The Sound of Silence (The Bachelors)

31 MAY 1966

This is one of those records which immediately brings to mind the question... 'why?'

Simon and Garfunkel had just scored a Top 10 hit in Britain with 'The Sound of Silence' a couple of months before the Dublin trio The Bachelors released their own (very similar) version in the UK and Ireland. Despite this, the record went to #3 in the UK, a full six places higher than the original had reached! It was in the Top 20 for two months, and while Paul Simon's accountants might have been happy, this record really highlights the rampant opportunism of the mid-60s music industry, when people would rush out covers of songs that were still in the charts. This sometimes resulted in two or even three versions of the same song being in the charts at the same time.

Other covers of 'The Sound of Silence' in 1966 included a Spanish-language effort from Spain's Los Mustang, and one from South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela. The Jamaican reggae bands The Soul Vendors and (ahem) The Gaylads also recorded the song in 1967, but at least all these artists brought something new to it, unlike the Bachelors.

Cleo's Mood (Jr Walker and the All-Stars)

30 MAY 1966

The single 'Cleo’s Mood' had peaked at #50 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart earlier in the year for Jr Walker and the All-Stars,and had reached #14 on the R&B charts. Although a Motown act, this was not much like the famous Hitsville sound of the time, being a slow, gritty sax-driven instrumental.

This had actually been released (unsuccessfully) back in 1962, and the band had a modest hit in late 1965 with 'Cleo's Back' (#43 Hot 100, #7 R&B). Despite the intervening single 'Road Runner' having been at #12 in the UK, neither 'Cleo's Back' nor 'Cleo's Mood' charted in the UK.

Cleo’s Mood (Jr Walker and the All-Stars)

Listen People (Sarah Jane)

29 MAY 1966

Listen People' had already been a hit for Herman's Hermits earlier in 1966, and it was also recorded by a mysterious person called 'Sarah Jane' during this month. It never made the charts, and there seems to be no information out there on who Sarah Jane actually was or what became of her. but this delicately orchestrated version is arguably better than the Hermits' take on it. Her soft approach to the vocals is quite reminiscent of Marianne Faithfull or Vashti Bunyan. One of those nice obscure gems that seemed to proliferate around the mid-60s.

Listen People (Sarah Jane)

Love is Like an Itching in My Heart (Supremes)

28 MAY 1966

The Supremes were in the charts for the third time this year with their brassy, upbeat single ‘Love is Like an Itching in my Heart’, reaching a peak US Billboard Hot 100 chart position of #9 on this day. Motown had been sitting on this recording since June 1965.

Not only was this a rare Holland–Dozier–Holland song from them not to top the charts, but - quite astonishingly - it failed to chart at all in the UK, continuing a (soon to end) barren patch for the group in that country. It also only reached #100 in Australia! This is incomprehensible considering the type of rubbish that usually filled up half the top 100 positions in the charts at any given time, even back in 1966.

B-side: 'He's All I Got'
Released: 8 April 1966
Recorded: Hitsville U.S.A. (Studio A); 1965
Highest chart position: #9 (US)
Length: 2:40
Label: Motown M 1094

Love is Like an Itching in my Heart (Supremes)

Sloop John B (Beach Boys)

27 MAY 1966

The Beach Boys’ single ‘Sloop John B’ was at its peak UK chart position of #2. It reached #3 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.

This song was taken from the recently-released album 'Pet Sounds'. It was based on The Kingston Trio's 1958 recording of 'The Wreck of the John B', which was itself based on a traditional Bahaman folk song (also known as 'John B. Sails'). Sloop John B was actually recorded in 1965 with the session musicians the Wrecking Crew, showing the level of time and care that writer Brian Wilson was now putting into his work.

