If it's crap ... We'll tell you
First of all this list is inspired by this video. http://blip.tv/file/4581618/ I realize that the girl in the video covered the sixties and seventies, but I felt it was more appropriate to begin with the fifties and sixties and therefore cover the dawning decades of pop, rock and soul. If I should decide to make future lists they will group the seventies and eighties together and group the nineties and 2000s together, although I can’t see myself honoring any songs from the 2000s.
I’d like to point out that the purpose of this list is to cover my 25 favorite songs from the period honestly and I have not attempted to give equal coverage to both decades or to mention as many bands as possible, however at times I found myself comparing apples to oranges and it can be very hard to pick a favorite between two songs done in very different styles. Speaking of that, this list and future ones if I should decide to make them only cover songs that fit my definition of pop, rock and soul. If I choose to talk about jazz, rap, electronica or othe styles it will be in a separate list for that specific genre.
Here we go.
#25) The Marcels – Blue Moon
I'm a big fan of complex vocal harmonies. My favorite doo-wop songs are the ones like this one, there's lot's of different stuff going on with all the different voices and the nonsensical bass line is distinct and instantly identifyable which is the mark of a classic in this style.
#24) Del Shannon – Runaway
His voice is great and I dig the story this song tells, but it's that organ solo that really sells this song to me.
#23) The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Crosstown Traffic
Among Hendrix songs, why do I love Crosstown Traffic so much. You know, I'm not sure, but it may be because this one plays closer to the rules of a radio hit than his more improvisational jams.
#22) The Fleetwoods – Mr. Blue
That guy's voice is incredibly smooth. It makes me want to spark a doob, close my eyes and lay back on the sofa with my headphones. This is one of the most relaxing songs I've ever heard in my life. I realize the lyrics are about a guy who's sad, but it feels more like your just taking the story in as poetic, rather than identifying and feeling sad for him, thanks to the singer's velvet tonsils.
#21) The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced?
"We'll hold hands and watch the sunrise from the bottom of the sea." The dense layers of backwards and forwards hard rock stream of conscience is sixties experimentation at an iconic level.
#20) The Mothers of Invention – Trouble Every Day
Zappa's social commentary on social unrest and exploitative journalism could have been the decade's theme song.
#19) Syd Barrett – Dark Globe
As I interpret it, a touching and desperate plea from a childlike lunatic coming to the realiztion that his human being card's been revoked.
#18) The Shangri-Las - Remember (Walking In The Sand)
I love the emotion in the vocals in this one. The Shangri Las had a rep as the "bad girls of rock and roll" in this one the over the top tone suggests being dumped equates to the end of the world (for a teenage drama queen.) I suspect that there's an undertone suggesting that she slept with the guy therefore sacrificing her reputation and leaving herself "damaged goods" and possibly even pregnant.
#17) The Jefferson Airplane – It’s No Secret
I just love the way this song just kind of drives along. It isn't really saying anything, it's just the rhythm and the pacing that does it for me.
#16) The Strawberry Alarm Clock – Incense & Peppermints
Ah, the song they always play for sixties montages. There's so much percussion going on in this song. Hand claps, maracas, cowbell and drums all at once, and that organ line. I love hammond organ playing in sixties psychedelic songs. It's orgasmic. I just want to add that although The Strawberry Alarm clock were a one hit band, their body of work contains some really groovy sounds and I suggest, if you like Incense & Peppermints, to seek out a greatest hits compilation. The one I have is called "Strawberries Mean Love" and it's great.
#15) Desmond Dekker & The Aces - The Israelites
I don't know much about this one. It was in the movie, Drugstore Cowboy, and I used to hear it on oldies radio. It's just an all around strong little song. It's got that driving rhythmic pace that I love and a singer with a really unique voice and style and once again there's those great vocal harmonies.
#14) The Jefferson Airplane - Won’t You Try / Saturday Afternoon
A slow and wailing acid anthem about encouraging someone to try new things. I can't really think of anything else to say about it, because it doesn't really sound like any other song.
