The River's Badge

Friday, February 8, 2008

Solo Rock & Roll Artists Of The '60's

Solo artists in the '60's ran the gamut from pop to schlock to rock to blues rock to psychedelia to country rock and probably a bunch of genres I'm forgetting.

Some classic artists got their start in the '60's. Then, of course, there were the one-hit wonders.

So, let's take a look, shall we?



JOHNNY RIVERS - MOUNTAIN OF LOVE

Who in their right mind wouldn't love Johnny Rivers? Johnny is one of my all-time favorite artists. I saw him in concert a few years back ~ he was great! He's more into the blues now, which is not surprising, because most of his hit songs did have a blues flavor to them. Johnny had many, many hit songs, a lot of them recorded at the Whisky a Go Go. Isn't that a great name? I mean, in a goofy kind of way. Whisky a GO GO. Ha! "Where are you going tonight?" "I'm going to the GO GO". But I digress. A couple of points regarding this video ~ Johnny is lip-syncing the song, which is fine. It was a bit awkward, however, when he gazed off toward the imaginary harmonica player. I also was struck by Johnny's lovely bouffant hairdo.


NEIL DIAMOND - SOLITARY MAN

Neil Diamond is another of those wildly underrated artists. Just listen to his greatest hits and you will become a fan, if you aren't one already. I won't even begin to enumerate the hit songs that Neil has had, nor the hit songs that he's written for other artists, but suffice it to say, he BELONGS in the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, good grief! I'm wondering if Jan Wenner has some sort of personal vendetta against Neil or something. But anyway, regarding this video ~ Are those stars in the background? Is he floating in space? I don't get it. Maybe he's sitting in front of a Christmas bush. Whatever. At least he has completely hypnotized the audience, except for that one guy who's leaning on his hand. I think it's probably a young Jan Wenner.



ROY HEAD - TREAT HER RIGHT

For all you American Idol fans, if you remember Sundance Head from last season, THIS is his dad. This was Roy's only hit song, as far as I know, but who can forget how limber he was? I mean, one minute he's lying on the floor, the next minute he's UP! And doing the splits! Accompanied by the girls from the Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa package, as well as a group of escaped convicts as his backup band. Who could ask for more?



BILLY JOE ROYAL - DOWN IN THE BOONDOCKS

As far as I know, this is the only song that has the word "boondocks" in its title. Boondocks is not a word one hears much these days (or ever), but Joe South found a way to make it work. In everyday conversation, you don't hear: "Where does that guy live?" "Oh, down in the boondocks". Is he a hermit? Is he Jed Clampett? He does say, "One fine day I'll find a way to move from this old shack", so I'm thinking he is Jed Clampett. But if so, where'd he get the suit and tie? From the general store? And where'd he learn that fancy dancing he's doing? There's a lot of unanswered questions here.

Regardless, Billy Joe is now on tour with this guy:


BJ THOMAS - THE EYES OF A NEW YORK WOMAN

Maybe it's just me, but BJ always looked a bit befuddled on stage, as if he was wondering, "What the heck am I doing here? I was trying to be a COUNTRY singer." Well, BJ has a really good voice, but it was a bit of an insult to be forced to sing in front of a bunch of plastic rings from six-packs of soda. And I kept worrying he was going to fall off that oversized ottoman he was standing on. And was that a lime green suit? Kinda matches his lime green skin color (I'm hoping this was just a problem with the video transfer!) BJ didn't have what we'd call an overpowering stage presence. I guess we know who the more dynamic fancy-dancer will be on this tour.


JODY MILLER - HOME OF THE BRAVE

I'd forgotten about Jody Miller until I stumbled upon this video on YouTube. Jody had a few hits in the sixties, and then she went on to have a career in country music. This song actually was a fairly big hit for Jody. I must say, though, the dancing here really seems inappropriate, especially the beatnik girl doing the "suspended jerk". That's why it's really hard to dance the jerk to a slow song. Too many pauses. As far as what Jody is singing about, from what I can tell, this kid is going to school in "funny clothes" ~ I don't know if she means funny literally ~ as in, is he dressing like a clown? Well, no wonder the kids are beating him up. And then she says he's "a little bit different". Well, I guess! How many kids did you know who came to school in ruffled polka-dot jumpsuits and oversized shoes? And he also "doesn't wear his hair" like the rest of the kids. Okay, so now he's got that Bozo hair to go along with his "funny clothes". Man, I bet that kid had TONS of friends. And if Jody is the mother in this story, then she should have sat her boy down and explained the rules of civilized society to him, rather than running off to Hollywood and singing a song about it. That's probably why he was so messed up to begin with.


