"White Rabbit" was the second "Summer of Love" psychedelic hit for this legendary San Francisco band. Written and performed by Grace Slick when she was still with The Great Society, she gifted the song to the Jefferson Airplane when she joined the group, making it their second Top 10 hit in the United States. It appeared on the band's album Surrealistic Pillow, which is among the very best rock albums ever recorded, let alone among the very best psychedelic albums ever recorded. "White Rabbit" debuted on Billboard at #50 and on the Cash Box Top 100 Singles chart at #59 on June 24, 1967. It peaked at #8 on July 29, 1967 on Billboard for two weeks but reached even higher at #6 on Cash Box on August 12, 1967. This is a SYNCHRONIZATION from the original track (on CD) of "White Rabbit" to the live broadcast performance of the song by Jefferson Airplane when they appeared on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour on June 25, 1967. It appears here in WIDESCREEN.
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With the autumn of 1968, Beatlemania reached a new blazing height with the release of the double-sided 45 single "Hey Jude" and "Revolution," the televised videotape of a live performance of "Hey Jude" on the Smother Brothers Comedy Hour, and the slice by slice dishing out of new treats by the radio stations from the soon to be released White Album. One Sunday evening in November, like lightning from a clear sky, the song "Elenore" materialized out of radio speakers all over the country and, like many others listening (not too closely obviously), for several heady minutes the Beatles of old, of 1964, were suddenly back. Never mind that the lead singer (Howard Kaylan) didn't sound anything like Lennon, McCartney, or Harrison -- that glorious chorus had all the hallmark joy and awe of a true Beatles classic. Of course, it was not The Beatles at all, as it turned out, but The Turtles. And that turned out to be just as great a revelation! "Happy Together" had been the group's signature hit in 1967; now they were back with a stirring love song in the midst of a year marked by war, assassination, inter-generational discord, and at times violent revolution. The message was simple enough: guy falls for girl, guy asks girl out on a date, guy declares his undying love. The chorus leaves no doubt as to the outcome. There is no ambiguity or heartbreak to be found in "Elenore" ... this is one song that indeed ends happily ever after.
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It is rare that I quote more than a sentence or two of Wikipedia, if at all, but some of the information in the first three paragraphs of the "Walk, Don't Run" article really says about as much or more than I might be inclined to say as an opening comment on the background of this song: "Walk, Don't Run" is an instrumental composition written and first recorded by jazz guitarist Johnny Smith in 1954 ... After hearing a Chet Atkins recording of "Walk, Don't Run", the Tacoma-based instrumental rock band the Ventures released their version of the tune as a single in spring 1960 on Dolton Records. This version made the Billboard Hot 100 chart, peaking at #2 and reaching #3 on the Cash Box magazine chart for five weeks in August and September 1960 ... This single, their first national release, vaulted the Ventures' career ... Bob Bogle played the lead guitar part on this first Ventures recording of the song. The band would later rerecord the song in 1964, and would become the first band to score two top ten hits with two versions of the same song." Now for MY comments. I love this original version, and Bob Bogle's expert use of the vibrato bar may be one of the best ever done. I will say this, the late John Cipollina of Quicksilver Messenger Service is the only other lead guitar player I have ever heard who could use the vibrato bar in the strategic manner it was INTENDED to be used. So many kids I knew growing up on rock music and playing lead guitar overused the vibrato bar and always in the wrong places. I can't help but to think that Cipollini was both impressed and influenced by Bogle's professional and polished playing of "Walk, Don't Run" (1960 version). As a result, I can't listen to some of Quicksilver's best music without also thinking of this one truly great Ventures tune. I don't know how many of you remember this but the band also released a "Play Along With The Ventures" album and an instruction booklet showing where to place your fingers on the frets on each song to learn how to play lead guitar. It was one of the ways I learned how. As for the popularity of neighborhood bands playing Ventures music, I can only say that in the early 60's and into '64, on spring and summer days the girls would be sitting on stairs of porches and out in the lawn just eating up all the guitar playing. Between listening to and watching Ricky Nelson playing on "The Adventures of Ozzie And Harriet" and these local bands playing for throngs of mostly young, cheering females, it is little wonder so many of us wanted to form our own rock bands when we got older.
