Sep 06

Popular ’69

Popular/55 comments • 1,989 views

Back in the Summer of 69. And the Spring, Autumn and other bits too. A missing Popular year poll for you to keep your spirits up while Tom regroups. Tom’s standing orders are:

I give a mark out of 10 to every single featured on Popular. This is your chance to indicate which YOU would have given 6 or more to, by whatever standard you wish to impose. And if you have any ‘closing remarks’ on the year to make, the comments box is your place!

Which of the Number Ones of 1969 Would You Have Given 6 Or More To?

View Results

Poll closes: No Expiry

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  1. 1
    thefatgit on 20 Jan 2012 #

    Only 4 missed the cut. Which surprises me. I would have only been a toddler in ’69, but a lot of these songs are VERY familiar, and are really quite enjoyable. An older version of me would have found 1969 to be quite a thrill-fest.

  2. 2
    lonepilgrim on 20 Jan 2012 #

    Apart from ‘The Ballad of John and Yoko’ there’s nothing there that I dislike.
    Whoever didn’t vote for Marvin Gaye should be brought before the Court of Popular

  3. 3
    pink champale on 20 Jan 2012 #

    i’ve still got ‘something in the air’ down as one of the Great Popular Injustices – i think it’s an incredible record and almost unbearably moving – joyful utopianism curdling into pain and insanity before our eyes, plus honky tonk piano. but again votes here suggest most don’t see it like that – not as good as ‘get back’! (i mean i love the beatles, even the disintegrating beatles, but really?).

    but not a great year. only six votes in total from me, though starstedt probably should’ve got one too.

  4. 4
    Mark G on 20 Jan 2012 #

    Blimey, I voted all of them!

    Rolf’s track suffered from ubiquity at the time, like Benny Hill’s “ernie”, but a 6 seemed only fair now.

  5. 5
    swanstep on 20 Jan 2012 #

    All but five made the cut for me – great year for chart-toppers.

  6. 6
    ottersteve on 20 Jan 2012 #

    I’m probably suffering from over-exposure to many of these records which I’ve heard countless times over the years. I was a 15-year-old at the time and back then nearly all of these seemed to sound much better than they do now. Could only bring myself to vote for 6 of them. Damn – I’m finally succunbing to SOF disease (sad old fart).

  7. 7
    Paulito on 20 Jan 2012 #

    But…but….this isn’t a new one – is it?? I’m absolutely certain I did a Popular ’69 poll before! However, I’ve never (despite much searching) come across polls for any of the earlier years, with a couple of exceptions (’59 and ’65, I think). Dear admin, do these exist somewhere and, if not, could you lash ’em up? I blummin’ love those polls, I do.

    I’m sharing in the love for the ’69 list. All but five get my vote – and three of those were borderline.

  8. 8
    Alan on 20 Jan 2012 #


    I apologise if 69 has been done. I couldn’t find it

  9. 9
    ottersteve on 21 Jan 2012 #

    #3 agree with you about “something in the air”. I remember this song coming straight out of left field and sounded totally different from the mainstream music at the time. A little overblown maybe,but the piano solo was unique, so gets my best song of the year vote.

  10. 10
    Jimmy the Swede on 21 Jan 2012 #

    A wonderful year for number ones (and the chart in general) and I remember them all with fondness.

  11. 11
    heather on 22 Jan 2012 #

    What a good year! I hadn’t noticed when I read this blog before. Well, what a year for good songs getting to number 1, anyway. It sort of means that The Record Buying Public had great taste, or at least, the same ideas about good records as future people.

    I mean, compared to 1991, which had piles and piles of good records and truly dismal number 1s.

  12. 12
    JonnyB on 22 Jan 2012 #

    I always considered ‘Something in the Air’ to be a great song, inexplicably interrupted by somebody having a go at playing the piano.

    But yes – great year, which surprised me a little for some reason.

  13. 13
    swanstep on 22 Jan 2012 #

    @JonnyB. You should track down LaBelle’s SITA cover which swaps out the piano break for a rousing version of The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.

