God Only Knows (Beach Boys)

31 AUGUST 1966

The Beach Boys continued what was arguably their greatest year with the very gorgeous ‘God Only Knows’, which was at its peak UK chart position of #2 on this day.

More information to come...

God Only Knows (Beach Boys)

Louie, Louie (The Sandpipers)

30 AUGUST 1966

The Sonics had recorded their own blistering version of the Garage Rock standard 'Louie, Louie' earlier in the year, but the Sandpipers' version was at the other end of the scale completely. This acoustic, lilting, Spanish-language single went to #30 on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts during this month in 1966.

This was in some ways a piece of cultural re-appropriation, as the song had originated as 'Amarren Al Loco' ('Tie up the crazy guy') by the Cuban bandleader Rosendo Ruiz Jr., and became popular in the 1950s as the 'El Loco Cha Cha' by René Touzet. It was Richard Berry who turned this into the English-language 'Louie Louie' in 1955.

Louie, Louie' (The Sandpipers)

Loving You is Sweeter Than Ever (Four Tops)

29 AUGUST 1966

'Loving You is Sweeter Than Ever' by the Four Tops.

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 Loving You is Sweeter Than Ever (Four Tops)

The End (The Doors)

28 AUGUST 1966

There were several acts in the recording studio during 1966 putting down cutting-edge music that would be released during 1967. Among these were the Velvet Underground and Jimi Hendrix, but one of the most radical signposts to the late '60s was created by the Doors with their self-titled debut album, recorded in August 1966 in Hollywood. One of the most remarkable songs on that album - both musically and lyrically - was 'The End'.

Jim Morrison originally wrote this about breaking up with a girlfriend, but as the band performed it over several months of gigs at the legendary 'Whisky a Go Go' club in Los Angeles, it evolved into the rambling 12-minute track heard on the album. 

'The End' has a slow, raga-rock opening that slowly builds into utter frenzy after a remarkably edgy spoken word section: 
'The killer awoke before dawn, he put his boots on
He took a face from the ancient gallery
And he walked on down the hall
He went into the room where his sister lived, and...then he
Paid a visit to his brother, and then he
He walked on down the hall, and
And he came to a door...and he looked inside
Father, yes son, I want to kill you
Mother...I want to... (screaming)
The listener was left in doubt as to what the song's protagonist wanted to do. The Beatles had released Revolver just a few weeks earlier, and as revolutionary as some of that record had seemed at the time, it was still mainstream pop music compared to material like this.  

'The End' famously featured in the 1979 film Apocalypse Now, and was ranked #336 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time in 2010. It is not to everyone's taste, but  - alongside songs such as the Velvet Underground's 'Heroin' - it was an important signifier of the cultural shift underway in 1966.

Released: 4 January 1967
Recorded: August 1966
Length: 11:41 [album version], 6:28 [Apocalypse Now version]
Label: Elektra
Producers: The Doors, Paul A. Rothchild

The End (The Doors)

Tell It Like It Is (Aaron Neville)

27 AUGUST 1966

'Tell It Like It Is' by Aaron Neville.

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Tell It Like It Is (Aaron Neville)

I’m a Boy (The Who)

26 AUGUST 1966

The Who release the single ‘I’m a Boy’. It went on to reach #2 on the UK charts in October, but failed to chart in the US.

More information to come...

B-side: 'In the City'
Released: 26 August 1966 (UK) 
Recorded: 31 July-1 August 1966, IBC Studios, London
Highest chart position: #2 (UK)
Length: 2:34 
Label: Reaction 591004 (UK), Decca (US) 
Producer: Kit Lambert

I’m a Boy (The Who)

Yellow Submarine (The Beatles)

25 AUGUST 1966

'Yellow Submarine' by the Beatles was at #1 in the British charts.

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Yellow Submarine (The Beatles)

Light My Fire (The Doors)

24 AUGUST 1966

Los Angeles band The Doors began recording their self-titled debut album in Hollywood on this day. Recording was finished in a week, although the album was not released until 1967. 

The album version of the song 'Light My Fire' was 7-minutes-plus, but a shorter edited version was released as a single in early 1967 and reached #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100, and #7 in the UK.

The Doors were indicative of the transformation of popular music during 1966. Not only in their subject matter (for example, the album track 'The End' featured the lines 'Father / Yes son? / I want to kill you / Mother, I want to... (screaming)') but also in their capacity for live improvisation and highly sexualised stage performances of Jim Morrison. It is hard to imagine such an act being popular a couple of years earlier.

