The River's Badge

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Rock & Roll Of The Sixties - The Groups

There were so many groups in the sixties who had hit records, to try to include them all would be a hopeless task. Since I've already devoted an entire topic to the British Invasion, this post will focus (mainly) on American groups. I thought about ways that I could kind of "group" these groups together in some sort of logical fashion, but I'm not seeing any obvious classifications here, so I thought I would just start with the most famous group:

THE BEACH BOYS - LITTLE DEUCE COUPE


Well, here is Mike Looove, introducing the rest of the band. And not to be nitpicky, but Carl "Lead Guitar" Wilson is actually just playing rhythm guitar here. It's a minor point, but don't call him "Lead Guitar Wilson" if he's not going to play lead guitar. I really love the Beach Boys, and this performance shows a still-lucid Brian. Plus, their matching outfits are so sweet. But isn't Mike Looove sort of a goofy doofus? I mean, c'mon. Does he really need to act out the song?

P.S. What is a "deuce coupe" anyway? I know that a "coupe" is a car, but I don't know about the "deuce" part. Doesn't deuce mean "two"? So it's a "little two car"? That makes no sense. But I'm not mechanical at all.

P.P.S. When I first heard this song, I thought they were saying, "She's my little do scoop". Of course, that was nonsensical, but it sounded cute. At my young age, I just thought that you could string words together, as long as they sounded good, and in that way, you could make a song. Sort of like how I write songs today.


MITCH RYDER & THE DETROIT WHEELS - JENNY TAKE A RIDE

Here's Mitch and his Wheels, performing on a show called, "Swingin' Time". I've never heard of this show. I guess it never cracked the Nielson Top Ten. Probably a local channel, by the looks of the dingy sheet they hung up as a backdrop. I'm guessing this group was from Detroit....ha ha...I'm just kidding. I'm not really that stupid.......or am I?? Mitch was sort of the king of medleys. He always combined two songs into one. Here he's doing CC Rider and Jenny Take A Ride. But it's still catchy! When he gets to the "Jenny Jenny Jenny" part, you can't help but dance in your chair. But I still like "Devil With The Blue Dress" the best.


THE LOVIN' SPOONFUL - DO YOU BELIEVE IN MAGIC

Hey, John Sebastian! Welcome back! Isn't this just an infectious performance? I love the enthusiastic lead guitar player. I had to look him up ~ his name is Zal Yanovsky. Unfortunately, he apparently passed away in 2002. That's sad. I'm almost sorry I looked him up now. But he sure enjoyed what he was doing. I really love this video. And, on a side note ~ an autoharp, John! That's a unique choice!


THE BEE GEES - MASSACHUSETTS

I know. Like you, when I think of the Bee Gees, I picture John Travolta walking down the street, carrying a can of paint. But the Bee Gees had a thriving career long before that movie. I was surprised to find that Barry isn't singing the lead on this one. I'd thought he sang lead on all their songs. But this one is done by Robin. It's a very pretty song. So, see? They didn't just do disco. ("ha ha ha ha - stayin' aliiiiive" - sorry, couldn't resist.)


THE BEAU BRUMMELS - LAUGH LAUGH

The Brummels are here, performing on Shindig (at last! A show I've actually heard of!) One might think with a name like Beau Brummels, that these guys were British. Alas! They were from San Francisco. But you can't blame them for trying to capitalize on the British Invasion. And I didn't even know that Peter Tork played the drums. (No, I know that's not Peter Tork). Anyway, the lead singer played a mean tambourine. He really played it with feeling. Good job, Brummel!

And, at the end of this performance, we almost caught a glimpse of this group, getting ready to perform:

THE MAMAS & THE PAPAS - CALIFORNIA DREAMIN'

The Mamas & The Papas are here performing on a show called, "Shivaree". Okay, this is another show I've never heard of. Was this on a cable access channel or something? I think it came on right after "Swingin' Time". The M&P had two great things going for them: Denny and Cass. Two great singers. Well, okay, John wrote the songs, so that's three good things. As for Michelle? Well, she could clap her hands in time to the music. I heard that they turned off her mic during performances. Okay, I didn't actually hear that. I just made it up. But I bet it's true.


