Oldies – The Indispensable 150 – (Part 3)

The early ’60’s. Doo-wop is still very much around if not quite as pervasive as a few years earlier. Girl groups become more predominant, the Four Seasons get going. And the Beatles – who recorded “Please Mr. Postman” and “You’ve Really Got a Hold On Me” – are honing their act in Hamburg.

1961

  • Stand By Me. Ben E. King. Former lead vocalist for The Drifters, King co-wrote this song with Lieber & Stoller and reaped a ton of royalties.
  • Mother in Law. Ernie K. Doe.
  • Crying. Roy Orbison. The man with a three-or-four octave range. Another Sam Phillips protege.
  • Town Without Pity. Gene Pitney. Ronnie Montrose did a great instrumental version of this.
  • Walk Right Back. Everly Brothers.
  • Blue Moon. The Marcels. A 1930’s Rodgers and Hart song, initially done by the likes of Sinatra and Billie Holiday. It lends itself well to any format and is one of my favorite doo-wop songs of all time.
  • Please Mr. Postman. The Marvelletes. The first crossover (to the Billboard pop charts) and #1 hit for the new Motown label.
  • Let’s Twist Again. Chubby Checker.
  • Daddy’s Home. Shep & the Limelites.
  • A Little Bit of Soap. The Jarmels.
  • Little Sister. Elvis Presley. The first version of this I actually heard was Ry Cooder’s. Such a cool tune. This is about a year and a half after Elvis got out of the Army.
  • Quarter to Three. Gary “US” Bonds.
  • Runaway. Del Shannon. Tom Petty name checks this in “Runnin’ Down a Dream.”
  • Pretty Little Angel Eyes. Curtis Lee.
  • Runaround Sue. Dion. Dion was at a party in the Bronx. He got everyone to lay down a beat, then improvised the melody. He later put the song together basing the lyrics on a girl from the neighborhood who had “broken every guy’s heart.” Another all-time favorite.
  • Bristol Stomp. The Dovells. Named for a suburb of my former hometown of Philly where they would do The Stomp.
  • Can’t Help Falling in Love. Elvis Presley.
  • Tossin’ and Turnin’. Bobby Lewis.
  • Dedicated to the One I Love. The Shirelles. The Mamas and Papas did a great version a few years later.
  • There’s a Moon Out Tonight. The Capris. Love this song.
  • Hit the Road Jack. Ray Charles. Ray will get his series on this blog sometime this year.
  • The Lion Sleeps Tonight. The Tokens. Original (almost unrecognizable) version recorded in 1939 as “Mbube” by Solomon Linda with the Evening Birds.
  • The Wanderer. Dion.
  • Travelin’ Man. Ricky Nelson.
  • Look In My Eyes. The Chantels. Their other big hit “Maybe,” is also on the list. The first “girl group?” Listen to this and fall in love.

1962

  • Bring it on Home To Me. Sam Cooke. Man, what a great song. The epitome of soul.
  • Duke of Earl. Gene Chandler.
  • Twist and Shout. The Isley Brothers.
  • What’s Your Name. Don & Juan. “Is it Mary or Sue. What’s your name? Do I stand a chance with you?”
  • Sherry. The Four Seasons. The Jersey Boys’ first #1 hit.
  • Let Me In. The Sensations. Another Philly group. Bonnie Raitt did a rollicking tuba-and-piano-driven version.
  • Baby It’s You. The Shirelles.
  • Don’t Hang Up. The Orlons. Another great Philly band.
  • The End of the World. Skeeter Davis.
  • Having a Party. Sam Cooke.
  • He’s So Fine. The Chiffons. George Harrison now actually owns the rights to this song. Cost him, though.

“Where were you,” the American Graffiti tagline asked,” in ’62?” Next post: 1962 – 1964. The end of one era and the beginning of a new one. 

13 thoughts on “Oldies – The Indispensable 150 – (Part 3)

    1. True. And recall, Chuck Berry went to jail for a while in ’62. And then there was “the day the music died” and we lost Buddy Holly, Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens. So all that and the fact that pop recycles itself regularly anyway led to different sounds. But I think that this list and the next (final) one shatter the myth that this period was a musical wasteland of Fabian’s and Patti’s. There was still a lot of quality stuff.

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    2. FYI.I added Dusty Springfield’s ‘Wishin’ and Hopin’ to the ‘just-missed’ list. Not adding any more but that one fell through the cracks. She was great. Funny thing is I didn’t know she was a Brit for the longest time.

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  1. OK, I’ll keep it current and stay up to date. So many good ones on here and a few I have to check out. What a great list and great work Jim. ‘Mother in Law’? How do you come up with a song like that and make it sound cool. Heard Alan Toussaint do it a while ago. “Baby its You’, man I love that song. Beatles do a mean version of it also but I like the original. I could mouth off about a lot of these.

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    1. Agreed. A very apt analogy. And there was enough good early 60’s stuff that I struggled with what to not put on there.. It’s an easy media narrative to say music was a wasteland pre-Beatles. That said, had someone that revolutionary not come along, I’m not exactly sure what we’d all be listening to.

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    2. FYI. If you’ve already seen post 4 of this series, just want to note that I added Dusty Springfield’s ‘Wishin’ and Hopin’ to the ‘also-ran’ list. And that’s about it. I’ve run out of good songs.

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  2. Good point. I’d forgotten about that one. About half the songs are on my list, several of the rest are artists that I list if not the actual same songs. I knew that he loved “Be-Bop-A-Lula” and that, yes, it may well be indispensable if only for that reason. I thought about it but ultimately left it off. Never crazy about it. Probably doesn’t matter. It’s not like I’m the ultimate arbiter. 😀

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