B-side: 'The Crystal Ship'
Released: May 1967
Recorded: August 1966
Length: 7:06 (album version), 2:52 (single version)
Label: Elektra
Writers: The Doors
Producers: Paul A. Rothchild

Visions (Cliff Richard and the Shadows)

23 AUGUST 1966

Cliff Richard's 'Visions' was at it's peak of #7 on the British charts during this month in 1966. He managed to out-syrup Paul McCartney with this light-as-a-feather ballad, which was his 30th Top Ten hit in Britain (he went on to have another 39 or so). It was a perfect slice of schmaltzy pop.

B-side: 'What Would I Do (For the Love of a Girl)'
Released: 1966
Highest chart position: #7 (UK)
Length: 3:00
Writer: Paul Ferris

Visions (Cliff Richard and the Shadows)

Let's Get Together (Jefferson Airplane)

22 AUGUST 1966

More information to come...

Let's Get Together (Jefferson Airplane)

Just Like a Woman (Manfred Mann)

21 AUGUST 1966

Manfred Mann could do a mean Dylan cover, as ‘Just Like a Woman’ showed. This song was at its UK chart peak of #10 during this week.

More information to come...

Warm and Tender Love (Percy Sledge)

20 AUGUST 1966

The incredible success of his debut single 'When a Man Loves a Woman' was a tough act to follow, and indeed Percy Sledge never scaled those chart-topping heights again, but his next single 'Warm and Tender Love' is still rather special. This song is at the same tempo as his debut, and although it is more low-key, it is just as heartfelt. The upwards inflection he puts at the end of the occasional 'warm and tender love' line is simple but makes all the difference. Gorgeous stuff.

It was climbing the charts in August 1966 on its way to a peak of #17 on the Billboard Hot 100, #5 on the R&B chart, and #34 in the UK.

Warm and Tender Love (Percy Sledge)

I Want You (Bob Dylan)

19 AUGUST 1966

Bob Dylan’s rather jaunty single ‘I Want You’ - one of five singles lifted from his 'Blonde on Blonde' album - was at its peak UK chart position of #16. It had reached #20 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

This was one of Dylan's more upbeat numbers, full of bouncing keyboard, melodic hooks, and a cast of surreal characters. I had, for many years, the vague impression that the 'dancing child in a Chinese suit' with 'time on his side' was a reference to Mick Jagger, but more informed opinion suggests it's Brian Jones. But then one of the joys of Dylan's writing around this time is trying to figure out what or who he is going on about with his impressionistic lyrics. Lovely stuff.

B-side: 'Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues' (live version)
Recorded: 10 March 1966
Released: 10 June 1966
Highest chart position: #16 (UK), #20 (US)
Length: 3:07 (album version), 2:54 (single edit) 
Label: Columbia
Writer: Bob Dylan
Producer: Bob Johnston

I Want You (Bob Dylan)

Eleanor Rigby (The Beatles)

18 AUGUST 1966

The Beatles' double-A side of 'Yellow Submarine'/'Eleanor Rigby' reached #1 in the UK, where it stayed for four weeks. It peaked at #11 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.

'Eleanor Rigby' was a very sharp bit of lyrical work from McCartney, who painted vivid character portraits with just a line or two. There's Father McKenzie, 'writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear', and Eleanor Rigby, who 'picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been, lives in a dream'. George Martin provided another fine piece of understated arranging with a string quartet, and the result is one of those songs that sometimes in life you are a bit bored with for a few years, and then you appreciate it all over again.

A-side: 'Yellow Submarine'
Released: 5 August 1966
Recorded: 28–29 April and 6 June 1966, EMI Studios, London
Length: 2:08
Label: ParlophoneCapitol
Writers: Lennon–McCartney
Producer: George Martin

The More I See You (Chris Montez)

17 AUGUST 1966

Chris Montez’s lilting pop song ‘The More I See You’ was at its peak UK chart position of #3. This was another case of the same song competing in the same charts at the same time, with the very similar but slightly slower version by Joy Marshall also hovering around the charts during this month. Montez's version also went to #16 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, and #2 on the Easy Listening chart.