#13) The Turtles – You Showed Me
There's those tight vocal harmonies again, this time a slow, minor key groove. It's got that spooky, loopy kind of uninterrupted haunted sound.
#12) The Mothers of Invention - Let’s Make The Water Turn Black
I'm not sure what this bizarre highlight from "We're Only In It For The Money" is about, exactly, but I'm sure it must be something deep. "WOIIFTM" is a concept album criticizing the vapid, more trendy aspects of the hippie movement, while also sternly chastising those with violent attitudes toward the counter culture. Let's Make the Water Turn Black seems to be a sort of scatological nursery rhyme about the youngsters who derive endless entertainment out of their own bodily excretions and possibly grow up to be politicians or military leaders,
#11) The Status Quo – Pictures of Matchstick Men
I first became aware of this song when Camper Van Beethoven recorded a version of it. When it came to my attention that it was a cover, I sought out the original on a "Best of Psychedelic 60's" tape and began my love affair with this style of music. And what a song to convert me too. It doesn't get any trippier than this folks. The song sounds as though it was recorded under water.
#10) The Marmalade – I See The Rain
Another nice bit of psychedelia I dug up on the always excellent "Nuggets II" collection. This is also heavy on the studio effects and has a wonderful hook that repeats throughout. Nice pastoral imagery in the lyrics too, describing a downpour over the English countryside.
#9) The Chantels – Maybe
The word to describe this one would be heart. It's a hopeless, desperate and raw pining torch song. Beautiful, simply beautiful.
#8) The Tokens – The Lion Sleeps Tonight
Vocal folk group, the Tokens, may not have fully understood what this African song was originally saying, but hey whatever. I've repeatedly throughout this list, professed my love for tight, complex vocal harmonies, and this one is among the cream of the crop when it comes to that stuff.
#7) Human Beinz – Nobody But Me
"No, No, No, No, No, No, No..." The unbelievably catchy opening to this dance floor anthem was doomed to be used in advertisements until the end of time. That's great marketing, right? You get those "No, No"s stuck in people's heads and your products stuck there too. But in order to have such a genius advertising strategy, you first need a few teenagers to record an equally genius pop song.
#6) The Factory – Path Through The Forest
This is another one I found on "Nuggets II". It's fuzzy as hell and it grooves.
#5) The Diamonds – Little Darlin’
The liner notes to Rhino's "The Doo-Wop Box" accuse the Diamonds of turning The Gladiolas lesser known version of Little Darlin' into a silly novelty. I object to this statement and I think it should be clear to anyone with an eardrum that this is the superior version of that song and it's a crime that it was omitted from "The Doo-Wop Box" and both of its sequels. The arrangement hear is absolutely lavish with maracas, cowbell and harps filling everything out and that crazy falsetto soprano. This song is just tight as the lid on a salsa jar and the most professionally produced doo-wop record of all time.
#4) The Beatles – Tomorrow Never Knows
Maybe I should have included more Beatles on this list. I've already posted this list on my facebook so I'm not going back to change it now. I love the Beatles, and George Harrison is my favorite songwriter of the group, however Tomorrow Never Knows is my favorite from the Lennon/McCartney songbook. What I like about this one I think is the strange key of the vocals and the layers of odd, yet not random sounds tripping the whole piece out.
#3) The Beach Boys – Good Vibrations
#2) The Beatles – It’s All Too Much
I realize that the four original tracks from "Yellow Submarine" were viewed as leftovers by the Beatles and George Martin, but I love these songs and It's All To Much, in my opinion, is Harrison's finest seven minutes. There's so many layers here of all kinds of trippy instruments my ears can't even identify. This song is aural immersion.
#1) The Monkees - Porpoise Song (Theme from Head)
My favorite song of all time is the theme from my favorite movie of all time. Written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King, this sad psychedelic epic also features my favorite hammond organ. It laments the realization that free will is an illusion, mirroring the theme of the film and reflecting the career of the Monkees as a fake band.