SCOTT MCKENZIE - SAN FRANCISCO

I've always loved this song. I think Scott has such a beautiful voice. Now, to the subject matter at hand ~ Well, I'll admit, I was a bit too young to fully appreciate this whole counterculture Haight Ashbury thing, but from what I can tell, there was a bunch of upper middle class kids who decided to run off from their oppressive world of pink princess telephones and country club dances, and decided that ~ here's what they'd do! They'd pick flowers! They'd don Jesus robes and have "be-ins" in the park. Hey, it beats working in Daddy's office! And they did have a "new explanation". I sometimes wonder what became of all these kids in later life. Are they still wandering the streets of San Francisco, homeless and disillusioned and slightly crazy? I think not. I think they now have corporate jobs and they've made big bucks, and they don't talk much about those early days, except to fellow "travelers". And they still vote Democrat, because it's the party of the "oppressed"....


JACKIE DE SHANNON - WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS NOW

Ah yes, it's a timeless sentiment. What the world needs now is love, sweet love. Actually, what the world needs now is MONEY. It needs MONEY bad. At least I do. The hell with love. Have you been keeping up with the economy lately?? Love is all well and good, but I could use some greenbacks. Sure, easy for Jackie to flounce around in her princess dress with her Barbie hair. I bet it cost her a pretty penny for that bleach job and to get her hair styled in that flip. And princess dresses don't come cheap. And don't even get me started on Bacharach/David. They've got money, believe me. They can afford to write about love. And they vote straight Democratic ticket, because it's the party of the "oppressed".



MILLIE SMALL - MY BOY LOLLIPOP

Poor Millie Small. She had one major hit, but she was never heard from again. But HERE'S a song that one can get behind. It doesn't really say anything, and it's over before you know it. The perfect pop song. I actually think Millie retired from performing because she developed agoraphobia from those stupid groupies following her TOO CLOSE in this performance. Back off, groupies! Give Millie Small some space!


DONOVAN - MELLOW YELLOW

Well, here's those corporate executives, now retired; slapping on their headbands, firing up a doobie, and spending their Friday night at a Donovan concert! Plus, purple and yellow ARE the colors of the sixties generation! Where is Donovan today, you ask? I think he's probably shuffling out to his garden in his bathrobe, slightly demented, muttering something about "saffron". All good things must come to an end.


And now for something COMPLETELY different:


NEIL SEDAKA - BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO

"Can you sing that one for us, Neil?"
"Oh man, and here I am, wearing my JC Penney undershirt! But OKAY, I'll give it a go!"
This song was from a much simpler time (as opposed to the "Donovan Time"). The only thing they were smoking back then was Chesterfield Non-Filtered. But boy, didn't Neil have jarringly white teeth?



BOBBY VEE - THE NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND EYES

Okay, Bobby is from Fargo, North Dakota, so I'm going to withhold any snarky comments about this video. And thankfully, it does end up better than it started. And Bobby is a family man; he's got kids who have followed in his footsteps, so this is just make-believe, people! Yet, I can't help but wonder how the producers sold this idea to Bobby. Because in hindsight, it really seems like a completely BAD concept.


BOBBY GENTRY - ODE TO BILLY JOE

Okay, frankly, after all these years, I'm SICK of trying to figure out what he was throwing off the bridge. What was he throwing off the bridge, DAMMIT? You don't even know, do you? You just made this up, and now here we are, all these years later, trying to solve a puzzle that has no answer. How diabolical, Bobby. The year was 1967. That's 41 years ago, and I still don't know what he was throwing off the bridge. Well, guess what? After all this time, I don't even CARE anymore. How's that?


EDDIE COCHRAN - SUMMERTIME BLUES

Ha ha! This wasn't even from the sixties! Psych! I just snuck this one in here because it's a great song, and I forgot to include it in my previous posts. But technically, since Eddie Cochran was a SOLO artist, it fits here. And this is one of the best rock and roll songs of all time, so there you go.

I always like to end my posts on an UP note.





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