Released: 21 March 1966
Recorded: 12 July - 29 December 1965
Highest chart position: #2 (UK), #3 (US)
Studio: United Western Recorders, Hollywood
Length: 2:59
Label: Capitol 5602
Writer: Traditional, arranged by Brian Wilson
Producer: Brian Wilson

Sloop John B (Beach Boys)

Paint It Black (Rolling Stones)

26 MAY 1966

The Rolling Stones classic ‘Paint It Black' hit #1 on the UK charts, where it stayed for a week. This was the first number one hit single in the US and UK to feature a sitar. This was played by Brian Jones, whose interest in the instrument predated the Beatles' 'Norwegian Wood' (1965) by several years. By this time Jones - once the leader of the Stones - had more or less been relegated to a Harrison-like Number 3 in the band's pecking order and was exploring new sounds to compensate for his lack of songwriting opportunities. His influence would become very noticeable during the band's brilliant psychedelic phase over the next couple of years.

This was easily the most memorable Stones song of 1966, and has remained a constant presence in pop culture through its use in numerous movies and games, including being played over the end credits in the movies 'Full Metal Jacket' and 'The Devil's Advocate', and over the opening titles of the TV series 'Tour of Duty'.

The original single cover had a misprint comma ('Paint It, Black') which caused a bit of racial controversy at the time, but this was corrected on subsequent releases.

B-side: 'Long, Long While' (UK), 'Stupid Girl' (US)
Released: 6 May 1966 (US), 13 May 1966 (UK)
Highest chart position: #1 (UK and US)
Recorded, 8 March 1966, RCA Studios, Hollywood
Length: 3:45 (mono single mix), 3:22 (stereo album mix)
Label: Decca F.12395 (UK), London 45-LON.901 (US)
Writers: Nanker Phelge
Producer: Andrew Loog Oldham

Paint It Black (Rolling Stones)

Shotgun Wedding (Roy 'C')

25 MAY 1966

Roy 'C's somewhat novelty single ‘Shotgun Wedding’ was at its peak UK chart position of #6 this week. It had previously reached #14 on the US Billboard R&B chart. It was also a hit again in the UK when re-released there in 1972, getting to #8 that time.

Roy's full name was Roy Charles Hammond, and he did not have too much success after this release, with probably his most notable record being the very funky anti-Nixon song 'Impeach the President' - with the Honeydrippers - in 1973. 

The sixties were of course a time when unmarried couples who got themselves pregnant were expected to marry quick pronto, the cliche being the bride's father angrily standing behind them with a shotgun in case the groom got cold feet.

Message to Michael (Dionne Warwick)

24 MAY 1966

Dionne Warwick’s ‘Message to Michael’, written by Bacharach/David, was at its peak position of #8 on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts. It only reached #55 in the UK.

This song had first been recorded by Jerry Butler in 1962 as 'Message to Martha' and used as an album track. It covered in 1964 by Lou Johnson, and was the last top 20 hit for Adam Faith (who took it to #12 in the UK).

B-side: 'Here Where There Is Love' (Bacharach & David)
Released: March, 1966
Highest chart position: #55 (UK), #8 (US)
Recorded: 1966 Paris
Length: 3:09
Label: Scepter, Disques Vogue (France), Pye International (UK)
Producer: Blue Jac Productions

Message to Michael (Dionne Warwick)

Beck's Bolero (Jeff Beck)

23 MAY 1966

The instrumental 'Beck’s Bolero' was recorded on 16 May 1966 but released in 1967 as the B-side to Jeff Beck's debut solo single 'Hi Ho Silver Lining', which reached #14 in the UK on its (first) release. It also featured on 'Truth', the debut album from the Jeff Beck Group in 1968.

In the studio for this recording was a supergroup featuring Beck and Jimmy Page on guitar, Keith Moon on drums, John Paul Jones on bass, and Nicky Hopkins on piano. Stylistically, it was very advanced for its time, showing off Beck's penchant for cutting-edge experimentation.

