Album Chart of 1964

<1963 1965>

  • This chart features albums released in 1964 and is limited to all of the albums in my collection which have “A-list” status.
  • The Top 30 albums are profiled, and the full chart (Top 44) is summarised, in sortable table form, on the Albums released in 1964 page, which shows the full range of albums in this sites' database, including the “B-list” records.
1964-a-bob-dylan.jpg

DYLAN & THOMAS RESIST THE ENGLISH INVASION

At long last there was a credible alternative force in the album’s world, as the young English beat groups, teenage fans themselves several years earlier, paid homage to the American Rock n Roll scene.

From a previously negligible presence, all of a sudden England had one third representation in my album chart of the year. Groups such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and the Dave Clark Five were having their new albums released first in the States; such was the hunger and the demand of American audiences to get hip to this new kind of jive.

Despite all of this, it’s Bob Dylan and Irma Thomas who reign supreme as King and Queen of this new world order, and American acts still account for 5 of my Top 6.

There are notable debuts from Simon and Garfunkel, The Kinks, The Animals, The Rolling Stones, Otis Redding and The Dubliners.

There was a final posthumously released LP from Patsy Cline whose 30 year old life had tragically been lost in an airplane crash in March 1963, and there was also one final album from Sam Cooke, cut down in his prime in December 1964 at the age of just 33.

Fats Domino, an ever-present in the Top 10 of my album charts from 1956 to 1963, would never again be seen in my Top 20.

The competition was getting hotter by the year…

The Jukebox Rebel
21-Dec-2015

TJR says:

9.24 “A masterpiece”

In the good old fashioned tradition of the rough and ready folk singer, the second Dylan LP of 1964 was recorded in a single sitting, all over the course of one evening – June 9th, 1964. Of course it’s always that bit easier when you only have to rely on yourself – this is his fourth set as a bona-fide solo performer, including a wee go on the piano on one selection, “Black Crow Blues”, to stir things up a bit. There’s a new direction here – gone is the topical troubadour, and the social observations are now from a non-specific worldly perspective – speaking of his new album at the time Dylan told Nat Hentoff in The New Yorker, “there aren’t any finger-pointin’ songs”. I’m holding up the perfect 10 board all over this release. Straight from the off, “All I Really Want To Do” has me singing along like a goofball – the ol’ bit yodelling is good for the soul. It’s a very light relief from the preceding LP as Bob reverts back to the love song – boy or girl, who could resist that opening gambit: “I ain’t lookin’ to compete with you, beat or cheat or mistreat you, simplify you, classify you, deny, defy or crucify you, all I really want to do, is, baby, be friends with you.” And, boy oh boy, what about that mid-stretch 1-2-3? The influence of 19th century French symbolist poet Arthur Rimbaud on “Chimes Of Freedom” is acknowledged by Bob, and is beautifully highlighted in the song’s metaphorically chiming bells heard in the thunderstorm “As majestic bells of bolts struck shadows in the sounds, seeming to be the chimes of freedom flashing.” The lightning chimes are “tolling for the rebel, tolling for the rake, tolling for the luckless, the abandoned an’ forsaked, tolling for the outcast, burnin’ constantly at stake, an’ we gazed upon the chimes of freedom flashing.” All 7 minutes are full of this stunning imagery. In typical Bob fashion he immediately breaks up the heavyweight poetry with “I Shall Be Free No. 10”, a self-deprecating laugh-a-minute: “It ain’t no use a-talking to me, it’s just the same as talking to you.” The boy’s a weird monkey, but very funky. The gorgeous “To Ramona” immediately follows, thought to be an earnest open letter to Joan Baez, even coming slightly seasoned in Mexicana flavour for added spice. At this stage I’m only at the end of side one. Side two’s got “Motorpsycho Nitemare”, “My Back Pages” and “It Ain’t Me Babe”. There is no weakness. For the third year in a row, Bob Dylan has served up one of the very best albums of the year. It’s almost becoming the King’s annual address to all nations…

The Jukebox Rebel
14-Apr-2006


TJR says:

8.42 “Excellent”

After a string of great singles in the last few years, Irma’s talent was recognised in 1964 when she gained a promotion of sorts, landing with Imperial Records. She was whisked away from New Orleans to Hollywood where she was paired with producer Eddie Ray and arranger H.B. Barnum. “There was a different approach to how recordings were done, but not strange,” said Irma. “I’m a gypsy at heart. I’m pretty much at home anywhere I park my butt. There were a lot of black artists who were stretching into the pop field. I had a very – in fact, I still do; it depends on what I’m singing – poppish-sounding voice. I guess they were reaching for areas they could sell. I mean, I was happy. The songs were very comfortable to me. It wasn’t like I was a fish out of water.” For the very first time, Irma got to record one of her own compositions, “Wish Someone Would Care”, where she unleashed a whole lot of inner turmoil to devastating effect. Her performance, genuinely dripping with raw emotion, was wonderfully backed by a killer band and terrific soul-sister support from The Blossoms. The single proceeded to rise all the way to #17 in the Billboard 100, giving Irma her first ever hit single after 4 years of should-have-beens. Thrilled by this success, an album of works was quickly on the agenda. Those who bought the album on the strength of the single would have been absolutely delighted to find that there was plenty more where that had come from. After the single opens the set, Irma gets straight to R n B roots with a fantastic reading of “Need Your Love So Bad” (Little Willie John, 1955), a spine-tingling rendition of “Without Love (There Is Nothing)” (Clyde McPhatter, 1956) and a bluesy, yearning interpretation of “Please Send Me Someone To Love” (Percy Mayfield, 1950). The album’s excellence is maintained straight from the off on Side 2 with “Time Is On My Side”, a little-known jazzy piece from 1963 which was completely recrafted by team Irma to make it the legendary soul song that it is. The Rolling Stones were moved enough to take it on – and they went all the way into the US Top 10 with their quickly-released cover. Irma herself was fuming about the whole affair as her single sales were completely diluted: “The only time I ever got angry about a cover was, and I knew then that it was the best form of flattery, but what really angered me more was the fact that the Rolling Stones did it. At the time, the English Invasion was going on, and everything that was English, they didn’t care what color it was or who it was. If it was English, it was it! And they covered ‘Time Is On My Side,’ and they laughed all the way to the bank. And then after that, they started saying, ‘Oh, you’re doing the Rolling Stones song!’ I wouldn’t do it for years. I think 20 years went by before I sung that song. It just angered me so.” Ouch! Real music fans know Irma, real music fans know! What follows is just blindingly brilliant; three stone-classic originals in-a-row with “While The City Sleeps” (written for her by Randy Newman), “Straight From The Heart” (the second stunner from her own pen) and “I’ve Been There” (a delicious doo-wop ballad contributed by Wink Martindale and Gary Usher). This debut was a creation full of majesty and, like all great albums, there is great strength in depth across all 12 of the tracks. Irma was ready for this, and she demonstrates her awesome soul power with a set that oozes class at every turn.