The song was an old one, originally written by Mack Gordon and sung by Dick Haymes in the 1945 film 'Diamond Horseshoe'. It had been recorded by many other artists by this time, but none more successfully (commercially) than Montez, who was having his best ever year, having resurrected his career to have four very solid charting singles during 1966. This may well have been the best of the lot.

The More I See You (Chris Montez)

Last Train to Clarksville (The Monkees)

16 AUGUST 1966

The Monkees' debut single ‘Last Train to Clarksville’ was released in the USA, where - thanks to their recently-launched TV show - it went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It peaked at #23 in the UK.

This song had 'Beatles' written all over it. The TV show, after all, was in the vein of the movie 'A Hard Day's Night', and the prominent guitar riff in 'Clarksville’ followed the 'Ticket to Ride'/'Day Tripper'/'Paperback Writer' sound. Just as the Beatles were going 'all weird' with psychedelic experimentation, along came the Monkees to carry on their jangle-rock radio-friendly sound.

There was a less 'poppy' aspect to this record that the production company and most of the public missed - it was written by Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart as a subtle anti-Vietnam War protest song. The 'last train' that the protagonist is taking here is the first step of a journey to Vietnam.

The only Monkee to feature here is Micky Dolenz, and musical backing was provided by Boyce and Hart's own band 'The Candy Store Prophets'.

Released: 16 August 1966
Recorded: 25 July 1966, RCA Victor Studios, Studio A, Hollywood
Length: 2:46
Label: Colgems #1001
Producers: Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart

¡Que Vida! (Love)

15 AUGUST 1966

Love's started recording their second album 'Da Capo' in September 1966, and preceded it with their second single, '7 and 7 Is', which peaked at #33 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, becoming their highest-selling single.

'Da Capo' was released about eight months after their self-titled debut album. While that first record could probably be described as 'garage folk', their second was much more sophisticated, having taken on an extra two group members to add the flute, saxophone and keyboards to their sound. This was more of a baroque/psychedelic album, a sound they would perfect on their masterpiece 'Forever Changes' in 1967.

'7 and 7 Is' was a frantic drum-driven 'proto-punk' rocker but, as with their first album, some of the better material did not make it to single status. Some of the other songs from the album's A-side, such as '¡Que Vida!', would have been right at home on 'Forever Changes'. This track is a great example of singer-songwriter Arthur Lee's exceptional talent for delicate but solid melodies, intricate arrangements, and fascinating lyrics. 

The 'Da Capo' album only reached #80 on the charts, probably not helped by having a B-side comprised of one 19-minute jam. Even 'Forever Changes' - which was later ranked at #40 on Rolling Stone magazine's 'Best 500 Albums of All Time' list - only reached #154. Songs such as ¡Que Vida! demonstrate that the band deserved much more commercial success than they were granted.

7 And 7 Is (Love)

Mr Dieingly Sad (The Critters)

14 AUGUST 1966

The Critters' biggest hit - 'Mr Dieingly Sad' - peaked at #17 on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts during this month. Earlier in 1966 they had reached #42 on that same chart (and #38 in Britain) with the John Sebastian (of Lovin' Spoonful) song 'Younger Girl'. They followed that with 'Mr Dieingly Sad', written by lead singer Don Ciccone, which was reminiscent of the type of music that Chris Montez was turning out in 1966 - light as a feather, breezy, lilting, and verging on Easy Listening. Quite lovely.

The group split up after recording an album and the singles 'Bad Misunderstanding' (#55, 1966) and 'Don't Let the Rain Fall Down on Me' (#39, 1967).

Mr Dieingly Sad (The Critters)

Summer in the City (The Lovin' Spoonful)

13 AUGUST 1966

The Lovin’ Spoonful’s magnificent ‘Summer in the City’ hit #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart on this day in 1966, and stayed there for three weeks. It reached #8 on the other side of the Atlantic. The Spoonful were on a roll, as this was their sixth single, the fifth to reach the Billboard Top 10, and their first to top it. They would have a couple more Top 10s before the end of the year, too, making August 1966 the commercial high point of their whole career (things tapered off for them from 1967 onwards).

The use of effects such as honking car (Volkswagen) horns and jackhammers brilliantly infuse the sound and aggressive atmosphere of a hot city into the song. It was a bit heavier than their other singles to date, but the optimistic chorus about the joys of city nightlife kept things upbeat.

