This could be heaven or this could be hell..

Musings on modern life, the 70's – with music.

AS SEEN ON T.V – Alan Freeman’s History of Pop

Number #1. Les Paul & Mary Ford – ‘How High The Moon’

I think that ‘Alan Freeman’s History Of Pop’ album (on Arcade) was one of the first records I ever owned. Crammed full of hit records from 1951 (the date How High The Moon was released) through to 1967. Released in 1974, this represented a history of pop (obv) for the previous 23 years. How High The Moon is now 64 years old and still sounds as fresh as a daisy. I’m struck at how marvellous Les was on the guitar – a proper innovator.


 Number #2. Kay Starr – ‘Wheel Of Fortune’

Intoxicating, dramatic – a sort of a cross between swing, country and Jazz. Kay was born Katherine Starks of Irish and American Indian stock. And she is still alive at 92! Great little film clip too!

Number #3. Alma Cogan – ‘Dreamboat’

Alma (and I think it is THE Alma from Alma Matters) was otherwise known as the Girl With The Giggle In Her Voice. As the Sixties dawned, the giggle fell off her face and the Beatles took over her crown – she was officially TOO SQUARE FOR THE SIXTIES. Winner of Best Original Female Vocalist from 1956 – 1960 in the NME Awards – she had a very successful career. Born in Whitechapel of Romanian-Russian Jewish descent she died aged just 34 of ovarian cancer. In fact she was great friends with the Fab Four and Lennon was distraught when she died.

I do think, too, that she shared a swimming pool with my Dad at the Green Plunge in Royston – which is my only claim to fame really.


Number #4. Tennessee Ernie Ford – ‘Sixteen Tons’

By the time this was a hit Ernie was a sprightly 36 year old. Written by Merle Travis in 1946, this was often performed by Elvis but he never recorded it. It themes of toil, sweats and death must have been quite a shock for the fifties teenager.

With a bass-baritone voice, Ernie and his wife Betty (could it be her of the Betty Ford Clinic I wonder?) were both seriously heavy drinkers.

Number #5. Humphrey Lyttelton – ‘Bad Penny Blues’

Possibly the only Humphrey to trouble the pop charts. From 1956, Bad Penny Blues was one of my parent’s favourite records – I can almost imagine the jiving to it at the local town bop. Produced by the legendary Joe Meek, if you think this sounds familiar then Paul McCartney stole the piano riff for Lady Madonna.

Number #6. Gene Vincent & the Blue Caps – ‘Be-Bop-A-Lula’

You can see where the Stray Cats got their ideas from by watching this. And Ian Dury and David Bowie. Pretty influential all round. Gene tried to shoot Gary Glitter is a hotel room in 1968 causing Glitter to free the country. He died in 1971 never quite achieving the level of success he should have. Guess he was a bit TOO dangerous.

Number #7. Laurie London – ‘He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands’

Laurie was probably the youngest person to have a hit record in the UK. Only 13/14 when this came out and it’s WAY better than Little Jimmy Osmond. An old American Gospel Folk Song given the UK treatment.

Laurie retired from singing at 19 and, if you live in Portsmouth, you can visit him in his pub which he currently runs.


Number #8.  Johnny Otis and His Orchestra with Marie Adams and The Three Tons of Joy – Ma (He’s Making Eyes At Me)’

Johnny was born Ioannis Alexandres Veliotes and sadly no footage exists of him and his troupe performing this number (this comes from Goody Goody). Probably best known as the signature song by Lena Zavaroni – one wonders do people still make eyes at each other anymore or do they just use Grindr?


Number #9.  The King Brothers ‘ A White Sport Coat (& A Pink Carnation)’

A British vocal trio who sang in unison rather than in harmony. Written by Marty Robbins and about a group of students getting ready for their Prom night. Denis wrote the theme music for the Adventures Of Black Beauty.

Number #10.  The Vipers Skiffle Group – ‘Don’t You Rock Me Daddy-O’

I reckon these skiffle acts must have terrified Mum & Dad’s in the 50’s. They were all a bit scruffy, played washboards, had beards and smoked. Wally Whyton was in the Vipers before he became a radio DJ.

I ordered the Essential Skiffle LP from Amazon so we’ll see if the rest is as good as this.

Number #11.  Jim Dale – ‘Be My Girl’

I’m pretty sure I always skipped over this one. Not really sure why, though I guess I just didn’t like it much. But this was produced by George Martin and Jim went on to appear in Carry On films and is still treading the boards aged 79.