The Jukebox Rebel
18-May-2008


TJR says:

7.84 “Brilliant”

“This happened once before when I came to your door, no reply. They said it wasn't you, but I saw you peep through your window. I saw the light, I saw the light. I know that you saw me ‘cause I looked up to see your face.” 30 seconds was all it took to realise that the Beatles had changed. There’s a great emphasis and delivery all ‘round here – this whole unit are feeling the protagonists angst at the betrayal. As album openers go, “No Reply” has to be one of the greatest of all-time. Sitting to attention, the change is further confirmed on “I’m A Loser”; a tale of romantic rejection set to mournful harmonica juxtaposed with an up-tempo country swing beat. Speaking of the song, John Lennon would later comment: “That's me in my Dylan period. Part of me suspects I'm a loser and part of me thinks I'm God Almighty [laughs].” The exceptional high quality is maintained with “Baby’s In Black”, a rock n ballad which recalls Don and Phil Everly at their very best. It’s been a dark start by Beatles standards, but a thrilling version of Chuck Berry’s “Rock n Roll Music” releases the tension brilliantly; I’m feeling that back beat and John’s vocal is terrific. And what about George Martin on piano? Wow! Jerry Lee who? “I’ll Follow The Sun” is good, but can’t compete with the album’s standards thus far. And then… all hell breaks loose with the throwaway, carefree, joie de vivre simplistic genius of “Mister Moonlight”, an irresistible reading of the tune which had been done by Dr. Feelgood and The Interns in 1962. What a cover – without a shadow of a doubt the greatest interpretation they ever committed to vinyl. Lennons’ rasping vocal just nags away at you and sends a shiver down. The irreverence of that dumb-ass organ solo is absolutely priceless. I can't believe it's not Jimmy Smith : – O Irk the purists. Hell yeah! Side 2 opens with “Eight Days A Week”, a great party track with a neat line in hand-clap-ability. Perhaps due to the pressure of producing 4 albums in 22 months, the group looks back to original 50s influences, with faithful readings of the excellent “Words of Love” (Buddy Holly, 1957) and the more than decent “Honey Don’t” (Carl Perkins, 1955). The greatness of the album is underlined with “Every Little Thing”; a fabulous pop track with plenty of sophisticated twists and turns from the beat combo. For me, The Beatles were getting stronger with every album – and they were sizzling hot by Christmas ’64.

The Jukebox Rebel
07-Dec-2005


TJR says:

7.64 “Brilliant”

Having been released from prison in October ’63, Chuck got straight back to work as he sought to retain his place as one of the World’s primary rockers. The scene was changing all around him – but he just got on with the business of being a high energy Rock n Roller, although the new rock beat is apparent from time to time. Sticking Liverpool in the album’s title wasn’t just a titular gimmick! His new album of works was issued in November, and included all 8 of his single sides from this year, including his major comeback hits, “No Particular Place To Go” and “You Never Can Tell”. The sizzling hot “Promised Land” was the brand new single released in the same month as the LP. “St Louis to Liverpool” was as almost as brilliant as his debut LP back in ’57 – Chuck was back and he was on the form of his life.

The Jukebox Rebel
29-Dec-2007


TJR says:

7.62 “Brilliant”

Tom Wilson, producer at Columbia, had a busy old time of it in 1964, producing two Bob Dylan albums as well as the debut for Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel. The producer showed great faith in the exceptionally talented close harmony duo, and it was he who managed to persuade Columbia to take a chance with a full-length LP release. Released in the slipstream of the beat group revolution, Simon and Garfunkel’s brilliant debut LP, issued in October ‘64, was received by a largely indifferent nation, its’ first issue only selling some 3,000 copies. It was a great disappointment for all involved but, as history shows, the same thing had happened to Bob Dylan back in ’62. In the end, the album’s calling card, the exquisite “Sound of Silence” would eventually be recognised as truly brilliant when, in September ’65, Wilson took the original acoustic version and, without Simon or Garfunkel's knowledge, added electric guitar and drums, releasing the new version as a single. By December ’65 it was Number One in the Billboard 100! The duo had already split by that point, but they were very quick to re-unite, take their rightful acclaim, and move on with what was, quite clearly, their life’s calling. Well done Tom ; – )

The Jukebox Rebel
16-Dec-2007


TJR says:

7.59 “Brilliant”

The egalitarian Johnny Cash exerts his democratic right to protest, as he stands here with his good friend Peter La Farge (who writes 5 of the 8), openly critical of American political skulduggery, past and, very much, present. The set begins topically, holding President John F. Kennedy’s regime to account for breaking the Treaty of Canandaigua (1794) in which the Six Nations of the Iroquois had their land rights affirmed by George Washington’s government. The first song, “As Long as the Grass Shall Grow”, concerns the loss of Seneca nation land in Pennsylvania due to the construction of the Kinzua Dam in early 1961 – a clear breach of the treaty. The Seneca did not want to relocate, and appealed to the courts and President John F. Kennedy to halt construction. They lost. “The Iroquois Indians used to rule from Canada way south, but no one fears the Indians now and smiles the liar’s mouth, the Senecas hired an expert to figure another site, but the great good army engineers said that he had no right. Although he showed them another plan and showed them another way, they laughed in his face and said no deal – Kinuza dam is here to stay. Congress turned the Indians down, brushed off the Indians plea, so the Senecas have renamed the dam – they call it Lake Perfidy.” The unfair treatment of the Native Americans is at the core of the entire album. It’s quite the history lesson – and it pulls no punches. Straight away, track 2, “Apache Tears” continues the Indian’s lament: “Hoof prints and foot prints deep ruts the wagons made, the victor and the loser came by here, no head stones but these bones bring Mascalero death moans, see the smooth black nuggets by the thousands laying here, petrified but justified are these Apache tears.” By the time of track 3, where Cash is aping General Custer’s defeat by allied Native tribes at the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876, there’s absolutely no doubt about which side the big man’s on. If only there were more American white men truly fighting for equal rights and social justice for all. There’d have been no need for the tragedy of Martin Luther King…

