The swinging 60s might be more than half a century ago now, but their revolutionary impact still remains to this day. Whether you were Team Beatles or Team Stones, the two bands still stand as arguably the biggest this country has ever produced, but there were more to these years than just John and Jagger.
From the hit machine and conveyor belt of in-house stars produced by Motown to the burgeoning, melon-twisting dawn of psychedelia, it was a decade of exploration and experimentation.
Here are the tracks that defined it… Words by Matthew Horton, Tim Chester, Priya Elan. Dutch psych rockers Shocking Blue would score a US Billboard Hot No. Cash boosted it with the mariachi horns that give it its overriding, buoyant character.
Whether she stuck around is hazy, but — after Berry Gordy requested the tempo be raised — The Supremes bagged a fourth US No. By submitting your details, you will also receive emails from Time Inc. UKpublisher of NME and other iconic brands about its goods and services, and those of its carefully selected third parties. Although its chart performance was modest, the song has deservedly been covered on countless occasions by everyone from Jimmy Somerville to Leonard Cohen.
Laughing Len once sang in a honey-smeared pop register before trilbies and dodgy accountants had taken their toll. OK, it nearly was. This one came from the end of Graham Gouldman, later one quarter of 10cc, who was inspired by gazing at the — yes — bus stop on his way to work. While Young sings as politely as before, the guitars riff and buzz with menace, setting out a whole new stall.
The late, great Etta James had hit the skids by the lates, frittering away a decent career with a devastating heroin addiction — but there was enough faith in her voice to give her another go on her recovery. The Stax house band found themselves with an iconic record themselves here, a simple bar blues that thrives on in-built cool.
Anything that requires a swagger, basically. Provenance aside, this intense brooder sees Page bowing his guitar as Robert Plant simmers with Black Country lust.
More Holland Dozier Holland action with a song first earmarked for Motown labelmates The Marvelettes, who turned it down. Still a teenager, this was another 60s smash written by future 10cc-er Graham Gouldman in his downtime.
The bestselling single from the band that gave us UK No. The Flirtations started life as The Gypsies before switching coquettishly in the mids and trading the US for the UK in search of hits. They were signed up by Wayne Bickerton — later the svengali behind The Rubettes — and, after some near misses, clocked up a minor hit with this dramatic slice of Northern Soul, a Top 40 entry back in their native States.
Some fascinating kitchen sink realism from Paul McCartney. He lays on the lasciviousness, works up some groovy licks and spouts the smut while drummer Mitch Mitchell earns his wage with a clatter of rolling fills and general rabid hastiness.
Covered in by Red Hot Chili Peppers, who could hardly have resisted. This is the lasting take though, pretty much a solo performance by Bobby Hatfield while the other Brother Bill Medley produced although Phil Spector took the credit. Its power and frankness — as well as it being a splendid song from the supreme pair of Carole King and Gerry Goffin — took it to the top in the US and kickstarted the girl group era.
But the musicianship and full-force funk makes it transcend the throwaway, as Sly Stone, guitarist Freddie Stone, bassist Larry Graham and hornsmith Cynthia Robinson all get a go on lead vocals and sweep the world up in the fun. Phil Spector put his all into this signature Ike and Tina effort — considering it his best work — only to see it flop in the States.
It was actually written by non-member Mark Sebastian brother of TLS singer John along with forex card login axis Steve Boone and was treated to a vast cover from Isaac Hayes in Is it a harpsichord? Is it a half-speed electric piano?
That towering riff — for one thing, it came to Keith Richards in a moment of clarity after briefly coming round from an alcoholic stupor; for another, Richards always planned to replace it with a horn section. In the meantime he hepped up his riff easy to make money leis a fuzzbox to keep it warm until the real players came along.
Well, thank goodness they never did. Singer John Earnest money deposit loan contingency claims he wrote how to buy shares in islamabad stock exchange the day Richard Nixon won the presidency, and that it was designed to reflect the unease in the air.
Over here record buyers saw it as a jolly pop tune and sent it to No. Teenage garage rock crew The Count Five used to stride out on stage dressed as Count Dracula geddit? Proto-Krautrock duo the Silver Apples flew miles ahead of the pack with this stunningly unique track. With its gentle jangle and angelic harmonies this track set the template for all future alt-country jams.
Like an American version of Serge Gainsbourg and Brigitte Bardot, Nancy and Lee were a sultry pairing who radiated with danger and mysterious sexual allure.