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Between 1966 and 1976 I was for the most part an album collector. In addition to new Top 40 singles I started purchasing at retail stores in early 1976, I began collecting oldies singles from the 50s, 60s and early 70s, often at garage or yard sales. The movie "American Graffiti" had kicked off a renewed interest in music from the 1950s and early 1960s, a craze that was maintained throughout the 70s by TV shows like "Happy Days," "Laverne and Shirley" and "Sha Na Na" and more movies like "American Hot Wax" and "The Buddy Holly Story." After I became a nightclub disk jockey in January 1978, I decided I wanted to do an oldies show in the spring and began purchasing these kinds of oldies freshly printed at record retail and department stores. One of the very first purchases I made was this song by The King himself, Elvis Presley, entitled "Don't Be Cruel." When I thought to myself, "what is the first Elvis I want to buy?" ... THIS was the first one. Some others included on my first purchase run were "Only The Lonely" by Roy Orbison, "It's My Party"/"She's A Fool" by Lesley Gore, "It's All In The Game" by Tommy Edwards, and "Blueberry Hill" by Fats Domino. You could say I have a soft spot for the late 70s due to my oldies interest at that time and ever-accumulating collection since ... and the opportunity I had then to play them for people as well. "Don't Be Cruel" may be my favorite Elvis song of all time. It was a departure from more heavily rockified songs like "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Jailhouse Rock" or the hard edge R&B hit "Heartbreak Hotel." Those songs, and others, including covers like "Shake, Rattle and Roll," marked the first beginning for Elvis. But it was his second start that would put him over the top for all time ... the SMOOTH rockin' Elvis that would be heard in songs like this one, "Don't Be Cruel," followed by "(Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear," "All Shook Up," "Good Luck Charm," "Return To Sender," and so many others. SMOOTH ... and none so smooth or as lovely, I think, then "Don't Be Cruel." "Don't Be Cruel" was released with "Hound Dog" as its B-side on July 13, 1956. "Hound Dog" soared to #2 and "Don't Be Cruel right behind at #3 on Billboard on September 8, 1956. The following week on September 15, "Don't Be Cruel" jumped over “Hound Dog” and became the #1 song in the country for seven straight weeks. However, on Cash Box, "Hound Dog" made it to #1 for two weeks on September 1 and again on September 8. "Don't Be Cruel" followed suit at #1 on Cash Box the same time as on Billboard, on September 15, 1956, for six weeks. It will be noted that the date of the Ed Sullivan broadcast was January 6, 1957 ... a little less than two months after "Don't Be Cruel" dropped from its #1 position. This video is an edited version of that broadcast and the song track is a synchronization from the original recording. From now on, to avoid confusion over whether the track you are hearing from a concert or TV broadcast is live or synchronized from a digital recording, you will always see "Editing & Synchronization" By MUNROW'S RETRO or "Edited & Synchronized By MUNROW'S RETRO" (or something like that) at the end of the video. I never upload live or broadcast material with the original live track anyway: I always synchronize it to the original recording. Of course I always tell you if a video has been synchronized in my description, but it seems a lot of people don't take the time to read.
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This song goes out to all those who ever lost at love and still carried the torch many years after ... especially to those who remain tortured by the dream of what could have been, should have been, but was somehow mysteriously prevented from happening. The New Colony Six's "Things I'd Like To Say," in my opinion, was years ahead of most other pop rock love songs of the late 1960's. The resolute sadness of this melody prevails, despite the uplifting string variation suggesting there is still hope for the broken couple, only to return to a somber reality and the distinctive and haunting piano ending which sets it apart as one of the best love songs of all time.