The Jukebox Rebel
11-Jun-2007


TJR says:

7.44 “Really good”

“Kinks” is the sound of young London getting in on the R n B beat action. At the time of its release they were: Ray Davies (20, lead vocals, rhythm guitar, keyboards, harmonica); Dave Davies (17, lead guitar, backing and lead vocals); Pete Quaife (20, bass guitar, backing vocals) and Mick Avory (20, drums, tambourine). At this early stage, there’s very little to distinguish them from contemporaries such as the Yardbirds; almost all the way it’s a taker, not a giver but what it gives, boy oh boy, it gives. They’re on the take with Chuck Berry, Tommy Tucker, Lazy Lester, Bo Diddley and Slim Harpo – what great taste. Re the giving, under the stated influence of The Kingsmen's “Louie Louie”, the group hit gold when Dave Davies decided to razor slit the speaker cone of his guitar amp: “it was all shredded but still on there, still intact. I played and I thought it was amazing.” The UK agreed with Dave – the third Kinks single of ’64 gave them their first hit – and they only went and had a bleedin’ number one on their hands! “You Really Got Me” fuelled the appetite of all concerned for a full-length and “Kinks”, released in October, was the result. Unlike a lot of critics, I really rate The Kinks debut – it’s got a simple honest energy about it, and I’d have right into it had I been around as a lad back then. I can just imagine the mosh pit – loads of sweat, air guitar and teenagers belting out “So Mystifying” and “Stop Your Sobbing” at the top of their lungs. These are the teenage kicks – 1964 style.

The Jukebox Rebel
29-Jul-2007


TJR says:

7.42 “Really good”

A hugely enjoyable album – irresistible even – and packed full of timeless classics that will still sound huge in 2064. Quite why “Be My Baby”, “Baby I Love You” and “(The Best Part of) Breakin’ Up” didn’t give these girls three Number One smash hits will remain a puzzle to me for as long as I live. What more could the public possibly want in a pop song? Some of the heights scaled in these tracks were otherworldly for the age; producer Phil Spector and his recording engineer Larry Levine fully merit all the plaudits going for their vision and the studio wizardry. In their career span, the Ronettes placed nine songs on the Billboard Hot 100, five of which became Top 40 hits. All five of those were included here on their one and only LP – needless to say it’s an essential release. For the record, those hits were “Be My Baby” (US #2), “Walking in the Rain” (US #23), “Baby, I Love You” (US #24), “Do I Love You?” (US #34) and “(The Best Part of) Breakin' Up” (US #39). After being denied a release of their first recording, and having to silently tolerate the credit for their next four recordings going to another group (The Crystals), the Ronettes hung in there with Phil Spector and were rewarded when “Be My Baby” (featuring a 17 year-old Cher on backing vocals) shot to #2 in the fall of ’63. “Our lives were turned upside down” lead singer Ronnie later recalled. “All the things I'd ever dreamed about were finally coming true.”

The Jukebox Rebel
20-Dec-2011


TJR says:

7.38 “Really good”

Twelve cover versions make up the Animals debut LP, as was the done thing for the upcoming UK R n B groups of the time. They manage to animalize the songs, mostly down to the stylish and distinctive lead vocals of Eric Burdon and the menacing organ and keyboards of Alan Price. This is a gritty debut which goes a long way towards establishing the English music scene as a credible leftfield force.

The Jukebox Rebel
04-Oct-2009


TJR says:

7.34 “Really good”

In keeping with the frantic, fast-paced nature of the era, the London five-piece laid down their opening album set over the course of just 5 days at the start of the year. At this time they were: Mick Jagger (20, lead vocals); Keith Richards (20, guitar, backing vocals); Brian Jones (21, guitar, harmonica, percussion, backing vocals); Bill Wyman (27, bass guitar, backing vocals) and Charlie Watts (22, drums, percussion). The Stones’ debut is a heady affair, high on life, and a positive celebration of the rebellious heritage of America’s rhythm n blues scene since the mid-50s; these young men were tipping their hat and paying their dues. It’s a blast from the off, with the high energy one-two opening of “Route 66” (as per Chuck Berry’s vision) and “I Just Wanna Make Love To You”, which fairly ramps up the tempo of Muddy Water’s original. They show immaculate taste on track 3, by taking on Jimmy Reed’s “Honest I Do”; it’s clear these cats are the real McCoy. Without necessarily setting the heather on fire, there’s not a weak track on Side 1, as the group tackle Bo Diddley’s “Mona”, before serving up their instrumental “Now I’ve Got A Witness (Like Uncle Phil And Uncle Gene)*” (a titular reference to Phil Spector and Gene Pitney, both of whom contributed to the sessions) and “Little by Little” which co-credits Phil Spector, who earns his corn by shaking some maracas. Side 2 opens with Slim Harpo’s “I’m a King Bee” and the album’s rating duly rockets – they’ve got this music in their veins man – Slim’s “sting solo” never sounded so good! Their fantastic version of Chuck Berry’s “Carol” kicks ass and then, towards the end, another excellent cover of Gene Allison’s “You Can Make It If You Try**” seals the deal on a terrific debut set. Rough n ready with nuff respect and not a little talent – authentic Blues culture had well and truly been delivered to British youth.

