Aaah, the 1960s. Wars, assassinations, revolutions and contraceptive pills, what a decade!
We really love music here at Ship to Shore PhonoCo - I mean, the fact that we're a record label and have the word 'Phono' in our name should be a dead giveaway really - and for most of us, it's been an integral part of our lives since early childhood. We celebrate music every time we play a song, hum a tune, or slag off One Direction on internet chatrooms. It's a part of our very being, it lifts our soul, and for one of us in the office, it's the only reason we haven't had a complete nervous breakdown and joined a religious cult in the desert yet.
Music: it's fantastic!
And like all heavy duty fans of a particular thing, we like to talk and compare our favourites. After one particular drunken morning, the gang & I were eating eighteen pizzas when an inevitable music topic came up in conversation: what are your favourite songs from each decade?
As was to be expected, we each rattled off the titles and artists of around 370 songs each. This took several days and the office didn't smell too great after, but the whole endeavour got me thinking: it would be great to create a digital mixtape of our best-loved tracks from each decade for our Mixcloud channel WSTS Picaroon Platters Radio, so our loyal fans could compare & contrast them to their own chosen gems, and maybe discover some new favourites of their own along the way. It's also a nice way to flex about our musical knowledge and taste too of course. We are, after all, mightily superior.
So, which decade to start with? Well, unless you've not been paying attention, it's pretty clear we started with the 1960s. Idiot.
A snapshot of the 1960s. Everybody in this photo has cancer now.
So here it is: the first volume in what we hope will be a long-running series of digital mixtapes compiling our favourite tracks from the 60s, with volumes for other decades also to follow. It is, as always, free to listen to, and can be streamed directly from our channel page on the Mixcloud website here: https://www.mixcloud.com/WSTS_Picaroon_Platters_Radio/our-faves-throughout-the-decades-the-1960s-vol-1/
...or on one of the handily embedded widgets just below this paragraph. "But what of the songs?" I hear you ask because I've got hidden microphones in your bedroom. Well, you'll be glad to know that there's a tracklist and in-depth look at each song hand-chosen by us for the mix underneath the widget. Do you agree or disagree with our track choices? We don't care. But we do hope you'll enjoy listening to them!
Our Faves Throughout The Decades!
The 1960s: Vol. 1
WSTS Picaroon Platters Radio
Screaming Lord Sutch - "Jack The Ripper"
Before he became forever entrenched in British political history by forming the Monster Raving Loony Party in 1983, Screaming Lord Sutch (not actually a Lord) was perhaps best remembered for his run of rock n roll novelty hits such as this one. Featuring women shrieking in fear and a villain "much too clever" for Scotland Yard to catch him, it's no wonder Sutch was drawn to the world of British politics.
Gun - "Race With The Devil"
A firm favourite of Jimi Hendrix when it was released in 1968, Gun's Race With The Devil was a hard rock colossus - tinged with just enough psychedelia, thanks to the ominous Devil's "laugh," to make it ageless - that's best heard when played as loud as possible, the way Satan intended.
The Kinks - "The Village Green Preservation Society"
I used to live in a small British village, and yes we had a Green, thank you for asking. If you're wondering what a 'Green' is, it's basically exactly what you think it is: a dragon.
The Tammys - "Egyptian Shumba"
It's a shame this wasn't as popular back on its original release than it is now. Original copies are very difficult to find and even the UK 2013 represses are getting stupidly expensive. There's a reason for that: it's a great song - short, sweet and catchy as hell! - and in my opinion should have been used as the basis for the original movie soundtrack to 1999's The Mummy, starring Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. Or at the very least, the soundtrack to The Scorpion King.
Judy Garland - "Come Rain Or Come Shine (Live At Carnegie Hall)"
Judy sure could belt them out - just look at Liza Minnelli - and there's no better example of her singing live to an adoring crowd than Come Rain Or Come Shine from the Judy In Person LP. Fun fact: since its original release in 1961, the album has never been out of print and has been made available in numerous formats over the years.
The Cannonball Adderley Quintet - "Sticks (Live)"
I fucking love sticks. You can throw them at people you don't like. You can tape some together to make a pretend machine gun. You can set fire to them. You can go to prison for trying to pass them off as currency. You can fill your bath with them. They are one of the most versatile objects on the planet and are almost certain proof that God exists (that and when your vinyl gets warped, see our article on that here: WARPED VINYL PROOF THAT GOD HATES YOU). This song, named after God's gift to mankind, is probably one of the only things more enjoyable than actually having your very own stick.
Rodney Dangerfield & The Gay Blades - "Down By The River Drive"
A tongue-in-cheek look at the risqué nature of men picking up men in California, created by a group of underground gay and bisexual musicians who recorded and self-released a bunch of similarly themed 45s to those "in the know." The LP The Queen Is In The Closet compiled the singles into one handy thick 12" yes double entendre absolutely intended.
Janis Ian - "And I Did Ma"
I wish she was my aunt. You wish she was your aunt too, don't you. Admit it.
The Nashville Teens - "Tobacco Road"
A cover of John D. Loudermilk's unsuccessful 1960 folk original, British band The Nashville Teens gave the song their own garage rock twist and immediately cashed in. The original 7" pressing features a fantastically well-produced thunderous bass thump that makes this a great song to listen to while hitting cars with a baseball bat (which, if you think about it, is just a fancy stick -- see Sticks (Live) above).
Kim Fowley - "Animal Man"
Kim Fowley - not to be confused with Mik Yowlef, the Scandinavian cannibal man who was the inspiration for Santa Claus - was certainly an interesting figure and perhaps we should just leave it there. Mik Yowlef, on the other hand, was completely made up by me although he was loosely based on an imaginary friend I had as a teenager.
Lee Hazlewood - "Bye Babe"
'Bye! Great 'tache by the way.