B-side: 'Butchie's Tune'
Released: 4 July 1966
Highest chart position: #8 (UK), #1 (US)
Length: 2:41
Label: Kama Sutra
Writers: John Sebastian, Mark Sebastian, Steve Boone
Producer: Erik Jacobsen

The Kids Are Alright (The Who)

12 AUGUST 1966

The Who released ‘The Kids Are Alright’ during this month. It reached #41 on the UK charts, nine months after being featured on their debut album ‘My Generation’. This was one of four singles taken from that album (along with 'My Generation', 'A Legal Matter', and 'La-La-La Lies'), which is a pretty lazy creative effort while bands such as the Beatles were releasing non-album singles like 'Day Tripper' and 'Paperback Writer'. Still, the Who did have 'A Quick One' to come later that year.

This song feels very much like what it was - a straightforward 1965 powerpop track devoid of the experimentation and hints of psychedelia that was creeping into most new new rock music of later '66. It was still a very decent bit of music, however, and one of the better tracks from the album.

B-side: 'The Ox (instrumental)' (UK), 'A Legal Matter' (US) 
Recorded: 13 October 1965, IBC Studios, London 
Released: 12 August 1966 (UK), July 1966 (US) 
Highest chart position: #41 (UK), #8 (Sweden)
Length: 3:05 (UK), 2:45 (US) 
Label: Brunswick (UK), Decca (US) 
Writer: Pete Townshend
Producer: Shel Talmy

The Kids Are Alright (The Who)

The Dangling Conversation (Simon and Garfunkel)

11 AUGUST 1966

Simon & Garfunkel's 'The Dangling Conversation' was the second single to be released from their album 'Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme', and after the huge success of their three singles earlier that year ('Sound of Silence'. 'Homeward Bound', 'I Am a Rock') they must have been expecting another Top 10 hit. However, it stalled at #25 in the US and did not chart in the UK, to Paul Simon's apparent 'absolute amazement'.

While Simon may have been fond of the song, it lacked commercial appeal for the time. The melody was delicate, the arrangement quietly subtle, and maybe Simon was trying to be too clever by half with the lyrics. The song is about lovers struggling to communicate as their relationship breaks down, and although he might have been writing 'in character', some of the lyrics come across as pretentious:
'And you read your Emily Dickinson,
And I my Robert Frost,
And we note our place with bookmarkers
That measure what we’ve lost.'
'Yes, we speak of things that matter,
With words that must be said,
“Can analysis be worthwhile?”
“Is the theater really dead?”'
It has been said that Art Garfunkel never really liked the song and also found it pretentious, and in later years Simon himself described it as 'a college kid's song, a little precious'. Nonetheless, it makes a fine album track, and a good marker of the duo's artistic ambitions for mature, intelligent and distinctive songwriting.

Recorded: June–August 1966
Released: September 1966
Highest chart position: #25 (US) 
Length: 2:37
Writer: Paul Simon
Producer: Bob Johnston

The Dangling Conversation (Simon and Garfunkel)

Love Letters (Elvis Presley)

10 AUGUST 1966

Elvis was having mostly minor hits at this time in his career, with ordinary songs pulled from his very ordinary movies, but the ballad ‘Love Letters’ was at a very respectable #6 on the UK charts, and #19 on the US Billboard Hot 100. This was not, however, the kind of chart-topping success he was once accustomed to.

The song itself dated from 1945, when it was written by Edward Heyman and Victor Young for the movie 'Love Letters'. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Song that year. That Elvis - once the most controversial figure in popular music - would be recording such conservative, dated material in 1966 says a lot about where his career was at the time. His 1968 TV special wasn’t considered his ‘comeback’ for nothing.

Searching For My Love (Bobby Moore & the Rhythm Aces)

9 AUGUST 1966

The World Cup-winning England football captain wasn't the only Bobby Moore having a good summer in 1966, as 'Searching For My Love' by Bobby Moore & the Rhythm Aces went to #27 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart during this month. It also reached #7 on the R&B chart, selling over a million copies along the way.

This song - recorded at the FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and picked up by the Checker label - has a very definite Caribbean lilt to it. It was their first record, and their biggest hit. A follow-up single 'Try My Love Again' barely cracked the Top 100.

Searching For My Love (Bobby Moore & the Rhythm Aces)

I Believe I'm Gonna Make It (Joe Tex)

8 AUGUST 1966

Joe Tex's 'I Believe I’m Gonna Make It', a song about the Vietnam War, reached  #67 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #8 on the R&B chart during this month.