The Jukebox Rebel
21-Apr-2007


TJR says:

7.30 “Really good”

The first of two Dylan albums in 1964 and, in many ways, it’s quite a brave release. There are no frills on-board whatsoever – sparingly used harmonica, and a relatively subdued guitarist. Putting those lyrics forefront as the sole play was a bit of a gamble, but I guess if anyone could do it then Bob could, for he was a topical troubadour without equal. These are all Zimmerman originals for the first time, dealing with issues such as racism, poverty, and social change. Poignant album highlight “The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll” is musically unremarkable, and Bob is content to simply read the news and pull you in to the story of black hotel barmaid Hattie Carroll, and her death at the hands of young white socialite, William Zantzinger. For all its simplicity, it’s hard hitting stuff and you are coaxed into reading between the lines and drawing your own conclusions. These ain’t no tunes for Top of The Pops. “With God On Our Side” brilliantly points out the hypocrisy of the citizens within the nations of the Christian West and the atrocities which they sanction (ed) with their silence – Americans and Germans notably get a rough ride. Gotta love Bob – no prisoners! “Only A Pawn In Their Game” shines a light on the despicably racist South by highlighting the murder of black civil rights worker Medgar Evers by Ku Klux Klan member Byron De La Beckwith. Evers had been gunned down just hours after President John F. Kennedy’s speech on national television in support of civil rights. The Times They Are a-Changin’? Maybe they were, even if progress was slow. But thankfully, the likes of Bob Dylan were there to lay down the truth – it wasn’t pretty, and the story was told here warts and all…

The Jukebox Rebel
20-Apr-2007


TJR says:

7.07 “Really good”

12 new recordings by 5 group members, see? Where would we be without those clever American marketeers? It was quite one thing to be feeding blues culture to the British youth, but to be feeding it back to Americans was something else. Such was the strength of the American reaction to all musical things British in 1964, it was the United States who got the scoop on the second new music album in the Rolling Stones story. The five irreverent rascals continued with their fight to keep the blues alive in a hip 60s environment that was otherwise ready to move on to something else – and, together with their “invasion” compadres, they managed to persuade a whole new generation of teenagers all over the world that this was, indeed, a cool thing. Brilliantly, the five made a bit of a pilgrimage to Chess Studios in Chicago, where Marshall Chess exceptionally lent out his facility for a full 2 days of recording in June ‘64. As told at rockhall.com: “the Stones made quite an impression. Their appearance was particularly jarring to Midwestern sensibilities of the mid 60s (Brian Jones' shoulder-length hair, for example) and their decorum (or lack thereof) was shocking even for the staff of Chess, who were used to seeing their fair share of rabble-rousing.” Marshall Chess shed some light: “At Chess, we had some pretty strange motherfuckers on the label, but we never had anyone who, like the Stones, drank straight from a bottle of Jack Daniels in the studio rather than nipping to the bathroom for a drink or a toke, this was new even to us.” In the May 23, 1964 issue of Melody Maker, Muddy Waters was quoted as saying: “They're my boys. I like their version of 'I Just Want To Make Love To You.' They fade it out just like we did.” 7 of the 16 songs from those sessions made their way onto “12 x 5” and accounted for three of the best songs that the LP has to offer. The group had their opportunistic finger on the pulse of what was happening and this was exemplified with two of the covers on side 1. Their Irma Thomas inspired version of “Time is On My Side” gave them an almost instant US Top 10 hit (at the expense of Irma’s own version) and the cover of The Valentino’s “It’s All Over Now” also outperformed the original in the singles sales market. Although Bobby Womack wasn’t happy at the Stones muscling in on his song at the time, he changed his tune when his first royalty cheque appeared a few months later. Also from the Chicago sessions, another organ-led ballad, the cover of Wilson Pickett’s “If You Need Me”, made for a great inclusion on side 2. As proven beyond a doubt on their first two LPs, these boys were music lovers – and very fine interpreters.

The Jukebox Rebel
06-Sep-2008


TJR says:

7.06 “Really good”

There’s an underlying world weary tone to Sam Cooke’s final LP, released for RCA in March 1964. It was the first LP that he recorded after having lost his 18-month-old son, Vincent, who died of an accidental drowning in June 1963. Behind the scenes his marriage was falling apart, and to boot, he was, along with millions of African-Americans becoming increasingly infuriated by the anti-black institutionalization still so prevalent within the United States in the mid-1960s. Often in this set, Cooke reaches back to his gospel roots to sing these songs with an intensity and passion never heard before on his pop recordings – no matter whether it’s an upbeat groover or a downtempo ballad. 6 of the 12 came from his own pen – and yet again his finest songs are his own songs. Last year’s smash hit “Another Saturday Night” finds Sam in irresistible form – on his game, no one can touch him when it comes to pop with a soulful groove. Side 2 opens with a monster, Sam’s own “A Change Is Gonna Come”. Here, the man touches genuine greatness, with one of the most powerful, most poignant and most enduring songs ever to speak out against America’s racism. Cooke had been greatly moved by Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind”, especially given that such a poignant song about racism in America could come from someone who was not black. It stirred his very own social consciousness into response, and what drama ensued. By this stage, it seems that his fears of losing his largely white fan base have been put aside in the name of truth. The song came to exemplify the 1960s’ Civil Rights Movement, gaining in popularity and critical acclaim in the decades since its release, and is #12 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. Tragically, Sam Cooke was murdered in December 1964, in circumstances which, perhaps even more tragically, seem destined to remain unresolved and forever unclear. Cut down in his prime, who knows where the man could’ve gone from here. One thing’s for sure, he was simply going from strength to strength in my eyes and he bowed out on a high…

The Jukebox Rebel
30-Jul-2008


TJR says:

7.03 “Really good”

Soul of the deeply southern variety; shouts from the heart with a great set of musicians who feel it with the singer. Key players are: Booker T. Jones (keyboards, organ, piano); Isaac Hayes (keyboards, piano); Steve Cropper (guitar, piano); Donald Dunn (bass) and Al Jackson Jr. (drums). At this time, Otis is clearly digging on Little Richard, Solomon Burke and Sam Cooke – and he has the ability to adapt from the rasp to the croon and everywhere in between as required. The album serves as a terrific round up of the Otis recordings of 1962 and 1963, including his key singles of the period: “These Arms of Mine”, “That's What My Heart Needs”, “Security”, and the title-track. Included are 5 from his own pen, two of which, “These Arms of Mine” and “That’s What My Heart Needs” are two of the very finest on the LP, with the former towering above all others, exuding an undeniably confident superiority both musically and vocally. With that single statement alone, team Otis were laying down a mighty genre benchmark which still stands, several decades on.

