Off Topic Messages

Thu Apr 13, 2006 11:39 am

My point about Elvis was that he was still part of it although on a much decreased basis.

Colin- The allegiance of casual fans to Elvis is a source of frustration. They were the ones that sent "Blue Hawaii" to great heights and ignored great stuff like "Guitar Man" and even the significantly better movies like "Follow That Dream". Part of it though I think is generational. I think a large part of the fans that ignored stuff like "Guitar Man" were people who weren't buying records anymore. Another portion were fans who had moved away from Elvis for quality control. I don't think Elvis ever gained all those fans back even with the comeback. I think he gained a portion back and made up the difference with new fans. It's hard to draw lines because he was at various points in his career working to different audiences.

Greg- In my opinion of the one most interesting trends that hasn't been written about is the commercial remergence of traditional pop in the wake of Beatlemania. Both Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin staged major chart comebacks in the aftermath of Beatlemania. Sinatra had had only two Top 40 singles in the first four years of the '60s. Martin had no Top 40 singles since 1958. From late 1964-1965 on they were pretty well regular Top 40 residents. The mid-60s were also a period of prosperity for younger pop oriented pop performers like Bobby Vinton and Al Martino. I think it was partly a backlash against Beatlemania by fans who preferred a more traditional sound. It was also reflective of the fact that many fans of 1940s music were now empty nesters and were buying music again. Some of these fans became Elvis fans and helped records like "Don't Cry Daddy", "Wonder of You" and "Crying in the Chapel" move the units that they did.

Speaking Greg of handing proper respect to past innovators: I think that doo wop's spiritual parentage of hip hop is too often ignored. Although some know nothing fans dismiss the music, this music served the same function as hip hop in the 1950s and 1960s in that it gave disempowered blacks and whites the power to express themselves through their own music without the benefit of musical instruments. That's how all those nonsense syllables came to be as the singers were vocally emulating the sound of instruments. And although many lyrics were love lyrics many of the great doo wop records like the Coasters "Yakety Yak" and "What About Us" and the Silhouettes' "Get a Job" were commenting about a lot of what was going on in that community. The timeless sense of yearning at the heart of that music that revealed a belief in and distance from a better world made its own point even within the most conventional lyrics. Because the culture in general has gotten harsher, the messages have followed. Still, the function was there.

Nothing just drops out of the sky.

Thu Apr 13, 2006 4:39 pm

I'm just taking Maurice at his word.

Hence: "former FECCer spectacle."

Colin, you were always a bit more even-handed on this subject, so I suppose Moe was the sole bristler of the '60s Elvis Reconsidered...

Thu Apr 13, 2006 4:49 pm

ColinB wrote:Pete wrote:
How did VLV/What'd I Say; ATLYB/Ask Me; and It Hurts Me do in the U.K. where charts are based soley on sales?

These are Elvis' 1964 chart positions:

Kiss Me Quick - Peaked at No.14 [released late '63]

Viva Las Vegas - Peaked at No.17 [What'd I Say not mentioned on chart]

Kissin' Cousins - Peaked at No.10 [It Hurts Me not mentioned on chart]

Such a Night - Peaked at No.13

Ain't That Loving You Baby - Peaked at No.15 [Ask Me not mentioned on chart]

Blue Christmas - Peaked at No.11

Here in the U.S. Elvis' 1964 chart performance was as follows:
Kissin' Cousins #12/It Hurts Me #29
Kiss Me Quick #34
What'd I Say #21/Viva Las Vegas #29
Such a Night #16
Ask Me #12/Ain't That Lovin' You Baby #16

Now let's look at 1965:
Do The Clam #21
Crying In The Chapel #3
I'm Yours #11
Such An Easy Question #11
Puppet On A String #14

What's interesting is that previously released material from Elvis' early 60's studio albums for the most part charted better than new material. Also, that such a relatively inferior movie song as Kissin' Cousins charts higher than the superior numbers What'd I Say; Viva Las Vegas is perplexing. And the fact that Do The Clam hit #21 (the same position as What'd I Say) boggles the mind!

On the other hand these generally more-than-respectable chart positions exceeded the career chart performances of some artists!