  14. 14
    LondonLee on 22 Jan 2012 #

    I tried to be tough but still ended up picking 12. ‘Dizzy’ was a purely nostalgic choice — my mum had it but I loved dancing to it so much it became “my” record, the first one so named. Sadly I sat on it one day and broke it.

  15. 15
    wichitalineman on 22 Jan 2012 #

    11 for me without choosing either Beatles single (though Get Back is probably a 6 or even a 7, I was just trying hard not to pick too many).

    I’m surprised Sugar Sugar isn’t getting more love from Popular commenters. And pleasantly surprised by how tight the poll is – it didn’t seem like many people had time for Blackberry Way when Tom originally posted it.

    Something In The Air is a record I never get tired of: for me, the wonky piano section only serves to make the sun-bursting-through climax all the more intense and exciting.

    Possibly a year when the number ones were unrepresentative and better than the charts were generally? Sandie’s Monsieur Dupont, Cliff’s Big Ship, Lulu’s Boom Bang a Bang, Herman’s Something’s Happening – none were career highlights. Big Euro-gum representation.

    Looking forward to Lena picking her way through 1969.

  16. 16
    Paulito on 23 Jan 2012 #

    I think you’re right Witchita – few would regard the fag-end of the 60s as a vintage time for chart music (or music generally), and yet ’69 has a bumper crop of #1s. A bit of a fluke, I suppose.

    Why, though, are you “trying hard not to pick too many”? And if you think Get Back is possibly worth a 7, why oh why don’t you mark it accordingly? Could it be a prejudicial thing on account of the vintage of these songs? I suspect that a lot of people are afraid of appearing (even if only to themselves!) a bit fogeyish if they’re too enthusiastic about ‘golden oldies’.

  17. 17
    Paulito on 23 Jan 2012 #

    @ 15 again – ‘Sugar Sugar’ isn’t doing too badly (58% as I write) considering there’s probably still a fair amount of residual snobbery about bubblegum pop from that era. I’m more suprised that ‘Albatross’ is only polling at the same level; I can remember when it still seemed to be universally revered. As I see it, its mediocre showing is yet another illustration of how no-one really seems to dig the blues anymore. It’s a genre that, as I suggested in another thread a while ago, has effectively become “museum music”.

  18. 18
    wichitalineman on 23 Jan 2012 #

    I suppose I meant Popular, or Freaky Trigger, is the last place you’d find “residual snobbery about bubblegum pop”. I thought Sugar Sugar would certainly be ahead of Get Back and CCR.

    Yes, I suppose I don’t want to have a bias towards the 60s. But it feels like it defeats the point of the exercise if I pick everything bar Ob La Di Ob La Da.

    Then again, I think I only chose 4 no.1s from ’67.

    Also thought Albatross would poll higher. Not sure an anti-blues sentiment is holding it back – it owes more to Hank Marvin than Howlin’ Wolf.

  19. 19
    Tommy Mack on 23 Jan 2012 #

    Wouldn’t really Albatross ‘the blues’, it’s got to be one of the least bluesy of the Pete Green Fleetwood Mac songs.

    Generally, yes a great year!

  20. 20
    Tommy Mack on 23 Jan 2012 #

    I mean “wouldn’t really CALL Albatross ‘the blues'”

    Surprisingly good year: bits and pieces and oddities and apocalyptic overtones all round (Creedence, Thunderclap, Move, 2525) and the Beatles really scraping the bottom of the barrel.

  21. 21
    Tommy Mack on 23 Jan 2012 #

    I’d the top three so far (Marvin, Desmond, Creedence) would be my top three.

    I’d rate Archies, Albatross and Thunderclap higher, Beatles and Stones less – I’m not a massive fan of Honky Tonk Women, there are loads of Stones songs from this period I rate way more: even as dangerless party-rock, Brown Sugar is better.

