Friends and Lovers Forever (Nancy Ames)

30 APRIL 1966

Nancy Ames' 'Friends and Lovers Forever' was originally the B-side of her single 'I've Got a Lot Of Love', which did not have national chart success in the US, but 'Friends and Lovers Forever' was a hit on some local charts.

This song was co-written by Bert Berns, part owner of BANG Records, whose band the McCoys had already had a #1 hit with 'Hang On Sloopy'. This is mentioned here because 'Friends and Lovers Forever' has a strong feel of 'Hang on Sloopy' about it.

Nancy was a folk singer with a Latin-American background who had a couple of low-charting hits in 1966. She also had a TV show which aired in Texas in the 1970s.

Friends and Lovers Forever (Nancy Ames)

Heroin (Velvet Underground)

29 APRIL 1966

Another one from the Velvet Underground’s April 1966 recordings for their first album ‘Velvet Underground and Nico’. This is ‘Heroin’, and although the VU were very much an 'alternative' act, this recording remains cutting edge in theme and content - with its detailed depiction of heroin use and abuse - even 50 years later. As songwriter Lou Reed later recalled:
I was working for a record company as a songwriter, where they'd lock me in a room and they'd say write ten surfing songs, ya know, and I wrote "Heroin" and I said "Hey I got something for ya." They said, "Never gonna happen, never gonna happen."
Reed always insisted that the sing provided an objective and neutral look at the experience of taking the drug, and was not glorifying it. Always ahead of their time, the band had recorded a version of this in a loft in July 1965.

'Heroin' was ranked #455 by Rolling Stone in their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It is also included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's '500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll'.

Released (album track): 12 March 1967
Recorded: May 1966, T.T.G. Studios, Hollywood, California
Length: 7:12
Label: Verve
Writer: Lou Reed
Producer: Andy Warhol

Heroin (Velvet Underground)

You Don't Have to Say You Love Me (Dusty Springfield)

28 APRIL 1966

Dusty Springfield’s ‘You Don't Have to Say You Love Me’ reached #1 on the UK charts. It also made #4 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and was Dusty's most successful single. Which is only fair, as this was arguably the greatest single recording by the best female British singer of the 1960s. Either this or ‘I Just Don't Know What To Do With Myself‘. This song is nothing less than Epic.

It was originally an Italian song called 'Io che non vivo (senza te)' that Dusty heard at an Italian festival in 1965. She had the lyrics adapted to English and, in her typical perfectionist manner, wasn't happy with her recording of the vocals until she had done 47 takes.

B-side: 'Every Ounce of Strength' (Cropper/Hayes/Porter) (UK), 'Little by Little' (US) 
Released: 25 March 1966
Highest chart position: #1 (UK), #4 (US)
Recorded: Philips Studio, Stanhope Place, London
Label: Philips BF 1482
Producer: Johnny Franz

You Don't Have to Say You Love Me (Dusty Springfield)

Blue Turns to Grey (Cliff Richard and the Shadows)

27 APRIL 1966

Cliff and the Shadows had reached #15 in the UK with the Jagger-Richards song 'Blue Turns to Grey', which was still in the UK Top 20 during this week. This was something of a surprising match-up for two very different kinds of artists (in terms of image, at least), and shows the sort of 'mainstream' success the Jagger-Richards songwriting team was having, and also how Cliff could tweak his style a bit to stay musically relevant. His star had dimmed just a little bit by this time, after an incredible run of 23 consecutive top ten hits during 1960-65, but of course he had more Top 10 and #1 hits to come in this decade. Few were as good as this one, though.

B-side: 'Somebody Loses'
Released: 18 March 1966
Recorded: 17 January 1966
Label: Columbia
Writers: Jagger/Richards
Producers: Norrie Paramor

Blue Turns to Grey (Cliff Richard and the Shadows)

Didn't Want To Have To Do It (Lovin' Spoonful)

26 APRIL 1966

This was the year of the Lovin' Spoonful and their second album 'Daydream' was on the charts during April. 'Didn't Want To Have To Do It' was one of those dreamy John Sebastian songs that recall the era so well. It was released as the B-side of the flopped single 'Jugband Music' as well as their earlier #2 hit 'Did You Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind?'.

