It was the early Sixties and the first golden era of American pop music was ending. The Beatles and their fellow British Invasion bands were on their way to change the entire spectrum of pop music, politics, fashion and culture.
This compilation kicks off with ‘Love Me Do’, the first hit single by the Beatles released in England on 5 October 1962 on Parlophone. By the time the song, a Number 17 at home, was released in America in April 1964 on the Tollie label with the flip side ‘PS I Love You’, Beatlemania was in full swing and the record reached Number 1.
‘Surfin’’ and ‘Surfin’ Safari’ were two of the Beach Boys’ early hits and were among the first songs to begin the surf-music craze – even though Dennis Wilson was the only member of the band who actually surfed! In May 1966 the group came out with the innovative ‘Pet Sounds’ album whose harmonies and musicality inspired the Beatles to record the following year’s ‘Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band’.
1962’s ‘Crying In The Rain’ was one of the last hits by the Everly Brothers, whose melodic harmonies would influence many bands from the British Invasion. The brothers split up for a period in the Seventies and reunited in the Eighties when a Paul McCartney song, ‘On The Wings Of A Nightingale’, returned them to the charts.
Roy Orbison was a favourite artist of the Beatles and a big influence on their early career. ‘Only The Lonely’ and ‘Running Scared’ were big hits in both America and England in 1960-61, but when the Beatles toured with Orbison from May to June 1963 they were moved from openers to the headlining act.
The Motown sound is represented on this compilation by Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and the Marvelettes. Motown played an important role in the racial integration of popular music and achieved crossover success in the Billboard pop charts. The Beatles were listening, too, and recorded both the Marvelettes US chart-topping ‘Please Mr. Postman’ and the Miracles hit ‘You Really Got A Hold On Me’.
Dion, Ricky Nelson, Chris Montez, Brian Hyland and England’s Adam Faith were boys-next-door who made teenage girls swoon. Nelson played himself on popular TV show The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet and usually ended each episode with a song, bringing rock’n’roll into the nation’s living rooms on a weekly basis. The song ‘Hello Mary Lou’ was written by singer Gene Pitney. Other popular singer-songwriters of the era featured here include Carole King, Sam Cooke and Del Shannon.
Cliff Richard was the UK’s answer to Elvis. His song ‘The Young Ones’ was taken from the film of the same name and was a Number 1 in the UK in 1962. Richard was backed by the Shadows, who had their first UK chart-topper in 1960 with the instrumental ‘Apache’.
Instrumentals were an important part of the soundtrack of the pop culture of the time. We have a fine selection here, the Ventures’ mesmerizing guitar riffs and solid drumming contrasting with Booker T & the MGs’ Memphis soul. The Tornados space-age ’Telstar’, produced by legendary British studio Svengali Joe Meek, topped the transatlantic chart in 1962, while other highlights include the boogie-woogie sound of B Bumble & the Stingers, the cool ‘James Bond Theme’ by John Barry Seven, the clarinet-playing of Acker Bilk and Dave Brubeck’s innovative use of 5/4 time
Johnny Kidd & the Pirates’ ‘Shakin’ All Over’ has become a staple for garage, punk, and rock bands since it topped the UK chart in 1960. The Who covered the song for their ‘Live At Leeds’ album a decade later.
The Cascades were an American ‘one-hit wonder’ group with their song ‘Rhythm Of The Rain’, a big hit in both the US and the UK. Teens everywhere dug romantic love songs and songs that got people dancing like Ben E King’s ‘Spanish Harlem’ and his former group the Drifters’ ‘Save The Last Dance For Me’. Many songs would later attract cover versions such as Little Eva’s ‘Locomotion’ (Grand Funk, Kylie Minogue), the Isley Bothers ‘Shout’ (Lulu), and Maurice Williams & the Zodiacs’ ‘Stay’ (the Hollies, Jackson Browne), but the originals still have a charm all their own.
Novelty records were regular chart items in the early part of the Sixties. Who could resist the humour in Bobby ‘Boris’ Pickett’s ‘graveyard smash’, ‘The Monster Mash’?
Many of the popular sounds and styles of the later Sixties started here. Patsy Cline, Jimmy Dean, Frank Ifield and Johnny Preston were influential in the crossover of country artists to the pop and rock world, while the folk of the Tokens, Peter, Paul, & Mary, the Springfields and a young Bob Dylan paved the way for the scene that would give birth to the Byrds and Buffalo Springfield as the decade went on.
This 3CD set is filled with music that was happening in the early Sixties. These songs led to the creative sounds of the British Invasion and the changes that fashioned the culture of the decade.