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The iconic singer Connie Francis at her very best! This, I truly believe, was one of her greatest classic hit singles of all time. It's hallmark dance beat is one of the most memorable in early rock n' roll history. "Everybody's Somebody's Fool" skyrocketed to #1 on June 25, 1960 for three consecutive weeks on Cash Box and #1 for two weeks on Billboard.
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A treat for Blondie fans! Several live versions of the same song ... synchronized to the album track. This took some work! "Dreaming" peaked at #2 in the British singles chart and, in the U.S., at #27 on Billboard and #20 on Cash Box on December 1, 1979. Should have charted much higher here and I am surprised to find that it didn't. It was always a personal favorite of mine and I could not play it enough for the bar patrons. The beautiful Deborah Harry, the Marilyn Monroe of rock, in all her sexual and sensual glory, moving at fast pace into the 1980s on this track. Enjoy!
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Despite the mention of icicles, this fabulous, romantic hit single by The Murmaids has a distinctively summerlike sound. However, despite all the lyrical allusions to popsicles, drive-ins on Friday night, baseball, and other warm weather activities, "Popsicles And Icicles" was actually released to US charts in October 1963, scoring at #3 on both Billboard and Cash Box in January 1964 right behind "Louie Louie" by The Kingsmen and "There! I've Said It Again" by Bobby Vinton, both which took turns at being #1 until The Beatles upset the applecart and changed music history. Anyway, I guess that's where the icicles finally come in, it being January, although they are actually a part of the composite from all the seasons of the year about the "boy" the girls singing are in love with. "Popsicles and Icicles" was a rather progressive melody for its time, and a fitting precursor to the British Invasion right around the corner. The reason why it was such a good song doubtlessly was due to the fact that it was composed by David Gates who would go on to form the rock group Bread in 1970. Gates also had a little help composing The Murmaids' blockbuster hit from another early '60s megastar: Shelly Fabares (who recorded "Johnny Angel" in 1962). If you listen closely, you can hear elements in the song that would begin to be used seven years later by Gates in the many hit songs by Bread during the 1970s. I was 10 when this song was popular and recall that it did get a lot of additional local radio air play the following year in the summer of 1964. DJs tended to do that if songs sounded like they would be good summer hits. 1964 was a wonderful year actually, because American rock n' roll and do wop had pretty much reached a peak in 1963 and the plateau of the '63 sound merged very well with the new music coming out of Great Britain courtesy of The Beatles and various other UK artists. In my mind, though, this lovely little tune still belongs more to the early 1960s. My video treatment of it therefore is very Kennedy-era ... at least as much as I could make it. You could say I have a soft spot for "Popsicles And Icicles" and the girl group that sang it, whether it is a winter or a summer memory, from a very special time growing up in America.
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"The Candy Man," sung by Sammy Davis Jr., was probably the greatest "feel good" song of the 70's, and perhaps of all time. Originally appearing in the 1971 film, Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the later cover by Davis became a smash hit ... and was the only Sammy Davis hit single to reach #1. On June 10, 1972, "The Candy Man" reached #1 on Billboard for a three-week run and #1 on Cash Box for one week. Only Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" in 1980 came close to equaling the good time feel of this song. This was the first video I ever did, originally uploaded on March 20, 2012. Unfortunately there were volume dips in it, so in January 2013 I attempted a revision, but failed to be able to fix the problem. The video was uploaded again in January 2013 with its original errors. The problem was with the Picasa movie maker. For some reason, on a few videos it did not like some of the images or stop motion animations I created, and caused various kinds of volume dips. Most of the time Picasa behaved, but not always. I did not have Windows Movie Maker yet, and by the time I did, the error-burdened original video had accumulated thousands of views. I did not nor have not wanted to rock the boat by revising the video and deleting the one so many have enjoyed over the last nearly four years. But the time has come to put a better version up, with the sound fixed, so here it is. There is now some film footage that was not available (and could not have been used on Picasa anyway even if it had been) in this video. Otherwise, the video follows the same, image-wise, as the original. The original stop-animation is also in one part and at the end. Hope you enjoy this.
