several by the time of its 1967 release date, but co-written by he, his mother Lula Mae Hardaway, Sylvia Moy, and producer Henry Cosby, it was a personal favorite and point of pride amongst his early compositions. As wonder declared in a 1968 interview, he felt it was his first truly complete song.  The song would top the R&B charts for four weeks in 1967, but was blocked from the top spot in overall pop charts by The Doors' Light My Fire, and finished as the #14 most popular single for the year.

It was an even more productive year for Smokey Robinson & The Miracles.

In addition to releasing the amazing Tears Of A Clown, co-written with Stevie Wonder and Henry Cosby, and the gorgeous The Love I Saw In You Was Just A Mirage (both featured on our 1967's Super Soulsters Deep Cuts Review), Smokey stumbled upon his biggest hit of 1967 while shopping for pearls for his wife Claudette with friend and fellow songwriter Al Cleveland.

As the legend goes, after making his choice, Smokey said to the to the sales clerk "I sure hope she (Claudette) likes them." Cleveland then added "I second that emotion." He had meant to say "notion," but both men were so amused, they immediately got to work shaping a song around the accidental turn of phrase.

Though not one of these three Miracles songs would crack the year-end hot 100, I Second That Emotion did spend three weeks at #4 on the pop charts at the end of 1967, and the song has only grown in stature as the years have passed.

But as long as we're talking about growing in stature, let's talk about one of the all-time stature growing singles, Louis Armstrong's What A Wonderful World.

Written with Armstrong in mind but first offered to Tony Bennett by songwriters Bob Theile and George David Weiss, it became the elder jazz statesman's to record after Bennett turned it down. Released in October 1967, the song was at first ignored in the United States, where it sold less than 1000 units in its initial run, but it was a monster smash in the UK, where it made Armstrong, at 66 years in 1967, the oldest performer at the time to ever top the British charts. So beloved was the song in the UK that not only did it hit number 1 in British weeklies in 1967, but it was Britain's top selling single in all of 1968 as well. Then, over the years, after a never ending string of television and film soundtrack usages, the song eventually reached the the revered worldwide cultural status it holds today.

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