The Spoonful's John Sebastian and guitarist Zal Yanovsky had previously been in a band called the Mugwamps, along with Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty, who by this time were one half of The Mamas and The Papas and were about to emerge as one the outstanding breakthrough acts of 1966.

Cass had actually recorded an excellent version of 'Didn't Want To Have To Do It' as a guest of the Spoonful in 1965.

'Didn't Want To Have To Do It' (Lovin' Spoonful)

If You're Gone (The Byrds)

25 APRIL 1966

The Byrds' second album 'Turn, Turn, Turn' was released in March 1966 in the UK, some three months after its US release, and four months after the title song had been in the UK Top 30. The album reached #11 during April but there were to be no more UK charting singles from it.

This track, 'If You're Gone', is one of the finer but underappreciated tracks from that album. It featured atmospheric droning background harmonies and was written and sung by Gene Clark, who at this time was on the verge of leaving the band.

There She Goes Again (Velvet Underground)

24 APRIL 1966

The influential Velvet Underground recorded much of their first album ‘Velvet Underground and Nico’ during April 1966, although it would not be released until March 1967. Despite later appraisal as a classic, the album initially flopped, reaching a peak of #171 in the US.

‘There She Goes Again' is one of the standout tracks from that album, and with lyrics about a woman falling into prostitution and 'being down her knees', it is a cultural marker of how times were changing in 1966.

This song was covered by bands such as the Crawdaddies and R.E.M. during the 1980s.

Released (as album track): 12 March 1967
Recorded: 25 April 1966 , Scepter Studios, Manhattan
Length: 2:41
Label: Verve
Writer: Lou Reed
Producer: Andy Warhol

There She Goes Again (Velvet Underground)

This Old Heart of Mine (The Isley Brothers)

23 APRIL 1966

The Isley Brothers’ excellent single ‘This Old Heart of Mine’ was at its peak position of #12 on the US Billboard charts. It reached #3 in the UK, which often had a stronger market for R&B. They had previously scored medium-sized hits in the US with the classics 'Shout' (1959) and 'Twist and Shout' (1962), so this was something of a comeback for the band who would go on to have hits right through the 1970s and beyond. They had a total of nineteen Top Ten singles on the US R&B charts, including seven #1s.

The Isley's were brothers O'Kelley, Rudolph and Ronald, and hailed from Cincinnati, Ohio.

Released: 12 January 1966
Recorded: Hitsville U.S.A. (Studio A); 1965
Highest chart position: #3 (UK), #12 (US)
Length: 2:46
Label: Tamla 54128

This Old Heart of Mine (The Isley Brothers)

Help Me (Get The Feeling) Pt 1 (Ray Sharpe with the King Curtis Orchestra)

22 APRIL 1966

Ray Sharpe had his biggest (and only) hit in 1959 with 'Linda Lu', which featured Duane Eddy on guitar. Sharpe's 1966 recordings with the excellent King Curtis Orchestra produced 'Help Me (Get The Feeling) Parts 1 and 2'. This did not chart but had a distinct 'Stax' groove that is very similar to the Bar Kays' hit 'Soulfinger', which came out the following year.

Perhaps one of the most notable aspects of these recordings is that they featured the still-unknown Jimi Hendrix.

Taxman (Beatles)

21 APRIL 1966

The Beatles were in the studio on this day recording 'Taxman', George Harrison's song in the vein of 'I Got You' and 'Somebody Help Me', This song featured a stunning guitar solo by McCartney, possibly inspired by Jeff Beck's Indian style on the Yardbirds' 'Shapes of Things'.

The lyrics centred on George's less-than-spiritual dislike of being in the top tax bracket in Britain, and marked his steady progress as a songwriter. 'Taxman' was used as the opening track on the 'Revolver' album.