The Jukebox Rebel
13-Jan-2010


TJR says:

6.97 “Good”

Incredibly, this is the 14th album already from the stylish and hard-working Tacoma, Washington quintet. As ever, it’s an all-instrumental affair, bar the occasional scream here and wordless vocal there. They continue with their conceptual album outlook, and the futuristic vibe of this one is delivered via a mixture of surf-rockers and sci-fi movie-theme stylizations, with a whole lot of “unworldly sounds” – all created with real musical instruments as the liner notes are keen to point out. The Ventures sound was oft-imitated – but these are the master craftsmen – and this album is a pleasure to the ears.

The Jukebox Rebel
04-Mar-2012


TJR says:

6.93 “Good”

The quintessential early Beach Boys album, all surf, girls and cars, topped off with their own unique and complex brand of vocal harmonies. “All Summer Long” stands as their best work yet, with highlights such as “I Get Around”, which gave the band their first U.S. number one, and the super-cool “Little Honda” where the kids reach a new hip-peak.

The Jukebox Rebel
03-Sep-2005


TJR says:

6.71 “Good”

Debut album from the popular Johannesburg ensemble who formed in 1958 at the behest of talent scout and producer Rupert Bopape for EMI South Africa, and were named after Alexandra Township, known at the time as ’Dark City’ due to its lack of street lighting. “Star Time” was the first of four volumes, whether that was planned at the time is unclear. The cheesy liner notes read: “The sun has set. It’s party time and what can be more appropriate than “Startime with the Dark City Sisters”. According to the LP cover image, there are four singers within the group at this stage. Their close harmony singing is a joy, although the stylings range from a Chordettes style of easy listening pop to a more pleasing (for me) home grown variant perhaps best described as a “light jive swing”. The album features a guest appearance (on “Tap Tap Ntshebe”) from the 25 year old Mahlathini and, somewhat reassuringly, the characteristic growl is present even at this early stage. The album notes are a little more insightful in regards to one of the highlight tracks, “Langa More” in which we learn: “[it’s] an evergreen which introduced a new form of dance, different from the Flying Jazz, in that the arm movement remained unchanged but the feet movement of the dancers became that of a sliding motion side by side in a movement reminiscent of the Charleston.” Sounds like fun, huh? The cheesy notes can get the final word: “This record is the perfect prescription for dispelling Party Blues and to get your guests in the mood for “Startime with the Dark City Sisters”.”

The Jukebox Rebel
03-Mar-2012


TJR says:

6.69 “Good”

In Britain, in November 1963, The Dave Clark Five released “Glad All Over”, their 6th single, and finally they had thumped their way into the world’s consciousness. By January it was Number One in Britain and Ireland, Top 3 in Australia and Canada. Soon, it’d be Top 10 in the Billboard. The banging “Bits And Pieces” followed in February – it went all the way to Number 2 in the British charts. It was a bit of a sensational turn around for the quintet who’d been slogging away together for several years hitherto. Drummer, leader and founder Dave Clark had been constant since 1957, bass guitarist Rick Huxley had joined in 1958, keyboardist and lead singer Mike Smith joined in 1960, lead guitarist Lenny Davidson joined in 1961 and saxophonist / harmonica player Denis Payton joined in 1962. This intuitive combo would last all the way through to 1970, averaging more than 2 albums per year for their entire career from hereon. The success of those two classic singles induced press hyperbole, stirring up an imaginary Dave Clark Five vs. The Beatles battle with the common gist of the headlines being along the lines of “Tottenham’s thumping response to Merseybeat”. And it rang kinda true to be fair, although I’ve no doubt they were all pals whenever they’d bump into each other. The timing of the hits for the band couldn’t have been better – they were the second group of the “British Invasion” on The Ed Sullivan Show, appearing in March for two weeks after The Beatles had appeared three straight weeks in February 1964. It would signal the start of a mutual love affair between the band and the States, a love affair which would burn intensely for a few years. This debut LP, released in March 1964, set the tone for how things would be from here – released Stateside only. Generally speaking, for the next few years, actual Tottenham residents would have to import the Tottenham sound from America. The cheek of it! The album stands as a semi-compile, rounding up 8 single sides 1963-1964 (many of which were only released in Britain) with 3 brand new tracks – “Time”, “She’s All Mine” and the cover of Maurice Williams “Stay”. There was a great energy to this set – apart from the two rip roaring singles, the likes of “I Know You” and “No Time To Lose” were also highly exciting garage screamers. An early word of caution is noted with the inclusion of the rather trite “Doo Dah”. Who were these really? And could they be trusted?

The Jukebox Rebel
22-Mar-2013


TJR says:

6.54 “Good”

Whilst America was dealing with the English invasion, the bold Gene was reversing the trend with a one-man American invasion of England! “Shakin’ Up A Storm” was recorded over the course of 4 London sessions between March and June ’64 with his English group of five being christened “The Shouts”. They were: Tim Bates (lead guitar); Jem Field (tenor sax); John Reece (bass guitar); Eric Baker (organ, piano) and Victor Clark (drums). And what a great job they made of it. If last year’s Gene Vincent album had disappointed with its backward outlook, then this one more than made up for it. Sure, he continues to trade in his blues roots, with the occasional penchant for an old-fashioned croon, but the set is underpinned in the exciting new English beat of the day; the thumping “Shimmy Shammy Shingle” being every bit as Tottenham as the Dave Clark Five. Covers dominate proceedings, with the garage-esque treatment of “Slippin’ And Slidin’” and Gene’s uncanny aping of Sam Cooke’s vocal on “Another Saturday Night” being 2 of the best that the album has to offer. There are also some good originals, notably “Private Detective”, where a good man is led astray by a hot-looking dish, who turns out to be private eye hired by his wife. Betrayal, sex, AND you can bop to it. Value! At the end, Gene’s talk-rock pleas for mercy recall the Big Bopper and it makes for a great smiler. The writer credited with this ditty is listed as Sheri Ann, but Sheri Ann was actually Vincent's daughter, born in 1963. Not bad for a one-year old, eh? Although it has much competition, the album’s piece de resistance is another one of his own – a thoroughly excellent re-recording of his old Blue Caps single from ’58, “Baby Blue”. It’s even better than the original – and that’s the finest tribute that can be paid to this very fine LP.