Released: 10 March 1967 (UK)
Recorded: IBC Studios, London, 16 May 1966
Length: 2:53
Label: Columbia DB 8151
Writer: Jimmy Page (disputed)
Producer: Mickie Most (disputed)\

Beck's Bolero (Jeff Beck)

Vietnam (Bobby Jameson)

22 MAY 1966

One of the most visceral songs of 1966 was 'Vietnam' by Bobby Jameson. Driven by a searing Bo Diddley beat and harmonica, Jameson protests about his (imaginary) draft into the increasingly unpopular war. 'Senators the congress and the politician man, well they all got me in the mess I'm in/ Said I got a call from Uncle Sam, said 'send that boy to Vietnam.' This record did not chart.

The backing musicians here are the Leaves, a garage band known for their searing version of 'Hey Joe'.

Jameson had recorded a brilliant album called 'Songs of Protest and Anti-Protest' during the previous year under the name Chris Lucey, a situation that came about after the real Chris Lucey had recorded the album, which was then cancelled and then rerecorded with Jameson, using the name already on the printed album sleeves. Sadly, the album was not a success at the time but has gained much credibility over the years.

You Can't Sit Down (The Phil Upchurch Combo)

21 MAY 1966

The very groovy ‘You Can’t Sit Down’ by the Phil Upchurch Combo was at its peak UK chart position of #39 during this week. This record had actually sold a million copies in the US back in 1961, but was reissued in the UK in 1966 where it found an appreciative new audience in the mod clubs.

'You Can't Sit Down' had a history. It was originally recorded in 1959 as 'Can't Sit Down' by The Bim Bam Boos, with Phil Upchurch on guitar. It was Phil Upchurch and his Combo who had a million-seller with a 1961 rerelease, which was followed by a vocal cover version by the Dovells that reached #3 on the US charts in 1963. In 1962 it also appeared as a cover on Booker T. and the MG's first album, Green Onions, and it was also recorded by the Bar KaysHound Dog Taylor, and the Kingsmen.

You Can’t Sit Down (The Phil Upchurch Combo)

(You're My) Soul and Inspiration (The Righteous Brothers)

20 MAY 1966

The Righteous Brothers’ mighty ‘(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration’ was at its peak UK chart position of #15. The song had reached #1 in the US Billboard Hot 100 charts during the previous month, being their first major hit since leaving long-time producer Phil Spector. This was written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, who also penned 'You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin', their first #1 back in 1964.

The Righteous Brothers' chart career had been a roller-coaster ride of huge hits and disappointing flops, and this was to be their last entry in the US Top Ten of the 1960s (although they resurfaced with a #3 in 1974).

B-side: 'B-Side Blues'
Released: 26 February 1966
Length: 3:00
Label: Verve
Producer: Bill Medley

(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration (The Righteous Brothers)

Pied Piper (Crispian St Peters)

19 MAY 1966

Crispian St Peters’ single ‘Pied Piper’ was at its peak UK chart position of #5. The original version of this by the Changin' Times had reached #87 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1965, but St Peters' record went to #4 in the US and #1 in Canada.

Despite this being his second consecutive Top Ten single in the UK, it was St Peters' last hit and he faded away as a two-hit wonder.

B-side: 'Sweet Dawn My True Love'
Released: 8 March 1966
Length: 2:30
Label: Decca 12359 (UK), Jamie 1320 (US), London 2512 (Canada)
Writers: Steve Duboff, Artie Kornfeld
Producer: David Nicolson

Pied Piper (Crispian St Peters)

Homeward Bound (Simon and Garfunkel)

18 MAY 1966

Simon and Garfunkel’s beautiful ‘Homeward Bound’ reached its peak UK chart position of #9. It had previously peaked at #5 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, serving as a successful follow-up to their first big hit 'Sound of Silence'.

This song was included on their upcoming third album 'Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme', even though it had been recorded during the sessions for their previous album 'Sounds of Silence' and featured on the UK version of that album. It was written by a homesick Simon during his stay in England in 1964, and legend has him first putting it to paper at Widnes train station (it opens with the words 'I'm sittin' in the railway station, got a ticket for my destination').

