Just a Little Bit of Rain (The Stone Poneys)

31 OCTOBER 1966


The Stone Poneys were recording their self-titled first album during this month in 1966. No singles were released from that album and it did not chart, but the Fred Neil-penned song 'Just a Little Bit of Rain' was a standout, featuring a decent lead vocal from the young Linda Ronstadt. This lovely song (which, to my ears, carries a hint of 'Stormy Weather') was later covered by artists such as José Feliciano and Sandy Denny.

The group still had a folky acoustic sound at this stage, and not long after this album was released they disbanded then reformed with a more electric approach that brought them big success with 1967's 'Different Drum'. 

Just a Little Bit of Rain (Stone Poneys)

Mrs Applebee (David Garrick)

30 OCTOBER 1966


David Garrick’s biggest (and final) hit ‘Mrs Applebee’ was starting to move down the UK charts after peaking at #22.

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Mrs Applebee (David Garrick)

Walk Away Renée (The Left Banke)

29 OCTOBER 1966


The Left Banke’s ‘Walk Away Renee’ was at its peak US Billboard chart position of #5 on this day. This is the original (and excellent) version of one of my personal favourite songs, and it is second in quality only to the Four Top’s 1968 cover.

In the constantly-shifting music trends of the sixties, this US group positioned themselves as a ‘baroque-rock’ band, attempting to blend a classical sound with jangle-pop. Unfortunately baroque-rock never really became a thing, and although the Left Banke enjoyed somewhat limited success (with this being their only Top 10 hit), they did manage to record some absolute gems. The group disbanded in 1969.

B-side: 'I Haven't Got the Nerve'
Released: July 1966
Highest chart position: #5 (US)
Length: 2:43 
Label: Smash
Writers: Michael Brown, Bob Calilli, Tony Sansone
Producers: World United Productions, Inc.

Walk Away Renée (The Left Banke)

Shake Yourself Down (The Checkerlads)

28 OCTOBER 1966


The Checkerlads ‘Shake Yourself Down’

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Shake Yourself Down (The Checkerlads)

Reach Out I'll Be There (The Four Tops)

27 OCTOBER 1966


Four Tops - 'Reach Out I'll Be There' – #1 (three weeks)

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Reach Out I'll Be There (The Four Tops)

Ever Lovin’ Man (The Loved Ones)

26 OCTOBER 1966


The Loved Ones’ second single ‘Ever Lovin’ Man’ peaked at #7 on the Go-Set Australian charts during this week in 1966. The song featured the distinctive off-beat lead vocals of London-born Gerry Humphrys and the kind of dexterous composition to be expected from a band that started out (pre-Beatles) as a Trad-Jazz group. It does have a rather enjoyable charm.

Although now considered to be a classic Australian band, their next four singles did not chart quite as highly as this on the local charts, they never cracked the international market, and split up by the end of 1967.

Ever Lovin’ Man (The Loved Ones)

I've Got To Do A Little Bit Better (Joe Tex)

25 OCTOBER 1966


Joe Tex's 'I've Got To Do A Little Bit Better' peaked at #54 on the US Billboard Hot 100 during this week in 1966. This was another gorgeous bit of Atlantic Records soul from the underrated and hard-working Tex, who had six singles out this year, all of them going to the R&B Top 20 (including a #1 and #2). He had million-selling singles in 1965 and 1967, and placed more hits on the R&B charts than anyone else (a hugely impressive feat), but he was overshadowed by his great rival James Brown and has little recognition in the music-buying public of today. That might be the result of him not having that one truly classic hit that most other soul stars seemed to have. This is a shame, as even this song - his lowest-selling of the year - is a perfectly solid piece of music.

I've Got To Do A Little Bit Better (Joe Tex)

Sunny (Georgie Fame)

24 OCTOBER 1966


'Sunny' - Georgie Fame.

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Sunny (Georgie Fame)

Mr Farmer (The Seeds)

23 OCTOBER 1966


The Seeds’ second album ‘Web of Sound’ was released during this month. Although the album was somewhat influential in later years, it failed to chart.

The first song on the A-side, ‘Mr Farmer’, was released as a single and reached #86 on the Billboard Hot 100 despite being banned by many radio stations for its drug references. It’s not very explicit, but this song is seen as something of a tribute to marijuana growers. It has a great little keyboard riff running through it, accompanied by Sky Saxon's 'acquired taste' vocals.

