Mar 14

Popular ’61

Popular22 comments • 1,726 views

There’s a few big Popular entries coming up so I’m giving myself a spare day’s breathing space, which means it’s time for a year poll. To be moved to its proper place in a week or so.

I give every record on Popular a mark out of 10 – this is your chance to say which of the number ones of 1961 you’d have given 6 or more to. This year got three 9s from me – “Johnny Remember Me”, “Blue Moon” and “Moon River”. At the other end “Wooden Heart” and “I Reach For The Stars” got lumped with a 2. As ever, discuss the year in general in the comments…

Which Of The Number One Hits Of 1961 Would You Have Given 6 Or More To?

View Results

Poll closes: No Expiry

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  1. 1
    Tom on 7 Mar 2014 #

    11 out of 21 and I’d mark a few more higher now.

    I’m obviously not expecting this to make as much of a comments dent as the 1966 year poll, but this is a more interesting year than I remember – the height of Elvis’ UK success (if not his reputation) and part of the slightly shadowy ‘between rock’n’roll and the Beatles’ era which a bunch of people have been reassessing recently. It’s rather a strong group of songs, I think.

  2. 2
    Brendan F on 7 Mar 2014 #

    Runaway and His Latest Flame are two of my all-time favourites, not just of the pre-Beatles era. It’s interesting that Tower of Strength has maintained a strong rating but is way down at the moment (though obviously it’s still early days yet)

  3. 3
    thefatgit on 7 Mar 2014 #

    Voted for 9 of these. Del Shannon and John Leyton get the high marks (both 9s I reckon). A good year for Joe Meek-produced pop. “Wooden heart” and “Well I ask You” are the clunkers on this list.

  4. 4
    Kat but logged out innit on 7 Mar 2014 #

    7 for me – Tower of Strength vying with His Latest Flame for my favourite.

  5. 5
    enitharmon on 7 Mar 2014 #

    It’s a good list. Something is clearly happening here even if it will take a couple of years to find out what. It’s almost as if pop is trying to break out of a rut but doesn’t yet know which way to go.

    I gave Walk Right Back the benefit of the doubt as the other half of the double-A is a real turkey that might well have dragged the whole thing down.

    Don’t really get the hate for the Temperance Seven. Definitely something outside the mundane and one of my earliest fond pop memories.

  6. 6
    weej on 7 Mar 2014 #

    Didn’t look like much of a year, but going back through my votes I counted a whole twelve, so there we are. Aside from the obvious ones I went for both Helen Shapiros (some of the original scores I differ from the most too – pleased to see how well Walkin’ Back To Happiness is doing) Floyd Cramer (surely everyone loves this after it was used in ‘An Education’? No?) and The Temperence Seven, who are novel enough to get a ’6′.

  7. 7
    Tom on 7 Mar 2014 #

    #5 with these early polls, I think low votes are as much “haven’t heard of” as “don’t like” (it’s a limitation of the poll system – ideally people would have ’1-5′. ’6-10′ and ‘No idea’ options for each song)

  8. 8
    Kat but logged out innit on 7 Mar 2014 #

    I kind of don’t want to listen to the Shirley Bassey in case it’s not, as I suspect, an S Club 7 reworking.

  9. 9
    punctum on 7 Mar 2014 #

    4 out of 21. I would have given a whole load of 5s. I was being fussy.

  10. 10
    lonepilgrim on 7 Mar 2014 #

    there’s a sense of passions straining against the leash in a lot of these songs. I’m very much taken with “Tower of strength” for its kitchen sink production and Frankie Vaughan’s manic performance. I like Floyd Kramer too. I’ve grown a bit tired of Helen Shapiro, which is probably unfair to her but hey-ho. Sailor is extraordinarily bad.

  11. 11
    Mark G on 7 Mar 2014 #

    Yeah I picked a lot this time but most would be exactly 6 points

  12. 12
    wichita lineman on 8 Mar 2014 #

    A big improvement on 1960 – I agree with Rosie, it feels like pop is trying to find a way out of a post R&R impasse. Eden Kane is possibly the most typical 1961 hit, without being any cop; Johnny Tillotson sounds antique already with it’s Paul Anka moves; Helen Shapiro is caught between the Alma Cogan and Sandie Shaw eras, she would go on to make better records. John Leyton and Del Shannon are 10s for me. The light country of Walk Right Back and On the Rebound have a great sense of playfulness – Temperance Seven and Shads too – which make ’61 and ’62 very enjoyable but also rather overlooked years. Not much here for Mojo readers.