The Jukebox Rebel
30-Aug-2015


TJR says:

6.46 “Decent enough”

Away back at the start of the century, scholar Cecil Sharp had warned that the old folk forms were in grave danger of dying out, but the truth of the matter is that there were enough people, players and listeners, interested enough to keep the music alive with various twists and turns down throughout the years. The famous American revival of the 50s had spread to England’s shores, and this had a knock-on effect in Ireland, an ancient homeland of the western form. A new generation set about the old tunes with a new vigour, as the pubs once again became alive with the craic of the auld folk ballads. Four lads from Dublin were at the very forefront of the Irish revival; they were a hard-working group and fame in their own back yard came instantly in ’62. The group’s charms wowed the Edinburgh Festival in 1963 which led to them being featured on a BBC programme called Hootenanny. Before too long, they got a major break when Transatlantic Records signed them up to an album deal before the year was through. The Dubliners first album was recorded live before an invited audience at London's Livingston Studios in late 1963. At this time they were: Ronnie Drew (29, vocals, guitar); Luke Kelly (23, vocals, banjo); Barney McKenna (23, banjo) and Ciarán Bourke (28, vocals, tin Whistle). Nathan Joseph, who had signed the group on a memorable Guinness-laden trip to the Wicklow hills penned the album’s liner notes which served as a suitably humorous introduction for the likeable Dubliners: “Tom Leader aged 5, was talking to the roadsweeper. Four Irishmen emerged from a house nearby “They look like 4 nannygoats”, said the roadsweeper. “No”, said Tom, who had heard them sing. “Nannygoats have horns”… Ciarán Bourke, Barney McKenna, Ronnie Drew and Luke Kelly have beards. Barney's is big, black and bushy and Barney is big, giving an overall impression of a benign Californian black bear. Barney plays the banjo with a dexterity unmatched by anyone else in Britain. Ronnie Drew's beard is still blacker than Barney's, but smaller and trimmer. It encircles his face in such a way that his eyes resemble a cat's peering out of a coal cellar, or a devil glaring out of hell. Ronnie plays guitar and sings in a voice like coke being crushed under a door. Ciarán’s beard is lighter in colour, and straggles a little. The hair is not so wiry either. Ciarán is the quiet member of the group. He plays the whistle and his voice has a softer texture than Luke's or Ronnie's. Luke has a smart, sharp ginger beard. The others accuse him of being an intellectual. He is more lone wolf than nannygoat. He sings in a voice to wake the dead and scare recording engineers, and plays the banjo. Together as the Dubliners, they are enough to warm the heart of any Irishman and to frighten the British immigration authorities. They are Dublin's darlings; impossible for an audience to resist and impossible to record. We recorded them.”

The Jukebox Rebel
25-Jul-2010


TJR says:

6.44 “Decent enough”

The third Beatles “A-list” LP arrive in the summer of ’64 and, in America at least, served as a full-on soundtrack to their movie, “A Hard Day’s Night”. The original working titles of the film had been “The Beatles” and then “Beatlemania” (although the name of the group is never spoken in the movie) but it was a Ringo-ism which prevailed as the title. Said Paul: “We often could rely on Ringo for titles cos Ringo had this happy knack of getting things wrong – little malapropisms – and it was always better than the real one. Someone said to him, you know, you look a bit tired today. He said, 'Yeah, I've had a hard day's night, you know'. He meant it, and we all went, 'Hard Day's Night, that's great!'“ The promotional posters were straight and to the point: “Starring in their first full-length, action-packed film – The Beatles!” Elvis and Cliff had been there and done it – but this was new territory for a group. EMI had sold the American rights for “A Hard Day’s Night” to United Artists, the film’s producers. This was before the height of Beatlemania – but as it transpired, by springtime ’64, UA were sitting on a goldmine. Viewing the albums from a chronological viewpoint, it’s the first time the US had got the scoop; UA rush-released their idea of what the new Beatles album should be – a whole 2 weeks ahead of the group-approved UK edition, which was entirely different. United Artists UAL-3366 was dedicated to the concept of the album as a full-on soundtrack to the movie; 7 of the new tracks had featured in the film, as did 4 of the incidental instrumentals which had been arranged and recorded by George Martin and a range of studio session men. “I'll Cry Instead”, which was left on the cutting room floor when it came to the final film-edit as it was deemed too downbeat, at least still merited a place on the album. Thankfully, the LP never sunk to an all-out cheese-fest, although the instrumental versions of 4 Beatles songs (not actually performed by the group) must have been a worrying sign for some of their cooler fans in the US. Notably, the album is the first to feature all Lennon / McCartney compositions – their talent is on show for all to see and hear. The album gets off to a fantastic start with “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Tell Me Why”; the chemistry between John’s lead and Paul’s harmony vocals is a simple joy. Not so great is the country rocker “I’ll Cry Instead”. It’s immediately followed by George Martin’s studio session men who rip through a brassy Shadows-esque reading of “I Should Have Known Better [instrumental]”; as per but not exactly the same as the version which aired on the film itself. It’s not too bad, even if it is a bit of a WTF? moment in the Beatles album story. Side 1 closes with a namby-pamby orchestral version of McCartney’s “And I Love Her [instrumental]”. Why do these things never come with Rock n Roller advisory stickers? “Beware the dodgy film soundtrack makers”, that sort of thing. Surely these things are more traumatic than the odd sweary word? Flipping over, “I Should Have Known Better” immediately restores order and then some, as the band pay subliminal homage to Dylan in stupendous fashion, with a harmonica-driven pop-rock swinger. For the third non-Beatles incidental break, there’s a reprise for the November ’63 single “This Boy” (retitled here as “Ringo’s Theme (This Boy)”) which had also appeared on their stateside LP “Meet the Beatles!” in January ’64. It’s a case of an awesome song completely ruined. This is not what we need – who wants this muzak on a Beatles album? Again, the rescue is immediate, courtesy of the fab swinging merseybeat of “Can’t Buy Me Love”. The strange old instrumental break palaver has the last word, as the album ends where it begun; “A Hard Day’s Night [instrumental]” albeit reimagined in the snazzy, jazzy style of the Dave Brubeck Quartet. America lapped it up – one million copies were sold in the States within 4 days of release. United Artists knew what they were doing alright… n.b. the UK edition of the album was released 2 weeks later and offered 5 new tracks (none of which were related to the film) at the expense of the 4 soundtrack instrumentals.