Thu Apr 13, 2006 4:59 pm

Bike may be right (actually, you can look it up) that the latinate era in pop music had run aground by '64, so VIVA was a day late and a dollar short.

All in all, one cannot expect Elvis to have continued his successful chart run that had begun nationally almost ten years prior. Jerry Lee Lewis, Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, Little Richard and other contemporaries (while not entirely gone) had surely faced worse fates. Even Elvis could suffer music fan fatigue: "heard one, heard'em all"? Yes, the material was worse, but in the old days ("I Want You, I Need You, I Love You," etc.), comparably subpar material didn't matter. People wanted Elvis! In '64, he was far from novel.

And what of the Beatles' chartings in say, 1972 (Solo excursions excluded)? Elvis' pop longevity is under-rated to this day.

Thu Apr 20, 2006 3:20 pm

1965 was a much better year for music and musicians.

Thu Apr 20, 2006 3:34 pm

Jesse Garon wrote:
1965 was a much better year for music and musicians.

I quite like '66 :wink:


Thu Apr 20, 2006 3:39 pm

I heard you liked 69.
Last edited by Jesse Garon on Thu Apr 20, 2006 3:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Thu Apr 20, 2006 3:40 pm

sam wrote:I quite like '66 :wink: 8)

Wot - 1866 ?

Thu Apr 20, 2006 3:41 pm

Jesse Garon wrote:I heard you liked 69.

Yes, but that's another story!!! :wink:

:oops: :lol:

Thu Apr 20, 2006 3:53 pm

Sam. Help me out here. Why do you like '69? Am I missing something?

Thu Apr 20, 2006 4:19 pm

jake wrote:Am I missing something?



Thu Apr 20, 2006 9:10 pm

Pete Dube wrote:
.... I agree that Kiss Me Quick was a dumb choice. But why did the high quality Viva Las Vegas/What'd I Say single fail to make a significant dent on the charts? .....

My theory is that the reason why Viva Las Vegas / What'd I Say didn't make a major dent on the charts was due to the fact that Kiss Me Quick was released on a single two weeks before.
Not only was Elvis competing against other performers (on the charts), he was also competing against himself.

As for the song Ain't That Loving You Baby, it makes me wonder what would've happened if Elvis had re-recorded the song during the January 1964 sessions - and had that version released instead of the '58 recording. My theory is that it would've charted higher than #12 on the charts.

Tom (from Ohio)

Thu Apr 20, 2006 9:15 pm

It's a position for argument. Certainly any year that gave us "Tracks of My Tears", "Ticket to Ride", "Satisfaction", "Like a Rolling Stone", "I Got You I Feel Good", "Rescue Me", "Hang On Sloopy", "Stop! in the Name of Love", our Elvis' "Crying in the Chapel" etc. and albums like Bringing it All Back Home, Help, Beach Boys Today, Highway 61 Revisted etc. is definitely a contender.

I go with 1964 because of the diversity of music available and the number of legends making significant contributions and because of the extreme cultural shifts. I wouldn't disagree that 1965 would be a good candidate as well. I also think 1956 would be an excellent choice, maybe 1957 as well. I would place 1969 near the top of any list and probably 1966 or 1967 as well although those years are much more limited in scope than the other years. Other years in contention could be 1983 (my personal youth year) and 1991 where Nirvana hit and hip hop really started to soar to the heights. I have trouble considering particular years in the 1970s because there are so many drawbacks. For instance in 1976 or 1977 you have the punk explosion and much of the best disco. But the mainstream of pop is so poor. Blues is almost washed up. There's some good country coming from outlaw quarters.

Jesse Garon- Just so you know I've been thinking of recommendations for you for a '64 CD. I didn't ignore that original post way back when. However, I want to avoid foisting my personal tastes on you or merely playing what you already hear on your oldies stations. So, it's a tough assignment. You might want to check out some of the titles I listed in my original text.

Thu Apr 20, 2006 11:49 pm

To get back to the original post, the greatest year in music depends very much on what you’re defining and how you’re defining it. You chose to define “pop” music – popular music – and this is important, because That’s the Way It Is would not necessarily qualify as an argument to support 1970 as the greatest year, for example, because it peaked at #21 in the US, and so (depending on the breadth of your definition, of course) it would not necessarily qualify as popular music. It would qualify as part of an argument for 1970 as the greatest year in Rock, however. Second, you didn’t specifically state what makes a year great. Based on your post I would say you define greatness as the level of “depth and diversity and popular acceptance” of different styles. Establishing this definition beforehand is important because it could be unfruitful to argue against one another without establishing the required criteria.

