1964 – Who was top of the Pops?
Best Albums Review. Failure of the British Invasion?

In January we reviewed the best albums of 1963.  Now we can have a closer look at 1964 where the transformation of the charts was nearly made complete by the British Invasion and the flowering of the bright new groups appearing on the scene.  We will use again, as our starting point, the BestEverAlbums take on what was happening.  Opening the big white envelope the combined results for 1964 are:

Rank Who Album Title
1 The Beatles A Hard Day’s Night
2 Bob Dylan The Times are A-changin’
3 Getz/Gilberto Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto
4 The Beatles Beatles for Sale
5 Eric Dolphy Out to Lunch!
6 Bob Dylan Another Side of Bob Dylan
7 The Beatles Meet the Beatles! (US release)
8 Jan Johansson Jazz Pa Svenska
9 The Ronettes Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica
10 Jerry Lee Lewis Live at the Star Club, Germany

hard days night bob dylan a changin getzgilberto bfs ericdol

bob dylan another meet the beatles jazz pa ronettes jerryleestar

So it seems that the invasion may have only been partial rather than complete and only one group rather than an avalanche of hairy UK Beat Groups.  Beatles win all!  And of course Bob.  Jazz in 1964 was still right up there.  On first look there seem to be two surprises at 9 and 10 featuring US Acts – The Ronettes and Jerry Lee lewis.  Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica is their debut album, released in 1964.  Comprising numerous singles produced by Phil Spector in the previous year, it peaked at #96 on the Top Pop Albums chart.  Issued singles included “Be My Baby” (US #2), “Walking in the rain” (US #23), “Baby, I love you” (US #24), “Do I Love You?” (US #34), and “(The best part of) Breakin’ Up” (US #39).  Over the years the album, produced by Phil Spector, has taken on a collector’s mantle and may explain its high position in the BestEverAlbums 1964 charts.

Live at the Star Club is a 1964 live album by rock and roll pianist Jerry Lee Lewis backed by The Nashville Teens, best known for the single Tobacco Road released also in 1964. The album was recorded at the Star-Club in Hamburg, Germany on April 5, 1964 and is regarded by many music journalists as one of the wildest and greatest rock and roll concert albums ever.  The album appears in the book 1001 Albums you Must hear before You Die.

Where are all the Brit Groups – maybe just over the horizon.  A look at the next 10 top albums reveals only another three UK groups:

Rank Who Album Title
11 Otis Redding Pain in my heart
12 The Kinks The Kinks
13 Muddy Waters Folk Singer
14 Rolling Stones The Rolling Stones
15 The Supremes Where did our love go
16 Sam Cooke Ain’t that good news
17 Beach Boys All Summer Long
18 The Animals The Animals
19 Andrew Hill Point of Departure
20 Simon & Garfunkel Wednesday Morning 3AM

otis kinks muddy rollingst supremes

samcooke allsummerlong  animals andrewhill simon&g

Of the next eighty albums in the BestEverAlbums charts, fifteen hail from UK, the tail end of the invasion with the Beatles scoring again through the uncoordinated release of US versions of their albums.

Has pop history of the fabulous 60s already been rewritten?  Where are the British invaders, only a few amongst the many seasoned US acts, or did everyone come to their senses in the retrospective assessment of 60s albums at BestEverAlbums and junk unworthy albums, obliterated by blurred 20-20 hindsight.  Did it all happen?  In all probability, it reflects both a reassessment of the quality of original releases and an understanding of the scale of the broad American contemporary music market.  Even Elvis, the King, appears way down the chart at #143 with the soundtrack of the musical Roustabout.  It is not as if a favourite son is getting the red carpet treatment.

In recalling the 60s scene you tend to forget that the newspaper hype about the Beatles, long hair, Mary Quant, Twiggy, Carnaby Street, London buses, and fashion dominated our teenage thinking.  It was our world.  It was the only world.  Nothing much else existed.

The BestEverAlbums selection also reflects that the best selling albums of 1964 were not necessarily the best albums of 1964 and this applies across all timescales, but particularly for older albums as memory disintegrates, and we are talking about albums 50 years old from 1964, which just drop off the radar screen, forgotten or are just unlistenable in another era.

