No Revolution Quite Yet: 10 Top Songs 50 Years Ago This Week



In our last installment of this series in August we saw a wave of innovation crashing the Billboard Top 100 chart, some landmark songs that eventually became part of the Rock canon. Well there’s plenty of innovation on the January 14, 1967 chart too, but you wouldn’t know it if you only looked at the top ten songs on the list. It includes two hopeless novelty songs, two Sinatra tracks (one Frank, one Nancy) and a lamecheese British movie theme.

In the light of the far-reaching cultural upheaval that was looming just over the hill, the Top 10 here sounded kind of like the death rattle of traditional 20th century popular culture as the world had known it. Of course in hindsight we know that the tipping point would come in late June, with Monterey and Sgt. Pepper arriving in the same week. But in January 1967 people were unwittingly watching a long fuse burn down towards that explosive week in June.

Still, there were some pretty great songs on the chart, and here are some of them, listed with their Billboard chart position for the week.

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1. I’m A Believer – The Monkees

Not just riding the coattails of a smash hit television series, this is also a textbook lesson in how you write a pop song. Covering Neil Diamond lifted The Monkees a notch above their bubblegum credentials.

 

13. Mellow Yellow – Donovan

“Electrical Banana is bound to be the very next phase”, Donovan sang, and if I understand what he was getting at, he wasn’t wrong.

 

16. Nashville Cats – The Lovin’ Spoonful

Before the Byrds’ Sweethearts Of The Rodeo and before the Band’s Music From Big Pink, the Spoonful here were maybe the first to suggest that country music would eventually become one of Rock’s flavors.

 

17. Devil With a Blue Dress On/Good Golly Miss Molly – Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels

This guy cranked the knobs on traditional R&B and it still crackles with energy fifty years later. One of the best screams in the history of Rock & Roll.

 

19. (I Know) I’m Losing You – The Temptations

Talk about a golden age of Soul, look at some of the other Soul classics on this chart: Four Tops “Standing In The Shadows Of Love”, Otis Redding “Try A Little Tenderness”, Wilson Pickett “Mustang Sally”, The Supremes “You Keep Me Hanging On”.

 

21. Good Vibrations – The Beach Boys

What else can anybody say about greatest pop song ever recorded?

 

24. (We Ain’t Got) Nothing Yet – Blues Magoos

The Blues Magoos released an album in 1966 called Psychedelic Lollipop which sounds like a Spinal Tap gag but was actually one of the first albums to ever use the P-word. One-hit innovators, I guess.

 

63. Gimme Some Lovin’ – Spencer Davis Group

Calling these guys the Spencer Davis Group was like calling the Stones the Brian Jones Group. Steve Winwood was 18 here and he’d already been recording for three years.

 

65. Pushin’ Too Hard – The Seeds

This was called psychedelia at the time, but it has more in common with a ‘70s punk sensibility than it does with what we now think of as psychedelia.

 

67. Mercy, Mercy, Mercy – Cannonball Adderley Quintet

There were at least five jazz numbers on this Hot 100 chart because in 1967 jazz was still a music of the people. This nugget eventually reached #11 on the pop chart, and the Buckinghams would take their version with lyrics up to #5 in August.

Photo: By Entertainment International (Billboard page 45) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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