Jan 05

Popular ’64

Popular21 comments • 1,390 views

Will you still read me, will you still tick me, now we’re ’64? Expect a new Popular post proper presently, however we’ve had a call for another year poll, and the 2d10 came up with 64. So, 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 1964 Would You Have Given 6 Or More To?

View Results

Poll closes: No Expiry

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  1. 1
    enitharmon on 28 Feb 2012 #

    Getting on for a full house there. All right, who doesn’t think the Animals are even worth a 6?

  2. 2
    admin on 28 Feb 2012 #

    “It’s over” doing very badly :-(

  3. 3
    Vic Cowling on 28 Feb 2012 #

    Hey, I just turned out to be first on Juliet – I bought it then (like pretty much all of them) because I got my first record player in ’64 @ 9 years old, and I recall singing very happily along with it for years.
    Vic Cowling

  4. 4
    Billy Smart on 28 Feb 2012 #

    Koo! All bar 2 – Diane and Juliet, unsurprisingly. The Honeycombs ought to be doing a bit better than 35%

  5. 5
    wichita lineman on 28 Feb 2012 #

    Such a ridiculously strong selection, some are bound to look like relative failures. But I did think Have I The Right would be Top 5!

    Juliet’s still an odd one for me, an unlikely A-side let alone no.1, but it’s not awful. Others I didn’t vote for: HOTRS (sorry Rosie), Little Red Rooster, Diane, I’m Into Something Good, Do Wah Diddy Diddy, Little Children and – by accident – Can’t Buy Me Love.

  6. 6
    thefatgit on 28 Feb 2012 #

    Nearly a full house. Both Orbisongs get a 10 and would top the list if I had my way. Most of these songs scream quality to me. Peter and Gordon would have got a 5. “Juliet” & “Diane” both get a 4.

  7. 7
    AndyPandy on 28 Feb 2012 #

    As people have said an unbelievably strong selection – it basically defines pop – defines the 60s -virtually a full house for me too – even ones I’m not personally mad on I can stand back from and realise are still worth 6 or more. May be the strongest year ever?

  8. 8
    Tom Lane on 28 Feb 2012 #

    So, will the 1 person (as of this writing) who voted for “none of them” identify themselves?

  9. 9
    swanstep on 28 Feb 2012 #

    All but 7 for me, with Juliet the only consensus disliked one that I rate. The second half of 1964 (from It’s Over on) is pretty jolly great isn’t it?

  10. 10
    Tommy Mack on 28 Feb 2012 #

    The sixties beat-boom in full effect with only The Big O to remind us the party won’t last forever (seriously, who wouldn’t rate It’s Over at least 6?) Interesting to see, at the time of writing, The Kinks ahead of The Beatles and The Animals ahead of The Stones!

  11. 11
    admin on 29 Feb 2012 #

    BTW I just added fragments to the main ‘chronological’ populist page so you can link to e.g.


  12. 12
    weej on 29 Feb 2012 #

    Re #8 – Tanya Headon?

  13. 13
    Lazarus on 1 Mar 2012 #

    12 for me, most of them from the second half of the year. “Rising Sun” always drags for me, I’m afraid.

  14. 14
    ace inhibitor on 6 Mar 2012 #

    also surprised that Its Over and HITR aren’t doing better. think both Rising Sun and Red Rooster suffer from being in this strong company – just that bit too earnest

  15. 15
    Paulito on 7 Mar 2012 #

    Add my voice to the chorus of surprise/disappointment over the low scores for “It’s Over” and “Have I The Right?”, easily two of the greatest songs of this or any year. My faith in humankind is dented further.

  16. 16
    Paulito on 7 Mar 2012 #

    And yet I see they got average ratings of 8.2 and 7.5 under their respective Popular entries. Perhaps the Popular massive of a few years back had better taste?

  17. 17

    I like the idea that a song sung about one’s own erection — Little Red Rooster — can be “that bit too earnest” :)

  18. 18
    Rory on 7 Mar 2012 #

    I love “It’s Over” and “Have I the Right?” (thanks to Tom’s original reviews in both cases), but I’m not so surprised that they’re struggling here – they’re relatively unfamiliar to a younger audience, and I suspect that some drive-by voters are just checking the boxes of songs that they’ve heard and leaving the ones they haven’t. I listened to all the tracks I hadn’t heard before on YouTube before voting, but not everyone will have.