    Ballad of John and Yoko is dreadful (not even the real Beatles etc etc); it was one of the first singles I ever bought (second hand in the mid-nineties) having really loved my Dad’s early Beatles singles and I was bitterly dissapointed. I can’t believe over half of people have rated it; if they get that easy a ride, I kind of see why some people really hate the Beatles. Get Back is passable boogie, but Status Quo were about to do this sort of thing much better and even then it’s not exactly my cup of tea.

  22. 22
    swanstep on 24 Jan 2012 #

    I’m still most surprised by the continued Popular antipathy towards Sarstedts’s Where do you go to? Tom gave it a 3 and cited John Peel as a fellow traveller, and that, to me incomprehensible sentiment has won the day in the poll. The comments on the Where do you go to? Popular entry are classic. One Kate Foster chimes in on Sarstedt’s behalf:
    And he’s 63! Still looking gorgeous too! So, lay off you lot who want to knock everyone.
    Without breaking stride, Punctum/Marcello zings back:
    Also, knock off you lot who want to lay everyone!

  23. 23
    Paulito on 25 Jan 2012 #

    1969 really is polling remarkably well. Leaving aside the usual solitary “none of them” vote (is it always the same perverse individual who does that, I wonder?), the worst performing song is currently at 12% and the second worst is up at 25%. I haven’t seen anything like that in any other year so far – although ’65 and ’81 have a comparable proportion of songs that get over 50%.

  24. 24
    ace inhibitor on 25 Jan 2012 #

    tommy@21 – ‘Beatles = 2nd rate Quo’ – excellent. now my official view.

  25. 25
    Tommy Mack on 25 Jan 2012 #

    No! Get Back = 2nd rate Quo!

    I actually love the Beatles and %-wise they’ve got very few truly crap songs, but most of their crap songs are from the last two years of their career. I wouldn’t call Get Back crap, it’s just very uncompelling: McCartney treading water singing about some quirky characters’ unremarkable adventures over a bit of boogie-lite. Billy Preston’s organ break and Ringo’s clunky drum-fills just about rescue it from utter mediocrity.

    Ballad of John and Yoko is an utter stinker. Definitely in my 10 least favourite Beatles songs of all time.

  26. 26
    Tommy Mack on 25 Jan 2012 #

    Me @ 21: “Status Quo were about to do this sort of thing much better” – actually T Rex would be a better comparison (specifically Get It On) and that’s definitely better than Get Back!

  27. 27
    wichita lineman on 25 Jan 2012 #

    I always thought Get Back was the Beatles trying to be Canned Heat, with Macca doing a decent Al ‘Kermit’ Wilson impression. It’s also the first single with which they followed rather than led (not counting Lady Madonna, which was part of a more general R&R revival).

    Ballad Of J&Y is barely a b-side, and I prefer (the still mediocre) Old Brown Shoe on the flip. It was recorded with Band Aid-style haste, though for entirely self-publicising reasons – the poor bed-ridden lambs. This partially explains its feebleness.

  28. 28

    BofJ&Y is John’s attempt to do Dylan-esque instant self-mythification according to the seemingly artless political aesthetic of fluxus, where the unfolding event as a whole is the “work”, and any initial art-object or performance merely the catalyst and the occasion.* I blow hot and cold on Lennon’s solo work — a little of it is lovely but a lot of it is very hard work indeed, given how blunt and undeluded and “direct” it is meant to be — but I do find interesting the sense of his utterly bewitched fascination with Yoko’s approach, if only because he is so obviously aware it is so obviously beyond his current reach — he understood it and loved it and wanted to be able to encompass it, but couldn’t. (Yoko being one of the most creative and consistently effective of the artists in fluxus: her own music round this time is also highly variable, but the best of it is genuinely extraordinary.)

    *The outfall of this being that the documents, long after the fact, of many many fluxus events seem very much more meagre than response at the time, and reports of them, seem to claim: Charlotte Moorman playing cello with her top off! “Important art” you say! etc etc.