That having been said (and maintaining generally the same criteria as you did), I would suggest that 1966 could possibly be a year even greater than 1964.

First off, consider that three of Rolling Stone’s top ten ‘greatest albums of all time’ were released in this year: The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds (#2), The Beatles’ Revolver (#3), and Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde (#9), and that the former two are frequently considered the greatest and most influential works by their respective artists. The Rolling Stones released their first album of originals in Aftermath and Simon & Garfunkel released the first great LP of their career with Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme.

Consider the lyrical and stylistic variety of the #1 hits of the year: the imagery of Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence”; the political undercurrent of The Beatles’ “We Can Work It Out” and The Rolling Stones’ “Paint It, Black”; the mindless enjoyable bounce of The Beatles’ “Paperback Writer” and The Monkees’ “I’m a Believer”; the back-to-basics Rock like Tommy James & The Shondells’ “Hanky Panky”; and all the rest, including The Mamas and the Papas’ “Monday, Monday,” The Supremes’ “You Can’t Hurry Love,” Frank Sinatra’s “Strangers in the Night,” and the towering “When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge. And these were just (some of) the #1 hits!

So there’s a tremendous amount of diversity there as well, and I think it would be difficult to make a completely convincing case either way when comparing several years of Sixties pop because of this diversity that spanned, to differing levels, across much of the mid-Sixties. I say “to differing levels,” because the common ‘jangly’ guitar on tracks like The Beatles’ “Ticket to Ride,” The Byrds’ “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season),” Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound of Silence” – all released in 1965 – do not show a great deal of diversity, for example. But I think 1966 just edges out 1964 and other years because of the musical spirit of the time. 1967 may have been the year of Pepper’s and the final breaking of ground that had been headed towards since a few years earlier, but in 1966 the possibilities still seemed endless (whereas ’67 was more of a destination reached; look at the sudden directional change in 1968) and you can catch that spirit in much of the music. Dylan influenced Lennon & McCartney who influenced Brian Wilson, who…, etc. Consider the variation in styles on Revolver alone – is there another album in any year preceding it that was anything like it? It’s because of this free, widespread limitless spirit that I nominate 1966 as the greatest year.

The most upsetting thing of all this, of course, was Elvis’ output in 1966. Whereas you can at least make an argument that Elvis still had relevance in 1964, by 1966 he had completely lost it, reaching the absolute nadir of his entire career in Paradise, Hawaiian Style, which itself was preceded three months earlier by Frankie & Johnny, which is markedly superior (“Please Don’t Stop Loving Me” is touching; “Shout It Out” is at least enthusiastic) but still ranks near the bottom of his output. “A lot to shout about,” indeed.

Fri Apr 21, 2006 1:48 am

Peter Franks wrote:
Whereas you can at least make an argument that Elvis still had relevance in 1964, by 1966 he had completely lost it, reaching the absolute nadir of his entire career in Paradise, Hawaiian Style, which itself was preceded three months earlier by Frankie & Johnny, which is markedly superior (“Please Don’t Stop Loving Me” is touching; “Shout It Out” is at least enthusiastic) but still ranks near the bottom of his output. “A lot to shout about,” indeed.

Yes, in terms of actual commercial output on wax itself and public relevance, but it's worth noting that in reality, 1966 was quietly a turn-around year, with his home recordings showing a rekindling of interest in music he actually loved, as well as the actual landmark May 25-29th, 1966 "How Great Thou Art" sessions (if not the vinyl itself), which included secular sides like "Love Letters," "Down In the Alley," "Tomorrow Is a Long Time," and then in June, " Indescribably Blue," "I'll Remember You," and his first new Christmas single in years, "If Every Day Was Christmas." Some nadir. :wink:

Admittedly, these probably saw store shelves later and the recording (just one month later) of "Old MacDonald" and "Yoga Does As Yoga Is" helped negate this progress in 1966. :? :shock: :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops:

1968 loomed...
Last edited by Gregory Nolan Jr. on Fri Apr 21, 2006 9:58 pm, edited 8 times in total.