The Jukebox Rebel
07-Dec-2005


TJR says:

6.31 “Decent enough”

A highly spirited debut from the south-west London blues rockers, where sheer energy trumps finesse. I should point out that this is purely down to the adrenalin-fuelled nature of the live gig experience; it’s clear the players have talent in abundance. They were: Eric Clapton (lead guitar); Chris Dreja (rhythm guitar); Jim McCarty (drums); Keith Relf (lead vocals, harmonica, maracas) and Paul Samwell-Smith (bass guitar). With demands on the Rolling Stones becoming ever greater, the Yardbirds were drafted in as the resident band at the Crawdaddy Club by late ‘63. It wasn’t too long until their prominent position won a recording contract, and it was agreed that their first LP would be best served as a document of their brashy live rave ups. The set was recorded on the 13th March, 1964 at the Marquee Club in London. In the set list, the Rock n Roll world is represented by 3 Bo Diddley’s and a Chuck Berry, whilst the blues covers include numbers from Slim Harpo, Howlin’ Wolf, Sonny Boy Williamson, Eddie Boyd and John Lee Hooker. Added to that is a dash of Isley’s soul and there you have the typical set of the British R n B group of the day; played hard and fast with the emphasis very much on having a rave-up. By the sounds of it, a good night out was had by all, but I can’t help but pine for the studio album that never was…

The Jukebox Rebel
26-Jun-2008


TJR says:

6.28 “Decent enough”

Patsy Cline’s 4th and final LP of new music was recorded at various times between February 1962 and February 1963 in Nashville, Tennessee and released posthumously in June 1964. She had given her final performance on March 3rd 1963 at a benefit concert in Kansas, and finished the show to a thunderous ovation with a song she had recorded the previous month, “I’ll Sail My Ship Alone”. In her early 1963 sessions she had been working on her 4th LP which had even gotten so far as to have been titled, “Faded Love”. Fate had other ideas. Spookily, friends Dottie West, June Carter Cash, and Loretta Lynn recalled Cline telling them during 1962–1963 that she felt a sense of impending doom and did not expect to live much longer. Cline, known for her generosity, had begun giving away personal items to friends, writing her will on Delta Air Lines stationery and asking close friends to care for her children should anything happen to her. She told Jordanaires back-up singer Ray Walker as she exited the Grand Ole Opry the week before her death: “Honey, I’ve had two bad ones (accidents). The third one will either be a charm or it’ll kill me.” Having been grounded in Kansas for a day due to bad weather, her small private airplane flight back to Nashville finally departed a day later. However, Cline’s flight encountered further inclement weather and crashed on the evening of March 5th 1963. Her recovered wristwatch had stopped at approximately 6:20 p.m. The plane wreckage was located approximately 90 miles (140 km) from its Nashville destination in a forest outside Camden, Tennessee. Forensic examinations concluded that everyone aboard had been killed instantaneously from their injuries and did not suffer. The album opens appropriately with “Faded Love”, a cover of Bob Wills’ 1950 western swinger, and also includes that final performance number “I’ll Sail My Ship Alone”. There are some fantastic gems that we’ve been left with. “When I Get Thru With You” sees Patsy deliver in a Shirelles style, “Your Kinda Love” revisits the super cool delivery of “Walkin’ After Midnight”, bluesy inflection and all, whilst “When You Need A Laugh” sees Hank Cochran come up trumps once again with another pucker country tearjerker. I can only imagine that this album would’ve helped a lot of folks in mourning. Hers is a legend that can never be killed.

The Jukebox Rebel
22-Jul-2008


TJR says:

6.27 “Decent enough”

Having been heavily identified with the rockabilly scene in the preceding years, “Two Sides of Wanda” would prove to be the last time she’d prominently record in the genre for some 20 years. This was a good decision both artistically and commercially. The rock and rollers here sound a bit uninspiring; although not too bad it really does sound like a case of Rockabilly by numbers. On side 1 she tackles: “Whole Lot Of Shakin’ Goin’ On” (Big Maybelle, 1955); “Honey Don’t” (Carl Perkins, 1955); “Yakety Yak” (The Coasters, 1958); “Searchin’” (The Coasters, 1957); “Candy Man” (Roy Orbison, 1961) and “Rip It Up” (Little Richard, 1956). Side 2, steeped in a raw-brand of Nashville country pop, is instantly more preferable – her honky-swing reading of Jimmy Work’s “Making Believe” is noticeably more genuine by both singer and group. This is followed by a beautiful rendition of Wynn Stewart’s “Keeper of the Key”. Again, it seems obvious that this is more like home territory. Wanda delivers another great vocal in an unusual pop-rhumba version of Hank Williams’ “Cold Cold Heart”. For once, I seem to be in line with popular opinion with my feeling that the country side is the stronger one here; the album earned Jackson her first Grammy nomination for Best Female Country Vocal Performance. Go Wanda…

The Jukebox Rebel
10-Aug-2015


TJR says:

6.22 “Decent enough”

An entertaining set from the Liverpudlian quartet, now firmly entrenched in the new beat-group genre, with clear Rock n Roll sensibilities, and occasional past-references to their skiffle roots. They were: Ray Ennis (vocals, lead guitar); Ralph Ellis (guitarist); Les Braid (bass); Norman Kuhlke (drummer). There’s some high quality 60s Pop on offer here, albeit that the strength mostly lies in the stronger first half with “Save the Last Dance for Me”, “That’s The Way It Goes” and “Around and Around” doing it best for me.

