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Reelin’ in the Years – 1966

The Monkees, 1966 via Wikipedia

Boy oh boy. There are so many good tunes for the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1966 that I really had to scratch my head over choosing just one. I am now 4 years old and remembering more songs as I grow older.

We had the Monkees 33.3 record with “Last Train to Clarksville.” My last name is Clark so as a kid that got my attention.

Even as a child, though, I sensed that the Monkees weren’t really the best of bands. A made-for-TV copy of the Beatles. We had oodles of Beatles 33s and 45s kicking around. So I had a good basis for comparison.

The Monkees were catchy. But they weren’t the Beatles.

Most cars in the mid-60s only had an AM radio. 8-track, FM and cassette were soon to follow. In Canada, the speedometer still used MPH. We took a turn to KM (and Celcius) in the 70s. I remember reading in the paper that metric was more “international.” – Image via Wikipedia

Later in life I came to appreciate and really adore Frank Sinatra. But in ’66 he was more of a middle-aged act than a young person’s thing. Frank was going out of style. “Strangers in the Night” did chart and won a Grammy for Record of the Year. But it didn’t fly with the teeny-bop crowd. Rock and Roll was “here to stay” as Neil Young would sing.

Mind you, that swanky era wasn’t totally gone. My parents’ generation still bought records like that. Funnily enough, I don’t remember seeing any Sinatra records in my parents’ collection. My love for Frank just came naturally later in life as I enjoy most types of music, especially the greats.

Sinatra, pictured here with Eleanor Roosevelt ...

Sinatra, pictured here with Eleanor Roosevelt in 1960, was an ardent supporter of the Democratic Party until 1968. – Image via Wikipedia

For the 1966 best song, however, I chose The Mamas & The Papas’ “Monday Monday” because, like “Downtown” (1965), it was one of those songs that stayed with you, even when you weren’t near the radio.

Notice the pre-hippy fashion in this video. Elvish colors and collars. Pinstripe pants. Hair getting a bit longer and shaggier. The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s, The Moody Blues’ Days of Future Passed , Traffic’s Mr. Fantasy and Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow were just around the corner. And that, my friends, was a whole new ballgame.

To me, the opening vocals in this tune are like a tulip coming out in April. Something so new, so fresh, so positive. Even though the song is about a sad Monday, it’s still upbeat, uplifting.

That’s flower power, man!

You can just see Sinatra and his fellow crooners burying their heads in their hands, heading for Vegas where they can still squeeze out a few bucks for booze, cigarettes and who knows what else.

Reelin’ in ALL the Years

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Anyone who knows me…

knows that Frank is my spiritual father…


Bryan Ferry’s Avonmore

Does anyone remember Roxy Music? How about the front man, Bryan Ferry?

Back in the early 80s I really enjoyed Avalon, a Roxy Music LP featuring Ferry. So I ordered the similarly titled Avonmore from the library out of sheer curiosity. We have an amazing library in TO and can get almost anything, if willing to wait a while.

When the disc arrived at my branch I wasn’t expecting much. Just another aging rocker trying to relive his or her glory days, right?

Well, the minute I got the CD rolling, I had to revise my expectations.

The first song “Loop De Li”  is a nice tune with superb studio production—like a time tunnel to the past, but masterfully executed. Same thing with the second cut “Midnight Train.” So by this time, I’m thinking, wow, I can relive my youth and have a favorite album for the car!

Then the third cut comes along, “Soldier of Fortune,” and it’s a bit of cold cut. A very good song, but the atmospheric continuity is suddenly broken. I mean, if you’re going retro, shouldn’t your CD really be a concept album?*

Image via Wikipedia

That’s about the only gripe I have with this record. Some thematic continuity does reappear later on, along with a couple of covers. Even the covers are pretty good. Especially Robert Palmer’s “Johnny and Mary,” which comes off sort of sad and distant. But maybe that’s fitting considering Palmer passed away at age 54.

All in all, a good album. I probably wouldn’t spend $20 on it. If unavailable in the library I’d have listened through Spotify, enduring their irritating ads.

I feel that these multimillion dollar rockers have been overcharging the common folk for decades. It’s about time we got some payback. Although, come to think of it, we’re still being fleeced. Just in a different way. Taxes (library) and internet fees in Canada probably amount to a lot more home entertainment spending than just buying records.

Oh well. Pay up or be outcast. It’s the same old story.

*CNN aired that “Sixties” show again last night, produced by Tom Hanks and others. It claimed that Sgt. Peppers was the first concept lp to change everything. But this is debatable. Frank Sinatra did a sublime concept album in 1955 with In The Wee Small Hours.

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Wee small hours

I think I like the poster for this tune best of all. This song came out in ’55, well before I was born. But my parents had lps from this era. And the basement in our house had a swanky old bar that would have fit right in…

The thing I like about Sinatra’s singing, and about all great singers, is that it almost sounds like he’s talking when he sings. Nothing’s put on. It just comes so naturally. And unlike pop stars who sometimes sing a bit flat or sharp – to include Elton John and the Beatles – he’s got perfect pitch. And timing… well, timing is everything and love him or not, Sinatra’s got it.

“I thought I found a gal I could trust… what a bust… this is how the story ends…”

—In the Wee Small Hours