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I think this is a case of the less said about the video, the better. I took a slightly more wistful spin on this "you can never go back home" theme and, according to the lyrics, the thoughts going through the head of a 32-year-old man who is dating a 19-year-old girl in 1980. Draw your own conclusions. "Hey Nineteen" is definitely one of my favorite Steely Dan songs, and it came out at a time when a lot of great music was playing on the airwaves. It was now the winter of 1981, a new president was in office, the Cold War was the worst it had been since the early 1960s, and the 1980s were shaping up to become the last of the great music decades. "Hey Nineteen" peaked at #10 for two weeks on Billboard and Cash Box on February 7, 1981. This is the complete album version.
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Originally released as a single in February 1965, "Psychotic Reaction" was only able to initially attract an enthusiastic California audience. The two rave-up sections, inspired by portions of "I'm A Man" by The Yardbirds, were taken a bit further, allowing the lead guitar to play a hypnotic-sounding scale. This made Count Five, quite probably, the first psychedelic band in rock and roll history. "Psychotic Reaction" was re-released many months later in July 1966 and became a national megahit, reaching #5 on Billboard and #4 on Cash Box on October 22, 1966.
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Elvis Presley racked up a huge collection of #1 hit singles between 1956 and 1963. No song failed to make the Top Ten during this period and any song that made the Top Ten but fell short of #1 in the US ... and there weren't very many ... went to #1 in the UK. This song, "(You're the) Devil In Disguise," was Presley's last high-charting single in the US and UK (#3 US and #1 UK in August 1963) until 1969, with the exception of "Crying In The Chapel" which made it to #1 in 1965. Despite Beatlemania and the British Invasion, Elvis remained a towering icon as he continued starring in smash box office hits while maintaining a visible presence on the Top 10 or at least the Top 20 throughout the 1960s ("Kissin' Cousins" at #10, "Viva Las Vegas" at #16, "Ain't That Loving Me" at #13, etc.) until the "comeback concert" of 1968 propelled him to #1 once again with "Suspicious Minds" in 1969. This video of "(You're the) Devil In Disguise" is a tribute to both his film and music careers as they were at the height of the hit single's popularity, featuring photos and film clips of the pop singing legend performing in televised concerts as well as in his movies along with his most famous leading ladies.
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From my most favorite album by Roxy Music, Siren, this was one of the top dance songs of 1976 in the United States and 1975 in the UK. From Wikipedia: "Love Is the Drug" is a 1975 single from English rock band Roxy Music's fifth studio album Siren ... A number two hit in the United Kingdom, it also gave the group its first substantial exposure in the United States, reaching number 30 in early 1976 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and doing even better on progressive rock radio ... The song started as an Andy Mackay instrumental, but then gained lyrics from Bryan Ferry; Ferry said the song came to him while he was walking and kicking the leaves in London's Hyde Park." In the US, this rock and funk classic debuted on Cash Box at #91 on December 20, 1975, peaking at #30 on Billboard's Hot 100 on March 10, 1976 and #24 on the Cash Box Top 100 on March 13, 1976. Film extracts: Toby Dammit (1968) Fellini
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The Syndicate of Sound, along with other garage bands like Count Five and Music Machine, helped pave the way for the psychedelic sound in 1966. Their hit single, "Little Girl," reached #8 on the Top Ten in June of that year. This video tributes the song, the group, and the times of a true 60's rock classic.