More information to come...

Goin' Back (Dusty Springfield)

7 AUGUST 1966

Dusty Springfield’s version of the Goffin-King song ‘Goin’ Back’ was at its peak UK chart position #10.

More information to come...

Black Is Black (Los Bravos)

6 AUGUST 1966

Los Bravos - a Spanish group with a German lead singer - were at their peak UK chart position of #2 during this week in 1966 with the song ‘Black is Black’. It also went to #4 in the US and #1 in Canada, making them the first Spanish rock band to have an international hit. It had been their intention to crack the English-speaking market, and they recorded this single in England with producer Ivor Raymonde (who had worked with the likes of Marty Wilde, Billy Fury, and Dave Berry). Their follow-up single, 'I Don't Care', reached #16 in the UK in October 1966, and apart from a minor US hit in 1968, that was about it for them.

This was a very solid bit of driving R&B with hints of Stax and the Spencer Davis Group.

The video clip above is from the 1967 movie 'Los Chicos Con Las Chicas' ('The Boys With the Girls'). 

Recorded: 1966
Released: June 1966
Highest chart position: #2 (UK), #4 (US)
Length: 2:59
Label: Decca (UK), Press (US)
Writers: Michelle Grainger, Tony Hayes, Steve Wadey
Producer: Ivor Raymonde

Love You To (The Beatles)

5 AUGUST 1966

The Beatles released their album 'Revolver' on this day in 1966. This is now regarded as a truly classic album (no.3 on Rolling Stone magazine's '500 Greatest Albums of All Time', behind 'Pet Sounds' - another 1966 classic - and their own Sgt Pepper's'). One the things that made the 'Revolver' album so great is the variety of musical styles in the songs. Psychedelic headswirlers, brassy soul, Indian raga, jangle rock, classical arrangements, children's songs, and syrupy ballads.

George Harrison contributed two songs - 'Taxman' and 'Love You To'. The latter was a huge stylistic statement for the Beatles, probably more so than 'Tomorrow Never Knows'. Harrison moved beyond the sitar doodlings on 1965's 'Norwegian Wood' and other recent raga-rock bandwagon-jumpers to record a fully classical Indian soundscape, with sitar, tambura and tabla. This track was not to everyone's taste, but it adds an original extra flavour to the overall album, and the deep multi-layered harmonics of this music were no doubt appreciated by those listeners who were 'under the influence' in 1966.

Featured in the clip above is a very solid cover of 'Love You To' by Anglo-Indian group Cornershop (2012).

Love You To (The Beatles)

With A Girl Like You (The Troggs)

4 AUGUST 1966

'With A Girl Like You' by the Troggs was at #1 in the UK, a position it held for two weeks.

More information to come...

Sittin' on a Fence (Twice as Much)

3 AUGUST 1966

The Jagger-Richards song ‘Sitting on the Fence’, recorded by British duo Twice As Much, was at its peak UK chart position of #25.

More information to come...

Sweet Pea (Tommy Roe)

2 AUGUST 1966

Tommy Roe’s ‘Sweet Pea’ was at its peak US Billboard chart position of #8.

More information to come...

Bam Bam (The Maytals)

1 AUGUST 1966

1966 was the inaugural year of Jamaica's annual 'Independence Song Festival' songwriting competition. The first winner was 'Bam Bam' by the Maytals (later to become Toots and the Maytals). The local music scene was changing at the time, with the slower tempo of rocksteady (the precursor to reggae) becoming more popular, and themes that related to the tough 'rude boy' subculture of the streets, and 'Bam Bam' encompassed that shift ('If you trouble this man, it will bring a bam bam') and became a major local hit.

The group's career was temporarily interrupted later that year when lead singer Toots Hibbert was imprisoned for 18 months for possession of marijuana. They reconvened to enjoy a career that has spanned decades, taken in the rise of reggae, and brought them 31 Jamaican #1s and a Grammy. One of their early hits was 'Do the Reggay' (1968), the first song to first use the word 'reggae' and give the emerging genre its name.

'Bam Bam' is a splendid slice of genuine Jamaican music, decades before the proliferation of overproduced mainstream reggae.

Chaka Demus and Pliers had an international hit with a cover of 'Bam Bam' in 1993.