A shimmering slice of 60s Britannica which honed in on a vision of the capital via the narrative grace of Ray Johnny cash ring of fire remake. Everyone from Blur to The Libertines owes a reasonable debt to this slice of wistful British storytelling.
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The result was a Motown classic that pulsated with the knowledge of the depths of desperation and loneliness which found its beating, soulful heart beneath in the buffett sold put options swells of the music. A cheery bolt of daydream escapism, amongst a background of social upheaval. Following a legal battle with his label King Records, a reinvigorated James Brown re-emerged revitalized.
With its use of backwards tape, reverbed piano and hop-scotching rhythms this track was a psychedelic masterpiece from the tie-dye pen Syd Barrett. The innocent, fairy tale romance nature of lyrics that cradled at young love like a Disney movie Spector was helped by Ellie Greenwich and Jeff Barry so touched Brian Wilson that he covered the track with The Beach Boys two years later in Originally done by vocal group The Dells, Jackie Wilson re-recorded the track in Chicago with members of the Motown in house band, The Funk Brothers.
A heady bolero that divvied up Alice In Wonderland references with not-so-subtle winks at drug assisted mind expansion. Grace Slick perfectly captured the mids hope that narcotics could change perceptions and the world. A hymn-like universal anthem which King penned with songwriting legends Leiber and Stoller, that was not only later to be covered down and out call barrier option Jimi Hendrix but also used for the classic coming of age film of the same name and would become a by-word for 50s nostalgia.
Originally written by Richard Berry inThe Kingsmen put the track through the inner garage band grinder and created this walloping jive. As the ultimate stamp of grungy approval it would later be squished into submission by Iggy Pop. Recorded just 6 weeks before his death and released posthumously, this track was Redding looking back at a life that had seen him move to San Francisco from Georgia to seek stardom. Its reflective mood was retrospectively haunting and the whistling solo was a happy accident — Redding meant to finish the lyrics before his fateful plane crash.
Released at the butt end of the 60s, Jagger and Richards captured the changing moods of the time, as race riots, Charles Manson and Vietnam had soured the hippie dream.
A stabbing at their infamous Altamont gig added an extra dimension of bitter twang as the soulful crisis of the track signaled the end of an innocent era. Nice bell work on the cymbals too. Trying to trace the roots of heavy metal? Many musicologists trace them to the red raw chords of this track, the ludicrously heavy third single from The Kinks and the one that sent them stratospheric.
An evocative, inventive and timeless masterpiece. Originally planned as a backing track for Gladys Knight and the Pips, this slice of songwriting perfection caught the ears of Motown producer Berry Gordy as the ideal vehicle to catapult his new group into the world. With the backing of The Wrecking Crew including the twin electric and double bass lines of Carol Kaye and Chuck Berghofer that give the track its distinctive sliding runsSinatra and Lee Hazelwood created a classic.
Since covered by everyone from Megadeth to Jessica Simpson. Has disenfranchisement ever sounded as guttural, raw, and downright cool as this? Throbbing, pounding, and dripping with latent energy it epitomises the lurid appeal of The Stooges at their very best.
On which pounding drums, Jagger drawl and the first sitar to feature on a Number One record combine for an indie disco favourite for now and all time. One of the few tracks composed by Nanker — Phelge, which was the collective pseudonym the Stones used when all five of them — Jagger, Jones, Richards, Watts and Wyman — contributed to the writing and more importantly shared the royalties. Is there a track in the world as gloriously filthy as this?
But this is Led Zep, so of course it does.
This song fires twin darts at your heart from the beginning. Smokey Robinson did it first. Gladys Knight followed him up, while Creedence Clearwater Revival turned it into a brilliant folk rock freakout.
The Slits, meanwhile, post-punked the shit out of it. Released initially against the wishes of Motown man Berry Gordy, its lyrics are an embittered document of an infidelity, but its vocals are pure honeyed, Marvin sweetness.
Misery never sounded so good.
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InBob Dylan was about to pack it in. Of course the six minute monster went on to become a worldwide hit and one of the most influential pieces of music of all time. This sped up live version is one of the all-time great performances.
A prosaic and somewhat depressing trip turns irrepressibly chic in their hands, however, and this standout from their eponymous debut would eventually become a signature song.
Until he died in massive accident, that is. Tragic storytelling at its succinct best. Bassist Noel Redding got fed up during the sessions and walked out, and Hendrix redid his guitar parts umpteen times, moving from four track to eight track to 16 track as he went.
Best Songs of the s - NME
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