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1969 is a year I have not featured much of late, at least regarding Top 40 hits, and I don't know why as it was probably one of my favorite 60's years. The last music videos I did of HIT SONGS from 1969 was "This Magic Moment" by Jay & The Americans and "My Cherie Amour" by Stevie Wonder. All the more curious this choice as technically, it and the album it appeared on, were actually recorded in 1967. Highly confused was I at age 15 when "Time Of The Season" by The Zombies became a major hit here in the United States and I purchased the LP, Odessey And Oracle. The year stamped on the album, 1967, I took to be a misprint. How surprising to discover this gem among record albums, one of the most perfect non-Beatles albums ever made, was a sleeper and actually released in the UK in early 1968. It was not often at that time for a nearly two-year-old song to climb to #1 on Top 40 radio (#1 on Cash Box, #3 on Billboard, March 29, 1969). But that was not the only quirky thing about UK albums: most of the Beatles' songs were out of sequence, missing, or on the wrong albums when released in the US by Capitol Records. So, from our perspective here in America, "Time Of The Season" was a 1969 song ... which is why that is the year I have next to the title. As far as Zombies songs go, this one really lived up to their image. The jungle voodoo beat was absolutely perfect for a song by a group called The Zombies. And images of drums, tropical settings at night, dancing around a fire, voluptuous women, full moons, and the like were hardwired right into my brain whenever I heard this most cool song. It is little wonder, then, the kind of film footages I used for this music video of "Time Of The Season." It is well-choreographed and I hope you enjoy it.
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Perhaps one of the giants of the early psychedelic hits, for some years my only video contribution for this song until now was an old slideshow I did originally back in 2012. Finally, it has been given the sort of treatment I have done for other such rock classics. "(We Ain't Got) Nothin' Yet," a song by the American rock band Blues Magoos, and released in October 1966, became a chart hit in the United States in February 1967. It peaked at Billboard at #5 on February 11, 1967 and at #6 on Cash Box on February 18, 1967.
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A surprise hit for the spring and summer of 1969 ... released in October 1968 by Jamaican singer Desmond Dekker, the single was the first UK reggae number one and among the first to reach the US top ten. Most of us in the US had never heard of reggae yet and the sound was strange, yet the tune seemed oddly familiar with the lower register harmonizing vocals during each chorus reminiscent of those heard in early 60's pop rock 'n roll songs. That aspect of it made it sound a bit out of time and had many of us thinking we were hearing an early 60's "golden oldie" we had somehow forgotten. It was hugely popular all the same, a catchy song with elusive lyrics that were difficult to understand except here and there. Despite "Israelites" being recorded and released in 1968, the Uni 45 discography shows its cataloguing in 1969. It debuted in the UK in March 1969 and soared to #1 for one week. It also reached #1 in Netherlands, Jamaica, South Africa, Canada, Sweden and Germany. In the US it debuted on the singles charts in May, reaching #9 on Billboard and #8 on Cash Box on July 5, 1969 (CB date). Very danceable, if you know how to dance to it ... and the young lady in this video appears to know just how, with a little help from Korla Pandit on ghost organ.
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This great 70's rock classic was inspired by an early 60's dance hit ... and is fitting enough in my book to round out the old year and ring in the new. Grand Funk Railroad, temporarily going by the name Grand Funk, recorded this cover version of Little Eva's 1962 hit "The Loco-Motion" in early 1974, which was produced by Todd Rundgren. It appeared on their album Shinin' On, and was released as a single on March 3, 1974. It charted at #1 on Billboard on April 28, 1974 for two weeks and on Cash Box on May 4, 1974 for one week. It also reached #5 in Australia and peaked at #1 in Canada. Originally I was going to do the Little Eva version, but in a moment of madness I switched gears and went with Grand Funk instead. That's the kind of loose cannon I can be: "you never know ... at MUNROW's RETRO!" I wish I could give you a fireworks display to go along with it, but, in any event, may this music video be among your favorites to watch as we ring in the coming new year, 2016. Happy New Year!
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Grand Funk Railroad began as an underground favorite on FM radio in 1969 with the song "Paranoid." No one knew the top 40 hit maker the band would become starting with "Closer To Home" in 1970. Of all their hit singles, this one ... their last major hit ... strikes a nerve more than any other. It is a gut wrenching and exhilarating foray into a love lost and found at the wrong time.