Let’s look at Robert Dimery’s 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before you Die.  From 1964 five albums are selected:

Who Album Title
The Beatles A Hard Day’s Night
Jacques Brel Olympia 64
Solomon Burke Rock ‘n Soul
Dusty Springfield A Girl Called Dusty
The Rolling Stones The Rolling Stones

220px-Olympia_64_Album 220px-Rocknsoul dusty

No teenagers from the 60s would argue that the UK acts should not be listed and Rolling Stone fans would be well aware that the Stones did several covers of Solomon Burke’s songs.  But Jacques Brel is a surprise and whilst he was huge originally in France and Belgium, he performed around the world and at Carnegie Hall and Royal Albert Hall.  He mainly sang in French but some of his songs have been translated into English and in the 60s were performed by Judy Collins and the Kingston Trio.  It is interesting to note that the entry in Colin Larkin’s Encyclopaedia of Popular Music (1993) does not list this album in the selected discography.

Rolling Stone Magazine in their Rolling Stone Greatest 500 Albums of All Time (2005) nominate six albums:

Rank Who Album Title
47 John Coltrane A Love Supreme
53 The Beatles Meet the Beatles! (US release)
196 Little Walter The Best of Little Walter
277 Muddy Waters Folk Singer
384 The Beatles A Hard Day’s Night
419 The Ronettes Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica

220px-Best_of_Little_Walter 220px-John_Coltrane_-_A_Love_Supreme

It is an interesting selection for the premiere Rock magazine with jazz man John Coltrane heading the bunch and A Hard Day’s Night well down the ranks at #384.  There are many other albums worthy of selection in the Top 500 but appear to have been lost in time’s green slime, allowing other newer non-entities a brief time of the surface.

In our last episode when we consulted The Billboard Book of Top 40 Albums we predicted that 1964 would be different from the previous year’s outcome, in that comedian Allan Sherman would go back to summer camp, The Singing Nun would have sung and Andy Williams would get lost in TV land.  Well we are sort of right but the list is different – no jazz, no blues, no folk but we do have a musical and The Beatles.

Who Album Title
The Beatles Meet the Beatles! (US release)
The Beatles The Beatles’ Second Album (US release)
Original Cast Hello, Dolly!
Louis Armstrong Hello, Dolly!
The Beatles A Hard Day’s Night
Barbra Streisand People
Beach Boys Beach Boys Concert

beatles 2us Original-Cast-Recording-Hello-Dolly-513009 hello louis 220px-People-album BBConcertCover

The Beatles hog the Billboard Charts, based on weeks in the charts and sales.  Hello, Dolly! was a worldwide hit, one of the last big musicals to have both a stage and screen presence in the 60s. In the original Broadway cast for 1964 Carol Channing held the lead role.  In 1969, the film version of Hello Dolly!, bringing together a grand combination of Barbra Streisand and Louis Armstrong, was a blockbuster.  Barbra Streisand from the start of her recording career always had strong audience support in the US and around the world, and her fourth album People shoots into the Billboard Chart ahead of the Beach Boys live album.  Funny Girl also reached #1 during 1964 giving Barbra an extremely busy and stella year overall.

hello dolly soundtrack 215px-FunnyGirl1

We checked again the Virgin All-Time Top 1000 Albums (1998) listing compiled by Alan Larkin.  The approach these guys take is disparate and the 60s are not overrepresented, although the 90s (in their most recent memory) seem to be the gala era.

Rank Who Album Title
122 John Coltrane A Love Supreme
142 The Beatles A Hard Day’s Night
256 Bob Dylan The Times are a-changin’
427 The Rolling Stones The Rolling Stones
491 Herbie Hancock Maiden Voyage
511 The Yardbirds Five Live Yardbirds
570 Lee Morgan The Sidewinder
768 Miles Davis My Funny Valentine
789 The Beatles Beatles For Sale
802 Eric Dolphy Out to Lunch
869 Jerry Lee Lewis Great Balls of Fire!

220px-Maiden_Voyage_(Hancock)  5yards 220px-Lee_Morgan-The_Sidewinder_(album_cover) 220px-MilesDavisMyFunnyValentine

Jazz is once again well represented with the jazz royalty of its day – Coltrane, Davis, Hancock, Morgan and Dolphy.  The album Great Balls of Fire!, according to the reference, did not chart in either USA or UK, but on checking Discogs and Wiki, there does not appear to have been an official album of this title released.  But the British invasion keeps on coming on with the Beatles, Rolling Stones and big surprise the Yardbirds, with a pretty good album but not that great in comparison with any of the other albums listed for 1964.