B-side: 'Up in Her Room'
Released: February 1967 
Recorded: 1966 
Highest chart position: #86 (US)
Length: 2:58 (album version), 2:35 (single version) 
Label: GNP Crescendo
Writer: Sky Saxon
Producer: Marcus Tybalt

Mr Farmer (The Seeds)

Lady Godiva (Peter and Gordon)

22 OCTOBER 1966


Peter and Gordon’s ‘Lady Godiva’ was at its peak UK chart position of #16.

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Lady Godiva (Peter and Gordon)

Everybody Needs Somebody (Wilson Pickett)

21 OCTOBER 1966


'Everybody Needs Somebody' - Wilson Pickett.

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Everybody Needs Somebody (Wilson Pickett)

Guantanamera (The Sandpipers)

20 OCTOBER 1966


The Sandpipers' sublime ‘Guantanamera’ was at its peak UK chart position of #7 on this day in 1966. It reached #9 on the US Billboard Hot 100 charts, and #3 on Adult Contemporary. 

The easy-listening vocal trio (fourth or fifth members, always female, sang in the background) had been recording since 1962 without commercial success, so this was their first hit of any kind. Their only other notable hit was 'Come Saturday Morning' in 1969, which reached #17 in the US in 1970. 

‘Guantanamera’ is a patriotic Cuban song, using a poem by the Cuban poet José Martí for the lyrics. The Sandpipers' version is based on an arrangement by Pete Seeger's folk group The Weavers, which used a tune credited to Joseíto Fernández. Seeger intended for the song to be sung in Spanish as a symbol of unity between the American and Cuban peoples.

B-side: 'What Makes You Dream, Pretty Girl?'
Recorded and released: 1966
Highest chart position: #7 (UK), #9 (US)
Length: 3:10
Label: A&M
Writers: Joseíto Fernández, Héctor Angulo, José Martí, Pete Seeger
Producers: Tommy LiPuma

Guantanamera (The Sandpipers)

(Translated English lyrics)
'Guantanamera, guajira guantanamera
Guantanamera, guajira, guantanamera

I am a truthful man; I come from where the palm tree grows,
I am a truehearted man, who comes from where the palm trees grow,
Before I lay down my life, I long to coin the verses of my soul

Chorus

I plant a snowy rose in January and July,
I grow a snowy rose in January and July,
For the open-hearted friend who puts a helping hand in mine

Chorus

The words that I write are radiant crimson and emerald bright,
The poems that I write are radiant crimson and emerald bright,
My verses are a wounded deer seeking shelter in the mountain height.'

Winchester Cathedral (The New Vaudeville Band)

19 OCTOBER 1966


Old-timey music-hall tunes were one of minor musical undercurrents of 1966, and the New Vaudeville Band had a huge surprise novelty hit with ‘Winchester Cathedral’, which peaked at #4 in the UK during October of that year, and went to #1 in the US in December. It was certainly a surprise to producer/songwriter Geoff Stephens, who wrote and recorded this with session musicians and then had to hastily throw a band together to tour on the back of this song's success. The singer for this single was John Carter, former member of the Ivy League, and the touring band had a different lead vocalist.

The record sold more than 3 million globally, and Stephens received the 1966 Ivor Novello award for 'Best Song Musically and Lyrically'. Some novelty song...

Another surprise was that the band managed to score three more British hits in 1967 ('Peek-A-Boo' (#7), 'Finchley Central' (#11) and 'Green Street Green' (#37).
B-side: 'Wait For Me Baby'
Recorded: July 1966
Released: 4 October 1966
Highest chart position: #4 (UK), #1 (US)
Length: 2:20
Writer: Geoff Stephens
Producer: Geoff Stephens

Winchester Cathedral (The New Vaudeville Band)

Psychotic Reaction (Count Five)

17 OCTOBER 1966


‘Psychotic Reaction’ by the US band Count Five was at its peak US Billboard chart position of #5.

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Psychotic Reaction (Count Five)

Smashed Blocked (John’s Children)

16 OCTOBER 1966


The debut single by English pop-art/mod band John’s Children was released during this week in 1966. ‘Smashed Blocked’ failed to chart in the UK but sneaked into the lower reaches of the US Billboard Hot 100. The song is a strange mix of arthouse experimentation and '50s doo-wop, but is not without its charms.

They were managed by the Yardbirds's manager Simon Napier-Bell, who described them as 'positively the worst group I'd ever seen' (early songs like 'Smashed/Blocked' were recorded with session musicians). He encouraged them to attract attention by being outrageous, and they would fight each on stage, used fake blood and feathers, smashed their instruments, and often posed naked for the press, with flowers covering their private parts. They were even thrown off a tour with the Who in 1967 for upstaging the headline act with their onstage lunacy. Pete Townshend called them 'too loud and violent'!