Released: 19 January 1966
Recorded: 14 December 1965
Highest chart position: #9 (UK), #5 (US)
Length: 2:42
Label: Columbia
Writer: Paul Simon 
Producer: Bob Johnston

Homeward Bound (Simon and Garfunkel)

Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands (Bob Dylan)

17 MAY 1966

Bob Dylan’s classic double album ‘Blonde on Blonde’ was released during this week. This song - ‘Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands’ - is an 11-minute track that took up the whole of Side Four. The sheer length of the track was something of a radical move that demonstrates the experimental vibe of some major established artists in 1966. Once again, this was a departure from standard practices of the past and a nod to the future.

It has been suggested that this was a 'wedding song' for Bob's wife Sara Lownds (Lowndes= Lowlands), whom he had married a few months earlier.

Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands (Bob Dylan)

Wouldn't It Be Nice (Beach Boys)

16 MAY 1966

Two great albums were released on this day: Bob Dylan’s ‘Blonde on Blonde’ and the Beach Boys’ ‘Pet Sounds’, both of which featured in Rolling Stone magazine’s 'top ten greatest albums of all time' list (three of which were from 1966).

The opening track of 'Pet Sounds' was 'Wouldn't It Be Nice', an upbeat song about the hopes and frustrations of childhood and waiting for the freedom of adulthood, and was released two months later as a single with 'God Only Knows' as the B-side. It reached #8 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, but in the UK it was released as the B-side to 'God Only Knows'.

B-side: 'God Only Knows'
Released: 18 July 1966
Recorded: 22 January - 11 April 1966, Gold Star Studios and CBS Columbia Square, Hollywood
Highest chart position: #8 (US)
Length: 2:33
Label: Capitol 5706
Producer: Brian Wilson

Wouldn't it Be Nice (Beach Boys)

One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later) (Bob Dylan)

15 MAY 1966

Bob Dylan’s ‘One of Us Must Know’ was at its peak UK chart position of #33. The single, taken from his classic album 'Blonde on Blonde', only reached #119 on the US Billboard chart, proving to be one of the lowest-charting singles of his 1960s career.

The sound is typical of the album, prominently featuring guitar, organ and piano.

Released: 14 February 1966
Recorded: 25 January 1966
Highest chart position: #33 (UK), #119 (US)
Length: 4:54
Label: CBS
Writer: Bob Dylan
Producer: Bob Johnston

One of Us Must Know (Bob Dylan)

Walking My Cat Named Dog (Norma Tanega)

14 MAY 1966

Californian folk singer Norma Tanega’s very enjoyable novelty song (and only hit) ‘Walking My Cat Named Dog’ was at its peak UK chart position of #22. It also reached #22 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.

What was this song about? Norma's explanation was, 'I had always wanted a dog, but because of my living situation I could only have a cat; I named my cat dog and wrote a song about my dilemma.'

Although she never had any more chart success, Norma wrote the lyrics for several songs recorded by her lover Dusty Springfield during the late 1960s, They remained friends until Dusty's death in 1999.

Walking My Cat Named Dog (Norma Tanega)

Gloria (The Shadows of Knight)

13 MAY 1966

Suburban Chicago band the Shadows of Knight's version of the Garage Rock standard ‘Gloria’ was at its peak US Billboard Hot 100 position of #10 - a quite sizeable hit for the genre. The original had been written and recorded by Them, and used as the B-side for their 1964 single 'Baby, Please Don't Go', and soon became a staple of the Garage scene and covered by numerous bands.

This version was taken from the Knight's upcoming debut album 'Gloria' and was actually the most successful charting take on the song, partly because the Shadows of Knight changed the line 'She comes to my room' to 'She calls out my name'. Many US radio stations would not play the song with the original line.

The band had formed the year before, and this proved to be their biggest hit as they only cracked the Top 40 one more time.