  29. 29
    tom on 25 Jan 2012 #

    I did quite enjoy the proto-Twitter ‘a week in the life of John Lennon from the man himself’ lyrics, but as I’ve said, I’ve always borne it a grudge for wasting a week’s pocket money right at the start of my record-buying life.

  30. 30
    Elsa on 26 Jan 2012 #

    BofJ&Y is the funniest and loosest of all Beatle songs. I can’t believe the scorn on this board; this song is definitely in my Beatle top ten. The lyric in the refrain is probably the cleverest of its kind out of all their a-sides.

  31. 31
    Tommy Mack on 26 Jan 2012 #

    The lyrics are quite funny. I just find the music and singing pretty boring and the self-absorption repellent as it is fascinating.

  32. 32
    Tommy Mack on 26 Jan 2012 #

    Lord sukrat @ 28: What would you reccomend to a Yoko-sceptic? I’ve always felt that she deserved a fair hearing because anyone who pissed Paul McCartney off that much had to be worth a listen, but what I’ve heard and seen of her output (very little!) hasn’t convinced me that she was anything other than an ambitious chancer who got herself seen in the right places.

  33. 33
    thefatgit on 26 Jan 2012 #

    BofJ&Y kind of lays the groundwork for “Through The Wire”. I say “kind of” simply because Kanye suffered a whole lot more pain than John did. Although John wasn’t ultimately allowed to survive, I doubt having to endure the aftermath of a car crash compares IN THE SLIGHTEST to running away from a relentless and remorselessly nosey Press.

  34. 34

    At the moment I’m listening to 2007’s “Yes! I’m a Witch!” on Spotify, which is excellent (in parts)* — but what I had in mind, and more relevantly, is stuff off Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band and Fly, where she nudges an all-star group of 60s luminaries to invent Sonic Youth a decade before schedule, sounds they really weren’t making anywhere else. (There’s stuff on the live Derek and the Dominoes LP that pushes this way also, maybe…) . Her voice is the stopping point for many, though well within Slits/Riot Grrrl tolerance limits.

    I’m at work so I can’t give you the best pointers to fluxus stuff — and a great deal of it really was (as I said) very deliberately contextual intervention, which makes little sense and loses most of its flavour in bald description years after the fact. But Cut Piece is terrific: prescient (including personally prescient), superbly simply concieved, and genuinely unsettling I think.

    *This rider always applies with YO! I generally find her breathy spoken-word sections the places where i fast forward.

  35. 35

    s/b conceived <-- sub-editor on the loose :(

  36. 36
    wichita lineman on 26 Jan 2012 #

    Yoko’s Mind Train is a Barabajagal-esque floorfiller. I used to hear it at Danny Ladytron’s club in Liverpool in the mid 90s.


  37. 37
    wichita lineman on 26 Jan 2012 #

    Those US 1969 no.1s in full:

    Marvin Gaye – I Heard It Though the Grapevine (7 weeks)
    Tommy James & the Shondells – Crimson and Clover (2)
    Sly & the Family Stone – Everyday People (4)
    Tommy Roe – Dizzy (4)
    5th Dimension – Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (6)
    Beatles – Get Back (5)
    Henry Mancini – Love Theme from Romeo and Juliet (2)
    Zager & Evans – In the Year 2525 (6)
    Rolling Stones – Honky Tonk Women (4)
    Archies – Sugar Sugar (4)
    Temptations – I Can’t Get Next To You (2)
    Elvis Presley – Suspicious Minds (1)
    5th Dimension – Wedding Bell Blues (3)
    Beatles – Come Together (1)
    Steam – Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye (2)
    Peter Paul & Mary – Leaving On a Jet Plane (1)
    Diana Ross & the Supremes – Someday We’ll Be Together (1)

    A couple that didn’t make the UK Top 50 at all (Tommy James and Henry Mancini, both rather surprisingly) and one that barely did (Sly & the Family Stone – I’ve never really got the appeal of that one). Otherwise, a fair bit of crossover (6 were transatlantic no.1s) compared to 1968 (only Hey Jude).