Taxman (Beatles)

Hold Tight (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich)

20 APRIL 1966

Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich’s single ‘Hold Tight’ was at its peak UK chart position of #4. This Wiltshire band's only previous hit had been a #26 single ('You Make It Move, late 1965) but they were now entering a successful four-year period that would see them score eight Top Tens in the UK, although they never made it in the US.

The song was used in the soundtrack to the 2007 Quentin Tarantino film Death Proof.

B-side: 'You Know What I Want'
Released: February 1966
Highest chart position: #4 (UK)
Recorded: 11 January 1966, Fontana Studios, Stanhope Place, Marble Arch, London
Length: 2:47
Label: Fontana
Writers: Ken Howard, Alan Blaikley
Producer: Steve Rowland

Hold Tight (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich)

Rain (Beatles)

19 APRIL 1966

It was during this week that the Beatles recorded what was to become the B-side to 'Paperback Writer'. The song was 'Rain' and in the decades since it has been recognised as one of their great (but not often played on radio) B-sides. At a time when the Beatles released a series of double A-sides, this could have easily been part of another one.

'Rain' is an excellent bit of psych-rock, The slightly distorted guitars sound like the Byrds on 33rpm, and Ringo is given another chance to show off his considerable drumming skills. Lennon's lyrics were a quite abstract commentary on social norms.

The Beatles were in the midst of the recording sessions for 'Revolver' when they did this, and it seems incredible that such a landmark album could have been even better if they had put 'Rain' and 'Paperback Writer' on it.

Rain (Beatles)

Love's Just a Broken Heart (Cilla Black)

18 APRIL 1966

Cilla Black’s second album ‘Cilla Sings a Rainbow’ was released on this day. It featured mostly cover versions of other hits (including the Walker Brother’s ‘Make it Easy on Yourself’) and reached #4 in the UK album charts.

'Love's Just a Broken Heart' was released as a single and reached #5 in the UK, although it failed to chart in the US, where Cilla's career never really took off.

Cilla and producer George Martin clearly threw everything in to this to make it an epic, but it falls short of her earlier work on songs like 'You're My World'. It all seems rather stiff and MOR.

Love's Just a Broken Heart (Cilla Black)

I'll Take What I Want (The Artwoods)

17 APRIL 1966

London band the Artwoods released their somewhat rapey single ‘I’ll Take What I Want’ during April 1966. The lyrics took a caveman approach to romance, 'I'll take what I want, and what I want is you.'

The Artwoods were a popular live act on the London mod scene but this never really translated into record sales. This bluesy, fuzzy and fast song was their only charting single, reaching a respectable #28 in the UK.

They got their name from their (not particularly good) singer Art Wood, who was the older brother of Ronnie Wood (Rolling Stones, Faces, etc.).

Function at the Junction (Shorty Long)

16 APRIL 1966

Motown singer Shorty Long released his single 'Function at the Junction' in 1966. It reached #42 on the R&B charts in the USA, and #97 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It should have done a bit better, even it was routine soul that never quite hit the usual high mark set by Motown. It did have some interesting enough lyrics.

His biggest hit was Long's biggest hit was 'Here Comes the Judge' in 1968. He died in a drowning accident in 1969, and Stevie Wonder played the harmonica at his funeral, placing it on the casket afterwards.

Under My Thumb (Rolling Stones)

15 APRIL 1966

The Rolling Stones' album ‘Aftermath’ was released in the UK. It was their first album to feature entirely Jagger-Richards compositions. One of the tracks - ‘Under My Thumb’ - was never released as a single in English-speaking countries, but was a hit in Japan in 1968.

Musically, this was pretty gorgeous stuff, with the xylophone (or is it a glockenspiel?) marking it as more pop than the Stones' other singles to date, but the lyrics are spiteful. The group had an image to maintain by not singing too many love songs, but there was a bit of misogyny in many of their songs from this time. Decades later, Jagger claimed that 'It's a bit of a jokey number, really. It's not really an anti-feminist song any more than any of the others... Yes, it's a caricature, and it's in reply to a girl who was a very pushy woman'. However, its hard to pick up that intent in any straight listening.