GARY PUCKETT & THE UNION GAP - YOUNG GIRL

What I'd like to know is, if they are the "union" gap, why are they wearing Confederate uniforms? Hmmm? I know that's a minor point, but it's something that I think has been overlooked. Anyway, this group has always been a guilty pleasure of mine. Let's face it, it wasn't cool to admit that you liked this group back in 1967. But Gary is from Hibbing, Minnesota. There was another guy from Hibbing.....who was that again? Somehow I can't see the two of them getting together for a jam session, though. Can you? I just this week got an autographed picture of Gary, and he blessed me. So, he's a cool guy. It's always nice to be blessed. So, bless you, Gary Puckett.


THE BUCKINGHAMS - KIND OF A DRAG

This hit song, from 1967, is memorable for the reason that the background singers sang a much longer part than the lead guy sang. I never knew what they were singing, and I never will, but all I know is, the lead guy sang, "listen", and then the background singers sang something that went on for about five minutes before the lead guy came back and sang, "to what I've gotta say", and then they sang something again for another five minutes. Unusual, to say the least. And you gotta feel sorry for the drummer here. All he had was a snare and a bass. Not even a cymbal. I bet he had to go find a couple of twigs in the park to use as drumsticks. And they didn't have "The Buckinghams" printed on the bass drum. I guess they were waiting to see if this whole band thing was going to work out.


THE SIR DOUGLAS QUINTET - SHE'S ABOUT A MOVER

Well, lo and behold. "Sir Douglas" wasn't even a "sir". He was just a guy named Doug from Texas. That's blasphemy. Don't you have to have that title bestowed upon you by the queen? Doesn't she have to hit you with her scepter and stuff? I'll admit, I'm not real familiar with the whole British royalty bit, but I'm thinking that is the case. And who were the other guys in the band? A duke, an earl, a viscount, and a viceroy? (Okay, I made up "viceroy", because I couldn't think of any other British monikers) And, believe me, they don't play the maracas in Buckingham Palace. So, that's a dead giveaway.


THE TURTLES - ELENORE

The Turtles. Flo & Eddie. (I actually don't know which is which.). I love the Turtles. They were very clever, and they wrote catchy tunes. And doesn't Flo (or Eddie?) look just like Chris Sligh from last season's American Idol? By the looks of the guys in the band, I bet they were in the chess club in high school. Nowadays, they'd work in the IT industry. But they wrote great lines, such as "you're my pride and joy, et cetera". What a heartfelt sentiment.



PAUL REVERE & THE RAIDERS - KICKS

Whereas Gary Puckett and his Union Gap were kind of stuck in the Civil War era, here's a group that goes back even further! To the Revolutionary War! Nice jodhpurs! Sometimes they even wore their 1770's hats, but unfortunately, not in this video. I was never a big fan of the Raiders' music, but that didn't stop me from plastering Mark Lindsay's pictures all over my bedroom wall at age 12. A couple of notes regarding this video: It's nice that they got both Amy Winehouse and Goldie Hawn to be background dancers. And, if you look closely, that is a much-embarrassed Freddy Weller ("Games People Play") singing backup.



THE GRASS ROOTS - LET'S LIVE FOR TODAY

Introduced by Jimmy Durante (who had no idea who these guys were), here are the Grass Roots with their 1966 hit, "Let's Live For Today". Wikipedia says it was from 1967, but Wikipedia is WRONG. I distinctly remember when this song was a hit. I had the single. The Grass Roots had a lot of hits, but this is my favorite. And don't you love their saucy neckerchiefs? You do have to feel kind of sorry for the drummer, dressed in a suit and tie, though. "Oh, man! You guys said you were going to dress up!"


BUFFALO SPRINGFIELD - FOR WHAT IT'S WORTH



This song, from 1967!! (as annoyingly splashed on the screen), is the soundtrack for EVERY documentary you will ever see on PBS regarding the '60's counterculture movement. I maintain, however, that the band didn't appear to be too upset during this performance. They seemed like they were having a pretty good time. The song features, of course, Steven STILLS, who went on to be a part of Crosby, STILLS, and Nash and/or Crosby, STILLS, Nash, and Young. Coincidentally, this performance also features a heavily-disguised Neil YOUNG, who went on to be a part of Crosby, STILLS, Nash, and YOUNG. On the drums was Richard Dawson, who went on to become part of THE FAMILY FEUD, starring Richard DAWSON. (Okay, yes, I know, but it still kind of looks like him, if you squint.).