  38. 38
    swanstep on 27 Jan 2012 #

    A thought about BoJ&Y: I rate it about a 6 but I’m aware that I’m not being completely objective about it when I do so. I think of BoJ&Y as *essentially* a late Beatles song and *specifically* as the soundtrack to Lennon transitioning out of the band/moving on. I’m pretty sure that I first heard BoJ&Y in the background of various Beatles documentaries/tributes, accompanying montages of disgruntled-other-Beatles shots interleaved with shots of ever-more-beardy Lennon and Ono. Its casualness (but with a bit of groove to it) works very well as an underscore of that specific extra-musical stuff I find. It’s almost outro music for the band. Thus, BoJ&Y isn’t the sort of song I want to hear much aside from those cases when I’m on a Beatles jag per se, or watching a band documentary etc., still less do I really want to hear BoJ&Y done by anyone else (so some of my usual, objectivizing tests of whether something’s a good song don’t apply here). But when I’m in an ‘absorbing the whole Beatles story’ context BoJ&Y works a treat I find, and I feel a lot of affection for it because of that. I know that that’s giving the song all sorts of special consideration that I don’t give others, which is a little subjective and unfair, but so be it (I probably do something similar with early and late works of Abba or The Smiths too now I think about it).

    @wichita. That US #1s list is ace too. And look at the first 8 US #1s of 1970:
    Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head
    I Want You Back
    Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)
    Bridge Over Troubled Water
    Let It Be
    American Woman

    This has to a peak time for a pop music that channeled the whole culture, that almost everyone liked.

  39. 39
    karen d tregaskin on 27 Jan 2012 #

    Sugar Sugar by The Archies is pretty much the greatest single ~OF ALL TIME~ and I will smite anyone who dares disagree!

  40. 40
    Elsa on 27 Jan 2012 #

    Thinking of the casual spontaneous feel of BofJ&Y, it occurs to me that this was the period when Lennon got into the practice of making “instant” records – writing a song, recording it, and releasing it as an a-side within a month’s time. Beatle historians correct me if I’m wrong, but “BofJ&Y,” “Give Peace a Chance,” “Cold Turkey,” and “Instant Karma” all fit this pattern.

  41. 41
    wichita lineman on 27 Jan 2012 #

    Swanstep – good call on BofJ&Y’s place in the Beatles story. Likewise, I like Sheila Take A Bow and Girlfriend In A Coma as ’87 singles more than I would’ve done if they’d followed, say, This Charming Man.

    Elsa – think yr right but wouldn’t many of the earlier Beatles singles have followed a similar pattern? I suppose the difference here is the personal content of the songs (Instant Karma aside), which Mark has almost certainly identified correctly as Fluxus inspired.

    I love you smart people.

  42. 42
    Elsa on 27 Jan 2012 #

    Wichita – I think it’s the writing part of the process that usually predates the record by a few months if not a year or more… although I seem to recall that “Help” was written at the final hour, so that one might qualify. Maybe there are others. The Stones’ “Satisfaction” was turned out in about three weeks.

  43. 43
    tom on 27 Jan 2012 #

    Early Beatles and Stones singles were written and recorded quickly as it was standard industry practise at the time (the Swinging Blue Jeans apparently ran out of songs during the recording of their debut album so just worked through lunch to write a few more!) Whereas Lennon recording his Bag-era stuff was done quickly thru choice, as Elsa pointed out above, as an artistic and political statement. Still don’t really enjoy it as music.

    Latter period Smiths has grown on me, but I can take or leave the slick, subdued sound of Strangeways…

  44. 44
    Elsa on 27 Jan 2012 #

    Yeah, I think what was largely unprecedented was the clout that would enable a pop artist to say, “This is the single and I want it released right now.”

  45. 45
    Tommy Mack on 27 Jan 2012 #

    And the fact he was singing so frankly about his own life, aims and even personal flaws. That is interesting, although it walks a knife-edge between honesty and narcissism.