The next single from John's Children managed to break the UK Top 40, but they generally enjoyed little commercial success, even after a young Marc Bolan joined their line-up. They were never going to be a mainstream band (getting an album banned for four years because they called it 'Orgasm' didn't help), but they did have their moments (a favourite of mine is the 1967 B-side 'Remember Thomas à Becket'). They disbanded in 1968 but have reformed occasionally.

Smashed Blocked (John’s Children)

Needle in a Haystack (The Twilights)

18 OCTOBER 1966


Australian group the Twilights hit #1 on the Australian charts during this month in 1966 with their cover of The Velvelettes' 1964 hit ‘Needle in a Haystack’. This was their fifth single and their biggest success.

The Twilights formed in Adelaide in 1965, although all members of the band had actually been born in the UK. They moved to London in 1967 but were crowded out by the quantity and quality of competition there (although they did get to perform at Liverpool's Cavern Club and record at Abbey Road). The group returned to Australia with a more psychedelic flavour to their music (see 'Cathy Come Home') and had mixed but generally declining success until they disbanded in late 1968.

Needle in a Haystack (The Twilights)

'Well well, I once believed all fellas were nice
But listen to me, take my advice
Well you`d better get yourselves on the right track
`Cause findin` a good girl man is like findin` a
(Needle in a haystack)
What did I say, (Needle in a haystack)
(x2): (She-doop, she-doop, la la)
Boys those fellas are sly, slick & shy
So don`t you ever let `em get you starry-eyed
They'll tell you that their love is true
But they`ll walk right over you
You should know these things right off the back
`Cause findin` a good girl man is like findin` a
(Needle in a haystack)
What did I say, (Needle in a haystack)
(x2): (She-doop, she-doop, la la)
(instrumental)
(chorus)

Now boys, I say I`m tellin` you the natural facts
`Cause findin` a good man, girls, is like findin` a
(Needle in a haystack)
What did I say, (Needle in a haystack)

I'll tell you boys you'd`d better look before you leap
Still water sometimes runs very deep
You`ll be sorry when you just jump
& do justice passed by love
Get these things right off the back
`Cause findin` a good girl man is like findin` a
(Needle in a haystack)
What did I say, (Needle in a haystack)

I say you`d better take heed (needle in a haystack)
Listen to me (needle in a haystack)
(`she-doop` scat singing over next 4 lines):
You`d better play hard to get'

Sunny (Cher)

15 OCTOBER 1966


That song ‘Sunny’ again, this one by Cher and one of THREE versions of this song in the British Top 40 this week (the others being by Bobby Hebbs and Georgie Fame).

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Sunny (Cher)

Summer Wind (Frank Sinatra)

14 OCTOBER 1966


Sinatra was in the charts again, this time with the divine ‘Summer Wind’ which peaked at #36.

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Summer Wind (Frank Sinatra)

Bend It (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich)

13 OCTOBER 1966


Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich’s ‘Bend It’ was at its peak UK chart position of #2.

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Bend It (Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich)

Sunny (Bobby Hebbs)

12 OCTOBER 1966


Bobby Hebb's single ‘Sunny’ was at its peak UK chart position of #12 during this week in 1966 It had reached #2 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart back in August, and #3 on the R&B chart.

This is a wonderful, thoughtful song, but what makes its UK chart position this week so interesting is the fact that Georgie Fame was at #15 and Cher was at #32 on the same chart - with the same song! We'd already had multiple versions of the same song in the same charts during this year (two covers of the Beatles 'Michelle' and two of 'Girl', and two versions of Bobby Lind's 'Elusive Butterfly') but this was the first time that three versions of a song had charted concurrently in 1966.

'Sunny' was recorded many other times over the years - Boney M had a UK #3 with it in 1977 - and Broadcast Music, Inc. rated it #25 in their 'Top 100 songs of the century'. 

Hebb had written this song as a response to the murders of his brother and John F Kennedy on the same day 1963. It was released a couple of times before Hebb's own version came out - the first as an album track by Mieko 'Miko' Hirota in Japan in 1965, the second on the 1966 Dave Pike album 'Jazz for the Jet Set'. 

This proved to be Hebb's biggest hit, and he had only minor success afterwards.

