The Dawn Of Rock: 15 Top Songs 50 Years Ago This Week

Week Of August 27, 1966

Talk about a creative explosion in popular music. 50 years ago this week the airwaves were saturated with new songs that would end up living forever, cornerstones of the Rock revolution.

Just imagine listening to all these songs come pouring out of the radio, one after another. It almost makes me think that society went loco in the late Sixties because there was just too much brilliant music to absorb at once. It must have been like a collective sugar rush. Check out the full chart here, the sheer variety alone is astounding.

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Here’s a smattering of the Billboard Top 100 that week, with their chart position:


1. Summer In The City – The Lovin’ Spoonful

As close to Rock perfection as it gets — power chords, sound effects, amazing major/minor transition, brilliant lyric, hooks in every section – it’s too bad it wasn’t produced a little cleaner.


5. Sunshine Superman – Donovan

A hippie trip before hippies or trips were much of a thing.


6. Wild Thing – The Troggs

Hendrix understood that this one established a lasting template for Rock power and attitude.


10. Summertime – Billy Stewart

The new rock & roll attitude could even liven up an old jazz standard, and if people really understood what was happening they wouldn’t have been wearing cowboy hats in the 1966 TV clip.


13. Mother’s Little Helper – Rolling Stones

Only the world’s most dangerous band could combine vaguely Eastern tonalities with prescription drug abuse.


23. Bus Stop – The Hollies

Graham Gouldman (10 cc) wrote this brilliant melody and clever but dated lyric. Imagine the song without Tony Hicks’ perfect 6-second guitar intro, though, and it wouldn’t be as good.


25. Over Under Sideways Down – The Yardbirds

Supposedly a re-working of Bill Haley’s “Rock Around The Clock”, Jeff Beck showed how you build a song on a riff in the Rock age.


33. I Saw Her Again – The Mamas & The Papas

One of the most complex and innovative set of vocals ever laid down on record.


34. The Dangling Conversation – Simon & Garfunkel

Sure there was a folk boom going on, but it’s still hard to believe this brooding, highbrow offering reached as high as #25 on the charts.


35. Sunny Afternoon – The Kinks

The Kinks typically keeping everyone grounded in reality by inventing the anti-social summer song.


38. Wipe Out – The Surfaris

It first charted in in 1963, but this second go-round was presumably fuelled by many of those people who were frightened by the world’s radical change over the past three years.


51. God Only Knows – The Beach Boys

The flipside “Wouldn’t it Be Nice” got all the airplay at #16 because the word “God” scared people, but everybody says this is one of the best songs ever written in the 20th century, and who can argue otherwise?


53. 7 and 7 Is – Love

The sweet spot between surf and punk, it would take 10 years before people realized how influential this track really was.


63. Black Is Black – Los Bravos

A Spanish band with a German Gene Pitney sound-alike lead singer caught the zeitgeist with this slightly mysterious little churner.


65. Eleanor Rigby – The Beatles

Musically and lyrically, this one broke all the rules and invented a bunch of new ones. Just another day at the office for the Beatles.
Front page photo: The Troggs; By Fontana Records (Billboard, page 51, 4 June 1966) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

2 comments to “The Dawn Of Rock: 15 Top Songs 50 Years Ago This Week”
  1. Pingback: No Revolution Quite Yet: 10 Top Songs 50 Years Ago This Week | Rocknuts

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