Released: 15 April 1966
Recorded: 6–9 March 1966
Length: 3:41
Label: Decca
Writers: Jagger/Richards
Producer: Andrew Loog Oldham

Somebody Help Me (Spencer Davis Group)

14 APRIL 1966

The Spencer Davis Group’s single ‘Somebody Help Me’ was at #1 in the UK charts, their second chart-topper of the year. It remained at the top for two weeks. They were still struggling to break through in the US market, however, and this record only reached #47 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.

This was another cracker from the SDG, sounding like a cross between Motown and the fuzz-guitar of the Yardbirds.

B-side: 'Stevie's Blues'
Released: March 1966
Label: Fontana TF679 (UK), Atco 45-6416 (US - first issue)
United Artists UA50162 (US - second issue, 1967, b/w 'On the Green Light')
Writer: Jackie Edwards
Producer: Chris Blackwell

Somebody Help Me (Spencer Davis Group)

Heart (Lynne Randell)

13 APRIL 1966

Australian singer Lynne Randell released the single ‘Heart’ in April 1966. It reached #41 on the Australian charts. Lynne was still aged 16 years at the time.

She had been born in Liverpool, England, and emigrated with her family to Australia at a young age. Lynne was undoubtedly a good singer and was discovered at the age of 14 while working in a Melbourne hairdressers. She was one of a number of talented artists on the local Australian scene who never found success overseas. She did, however, tour the US with the Monkees and Jimi Hendrix in 1967.

This is a strange song that goes through a couple of tempo changes. It starts off well as a slow and moody piece, but then speeds up halfway through and loses its way, before slowing down again for the finish.

Can't Seem to Make You Mine (The Seeds)

12 APRIL 1966

Influential ‘garage band’ The Seeds released their eponymous debut album during this month. It peaked at #132 on the US Billboard album charts.

The lead song on the A-side was ‘Can’t Seem to Make You Mine’ which had been released as a single during 1965 and failed to chart, but was re-released in 1967 and reached #41 in the US. It features lead singer Sky Saxon's distinctive love-them-or-hate-them vocals.

Despite a solid effort, the Seeds never achieved serious commercial success, their highest chart position for a single being #35.

B-side: 'Daisy Mae'
Released: March 1965, May 1967 (re-issue)
Recorded: 1965
Length: 2:31
Label: GNP Crescendo
Writer: Sky Saxon
Producer: Marcus Tybalt

Can’t Seem to Make You Mine (The Seeds)

Like a Rollin' Stone (Cher)

11 APRIL 1966

Cher’s second solo album ‘The Sonny Side of Cher’ was released during this month. It featured mostly cover songs with a couple of originals by her then-husband Sonny Bono. It peaked at #26 in the US album charts, and at #11 in the UK.

As with her first album, it had a Dylan cover, this one being ‘Like a Rollin’ Stone’. Backing was provided - as it was on most of Sonny and Cher's recordings - by the legendary session musicians ‘The Wrecking Crew’, who also provided the backing on most of your favourite 1960s music from the US west coast.

This was a great song, with brilliant musical backing in the studio, but Cher seems to struggle with the rhythm and trip over the words sometimes.

Like a Rollin’ Stone (Cher)

Get Ready (The Temptations)

10 APRIL 1966

The Temptations' top-shelf soul classic 'Get Ready' hit a peak US Billboard Hot 100 position of #29 in early April 1966. It eventually did better in the UK, where it reached #10 with a 1969 reissue. This song was written by Smokey Robinson, and as great as it undeniably is, its relatively middling position on mainstream charts (it went to #1 on the R&B charts) resulted in Norman Whitfield taking over as the group's producer.