B-side: 'Bread'
Released: June 1966
Highest chart position: #12 (UK), #2 (US)
Recorded: Bell Sound Studios, New York City 
Length: 2:44
Label: Philips
Writer: Bobby Hebb
Producer: Jerry Ross

Sunny (Bobby Hebbs)

'Sunny, yesterday my life was filled with rain.
Sunny, you smiled at me and really eased the pain.
The dark days are gone, and the bright days are here,
My Sunny one shines so sincere.
Sunny one so true, I love you.

Sunny, thank you for the sunshine bouquet.
Sunny, thank you for the love you brought my way.
You gave to me your all and all.
Now I feel ten feet tall.
Sunny one so true, I love you.

Sunny, thank you for the truth you let me see.
Sunny, thank you for the facts from A to C.
My life was torn like a wind-blown sand,
And the rock was formed when you held my hand.
Sunny one so true, I love you.

Sunny, thank you for the smile upon your face.
Sunny, thank you for the gleam that shows its grace.
You're my spark of nature's fire,
You're my sweet complete desire.Sunny one so true, I love you.'

I Wanna Be Free (The Monkees)

11 OCTOBER 1966


The Monkees released their self-titled debut album during this week in 1966. Backed the popularity of their TV show and songs such as 'Last Train to Clarksville' and '(Theme From) The Monkees', it topped the album charts in the US and the UK.

The rather wistful album track ‘I Wanna Be Free’ was written by the songwriting duo of Boyce and Hart long before the Monkees existed. It released as a single in some countries, such as Japan and Singapore, and it reached #17 in Australia. The song - about a man rejecting the love of a woman so he can remain free to see other women - was a thematic precursor to Mike Nesmith's 'Different Drum', and almost as pretty. According to Tommy Boyce, this song inspired Jimmy Webb's 'By the Time I Get to Phoenix',
Another song from this album, 'I'll Be True to You', had previously released as a single in the US with the title 'Yes I Will' by The Hollies in 1965.

B-side: 'You Just May Be the One'
Released: May 1967
Highest chart position: #17 (Australia, 1967)
Length: 2:27 
Label: RCA (Australia); Arista (Japan) 
Producers: Tommy Boyce, Bobby Hart, B side/ Douglas Farthing-Hatlelid

I Wanna Be Free (The Monkees)

'I wanna be free
Like the bluebirds flying by me
Like the waves out on the blue sea
If your love has to tie me, don't try me
Say good-bye

I wanna be free
Don't say you love me say you like me
But when I need you beside me
Stay close enough to guide me, confide in me
Oh-oh-oh

I wanna hold your hand
Walk along the sand
Laughing in the sun
Always having fun
Doing all those things
Without any strings
To tie me down

I wanna be free,
Like the warm September wind, babe
Say you'll always be my friend, babe
We can make it to the end, babe
Again, babe, I gotta say:
I wanna be free
I wanna be free
I wanna be free'

Scarborough Fair (Simon and Garfunkel)

10 OCTOBER 1966


Simon and Garfunkel's breakthrough year got even better with the release of their album ‘Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme’. This was their third album and followed from the rather unexpected success of the ‘Sounds of Silence’ album earlier in the year.

PSRT reached #4 on the US Billboard album chart. The lead song on side A was ‘Scarborough Fair’, which was released as a single in 1968 when it reached #9 in the UK and #11 in the US. This song would also be featured on the soundtrack for the movie ‘The Graduate’.

The song itself was a traditional English folk ballad, written centuries earlier.

B-side: 'April Come She Will'
Released: February 1968 (single), 10 October 1966 (album) 
Highest chart position (1968): #9 (UK), #11 (US)
Recorded: 26 July 1966 
Length: 3:10 (Single edit), 6:22 (The Graduate soundtrack) 
Label: Columbia
Producer: Bob Johnston

Scarborough Fair (Simon and Garfunkel)

Any Way That You Want Me (The Liverpool Five)

9 OCTOBER 1966


The Liverpool Five’s ‘Any Way That You Want Me’ peaked at #98 in the UK charts during this month, a low placing for a decent version of a fine song that would be taken into the Top Ten by The Troggs later in the year. 

None of the band (formed in 1963) was actually from Liverpool. Four of them were from London and one from Cumbria. No doubt the band name helped them take advantage of Beatlemania overseas, and they had success in Japan (where they performed at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics) before settling in the US, where they found a lot of work touring, albeit without much chart success. The Liverpool Five disbanded in 1968.

My own favourite version of this song was released by Evie Sands in 1969, although Spiritualised also did a fine version in 1990. 