    12 votes from me, for pretty much the most popular half in the ranking above.

  19. 19
    ace inhibitor on 8 Mar 2012 #

    @17, ah but precisely, it doesn’t SOUND like its sung about one’s own erection. If all these songs were sung in an obscure finnish dialect and you were told that one of them was about an erection, would you pick that one?

    Whether ‘sounding like an erection’ is a good thing or not, I don’t know. I haven’t really thought it through…

  20. 20
    Cumbrian on 19 Dec 2012 #

    Rock N Roll Years 1964:


    This one is not in the best of shape on Youtube, the captions are all over the place with bits missing and what not. Looks like a ropey transfer from the VHS as there is also some visual distortion. You get the basic gist though.

    Musical stuff:

    The Stones playing the NME party. Look absolutely vital and incredibly young. I saw them do “I Just Wanna Make Love To You” in 2003 at Twickenham. The NME party version blasts it out of the water from what I can tell.

    Obvious comment is obvious – but they also are standing against the orthodoxy too – though there are a couple of other bands showcasing the loosening of sartorial standards elsewhere in the episode. There’s still a lot of bands (The Hollies, Freddie and the Dreamers, Herman’s Hermits, The Beatles) knocking their stuff out in the suit and tie get up, which The Stones have done away with. Freddie and the Dreamers too – what was that leg kick about? Morecambe and Wise fans?

    Bits and Pieces by The Dave Clark Five. Enjoyed it. Will probably look for some more of their stuff on the basis of the snippet here, which is good as I was never a huge fan of Glad All Over and had sort of dismissed them.

    Tobacco Road. The Nashville Teens do their best to look menacing. In fairness, the guitarist probably succeeds, looming over his instrument.

    Dusty Springfield looking and sounding great. Made me wonder whether she had done a Bond theme (Bond themes not a strong suit for me in pub quizzes I’m afraid) – only for Casino Royale in 1967 it seems. This is a shame, I bet she could have done a brilliant job with some of the mid-late 60s themes.

    Other stuff:

    News reporters clearly made of sterner stuff in the 60s, given the guy reporting from Cyprus in his suit and tie. Nowadays, that close to conflict, he’d get a helmet and flak jacket.

    Mary Whitehouse makes her first appearance. I wonder what she’d make of Game of Thrones?

    The Robin Day interview with some MP or other post Labour’s election win is pretty amusing. Still getting to grips with the technology and having a good laugh about it. Stands in contrast to what you’d expect nowadays.

    Use of the bomb in commercials to get LBJ re-elected. Heavy handed. I wonder whether the causal relationship suggested by the doc is actually true. I don’t recall this from my (admittedly now long gone) studies on this when at university.

    A load of royal births “excite the public”. Some things just don’t change.

    Pace Punctum’s comments on TPL and elsewhere on FT about the questioning of who was up to what and with whom in old clips. There’s an awful lot of emphasis put on young girls and their relationship to a lot of these bands. Makes you wonder (or at least makes me wonder).

  21. 21
    IJGrieve on 2 Feb 2015 #

    My reviews and rates for 1964

    THE DAVE CLARK FIVE – “Glad All Over”
    The beat groups from London brought a still more assertive, up-front sound to the early 60s charts than their North-West contemporaries. This brash, stomping tune seems tailor-made for terrace chanting and so it remains a fan favourite at Crystal Palace 7

    THE SEARCHERS – “Needles And Pins”
    This is another one of those songs that, in one respect, has become an epitome of the sixties ‘golden oldie’, but in another hasn’t been done many favours by the passing of the time. The backing instrumentation on the original version sounds very muddy to these ears – particularly once the continuous cymbal tapping starts around the half way point – and makes it hard to like. But, still, the strength of the songwriting manages to shine through and goes somewhere to explaining the number of times the song has been covered (though this version is the only one to top the UK charts) 6

    THE BACHELORS – “Diane”
    It feels as though we’ve stepped back a few years (and not for the last time in 1964). Not surprisingly, as this was originally a 1920s silent movie theme. Bachelors are an early entry in a timeline, stretching all the way into the current decade, of insipid Irish male pop groups 3