Jane Birkin with Serge Gainsbourg - "Je t'aime... moi non plus"
A huge hit on release and also banned in several countries due to its rather raunchy lyrics (seriously, look them up -- it's pure filth). Here's a brief sample, translated by me because I speak fluent Francais:
"Bloody hell, this toilet hasn't been cleaned in a month."
"Well, what do you want me to do about it? I'm too busy sitting here smoking French cigarettes and looking super-cool."
"Aah fair enough. Don't worry, I'll get the Domestos Plus."
Procol Harum - "A Whiter Shade Of Pale"
A song about the colour your face goes two hours after eating the seafood from the buffet table at a 24-hour stripclub in Eastern Europe.
Big Maybelle - "96 Tears"
Big Maybelle's cover of garage rock band ? And The Mysterians' chart-topping hit from the previous year. Not as successful but certainly as memorable as she and producers Bob Gallo & Jack Taylor give a distinctive R&B slant to the tune.
The Shirelles - "Will You Love Me Tomorrow"
An important part of American history this one as it was the first single to be performed by an all-black female group to reach no.1 in the charts, in 1960. What a way to start the decade! Over 60 years later and it's still an incredibly popular song that just about everyone knows (or at least should know). It's also, for a generation of British folk, synonymous with a dog, a cat and a mouse cuddling up in front of a fire. No I'm not going to explain.
The Band - "Tears Of Rage"
Taken from the album Music From Big Pink, and if you can't formulate your own joke out of that then I can't help you.
Wild Man Fischer - "Merry-go-round"
A song that can only be from the "Godfather of Outsider Music," Wild Man Fischer. The crooning vocals, the subtle lyrics, the complex yet soothing melody, the intricate rhythm: there's a reason that this is Freddie Prinze Jr's favourite song of all time.*
Glenda Collins - "Something I've Got To Tell You"
"You might want to get yourself checked."
Sérgio Mendes & Brasil '66 - "Going Out Of My Head"
A song about love & obsession as told from someone who doesn't think them being too shy should be a good enough reason to be apart from the one they love. I think the restraining order might have more to do with it to be honest.
The Experts - "Wake Me When It's Over"
A crueller critic would probably say something along the lines of "yes, that's what I said when they started playing the song," but that critic would have to be tone deaf and deeply unloved. The track seems to exude the very essence of soul music in its short running time, and it's a crime this wasn't a smash hit. Okay, not literally a crime like, y'know, killing someone or stealing your neighbour's toaster. Shut up.
Harry Nilsson - "1941"
Harry Nilsson's unforgettable kind-of-but-not-semi-autobiographical song - from his debut studio album which was criminally overlooked by music fans at the time of its release and as such underperformed in the charts - is arguably one of Nilsson's best. There's a reason "the American Beatle" was featured in Rolling Stone's top 100 all-time songwriters and all the evidence you need is right here.
Silver Apples - "Oscillations"
If you ever wondered what a psychedelic rock song would sound like if one of the instruments being used was the alarm on your oven, then wonder no more! All kidding aside, Silver Apples - with their use of electronic equipment and trance-like rhythms - were pretty ahead of their time, paving the way for numerous artists that would come after them.
Scott Walker - "It's Raining Today"
Can a song be both unsettling AND relaxingly dreamlike? Yes, yes it can.
Jerry Lee Lewis - "She Even Woke Me Up To Say Goodbye"
Jerry Lee Lewis continued his deep, deep dive into country music with this much-loved classic about a man whose heart breaks when his lady leaves him. Just one of the dangers of marrying your 13-year old cousin, right?
The Shaggs - "Why Do I Feel?"
The Shaggs' debut LP, Philosophy Of The World, is essentially the audio equivalent of Tommy Wiseau's horrifically enjoyable movie The Room and Why Do I Feel? is an impressionable cut from this anti-music album. Seemingly without any actual talent, the Wiggin sisters create a 4-minute ear-shit that sounds just like you think it probably will. It's... it's incredible.
The Beach Boys - "Been Way Too Long (Sessions)"
Never heard of them. ONLY JOKING! Who hasn't heard of The Butch Boys? Been Way Too Long was a leftover track - one of many - from the recording sessions of The Batch Boys' final album for Capitol Records, 20/20. It's a fantastic track - one of The Botch Boys' best from this time period - and it's such a shame that their creative light had mostly dimmed during this time period. There are better songs and albums indicative of The Bitch Boys' talents but, for this era, you can't go wrong with this song. And c'mon, who doesn't love The Beach Buoys?
Edwards Hand - "If I Thought You'd Ever Change Your Mind"
Is it a song about a guy trying to convince his significant other to do that weird sex thing he likes? Possibly, but one thing's for sure: the lyrical poetry that was rife in the psychedelia music genre is on full display here.
Lee Hazlewood - "Your Sweet Love"
If this song doesn't cover your brain in sad juice, pierce your heart and syphon off your happiness like a creature from a Guillermo del Toro film then perhaps you should reflect on your life choices to ascertain why it is that you don't have a heart to begin with. The simple yet beautiful lyrics, the music, Lee's voice -- it all comes together so perfectly that you can almost forgive him for no longer having that great 'tache. Almost.
Nico - "These Days"
Nico's probably best remembered for her work with Velvet Underground but that's not to say that her solo work should be overlooked. In fact, if this song hasn't already made clear, it should be enthusiastically celebrated.
The Moody Blues - "Nights In White Satin (Single Version)"
The finale from The Moody Blues' concept album Days Of Future Passed, represented here in its much more familiar single version, is a stone-cold classic that just about every angsty teenager had playing on their turntable at the time. Definitely one to listen to whilst gazing out of the window on a clear summer night as you wonder why no-one loves you.
- Mark Anthony Finch