Any Way That You Want Me (The Liverpool Five)

No Milk Today (Herman’s Hermits)

8 OCTOBER 1966


Herman’s Hermits release ‘No Milk Today’, one of my favourite songs of theirs. It reached #7 in the UK charts.

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No Milk Today (Herman’s Hermits)

High Time (Paul Jones)

7 OCTOBER 1966


Paul Jones - 'High Time'.

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High Time (Paul Jones)

The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine (Gerry and the Pacemakers)

6 OCTOBER 1966


And so the short, bright career of Gerry and the Pacemakers fizzled to an end with the October 1966 release of their last single, the Paul Simon song 'The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine'. At the start of 1965 they had given us the enduring classic 'Ferry Cross the Mersey', but by 1966 their 'cheeky chappy' image and sound were out of time and place. This song was a supposedly satirical take on pop culture of the time, and while it might have seemed like an edgier direction for the group to take, their tinny piano and tippy-tappy drum sound falls flat here. The single failed to chart on either side of the Atlantic and they disbanded soon after, becoming one of the first successful acts of the 'British Invasion' to fall by the wayside

The Big Bright Green Pleasure Machine (Gerry and the Pacemakers)

Noir, C’est Noir (Johnny Hallyday)

5 OCTOBER 1966


Los Bravos (a Spanish band with a German singer) had recently had a big international English-language hit with 'Black is Black'. The French had their own version of this from Johnny Hallyday with ‘Noir, C’est Noir’, and a very good track it was, too. Needless to say, it topped the French charts.

Hallyday ('the French Elvis') has been a huge star in France since the early '60s, notching up over thirty #1 albums there (his most recent in 2016).

Released: 20 September 1966
Highest chart position: #1 (France)
Label: Philips
Songwriters: Tony Hayes, Michelle Grainger, Steve Wadey; Georges Aber (adaptation)
Producer: Lee Hallyday

Noir, C’est Noir (Johnny Halliday)

Going Out of my Head (Lynn Randelle)

4 OCTOBER 1966


Lynne Randelle - 'Going Out of my Head'

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Going Out of my Head (Lynn Randelle)

He'll Be Back (The Players)

3 OCTOBER 1966



Very much in the same vein of topicality and music style as the earlier 1966 Vietnam War tearjerker 'Greetings (From Uncle Sam)' is 'He'll Be Back' from the the Players. This reached #24 on the US Billboard chart in October 1966.

The song was a message to a woman waiting for her lover to return from the war. The Players released a follow-up song - 'I'm Glad I Waited' (sometimes titled 'I'm Glad You Waited') - in December 1966.


Stay With Me [Baby] (Lorraine Ellison)

2 OCTOBER 1966


In September 1966, Warner Bros had a studio and 46-piece-orchestra booked for Frank Sinatra. He cancelled late, so they offered the session and orchestra to Lorraine Ellison instead, free of charge. This was the result - the original version of 'Stay With Me (Baby)', which was released in October and reached #64 on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart in November, and a more respectable #11 on the R&B chart.

Ellison was a former gospel singer who switched to R&B in 1964, and had a #22 hit on the R&B charts the following year with 'I Dig You Baby'. 'Stay With Me (Baby)' proved to be her biggest hit, as she scored only minor chart successes after this time. As this song shows, she had quite a big voice, and the recording benefited tremendously from the large orchestra.

This classic song has since been covered by many artists, and although Ellison's single did not chart in the UK, four cover versions of it did (by The Walker Brothers, Charity Brown, David Essex, Ruby Turner).

B-side: 'I Got My Baby Back'
Released: October 1966 
Recorded: 1966 
Highest chart position: #64 (US)
Length: 3:29 
Label: Warner Bros. 5850 
Producer: Jerry Ragovoy

Stay With Me [Baby] (Lorraine Ellison)

Wipeout (The Surfaris)

1 OCTOBER 1966


The Surfaris' classic instrumental 'Wipeout' was at its Billboard Hot 100 chart peak of #16... for 1966, that is. This single had previously been released in 1963 (on three different labels), when it sold a million and hit #2 on the charts. The surf-rock craze was still going strong back then, and although that craze had faded by '66, the re-release of this track during that year resulted in another 700,000 sales. The Surfaris even had a third crack with this one and released 'Wipeout' again in 1970, but that time it did not chart.

A-side: 'Surfer Joe'
Released: January 1963
Recorded: 1962, Cucamonga's Pal Recording Studio
Highest chart position (1963): #5 (UK), #2 (US); #16 (US, 1966)
Length: 2:12 
Label: DFS, Princess, Dot