    CILLA BLACK – “Anyone Who Had A Heart”
    Liverpool’s sale-rail answer to Shirley Bassey gets her first number one with a cloying song that sounds as though it was written just for her – I was surprised to read that it was in fact originally recorded by Dionne Warwick and indeed was a US Top 10 hit for her. I still it a pretty dire record: its self-important lyrics, Cilla’s grating vocals, and the peculiar instrumentation (listen out for the ‘irritated car horn’ impression at 1:37) 2

    BILLY J KRAMER AND THE DAKOTAS – “Little Children”
    This song, like most of its time, is less than 3 minutes long, but 3 minutes seems like an awful long time while it is playing. Even if we’re being more charitable about the lyrics than was Tom, musically it is a plodding exercise in tedium. Good only for skipping past on Merseybeat compilations 1

    THE BEATLES – “Can’t Buy Me Love”
    In comparison with the previous three #1s, this is a diamond of a record; however, in comparison with the Beatles’ other singles of the time it is decidedly average in all respects. Perhaps “money can’t buy me love” was profound in each day whereas it seems terribly cliched now. In spite of this, I know if it weren’t the Beatles I’d have scored it higher, but you and I both know that even back then they were capable of so much better than this 5

    PETER AND GORDON – “A World Without Love”
    This takes elements of Merseybeat and subtracts all the energy and enthusiasm. What results is bland, monotonous and forgettable 3

    THE SEARCHERS – “Don’t Throw Your Love Away”
    Another one from the file marked ‘surprising covers’ – this is originally by US girl group The Shirelles, whose 1960 UK#4 hit “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow” may well have merited a mention in that year’s post had I gone back that far. I suspect that many don’t realise exactly how many of the Merseybeat hits were covers, more often than not of songs first performed by US artists. Because of this, I’m intentionally avoiding comparing the covers with the original recordings unless these were also major UK hits. In the case of this song, that’s a little unfortunate because the only aspect of it that warrants discussion is the lyrics – in particular the line “go out and have your fun / you’d better have your fun with anyone / but don’t throw your love away” 4

    THE FOUR PENNIES – “Juliet”
    Of all the artists who show up in this year’s list, I’m willing to bet that the one the fewest people will have heard of is the Four Pennies. This soporific ballad was a single-week number one which, ironically, kept one of the year’s most distinctive pop songs – Millie’s ‘My Boy Lollipop’ – off the top spot 2

    CILLA BLACK – “You’re My World (Il Mio Mondo)”
    Oh no, Cilla’s back again. And so, puzzlingly, are those chirruping strings from that Helen Shapiro #1 back in ’61. This starts pleasantly enough, but before long the vocal theatrics start and it becomes a chore to listen through to the end. I feel I must point out: the vocals aren’t actually bad, and there’s clearly an element of ‘just not to my taste’ here. At the same time, this kind of thing has been done many times over and to much better effect than “You’re My World” achieves 3

    ROY ORBISON – “It’s Over”
    It seems strangely fitting that this follows “You’re My World”, in that the previous song ends with “If your love ceases to be / then it’s the end of my world”. In “It’s Over”, that is precisely what has happened: “Your baby doesn’t love you any more”. Lyrically and vocally, this is easily the strongest song of the year so far. A breakup song effective like few others, perhaps it’s too downbeat in sentiment to receive much retrospective attention? 8

    THE ANIMALS – “House Of The Rising Sun”
    From a song that has been, undeservedly, largely forgotten, to a ubiquitous classic that just about everyone will instantly recognise. For a song that started out as a traditional American folk ballad and was recorded by a touring rock group from Newcastle, that fact pays testament to the strength of the arrangement 9

    THE ROLLING STONES – “It’s All Over Now”
    With the odd exception (which we’ll come to in time), the appeal of the Rolling Stones has always passed me by. Though, in 1964 context, the freshness of their sound – at least in terms of what was around on the UK pop scene – is apparent, many of the songs themselves seem like means to an end. “It’s All Over Now” is a case in point, a vehicle for Jagger’s distinctive voice with little depth. As you may have guessed, this is yet another cover version to reach the top spot this year – it was written by Bobby Womack 5

    THE BEATLES – “A Hard Day’s Night”
    Of all the Beatles’ early hit singles, this one must just be the most instantly recognisable. After the single-chord intro, it’s remarkable just how many elements they managed to fit into this two-and-a-half minute recording. It sounds like they were having great fun recording it, and that exuberance shines through on the record 9