  13. 13
    enitharmon on 8 Mar 2014 #

    It’s still very much an American-dominated chart and even the British acts are mostly American-imitators rather than reaching out for a distinctively British pop voice. The brief flowering of “cockney sparrers” Anthony Newley and Adam Faith didn’t really last long and there’s no sign of the specifically non-London Britishness that is about to explode just around the corner (now we are in a time when London seems more than ever to be everything that matters in all spheres of life it seems remarkable that that was ever the case). Sailor is of course an early manifestation of Europop which I don’t dislike as much as many populistas appear to, mainly because it’s an earworm and carries fond childhood memories. And despite her rough ride in these pages I always had a soft spot for Pet! Wichita is right – playfulness is the order of the year. Outstanding British entries here from Leyton and the Temperance Seven, both doing something outside the box in very different ways. Big surprise for me is, no Cliff in this list. If asked cold I’d have said that Cliff was the big British name of 1961, just as he was breaking away from his English Elvis image.

  14. 14
    wichitalineman on 8 Mar 2014 #

    I went to a David Hockney exhibition at the Walker Gallery in Liverpool last week which had a LOT of Cliff in it – I never knew Hockney was so smitten with him! Doll Boy was his nickname for him, and there was a sketch reminiscent of toilet graffiti that had something like DH hearts CR.

    Anyway, you’re not wrong Rosie, and the first #1 of the year was Cliff’s rather tepid I Love You, but none of his 1961-released singles went higher than #3: Theme For A Dream, Gee Whiz It’s You (an export-only single that sold enough copies here to reach #4), A Girl Like You and When The Girl In Your Arms Is The Girl In Your Heart.

    1961 was also the year Billy Fury became a proper star, after two years of minor hits, with Halfway To Paradise (#3), Jealousy (#2) and I’d Never Find Another You (#5). That was the closest he got to a Popular entry of his own.

  15. 15
    Ed on 9 Mar 2014 #

    Youthful Cliff enthusiasm presumably also the explanation for this: http://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-26169718

  16. 16
    Ed on 9 Mar 2014 #

    @1 “slightly shadowy”: a deliberate joke, or Freudian slip?

    Here’s a great clip of vintage 1961 Cliff: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfoUprzjUaw

    And, for no particular good reason except that I happened to stumble across it yesterday, here are The Shadows – including Hank, but without Cliff – from the previous year:

    As a friend commented: “They look like Buddy Holly fronting The Clash.”

  17. 17
    wichitalineman on 9 Mar 2014 #

    Those US number ones in full. There’s a sluggish start but, with the exceptions of Joe Dowell’s Elvis cover and the Highwaymen, it gets more and more exciting as the year goes on. Pop is visibly working a way out of its malaise. Hello Goffin & King (Shirelles, Bobby Vee), Girl Groups (Shirelles, Marvelettes) and Motown (Marvelettes) all of whom picked up pace in ’62 and ’63:

    “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” Elvis Presley
    “Wonderland by Night” Bert Kaempfert
    “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” The Shirelles
    “Calcutta” Lawrence Welk
    “Pony Time” Chubby Checker
    “Surrender” Elvis Presley
    “Blue Moon” The Marcels
    “Runaway” Del Shannon
    “Mother-in-Law” Ernie K-Doe
    “Travelin’ Man”/”Hello Mary Lou” Ricky Nelson
    “Running Scared” Roy Orbison
    “Moody River” Pat Boone
    “Quarter to Three” Gary U.S. Bonds
    “Tossin’ and Turnin’” Bobby Lewis
    “Wooden Heart” Joe Dowell
    “Michael” The Highwaymen
    “Take Good Care of My Baby” Bobby Vee
    “Hit the Road Jack” Ray Charles
    “Runaround Sue” Dion
    “Big Bad John” Jimmy Dean
    “Please Mr. Postman” The Marvelettes
    “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” The Tokens

  18. 18
    Tom on 10 Mar 2014 #

    Poor old Eden Kane. He’s not THAT bad. Well, he’s got a good name anyhow.

  19. 19
    punctum on 10 Mar 2014 #

    What, Richard Sarstedt?

  20. 20
    unlogged mog on 10 Mar 2014 #

    Petula Clark had a properly good album last year, just in case anyone missed that. (!!!)

  21. 21
    punctum on 10 Mar 2014 #

    It probably had the best opening track of any album last year. Rest of it’s a bit hit and miss, though.

  22. 22
    wichitalineman on 12 Mar 2014 #

    Re 18: Eden Kane’s not that bad at all, but I’ve always thought Well I Ask You a very anonymous #1 – Forget Me Not, a #3 from ’62 does the same growling slo-mo thing much better. His last hit Boys Cry (#10 ’64) was terrific – v popular in the Andrew Oldham/Stones camp, as it had a very UK Spector production (dunno who produced it).

    Agree on Pet C’s sultry ‘comeback’ single last year, and Sailor’s gently rolling pre-rock charms make it a 5 for me.

    Poor Floyd Cramer too! What’s not to like? As Tom says, I can only assume most people haven’t voted for it because they haven’t heard it. Slip note heaven!

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