A little known fact about Buffalo Springfield is that they originally tried out to be a part of this band (and I'm not kidding):

THE MONKEES - I'M A BELIEVER


It's difficult to explain the lure of The Monkees, unless you were there. But for a pre-teen junior high school girl, The Monkees were HUGE! They had a weekly network TV show that was AWFUL, but at the end of each episode, they would have a music "video", and that was well worth waiting for. Micky Dolenz was always my favorite Monkee. Some girls preferred Davy Jones, but he was a bit too "fey" for my taste (sorry, Davy fans). Plus, I always liked drummers. This song was written by Neil Diamond, and it was a really good song! Let's face it. The other members of The Monkees were Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith. Mike Nesmith's mom invented liquid paper, so I'm guessing he had a nice trust fund. He always looked kind of bored or embarrassed in these music clips, but I bet he wasn't too embarrassed to collect the royalties. I bet not.


THE BYRDS - MR. TAMBOURINE MAN

The Byrds had a big hit with this Bob Dylan song in 1965. You know, the Byrds had quite the lineup. Not only were Roger McGuinn and Gene Clark in the band, but also David CROSBY, who went on to become part of CROSBY, Stills and Nash, and later, CROSBY, Stills, Nash, & Young (oh no, not THIS again). But also, did you know that Gram Parsons was a member of the Byrds at one time? Also, the band included Chris Hillman on bass (who later went on to have a career in country music). In addition to this hit song, the Byrds' other major hit was ripped off from the Bible. But I guess if you're going to rip something off, what could be better to rip off from??


These next two acts aren't technically "bands", but actually "duos", but you just can't leave them out of this discussion. One of the duos was a major influence on popular music; the other one was less so.

So, let's start with the "lesser" one:

SONNY & CHER - BABY, DON'T GO



I deliberately chose this song, because who isn't sick of, "I Got You, Babe"? When I think about Sonny & Cher, I always feel a bit guilty. You see, one year, for Halloween, my friend and I decided to "be" Sonny & Cher. Well, since I had short hair at the time, I got to be Sonny. Oh sure, we had a great time at work, doing our impression of "I Got You, Babe". I tried to sing it like Sonny, but it came out more like Dylan. But it was still fun, and the "fans" (our co-workers) enjoyed it. But not long after that, Sonny met his demise, so I can't really enjoy pleasant memories of that time, if you know what I mean. But on a less personal note, Sonny Bono started out as a go-fer for Phil Spector, and, from what I understand, good ol' Phil didn't treat Sonny so well. (Phil wasn't known to be very magnanimous then.....or ever). But Sonny had a lot of talent...For one thing, he wrote the song, "Needles and Pins", which was a really good song. Plus, he discovered Cher (somewhere), and they ultimately had huge success as a duo. As for Cher, well, I've heard that there was a lot of "magic", let's say, in getting her vocals to sound as good as they did, even after she went off on her own. But hey! Whatever works and makes you tons of money. So you can live in your penthouse suite. "Newww York is where I'd rawther stay. I get ALLERGIC smelling hay. I just ADORE a penthouse suite......." Sorry, I lost my train of thought there for a minute.



SIMON & GARFUNKEL - BRIDGE OVER TROUBLED WATER

Okay, yes, this is not a vintage music clip, but I couldn't NOT include this song. Is this one of the most gorgeous vocals ever or what? And one of the most beautiful songs? It's difficult to condense these guys down into one paragraph. Paul Simon is a songwriter extraordinaire, and Art Garfunkel? Could anyone sing this song more beautifully? I think, to be remembered for this song alone, would make living worthwhile. And don't forget who wrote this glorious song - Paul Simon. So, there you go.