  46. 46

    Also a knife-edge between ordinary-bloke snapshot “this is just stuff we all think and feel, no?” and “I AM THE MOST FAMOUS POP BRAIN ON THE PLANET RELEASE IT THIS INSTANT”

  47. 47
    Dan Quigley on 28 Jan 2012 #

    41-44, The early Beatles singles might have been recorded quickly, but if I recall my Beatles books right, they were still usually subject to a bit of redrafting from the group and George Martin, in the form of speeding things up, adding a few ‘woohs’ and ‘yeahs’, putting the middle 8 at the beginning to maximise impact, etc.

    The sense I have with TBoJ&Y and other Lennon things at the time is that such editing was not only absent, but scorned by him as artificial.

    All that said, I agree that TBoJ&Y is quite amiable. I like that even when he’s not trying to make the music interesting, Lennon can’t help but end the bridge on a couple of his irregular added beats.

  48. 48
    weej on 28 Jan 2012 #

    Re #47 – I listened to “Two Virgins” for the first time a few weeks ago, and you’re spot on with the anti-editing thing! TBoJ&Y is Bohemian Rhapsody by comparison.

  49. 49
    stand for phil on 6 Feb 2012 #

    Wow, US has Steam and that is a great song! In either country I’m going with Marvin though.

  50. 50
    Alan not logged in on 14 Feb 2012 #

    I’ll shunt this back in time into the right order of popular posts in a couple of days

  51. 51
    lonepilgrim on 15 Feb 2012 #

    any chance of polls for 1968, 1966 and 1964?

  52. 52
    Alan not logged in on 16 Feb 2012 #

    The great missing popular polls are coming – but they are mostly fall-back posts for Tom’s busy times. I’ll pop up another if a 3 week plus gap is looking likely

  53. 53
    lonepilgrim on 17 Feb 2012 #

    no problem Alan – thanks for all your work in making this site work so smoothly

  54. 54
    wichita lineman on 14 Apr 2012 #

    Those South African number ones in full. Impressive loyalty to both sides post-Bee Gees split. Only One woman was another Gibb song, sung by Graham Bonnet:

    10-Jan-69 You Can Cry If You Want – Troggs (4)
    07-Feb-69 Only One Woman – Marbles (1)
    14-Feb-69 Cry To Me – Staccatos (3)
    07-Mar-69 Crimson And Clover – Tommy James & The Shondells (4)
    04-Apr-69 Dizzy – Tommy Roe (2)
    18-Apr-69 Indian Giver – 1910 Fruitgum Company (2)
    02-May-69 Sorry Suzanne – Hollies (2)
    16-May-69 Where Do You Go To My Lovely – Peter Sarstedt (1)
    23-May-69 Games People Play – Joe South (2)
    06-Jun-69 Hair – Cowsills (1)
    13-Jun-69 Proud Mary – Creedence Clearwater Revival (2)
    27-Jun-69 My Sentimental Friend – Herman’s Hermits (4)
    25-Jul-69 Little Yellow Aeroplane – Leapy Lee (1)
    01-Aug-69 Time Is Tight – Booker T & The MGs (3)
    22-Aug-69 Sugar, Sugar – Archies (3)
    12-Sep-69 Bad Moon Rising – Creedence Clearwater Revival (1)
    19-Sep-69 Saved By The Bell – Robin Gibb (3)
    10-Oct-69 Put A Little Love In Your Heart – Jackie de Shannon (2)
    24-Oct-69 Don’t Forget To Remember – Bee Gees (4)
    14-Nov-69 Suspicious Minds – Elvis Presley (6)

  55. 55
    Billy Smart on 17 Aug 2012 #

    There were four ‘phantom’ number ones in 1969, reaching the top of the other (NME) chart, but not the one Tom’s using. All four were number one for one week, and all four are absolutely terrific:

    In the Ghetto – Elvis Presley
    Oh Well – Fleetwood Mac
    Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday – Stevie Wonder
    Ruby Don’t take Your Love To Town – Kenny Rogers & The First Edition

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