    MANFRED MANN – “Do Wah Diddy Diddy”
    The sequencing didn’t do Manfred Mann any favours here: this song is never going to stand up well to critical comparison with the songs either side of it. This is, however, the first of many songs of its type that we wil encounter: jolly, lightweight, simple sing-along pop that never goes out of fashion largely because it was never in fashion to begin with. My biggest discrepancy in score from Tom so far, but I ain’t feeling guilty for enjoying this 8

    THE HONEYCOMBS – “Have I The Right?”
    I alluded to this record in one of my first group of write-ups, and it’s the first one I’ve really looked forward to reaching. What could have been an enjoyable but unremarkable floorfiller along similar lines to earlier chart-toppers from the Dave Clark Five and the Tremeloes instead became, thanks to Joe Meek’s production, a one-of-a-kind pop masterpiece. There are 51 more years of #1s to come, but we won’t encounter many that are as thrilling as this 10

    THE KINKS – “You Really Got Me”
    From a record that stands alone, as a pinnacle of its time, to one that’s way ahead of it. “You Really Got Me” has a justifiable claim to being the first metal hit single. Its distorted riff is unlike anything else we’ve come across up to now – it will be a good while before we encounter a single as influential as this. In a year of timeless records, this is arguably the most important of them all 10

    HERMAN’S HERMITS – “I’m Into Something Good”
    On revisiting this song I was convinced that I remembered it from being a TV ad from my childhood; however, Googling has turned up a blank, aside from an awful (and too recent) mutilation for Halifax. Maybe it just seemed as though it had to have been so: the first line “Woke up this morning feeling fine / there’s something special on my mind”, together with the simple, bouncy melody and handclaps seem purpose-built. This is impossible not to like, but hard to love 7

    ROY ORBISON – “Oh, Pretty Woman”
    Perhaps because my first musical awareness occurred around the same time as the release of the film that shares its title with this song, but this song was one of those ‘oldies’ that always seemed to be on the radio when I was a kid. Perhaps at least in part as a result, I find it really hard to take seriously. Perhaps it’s not meant to be taken so – the “growl” just after the minute mark suggests not, but otherwise it’s not all that much fun to listen to. I realise this is one of those songs that some people rave about, but for me it’s a meh record 6

    SANDIE SHAW – “Always Something There To Remind Me”
    This is the first female-sung #1 for a while, and stylistically a return to past sounds. I like it that much more than either of Cilla Black’s chart-toppers, largely because unlike her Sandie doesn’t overrun a subtle song with overpowered theatrical vocals. This well-written lost love song is that much more compelling as a result 7

    THE SUPREMES – “Baby Love”
    Finally, the first #1 for a US girl group. It’s a shame that superior songs from the Crystals and the Ronettes didn’t make it, but “Baby Love” is far from bad if a little too sickly sweet for repeated listening 7

    THE ROLLING STONES – “Little Red Rooster”
    This really is a baffling #1, sounding nothing like anything else that was anywhere near the top of the ’64 charts. As I suspect you’ll guess if you listen to it, this lackadaisical number is indeed an old Delta blues standard reinterpreted by the Stones. I have no personal affinity for this song whatsoever, and suspect I’m not alone in that as it’s certainly not among their retrospectively best-regarded recordings 3

    THE BEATLES – “I Feel Fine”
    The sound of a band at the top of their game and completely in their stride. The lyrics do seem particularly uninspired, however (not something that will often be said about later Beatles, it has to be said) 6

    Other hits worth a mention

    The Beach Boys – “I Get Around” – Another Billboard Hot 100 #1 that didn’t quite make it over here. A shame, as this has a strong claim to being the Boys’ greatest single.

    The Swinging Blue Jeans – “The Hippy Hippy Shake” and The Fourmost – “A Little Loving” – By name, two of the less-remembered Merseybeat bands, but these two upbeat dancing tunes are among the most recognisable of the genre.

    Mary Wells – “My Guy” – What I said about “Oh, Pretty Woman” goes also for this song, which was inescapable when I was young perhaps as a consequence of its appearance in Sister Act. A number one in the US, but alas Motown had to wait a little longer on this side of the Atlantic.

    Millie – “My Boy Lollipop” – Early reggae single that came oh so close to giving the genre its first UK #1 but was denied by the bland Four Pennies.

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