THE ASSOCIATION - CHERISH

Unlike some people, who are ASLEEP, I wasn't a huge fan of the Association. They had one GREAT song, but alas, I cannot find a video of it. That was, "Never My Love". So, I had to default to this song, which isn't too bad. Funny how a band/group can have one song that is AWESOME, and yet, their other songs are snoozerzzzzzz. Well, I just call 'em as I see 'em. This group/band/whatever was what I'd label the precursors to the boy bands of the eighties. You know, the Boyz To Men or Backstreet Boyz or any group that had "Boyz" in its name. (I'll admit, I have no idea what these boyz sounded like, so I'm just kind of riffing here, but I do like putting a "z" at the end of every word). So, if and until "Never My Love" is posted on YouTube, I will reserve further comment on this group. But I do have to say, "The Association" is a lame name for a band/group. How about the "Corporation"? The "DBA's"? The "Limited Partnerships"?


So (ta-DA!) I'm going to end this long and winding post with five bands and/or songs that I love. The first one goes like thus:

THE GUESS WHO - SHARE THE LAND

Burton Cummings, a TRUE Canadian. Note the maple leaf motif on the back of the piano here. And who wouldn't love Burton's long, flowing locks? Burton, I'm afraid, has most likely ballooned up to about 300 pounds nowadays, from the looks of him on this video clip. So?? That doesn't take anything away from his great singing voice. Sure, we make fun of the overweight. It's the last bastion of "making fun of". But one cannot deny that Burton ("call me Burt") was a great singer. And, luckily, he had that lead guitarist dressed in scrubs, who was always at the ready to perform CPR, if Burton needed it.


THE BOX TOPS - THE LETTER

Ah, Alex Chilton, the quintessential recalcitrant teenager. He would never come out of his room, he refused to cut his bangs, even though his mom pounded on his bedroom door incessantly and implored him to get a haircut, and to stop messing with that "devil music". But Alex wouldn't abide. "Mom!", he'd yell. "I'm working on my masterpiece! Leave me alone!" He later found some guys at the high school, who didn't have much going on, and he talked them into forming a band. The guys were a bit wary of Alex, knowing his reputation of being sort of a prima donna, but they signed on anyway, because they were getting bored experimenting in the science lab. They did their best to bring Alex out of his "funk", but Alex was Alex, and, anyway, at least they got ONE hit song out of the deal, and they have fond memories of their time with the Box Tops, although they disavow any knowledge of Alex to this day.


THE (YOUNG) RASCALS - GOOD LOVIN'

Felix (that's not a name you hear every day) was a great singer. Unfortunately, the group felt that they needed something to set them apart from all the others, so they made the decision to wear knickers and pork-pie hats. Not necessarily a well-informed choice. It's a shame, really. Because The Rascals was a great group. They didn't need the knickers. Of course, hindsight is 20/20.


CREEDENCE CLEARWATER REVIVAL - BAD MOON RISING


John Fogerty always said, "If there is one thing I would do over, I would choose a much better hairstyle. I'd probably not go with the curled bangs, but something a bit more natural." That's really the one regret that John has. If only he'd paid a bit more attention to his hair, who knows what might have transpired? He could have been a big star, to this day. Well, much like the (Young) Rascals, it's too little, too late, at least in the hairdo department. Darn! And I thought this band was really on to something.


THE DOORS - BREAK ON THROUGH

Question: Was Jim Morrison an actual human being? Because I'm questioning that. Reason being, he seemed just a bit too "perfect", you know, as far as looks and stuff. Needless to say, I like Jim Morrison. To play devil's advocate for a moment, however, his lyrics weren't the greatest. "Our love becomes a funeral pyre"? "Hello, I love you, won't you tell me your name? Hello, I love you, let me jump in your game." (??) He's just rhyming stuff that makes no sense! I know he drank a lot, but geez, that just seems lazy. But anyway, I remember when "Light My Fire" came out in 1967. If I could have found an embeddable video of that song, I would have used that one instead of this. Sorry that his light was extinguished so soon, but I think everything happens for a reason. You really wouldn't appreciate a 70-year-old Jim Morrison in the same way that you appreciate the 20-year-old. But good golly, Miss Molly, this was a great band. And Ray Manzarek played a mean organ.






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