Paul Gambaccini, former BBC presenter, lists Beatles for Sale as his one and only 1964 album in his coffee table book Top 100 Albums.  When you only have one choice it’s a good one.

Visiting the parallel universe of the Grammy’s opens Pandora’s Box or gives us a sense of the entertainment world’s dizzy perspective.  Let’s have a peek.  Album of the year was Getz/Gilberto, a lovely textured album, by saxophonist Stan Getz and guitarist/singer Joao Gilberto.  Of course the hit song from the album The girl from Ipanema is still a firm favourite of jazz fans and lovers of cool laid back music.  Not a single Beatles’ album, performance or song rates a mention in the 1964 Grammy’s!

But the surprise is the rock and roll best song category which was awarded to Petula Clark for Downtown.  This selection is downright weird.  Right alongside was Gale Garnett with We’ll sing in the sunshine attributed as the best folk song, and we can safely say she was three years ahead of the summer of love.

Mojo Magazine, launched in November 1993 in UK, is a latter day baby-boomers music magazine and maintains a running history on top groups and artists from the 50s and 60s, apart from keeping us informed on the latest happenings.  Never missed a copy yet.  The 3rd Edition of The Mojo Collection – The Ultimate Music Companion (2003) confirms and adds to our suspicions that pop listings have close links to your personal musical environment and that anyone can pick anything in any case at anytime.  Their choices are:

Who Album Title
The Holy Modal Rounders The Holy Modal Rounders
Davey Graham & Shirley Collins Folk Roots, New Routes
The Rolling Stones The Rolling Stones
Dusty Springfield A Girl called Dusty
The Beatles A Hard Day’s Night
The Animals The Animals
Eric Dolphy Out to Lunch

220px-Holy_Modal_Rounders_-_The_Holy_Modal_Rounders davey graham

Once again there are no real objections to the last four artists as all have been included in many other listings, but the Holy Modal Rounders – on the basis that the group is “America’s first truly underground group (that) blends old time banjo music, bluegrass and traditional folk with a unique vision!!!!  Even though Sundazed Records has reissued their albums they are mostly DIY borrowings, which should be diced and sliced by Chop Chop from the Skylanders’ apocalyptic world.  And Davey Graham and Shirley Collins, two of Britains iconic folksters, at the top of their game, produced an album which was not recognised at the time of its release, but all the same does not fall into the same groove box as any other selections.  Recognition at last we can say.

And our last reference and our most recently published from 101 Essential Rock Records, Jeff Gold (2012) goes for The Rolling Stones and Another Side of Bob Dylan as the 1964 champions.  Not a Beatle in sight.

How does it look overall?  The Brits came and played and conquered the teenage market and took all the kids’ pocket money in exchange for pop singles and LPs.  The kids bought The Beatles and the Stones, Kinks, Animals, Manfred Mann, Dusty Springfield, Bob and the Beach Boys by the squillion.  Those in the 25 to 45 age group, settled and in their early dotage, living in the suburbs, with plenty of ready cash in a relative sense, were buying up the rest of the market –Barbra, Hello Dolly, Elvis, Peter Paul & Mary, Mantovani, Ol’ Blue Eyes, Dino and all that jazz, and possibly even country and western music.  Popular contemporary music albums were selling in their millions – at full price!  What an era!

White Elephant’s favourites from 1964, in no particular order, are a select few – all from the Brit Invaders except His Bobness:

Who Album Title
The Kinks The Kinks
The Rolling Stones The Rolling Stones
Manfred Mann The Five faces of Manfred Mann
Bob Dylan The Times they are A-changin’
The Beatles A Hard Day’s Night
The Animals The Animals
The Beatles Beatles for Sale
The Rolling Stones 12 x 5

220px-12x5(Rolling_Stones_Album)_coverart manfred mann

Each of these albums is still in the collection although most have been replaced by newer copies as the original pressings have become worn with overuse and parties.  Now sit back and relax and listen to the fantastic opening chord of …It’s been a Hard Day’s Night……..and then sing along.



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