Number #12.  The Four Preps – ‘Big Man’

This puts a huge sunshine-y grin on my face. From 1958, the Four Preps were students at the Hollywood High School and contained Ed Cobb writer of Tainted Love amongst other things. Bruce Belland is the father of The Voice Of The Beehive.

Number #13.  Jimmie Rodgers – ‘Kisses Sweeter Than Wine’

Anyone else think this is rather creepy or is it just me? Anyway Jimmie is a randy old goat. Not to be confused with the country singer, he had an even bigger hit with English Country Garden in over here. He never really got over being beaten up by the US police in 1967 but he is still alive.

Number #14. The Kingston Trio – ‘Tom Dooley’

A North Carolina Folk Song which dates back to 1866. The Kingston Trio helped to launch the folk revival of the late 1950’s. Disputes between Bob Guard and the other two members led to John Stewart replacing him in 1968.

This would fit quite snuggly into Murder Ballads by Nick Cave.

Number #15. Cliff Richard – ‘Move It’

Here he is. The UK’s answer to Elvis. Backing from the Drifters (who became the Shadows), this is great – only a couple of years away from Summer Holiday and that cheesy Sixties stuff – apart from the odd truly great single, I didn’t pay any attention until his (and my) Golden Period which began in the 70’s and ended with Wired For Sound. Let’s really hope that those rumours aren’t true.

Number #16.  The Mudlarks – ‘Lollipop’

Brothers and sister, the Mudlarks were born in Luton and worked together at the Vauxhall car factory (on the production line I assume). Fred, Mary & Jeff MUDD (I kid you not), were voted as Top Vocal Group in the NME in 1958. Jeff left to complete his National Service, Fred married a Miss Great Britain and co-presented Blue Peter until 1962 and Mary wed Jeff’s replcement in the group.

A cover version of an earlier record by The Chordettes (I prefer the hiccup and echo in this), the song was written after the daughter of the author got an actual lollipop caught IN HER HAIR and they were late for an appointment.

Number #17. Elias and His Zig Zag Jive Flutes – ‘Tom Hark’

I guess that this is the earliest example of what we have come to know as World Music to chart? Hailing from South Africa, they only charted once. Tom Hark re-appeared in 1980 by Brighton’s own – The Pirhanas – who added lyrics and a national football anthem was born.

Number #18. Adam Faith – ‘What Do You Want’

Girls Screaming Alert. Not as loudly as for One Direction but you can certainly hear them here. Must be one of the shortest chart hits ever recorded clocking in at just over 1.30. Looks like he had a terrible lisp too..

Number #19 – The Avons – ‘Seven Little Girls Sitting In The Back Seat’

Not, rather disappointingly, from Bristol, The Avons were two Irish sisters (Val & Elaine) and Raymond from Jersey. Originally by Paul Evans.

If MY Fred were to be kissing and a hugging with seven girls in the back seat of any car he’d probably growl at them (or get his lipstick out).

Number #20. Craig Douglas – ‘Only Sixteen’

He sings a lot older than his years doesn’t he? Which is good as I thought we were dealing with a right old pervert here. Craig was only 19 when he released this cover version of the Sam Cooke song in 1959.

Tomorrow Alan Freeman reaches the 1960’s.

Number #21. The Shadows – ‘Apache’

The Sixties!

There was a time when The Shadows were really cool. I guess it all went wrong once the winkle pickered, chain smoking bass player Jet Harris left in 1962.

Their first big hit – this spent 5 weeks at number one in the UK and spawned many copyists and was even sampled by The Incredible Bongo Band in 1973 who many believe (Afrika Bambaata included) as the first hip-hip record.

Number #22. Ricky Valance – ‘Tell Laura I Love Her’

Not to be confused with Ritchie Valens, who sang La Bamba – Ricky was the first Welsh Male to hit the Number One spot in the UK – and one of the first numbr one records to be banned by the BBC.

Still alive and living in on the Costa Blanca – unlike poor Tommy.

Number #23.  Johnny Kidd & The Pirates – ‘Shakin’ All Over’

Astonishing record really – brilliant guitar riff, great look and at 2:19 the perfect length.

Kidd (or Frederick Heath) died in a car accident in 1966 but the Pirates carried on without him. Clearly infuential over the Who, Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper and Iggy Pop, sadly I cannot find any actual footage of them on Youtube – I guess they were just too dangerous.

Brilliant cover version by the Guess Who in 1965 too.

