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.

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