Fri Apr 21, 2006 1:48 am

Well my argument is that it was the greatest year in popular music and because there was so much going on in so many different genres and so many pop music's very greatest figures contributed. My point wasn't rock per se but rock was a part of it. When I say popular music I don't necessarily mean the hits, I mean music in the popular form meant to appeal to a mass audience as opposed to a classical or avante garde audience. For instance although Phil Spector's Crystals' records in 1964 all flopped, they would still be considered popular music in my definition.

I can't say that argument can't be mounted for '66 as you point out those pivotal works were released in that year. And I would certainly rank it as one of the great years. One reason I wouldn't go with six is because the change that came with 1964 was almost complete. There weren't really the doses of doo wop and girl groups. which were pivotal forms of the previous pop era. Also, blues which had briefly had a home in the Top 40 in the early '60s was largely gone in the mainstream. Not that there were still great musicians working at the top of their game like B.B. King but the link to the previous tradition was largely lost.

Also, many legends had lost their way by this time. Chuck Berry was on the skids. The following year he would suffer the ultimate indignity of selling out his original classics on skimpy remakes for a budget label. Johnny Cash was in one of his weird periods. Publicly, Elvis was in the doldrums although there were hints on single and in the "Spinout" that he was re-finding his way. Sam Cooke was dead. Little Richard was trying without success to reinvent himself as a soul singer. The Drifters were spent artistically and commercially. Dean Martin was starting to burn out from the commercial resurgence he started in 1964. Bobby Bland was still doing good to great work but he was no longer in the zone like he was from 1959-1964.

I do agree though that Dylan and the Rolling Stones had increased the depth of their work since 1964 and so had arguably the Beatles and the Beach Boys. Also, the Motown acts had upped their game considerably as well. And the garage movement in rock, just a bud in 1964, was in full flower in 1966.

Part of it is personal taste as well. For instance, the majority of Simon and Garfunkel records for me don't enhance 1966's reputation any. Their "I Am a Rock" a 1966 No.3 is one of the worst records in all of pop history, IMO. I always thought Simon was way too precious in his early stuff with Garfunkel and didn't find his way completely until he went solo. But that's my barrier.

I also thought there was just more flat out hideous stuff like "Winchester Cathedral", "The Ballad of the Green Berets" and "Snoopy Versus the Red Baron" that came out in 1966.

As I said though I believe you could definitely make a legitimate case for 1966. It's like arguing for me whether I love ziti or lasagna more.

The point is just to jump start listening, discussion and thought. You'll never be able to determine what was the #1 year. A punk fan might point to 1976 or 1977 because the punk movement changed the industry and lesser Top 40 aside that made it #1.

Fri Apr 21, 2006 2:02 am

Bike succeeds in making the case for '64 by extending his view outside of the 500-pound gorillas (okay, total legends) of rock that were in position by '66. Orthodox histories of this era, particularly popular magazines, still give mere lip service to the other wheels of pop of 1964, including sub-genres mentioned above.

Fri Apr 21, 2006 2:14 am

Greg- Your Elvis post gets at another reason why it's so hard to be definitive in a case like this. A lot of the times the great music or hit of one year were recorded in the year before. Nobody in 1966, knew that Elvis had recorded something like "How Great Thou Art". And his best in 1965 was a track recorded in 1960. Similarly many would argue I cheated in my original post with "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" which came out in 1964 but achieved most of its impact in 1965. I do agree "Paradise" was Elvis' nadir though.

Discussion and disagreement are good though gets you listening. I was getting excited just as the music conjured by the titles Peter Franks mentioned.

Fri Apr 28, 2006 1:33 am

Good point, 'Bike.

Speaking of Phil Spector, there must be a firesale on that famed 1991 4-CD boxset "BACK TO MONO: 1959-1969) (in LP-size box) about him and his biggest artists, as the membership-only COSTCO is selling a huge stack of them for only $15 plus tax, brand new or rather mint-condition....

I suppose his recent murder trial didn't help matters. I'm not sure what's the legal status there, but I'd hope people can still enjoy his artistry.

Let me know via privately should anyone need a set to swap for...