Number #24.  John Leyton – ‘Johnny, Remember Me’

Practically Gothic. This utterly brilliant record – certainly one of my favourites from the early Sixties was also banned by the BBC. Too morbid and depressing for the listeners. Written by Geoff Goddard (no relation) and produced by the legendary Joe Meek – this hit number one in 1961 (try to spot Chas from Chas N Dave fame in The Outlaws the backing band). Meek shot his landlady then shot himself.

Perhaps Leyton recorded this in Meeks’ bathroom or in his hallway (or someotherroom). But anyway he WAS very handsome and carved a successful film career most notably in The Great Escape.

Covered in the 80’s by Bronksi Beat/Marc Almond who did a pretty good job of it. Nowhere NEAR as good as this gem though.

Number #25.  Helen Shapiro – ‘Walking Back To Happiness’

My Mum had an irrational hatred of Helen Shapiro. I’m not sure where it came from – maybe because Mum was pregnant with me whe she was all over the charts and when this reached number one, or the fact that she was 15 at the time (Helen not Mum).

So with that information, I never really heard anything else by her apart from this track from this record. I always liked her voice a LOT (a bit Winehouse even) and purchased a double Best of and was really impressed. Great Sixties Girl Band stuff – some of it even Northern Soul-esque.

Helen’s pop career faltered and failed when Shaw, Black, Springfield and Lulu burst onto the scene and she turned to cabaret, eventually appearing as Nancy in Oliver and Gospel music. She has presented on the Radio and appeared in Albion Market – the companion soap opera to Corrie – as Viv Harker.

Married fellow actor John Judd in 1988 and they reside in Kent.

Number #26. Pat Boone – ‘Speedy Gonzales’

Probably my least favourite record on here – he’s seems quite unlikeable, a Reagonite and a massive Christian – also the father of Debbie ‘You Light Up My Life’ Boone (which was a US Number One forever in the 70’s).

Speedy Gonzales is about a Looney Tunes Mexican Mouse, The La-la-la bits were by Robin Ward who was also a famous backing vocalist whilst Speedy was voiced by Mel Blanc.

Reached Number Two in the country (we have always been a sucker for a novelty record). First record from Alan Freeman’s History of Pop to have been released in my lifetime!!

Number #27. Gerry & The Pacemakers – ‘How Do You Do It’

The first act to reach Number One with their first three records, a record which stood until the Eighties with fellow Liverpudlians Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

How Do You Do It was hit the charts in 1963 and was written by Mitch Murray of Down Came The Rain fame. Initially offered to the Beatles, The Pacemakers were the second act that Brian Epstein signed.

Shame ‘Alan’ didn’t decide to include ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ though.

Number #28. Freddie & The Dreamers – ‘You Were Made For Me’

Another song penned by Mitch Murray – this performance came, rather bizarrely, from Blue Peter – not the ultimate line up (Purves, Noakes and Singleton) but that is Petra the second jumping off the sofa.

Freddie & the Dreamers came from Manchester and Garrity was a milkman pre-fame. Rode the wave of UK acts popping over the Atlantic for a slice of fame, a US TV series with Terry Thomas was shelved before production.

Garrity died in 2006.

Number #29. The Swinging Blue Jeans – ‘Hippy Hippy Shake’

Another Merseybeat act that only had three hit singles. Terry Sylvester became a member of the Hollies when he left the Blue Jeans. Hippy Hippy Shake was a cover version of an old Chan Romero record.

And yes they did wear swinging blue jeans.

Number #30. Billy J Kramer & the Dakotas – ‘Little Children’

1964 – and this is one the first records I can remember hearing as a toddler.

From Bootle, Billy J Kramer became a heart-throb of the Merseybeat scene. Launched to stardom with a couple of Lennon & McCartney numbers, Little Children was a number one hit and the biggest hit for him & his Dakotas.

The Dakotas were a backing band from Manchester and had Tony Bookbinder on drums who is Elkie Brook’s cousin. They split with Billy in 1967 becoming Cliff Benett’s backing band.

Some say there is something a little bit creepy about ‘Little Children’ (Jimmy Saville popping his head up during the into doesn’t help), but all I hear is frustration.

Number #31. Peter & Gordon – ‘A World Without Love’

So there are no Beatles tracks on Alan Freeman’s History of Pop – I assume that this was due to licensing issues – The House of The Beatles always kept a tight reign over the use of their songs. This, though, WAS written by Lennon-McCartney or at least credited to them. In reality it was just Paul who gave Peter & Gordon this song whilst dating Peter’s sister – Jane Asher.

Neither were going to win any beauty contests though. Gordon died from a heart attack in 2009, whilst Asher headed up Apple Records before decamping to California becoming a successful record producer for Linda Ronstadt & James Taylor.

