Our theme this week was the 60’s and, more specifically, the music that made up the playlists of Britain’s Pirate Radio Stations. There’s a fantastic new film being released this week, called The Boat That Rocked, about this era – and BayFM is hosting the premiere here in Byron Bay. So, yes, a blatant promotion for this film by Richard Curtis, the creator of Four Weddings and a Funeral, and the writer of the majority of the Blackadder series. But more importantly, a great excuse to play all those songs that made the Top 4o lists in the mid to late 60s, not just in Britain but quite often here in Australia as well.
We opened the show with the Kinks hit, ‘All Day and All Of The Night’ and then it was onto The Turtles with ‘Eleanor’, The Beach Boys with ‘Wouldn’t It Be Nice’ and John Fred & His Playboys with ‘Judy in Disguise’. That pretty much set the mood for two hours of nostalgia par excellence!
During this period, the Motown label proved that it could hold its own amongst the pop and the rock that made up the so-called ‘British Invasion’. Three of the best were represented here with ‘Dancing in the Street’ by Martha & The Vandellas, The Isley Brothers with ‘This Old Heart of Mine’ and Smokey Robinson and the Miracles with ‘Ooo Baby, Baby’.
Tommy James and the Shondells made one of the biggest hits of the 60’s: ‘Crimson and Clover’. The song is famous for a unique “wobbly” vocal effect near the end of the song. To produce this effect, Tommy James plugged his microphone into a guitar amplifier, flipped the tremolo switch, and repeatedly sang the line “crimson and clover, over and over”. As it was released in November, a lot of listeners thought he was singing ‘Christmas is Over’.
As well as ‘My Generation’, I also played The Who’s ‘I Can See for Miles’ from their album The Who Sell Out. Released in 1967, it’s an interesting one. A concept album, it’s formatted as a collection of unrelated songs interspersed with fake commercials and public service announcements. The album purports to be a broadcast by pirate radio station Radio London and the release was reportedly followed by a bevy of lawsuits due to the mention of real-world commercial interests in the fake commercials and also by the makers of the real Radio London jingles. We listened to ‘Heinz Baked Beans’ which was a bit of a hoot (and obviously influenced by Monty Python and The Goons). I also played a few sound grabs from the film, ‘The Boat That Rocked’ and gave away tickets to the film.
Now, how can you think about the music of the 60s and not play Roy Orbison? Orbison was a powerful influence on contemporaries such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. In 1963, he headlined a British tour with The Beatles, but by the end of the tour he was playing second fiddle to the Fab Four, as Beatlemania gathered pace. John Lennon later claimed that he had joked to Orbison that the Beatles were tiring of opening for him so Orbison agreed to switch, but the audience greeted Orbison with such enthusiasm that the Beatles became concerned that they would not get to perform, and called out to him from backstage, “Yankee, go home.”
He became lifelong friends with the band, especially John Lennon and George Harrison. Orbison would later record with Harrison in the Travelling Wilburys. During their UK tour together, Orbison encouraged the Beatles to come to the United States. When they toured America in the summer of 1964, they asked Orbison to appear with them, but his schedule forced him to decline. Check out these photos to the left. That’s Macca and Orbison doing a ‘separated at birth’ moment.
Unlike many artists, Orbison maintained his success as the British Invasion swept America in 1964. His single, “Oh, Pretty Woman”, broke the Beatles’ stranglehold on the Top 10, soaring to No. 1 on the Billboard charts and No. 1 on the British charts. The record sold more copies in its first ten days of release than any single up to that time, and eventually sold over seven million copies.
Orbison toured with The Beach Boys in 1964, and with The Rolling Stones in Australia in 1965. He was arguably more successful in Britain than his home country, especially from 1963 onwards, logging three No. 1 hit singles and being voted top male vocalist of the year several times there. The song we chose to play in this show was ‘It’s Over’, a UK #1 single in June 1964. Look at this video and share my enthusiasm for one of the greatest voices of all time.
After I played Procol Harum’s ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale’, one of our listeners called in (sorry didn’t get the name) to let us know that the song was all about virgin soldiers going off to Vietnam. There are soooooo many theories about what this song is about and if you go to the Procol Harum fan site http://www.procolharum.com you’ll be able to read some of them. Here’s what Matthew Fisher had to say on BBC Radio 2 in 2000:
” I don’t know what they mean. It’s never bothered me that I don’t know what they mean. This is what I find rather hard, that, especially in America, people are terribly hung up about lyrics and they’ve got to know what they mean, and they say, “I know, I’ve figured out what these lyrics mean.” I don’t give a damn what they mean. You know, they sound great… that’s all they have to do.”
A prominent Aussie band during this period was The Easybeats, with their single ‘Friday On My Mind’. This British Invasion style number was a huge worldwide hit for the group in 1966, making #1 in Australia and #6 in the UK and #16 in the USA. So, of course, it had to be played. Have a look at this video and the very young, fresh-faced Stevie Wright. Not to mention the outfits! And check out the dancers! Great stuff.
Next it was Savoy Brown with ‘Stay With Me Baby’. And then it was onto the Rolling Stones with ‘Get Off Of My Cloud’ and we finished with one of my favourites from the period – ‘Hang On Sloopy’ by The McCoys.
Whew. Great show, if I do say so myself. Here’s the complete playlist:
All Day And All Of The Night – The Kinks
Eleanor – The Turtles Blues
Wouldn’t It Be Nice – The Beach Boys
Judy in Disguise – John Fred & His Playboy Band
Dancing In The Street – Martha Reeves & The Vandellas
This Old Heart Of Mine – Isley Brothers
Ooo Baby Baby – Smokey Robinson/The Miracles
Crimson And Clover – Tommy James & The Shondells
I Can See for Miles – The Who
Black Is Black – Los Bravos
With A Girl Like You – The Troggs
Heinz Baked Beans – The Who
Lady Godiva – Peter & Gordon
Yellow Submarine – The Beatles
She’d Rather Be With Me – The Turtles
Got to Get You Into My Life – Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers
Yesterday Man – Chris Andrews
I’ve Been A Bad Bad Boy – Paul Jones
I Feel Free – Cream
My Generation – The Who
It’s Over – Roy Orbison
The Wind Cries Mary – Jimi Hendrix
A Whiter Shade Of Pale – Procol Harum
Friday On My Mind – The Easybeats
Sunny Afternoon – The Kinks
Nights In White Satin – Moody Blues
These Arms Of Mine – Otis Redding
Sunny – Bobby Hebb
I’m Alive – The Hollies The Hollies
Itchycoo Park – Small Faces
Summer in the City – The Lovin Spoonful
Stay With Me Baby – Savoy Brown
Get Off Of My Cloud – The Rolling Stones
Hang on Sloopy – The McCoys
Next week, to celebrate a great weekend of Blues at the Byron Bay Blues Festival – I’ll be doing Musical Instruments.
Listen to Lyn at the Theme Park Tuesdays 2-4pm, Sydney time, on BayFM 99.9 or streaming at http://www.bayfm.org