Gloria (The Shadows of Knights)

Daydream (Lovin' Spoonful)

12 MAY 1966

The wonderful single ‘Daydream’, by the Lovin’ Spoonful, was at its peak US Billboard Hot 100 position of #2, their third consecutive Top Ten there. It also reached #2 as their breakthrough hit in the UK.

The song was taken from their second album 'Daydream' and had an 'olde-tyme' feel that was quite popular at the time. The lyrics of disconnecting from the real world could easily have been a reference to getting stoned, and a foretaste of the upcoming Summer of Love.

B-side: 'Night Owl Blues'
Released: 19 February 1966
Length: 2:18
Label: Kama Sutra 208
Writer: John Sebastian
Producer: Erik Jacobsen

Daydream (Lovin' Spoonful)

Own Up Time (Small Faces)

11 MAY 1966

The legendary mod band Small Faces released their eponymous debut album during this month. It rose to #3 in the UK albums chart on the back of their big hit 'Sha-La-La-La-Lee'. This song ‘Own Up Time’ is an instrumental track from the album. It features very, very cool heavy hammond organ, heavy guitar riffs, and heavy drums, and was the kind of music that their pre-recording-days fan base loved them for.

Own Up Time (Small Faces)

Alfie (Cilla Black)

10 MAY 1966

Cilla Black’s ‘Alfie’, written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David for the 1966 Michael Caine movie 'Alfie', was at its peak UK chart position of #9.

The songwriters originally wanted Dionne Warwick to record the song, but an English singer was decided upon to complement the movie's London setting. It was first offered to Sandie Shaw, who refused it. Cilla was the second choice, and even she was reluctant, only agreeing to record it if Bacharach himself arranged the song.

The song was rerecorded for the US market by Cher, who reached #32 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart with it. The two versions were released in Australia in July 1966. Cilla's version reached #22 there, with Cher's at #96.

In 1967 the song was finally recorded by Dionne Warwick, who took it to #15 in the US.

B-side: 'Night Time Is Here'
Released: 1966 (UK); July 1966 (US)
Length: 2:40
Label: Parlophone (UK); Capitol (US)
Producer: George Martin

Alfie (Cilla Black)

You're Too Much (The Eyes)

9 MAY 1966

Ealing band The Eyes' third single ‘Man With Money’ was released in May 1966 and barely scraped into the charts. The B-side was ‘You're Too Much', which is a ferocious bit of loud, fuzzy, raucous proto-punk.

The Eyes were a strong draw on the London mod live circuit but never achieved chart success, and eventually split up in 1967, their last single being a cover of the Beatles' 'Good Day Sunshine'.

You're Too Much (The Eyes)

Train Song (Vashti Bunyan)

8 MAY 1966

Folk singer Vashti Bunyan released her second single 'Train Song' during this month, and much like her debut 'Some Things Just Stick in Your Mind' it received little attention and did not chart. These records were brought out under the single name 'Vashti'. 

Despite being involved in the late 60s' 'scene', she did not release another recording until her 1970 album 'Just Another Diamond Day'.

This song actually sounds very '2016' and would not doubt be a hit if it was recorded by some young female folksy artist now.

Train Song (Vashti Bunyan)

My Country Tis of Thy People You're Dying (Buffy Sainte-Marie)

7 MAY 1966

Native Canadian singer-songwriter Buffy Sainte-Marie released her third album 'Little Wheel Spin and Spin' in 1966. It was her only album to reach the Billboard album charts, peaking at #97.

The most famous song from this album was 'My Country Tis of Thy People You're Dying', which presented an Indigenous persons perspective on the colonisation of North America. One of her most famous songs was 'Universal Soldier', which she wrote in 1964 and later became a hit for Donovan. She also wrote 'Up Where We Belong'.

I'm Not Your Steppin' Stone (Paul Revere and the Raiders)

6 MAY 1966

Paul Revere and the Raiders’ fifth album ‘Midnight Ride’ was released in the US during this month. It peaked at #9 in the Billboard album charts.