The Jukebox Rebel
07-Sep-2008


TJR says:

6.18 “Decent enough”

In 1964, figuring his deal with King was at an end, Brown and fellow Famous Flame Bobby Byrd formed the production company, Fair Deal, linking the operation to a new label, Mercury imprint Smash Records. However, King Records fought Brown’s departure and was granted an injunction preventing Brown from releasing any vocal recordings for his new label. “Showtime” (Smash S67054, 1964) and “Grits and Soul” (Smash S67057, 1964) seemed to get around the ban, but “Out Of Sight” (Smash S67058), released late in 1964, was the one which pushed things too far. It was withdrawn from sale within a few days due to a legal threat from King Records. The lucky few to grab initial copies were treated to a mixed bag that mainly featured crooner cover versions from the big band era, interspersed with some of the dance funk ideas that were taking shape within the JB stable. The title-track demonstrated the root workings for “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag”, whilst “I Got You” (which itself was later re-recorded as “I Got You (I Feel Good)”) revisited and heavily reworked “I Found You”, previously done by Yvonne Fair and James Brown Band in 1962. It was a tantalizing album… and a deeply buried treasure from the annals of 1964…

The Jukebox Rebel
19-Apr-2012


TJR says:

6.14 “Decent enough”

A most efficient conduit of the folk music story, Dave van Ronk was an interesting and entertaining interpreter and creator. He learned much of his trade from the Reverend Gary Davis and, thanks to the fingerpicking teachings of Tom Paley, was able to use his guitar to translate old piano rag stylings within the folk genre, in amongst his many traits and tricks. Mixing up old traditionals with new complex arrangements was his specialty, and this, allied with his contemporary sensibilities, ensured that he was well respected in the competitive Greenwich Village scene of the early 60s. His range of covered material is one of the most impressive aspects of this set in particular – this is exemplified on side 2 as he veers from reading Billie Holiday’s “God Bless the Child” to Fats Domino’s “Blue Monday” to Gary Davis’s “Baby Let Me Lay It On You”. For the album closer, he digs away back in folk roots with his own unique arrangement of “House of the Rising Sun” which, when he had played it live a few years earlier, inspired Dylan to record it on his debut LP. You know you’re good when you’ve got Dylan’s ear.

The Jukebox Rebel
19-Dec-2009


TJR says:

6.06 “Decent enough”

With this LP, Dusty broke free of the shackles that came with being a singer with the Springfields; her solo debut was built around the music that was in her heart, and her soulful pop vision was laid out very nicely here on this set. She was still a Springfield by name, but the front cover was clear with the statement that she was now “A Girl Called Dusty”. The album kicks-off with a version of the Shirelles’ “Mama Said” and, although it’s not a patch on the original, it’s decent enough. Straight away I’m thinking she’s got taste. First thrills are found on track 4, as Dusty does a great job on “When the Lovelight Starts Shining Through His Eyes”, which had given the Supremes their first Top 40 success Stateside at the tail end of ’63. Had she been Michigan based, Berry Gordy would have signed her in an instant… she's terrific at this kind of song. Not so good is a version of Kander & Ebbs “My Colouring Book” – step away from the songbook I’m silently pleading. The bounce back is immediate as she tackles Inez and Charlie Foxx’s “Mockingbird” – dare I say it, it’s better than the original. Flipping the album over, “Twenty Four Hours from Tulsa” proves to be a real show stopper. I’ve always loved Gene Pitney’s song, but Dusty elevates it to another place; she sure could read a song. Taking on Bacharach & David’s “Anyone Who Had A Heart” is a bit of a square undertaking that could never work but, again, redemption is immediate in my eyes as the Shirelles get another big-up courtesy of “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”. The album closes with a snazzy version of Ray Charles’s “Don’t You Know”, as Dusty builds up a performance which ends with a whole load of hollering and screaming, as if a preacher possessed. It sums up the album nicely – she's making the music she wants to make and she’s having a wail of a time : – )

The Jukebox Rebel
11-Nov-2015


TJR says:

5.92 “Average”

So named as a follow-up to Capitol’s 1963 Hot Rod compilation, “Shut Down”, which included “409” and “Shut Down” but was not a Beach Boys album. The big question here is how on earth can an album lead off with the excellent “Fun Fun Fun”, continue with the sublime “Don’t Worry Baby” (Brian Wilson’s magnificent response to Phil Spector’s “Be My Baby”) yet still be classed as “average” by me? Tunes like “Pom Pom Play Girl” (complete with lyric “Rah Rah Pom Pom Play Girl), “‘Cassius’ Love vs. ‘Sonny’ Wilson” (a banal offering featuring cringe-inducing banter between the two) and “Denny’s Drums” (where we’re subjected to a solo Dennis practice session) ensure that this one goes down forever billed as a “mixed bag”…

The Jukebox Rebel
01-Jan-2013


TJR says:

5.84 “Average”

Nina’s final LP for Colpix Records was, for me, her best yet. For the fifth time, her latest offering was recorded all-live in concert. As with the preceding “At Carnegie Hall”, the album’s selections come from her performance on the 12th April '63 at New York’s Carnegie Hall. One track, “The Twelfth of Never”, repeats from that LP. Thoughtfully, the selections here were loosely chosen with a sensibility towards Nina’s folksier inclinations; not unsurprisingly I consider it to be her strongest album to date. Objectivity in my ratings system is negligible! The well written liner notes provide some insight: “The highpoint of any Nina Simone concert or night club engagement is the introduction of a folk song that she has discovered and added to her performance. While she has occasionally included folk material in her previous albums, this is her first LP exclusively devoted to folk songs. Folksy Nina presents the extremely talented Nina Simone in a program entirely composed of folk ballads and blues. Her selections vary in tempo and style from tender and lyrical readings to her well-known exciting and driving vocal expressions. Nina Simone has chosen old English, Israeli, Low Country and American Blues and traditional tunes. She also includes an interesting instrumental done in an intriguing 574 tempo. Together, the songs in Folksy Nina convey moods of humor (“Silver City Bound”), wistfulness (“The Twelfth of Never”), ribald wit (“The Young Knight”) and beauty (“Hush Little Baby” and “Mighty Lak A Rose”). Underlying her interpretations there is always the superb artistry of an incomparable vocalist and musician. Her fans will find Nina Simone more than up to standard. Those who are less acquainted with her will experience a thrilling performance. Nina Simone sings folk music with a commanding authenticity uniquely influenced by varying degrees of jazz. As always, she is completely distinctive. A new side of Nina Simone is shown in her rendition of “Lass of the Low Country”. Often, during a Nina Simone selection, the listener's attention is divided between her vocal and piano techniques. In this delivery, however, she concentrates on singing, and the result is one of the finest moments in Folksy Nina.

The Jukebox Rebel
03-Sep-2009

chart first published 21 Dec 2015; last edited 21 Dec 2015

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