Number #32. Dave Clark Five – ‘Bits & Pieces’

Any child who grew up in the 70’s has to remember the Radio 1 Roadshow – the first was was held in Newquay in 1973 and Ala Freeman was the DJ. It went all over the place, Broadstairs, Blackpool, Birmingham. Bridlington On Sea, Brighton. Anyway, Bits & Pieces was used as the guess the intro bit where people were invited to identify bits (and pieces) of records played. I was rather good at it, and can still name most Seventies records in three short notes (FACT) – shame that I have been unable to utilise such a skill in my working life.

The Dave Clark Five, for a time, were the biggest band to hit the US after the Beatles. Beginning life as the Dave Clark Quintet in 1957, the achieved a level of success and gave the London kids a group of their own to follow. Dave Clark (on drums) was impossibly handsome and may have been my first crush (aged 2 and a half). He was great friends with Freddie Mercury and ‘dated’ Cathy McGowan who is now ‘married’ to Michael Ball – I think we all know what that means don’t we?

Great little dance too. And better boots.

Number #33. Georgie Fame & the Blue Flames – ‘Yeh Yeh’

Smooth, Suave, Sophisticated, Sexy – all of the S’s.

Fame hit the number one spot in 1965 finally dethroning the Beatles who had had a considerable run. He recorded loads of great songs and teamed up for more in the early Seventies with Alan Price, his old mate.

He married the Marchioness of Londonderry in 1972, a beautiful lass who sadly leapt to her death from the Clifton Suspension bridge in 1993.

Fame still regularly tours and often pops up in your local club.

Number #34. Herman’s Hermits – ‘Silhouttes’

Peter Noone was only 17 or 18 in this clip – he must have been one of the youngest leaders of a hit act. Hailing from Davyhulme in Lancs, he cut his teeth acting in small parts on Coronation Street. In the 70’s he had a hit with a version of Oh You Pretty Thing with Bowie playing piano.

Silhouettes reached number three and was originally recorded by the Diamonds, then Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons,

Number # 35. The Animals – ‘We Gotta Get Out Of This Place’

What a brilliant group. Stuffed full of North Eastern talent. Written by Mann & Weil, this was originally intended for the Righteous Borthers but was nicked for the Animals by Mickie Most.

By this point Alan Price had left the group and had been replaced by Dave Rowberry on the organ.

This was a huge favourite with the troops in Viet Nam and although not used in Apolcalypse Now, it should have been.

Number # 36.  The Hollies – ‘I’m Alive’

I bought a massive boxed set (well three) called The Hollies Greatest Hits about 12 years ago and it’s had many an outing down here in Brighton. Perhaps the best three part harmonies this side of the Atlantic, this line up of the Hollies featured Graham Nash right before he up and left for America. You would think that that would have finished them off but they continued producing wonderful records throughout the 70’s (The Air That I Breathe still floors me). Alan Clarke stopped being a Hollie in the year 2000.

Number # 37. Beach Boys – ‘Good Vibrations’

One wonders what the white American man was actually doing thoughtout the first half of the Sixties. I can’t remember any record that sounds quite like this from any point before it’s release in 1966. I guess they were listening and embracing the British Invasion or grooving to the Sounf of Motown.

I could actually write a (small) book about this one – is that a bowed cello being played by Mike Love for example. It can still surprise and thrill me some 49 years later.

Number # 38. Manfred Mann – ‘Pretty Flamingo’

Simply one of the greatest songs of the 60’s by one of the best bands of the 60’s/70’s. In my head I can hear Bruce singing this (in fact I think he probably has). When on TOTP’s, Paul Jones sang this whilst standing on one leg – like a flamingo – unfortunately the clip is nowhere to be found so here is 2 mins + of Swinging London instead.

Number # 39. The Yardbirds – ‘Shapes Of Things’

Nifty record. By this point Eric Clapton had left the band (GOOD Never liked him anyway) and Jeff Beck was featured on guitar – (GOOD Really liked him). Keith Relf of vocals, this was possibly the first proper psychedelic single to reach the charts in 1966. Seminal.

Number # 40. Bobbie Gentry – ‘Ode To Billie Joe’

And so we conclude our trawl through ‘Alan Freeman’s History of Pop’ with the greatest record on it, one of the greatest records of the Sixties or one of the greatest records of all time.

It’s easy to become obsessed about what is happening in this song and it leaves us with more questions than answers. Clocking in at over 4 minutes, this was positively epic for it’s time and really really does not feel like 48 years old.


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This entry was posted on July 7, 2013 by in Three Minute Record.
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