The song 'I'm Not Your Steppin' Stone' featured on Side 1 of this album, and was the first recording of the song, which was written by the great Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, and later covered by the Monkees and the Sex Pistols, among others.

I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone (Paul Revere and the Raiders)

Pretty Flamingo (Manfred Mann)

5 MAY 1966

Manfred Mann hit #1 on the UK charts with the splendid ‘Pretty Flamingo’, and stayed there for three weeks. It peaked at a rather lowly #29 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.

This was the second of the groups three UK number 1's (with 'Do Wah Diddy Diddy' in 1964 and 'Mighty Quinn' in 1967), and their last hit with singer Paul Jones, who left to pursue a solo career in July 1966. The recording also featured Jack Bruce, later of Cream, during his brief time as a member of the Manfreds.

B-side: 'You're Standing By'
Released: 15 April 1966
Highest chart position: #1 (UK), #29 (US)
Recorded: 1966 at EMI Studios in Abbey Road
Length: 2:31
Label: His Master's Voice POP 1523
Writer: Mark Barkan
Producer: John Burgess

Pretty Flamingo (Manfred Mann)

I Come and Stand at Every Door (The Byrds)

4 MAY 1966

The Byrds were in the recording studios for their upcoming album 'Fifth Dimension' during May, and among the tracks they laid down was the haunting 'I Come and Stand at Every Door'. This was a song about the atomic attack on Hiroshima, told from the perspective of a small child: 'I come and stand at every door, but no one hears my silent tread. I knock and yet remain unseen, for I am dead, for I am dead.' Heavy stuff, but very much in keeping with the protest songs from that time about the very real threat of atomic warfare.

The Loved One (The Loved Ones)

3 MAY 1966

Melbourne band The Loved Ones’ debut single ‘The Loved One’ was at #9 on the Australian charts. It peaked at #2 there, but did not chart internationally. This is one of the classics of the 'Australian scene' of the 1960s, and was placed at no.6 on the Australasian Performing Right Association's list of ten best Australian songs of all time (one of two songs from 1966 on that list). INXS recorded it three times during the 1980s.

The Loved Ones had four more local hits before they disbanded in 1967.

B-side: 'This Is Love'
Released: May 1966
Highest chart position: #2 (Aus)
Recorded: 1966
Length: 2:45
Label: In/W&G
Writers: Ian Clyne, Gerry Humphrys, Rob Lovett

The Loved One (The Loved Ones)

The Love You Save [May Be Your Own] (Joe Tex)

2 MAY 1966

Joe Tex's single 'The Love You Save (May Be Your Own)', released in February 1966, reached #56 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and #2 on the very competitive R&B charts.

Tex had his first hit in 1964 with 'Hold On To What You've Got' - his 31st single release. He then placed no fewer than 40 singles on the R&B charts in 1965, and another five (including this one) in 1966.

He never hit the same heights of stardom as his bitter long-term rival James Brown, but songs like this had all the gorgeous soul style of Atlantic Records, as heard with Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding, with a real dash of Sam Cooke in there too. 

The Love You Save [May Be Your Own] (Joe Tex)

Josie (Donovan)

1 MAY 1966

This was a frustrating year for folk singer Donovan Leitch. After three UK Top 10 hits in 1965, he found himself at the centre of a contractual dispute between Pye and Hickory Records, meaning that his new recordings were barred from release in the UK.

Without consulting Donovan himself, the two record companies instead started releasing older material as singles. In the US, Hickory brought out 'You're Gonna Need Somebody on Your Bond, and 'To Try for the Sun', while Pye released 'Josie' in the UK in February 1966. This was a so-so album track from his debut album 'What's Bin Did and What's Bin Hid'. None of these singles made the charts.

Despite these legal wranglings and chart failures, Donovan was about to enjoy what was arguably his finest two years of creative and commercial success.

Released: 18 February 1966 (UK)
Recorded: 1965
Length: 3:28 
Label: Pye 7N17067
Writer: Donovan
Producer: Terry Kennedy, Peter Eden, Geoff Stephens