The falsetto of Eddie Kendricks was the lead voice on this driving, upbeat number, with admirable back-up vocals as usual from the rest of the guys. Motown drummer Benny Benjamin also deserves praise here. This became, in retrospect, one of the Temptations' most-loved and covered tracks. In fact, the Motown rock band Rare Earth released a cover version in 1970 that went to #4 in the US.

B-side: 'Fading Away'
Recorded: Hitsville USA (Studio A); December 5, December 9, and December 29, 1965
Released: 7 February 1966
Highest chart position: #10 (UK, 1969), #29 (US)
Length: 2:39
Label: Gordy G 7049
Writer: Smokey Robinson
Producer: Smokey Robinson

Get Ready (The Temptations)

Emotions (Love)

9 APRIL 1966

Another track from the self-titled debut album from LA folk-rock band Love. This is an instrumental called 'Emotions', which was used in the pretty cool 1969 movie 'Medium Cool', about the famously violent Democrat Party presidential nomination convention in Chicago in 1968.

The clip above is from the opening titles for that movie, and 'Emotions' kicks in around the 0:18 mark. Too cool.

Emotions (Love)

Dedicated Follower of Fashion (Kinks)

8 APRIL 1966

The Kinks’ single ‘Dedicated Follower of Fashion’ was at its peak UK chart position of #4. A witty and topical dig at the dandy young fashionistas of the secluded London scene (the 'Carnabetian Army', as they are referred to in one verse), this could well be the most '1966-ish' song of 1966.

Ray Davies had milked his trademark 'heavy metal' sound for all it was worth by this time, and now the Kinks added a more acoustic tone to their music while his his song-writing became lyrically sharper. He was probably the best British lyricist of the day, and 'Dedicated Follower of Fashion' won him an Ivor Novello Award in 1966.

This was almost vaudevillian stuff, with the 'Oh yes he is' callbacks and Davies putting on mock accents for lines such as 'when he pulls his frilly nylon panties right up tight' and 'In matters of the cloth he is as fickle as can be'.

B-side: 'Sittin' On My Sofa
Released: 25 February 1966 (UK), 27 April 1966 (US)
Highest chart position: #4 (UK), #36 (US)
Recorded: 2 February 1966
Length: 03:05
Label: Pye 7N 17064 (UK), Reprise 0471 (US)
Writer: Ray Davies
Producer: Shel Talmy

Working My Way Back to You (Four Seasons)

7 APRIL 1966

The Four Seasons’ single ‘Working My Way Back to You’ was at its peak UK chart position of #50 during this week. It deserved better, and had previously reached #9 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.

In 1979 the Detroit Spinners added this song to their own 'Forgive Me Girl' to create a disco medley that was a #2 hit in the US and #1 in the UK. It was also released in the UK by Boyzone in 1997, when it reached a richly-deserved #129 on the charts.

B-side: 'Too Many Memories'
Released: January 1966
Highest chart position: #9 (US), #50 (UK)
Length: 2:33
Label: Philips
Producer: Bob Crewe

 Working My Way Back to You Babe (Four Seasons)

Tomorrow Never Knows (Beatles)

6 APRIL 1966

The Beatles started recording their next album 'Revolver' (with George Martin at Abbey Road) on this day in 1966. It had been five months since 'Rubber Soul' was released. Incredibly, they began with the most far-out track on Revolver - 'Tomorrow Never Knows'.

This was completely different from anything they'd ever done before, and was nothing like it had ever been produced by any mainstream act at the time. Compared to most of the stuff in the charts in April 1966, this was a song from the future, and a quantum leap from the material they had done for Rubber Soul. In 1965 the Beatles had smoked a lot of weed. By 1966 the influence of LSD was clear.

Stylistically, 'Tomorrow Never Knows' has been recognised as one of the most important recordings of the decade, opening the door to psychedelia, experimentation, and the Summer of Love. There had been psychedelic stuff around before, but not like this and not from the biggest band in the world. Even the words and heavy theme were new ground for the Beatles.

By now, many of the young fans who loved them for songs like 'She Loves You' were losing interest, but George would have been happy with the mystical overtones and Indian instrumentation in this song, John would have been happy to get really, really, heavy, Paul would have been happy experimenting in the studio, and Ringo would have been happy showing off his drumming chops.

('Revolver' was released in August 1966).

Solitary Man (Neil Diamond)

5 APRIL 1966

Neil Diamond released ‘Solitary Man’ in the US. It reached #55 on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts, his first ever chart success as a performer (he had also written a few other hit singles by this point). He then had a run of about 20 charting singles in the US before he eventually had a hit in the UK (with 'Cracklin' Rosie' in 1971).

Later in 1966 he wrote the songs 'I'm a Believer,' 'A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You', and 'Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)' for himself, but versions were released by the Monkees before he could release them. This cemented his reputation as a songwriter and made him a nice bit of royalty money too.

B-side: 'Do It'
Released: April 4, 1966
Highest chart position: #55 (US)
Length: 2:27
Label: Bang
Writer: Neil Diamond

olitary Man (Neil Diamond)

Shape of Things to Come (Yardbirds)

4 APRIL 1966

The Yardbirds’ psychedelic rock song ‘Shape of Things to Come’ was at its peak UK chart position of #3. The record reached #11 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

This was the Yardbirds' first hit to go beyond their usual bluesy material, and was in fact one of the first psychedelic rock singles, featuring anti-war lyrics with an Eastern-sounding and feedback-laden guitar solo. The Yardbirds were famously the band that made stars of their various lead guitarists, including Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. The freak-out solo here was performed by Beck.

Released: 25 February 1966
Highest chart position: #3 (UK), #11 (US)
Recorded: December 1965 - January 1966
Length: 2:31
Label: Columbia
Producer: Giorgio Gomelsky

Shape of Things to Come (Yardbirds)

Hold On, I'm Comin' (Sam and Dave)

3 APRIL 1966

Sam and Dave’s debut album ‘Hold On, I’m Comin’’ was released. The title track was released as a single on 1 April and reached #21 on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts, and #1 on the R&B charts. This was the soul duo's first big hit after four years of trying, but they did not have a charting record in the UK until late in 1967.

The song was written by Isaac Hayes and David Porter, recorded at the Stax recording studio in Memphis, with the backing of Booker T and the MGs, and released by Atlantic Records.

B-side: 'I Got Everything I Need'
Released: March 1966
Highest chart position: #21 (US)
Recorded: 1966
Length: 2:35
Label: Stax/Atlantic S-189
Producer: Jim Stewart

Hold On, I'm Comin'' (Sam and Dave)

Red Rubber Ball (The Cyrkle)

2 APRIL 1966

The Cyrkle released ‘Red Rubber Ball’ in the US. It peaked at #2 in the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, but did not chart in the UK, where it might not have been released. It was the biggest hit of the Cyrkle's short-lived chart career, even though they were managed by Brian Epstein, got their name from John Lennon, and toured with Beatles in 1966.

The song was written by Paul Simon while he was living in England, apparently for the Seekers, who included it on their 1966 album 'Come the Day'.

B-side: 'How Can I Leave Her'
Released: 4 April 1966
Length: 2:22
Label: Columbia
Producer: Doug Riley

 Red Rubber Ball (The Cyrkle)

634-5789 (Soulsville, U.S.A.) (Wilson Pickett)

1 APRIL 1966

Wilson Pickett’s’ single '634-5789' reached its peak UK chart position of #36 during this week in 1966. It had been at #13 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, and #1 on the R&B charts.

Written by Stax Record greats Eddie Floyd and Steve Cropper (as '634-5789 [Soulsville, USA]’), this was Pickett's biggest hit to date (the legendary 'In the Midnight Hour' had peaked at #21 in the US during 1965). He went on to have a decent run of charting singles right into the 1970s.

This was a typical, grinding slab of soul from Atlantic, and in Pickett they had one of the greatest soul singers of the age, although this was not his best work.

634-5789 (Wilson Pickett)