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This may have been Andy Williams' most romantic hit single, at least as far as I am concerned, although he had many memorable chart-toppers. "Can't Get Used To Losing You" debuted on US charts in February 1963 and made it to #1 on April 27, 1963 on the Cash Box Top 100 (#2 on Billboard's Hot 100). After an unusually cold and snowy winter, it had good company that warm and beautiful spring with Ruby & The Romantics, The Chiffons, Little Peggy March, Jimmy Soul, Lesley Gore, and Kyu Sakamoto all reaching the coveted top slot on either the Billboard Hot 100, Cash Box, or both. This lovely ballad is an example of traditional pop music at its finest during the Kennedy years. From the top-selling album Days of Wine and Roses and Other TV Requests, here is the enchanting "Can't Get Used To Losing You" by the late, great Andy Williams.
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One of my favorite all-time instrumental soul songs of the '60's! Booker T. Jones really got the pulse of the times RIGHT ON with this rockin' hit from 1969. It always sounded like it should have been released in time for summer '68 or '69, that surf guitar is so catchy. Jimi Hendrix was wrong when he said we would never hear surf music again back in '67 ... this was it! I always liked "Green Onions," but "Time Is Tight" is the winner for me. Recorded in 1968, the song was released in February 1969 as a single, shooting up to #6 on Billboard on May 3, 1969 and #8 on Cash Box on May 10, 1969 .. both for two weeks. Summer's Here on MUNROW'S RETRO!
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This was the swan song hit for Eric Burdon and The Animals, at least for American fans, although no one knew when this was released in the US and Canada in spring 1968 that Burdon would be forming the group War the following year. Eric Burdon and The Animals would have a final UK hit in 1969 covering Johnny Cash's "Ring Of Fire." Still, of all their hit singles, "Sky Pilot" has struck a nerve more than any other. The original video itself was excellent, even by today's standards. And it was clear on listening that this was not merely an anti-Vietnam War ballad ... it was anti-War itself in whatever form it took and regardless of who the combatants were. Audio effects were outstanding for 1968, the sounds of warfare captivating phonograph and jukebox listeners alike. My video does not take us all the way back to The Battle of Hastings and every war fought since, like the original video, but it does capture the period between World War I and when the song was released in the US and Canada, during the second phase of the Tet Offensive, a military campaign that by its conclusion in September 1968 would finally sway the vast majority of American public opinion against the war in Vietnam. "Sky Pilot" reached #16 on Cash Box and #14 on Billboard on August 10, 1968. It would peak at #7 on Canada's RPM chart.
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This beautiful and yes, haunting, melody was recorded in 1959 by The Anita Kerr Singers, then released as a single in January 1960 under their pseudonym The Little Dippers. The song peaked at #9 on Billboard's Hot 100 on April 2, 1960 and #11 on Cash Box on March 12. A perfect song for capturing and preserving those warm and special moments in time ... for all time. The footage used is also from 1960 and is as clear and fresh as the eternal summer day it was shot 56 years ago. Some of these scenes look like they could have been filmed last week. There were a lot of other wonderful moments I had to edit out and rearrange to fit the rather short length of the song, but nevertheless I like to think of this film as now being in its purest form.
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In 1968 this was a summer favorite despite not rising very high on the U.S. national charts. Up against songs destined to be rock classics like "Born To Be Wild," "Journey To The Center Of The Mind," and "Sky Pilot," the Fever Tree's "San Francisco Girls" nevertheless offered a unique psychedelic sound never before heard nor ever since. Beautiful and trippy, this song may well have been the very first foray into "trance music" ... you could achieve a state of euphoria just listening to it. I know I certainly did. It should have been on the Top 10 in my opinion. Although the song is about the girls of San Francisco during the years 1967 and 1968, the lyrical narrative seems to be about a guy breaking up with his girlfriend because he is sick of their lifestyle and wants to get back to the simplicity and good times in The Bay area. I have always been too focused on the music to notice this fact, but it would explain why the song is subtitled "Return Of The Native." It is indeed the music this excellent psychedelic masterpiece should be remembered for. Various clips of film footage are from San Francisco during 1967, 1968, and 1969. As to the photos, although a few of the young women appearing in this video are actually Boho-chic fashion models (for transition effect), most are images from 1967-69.
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"(Don't Fear) The Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult is not only one of my own personal favorite heavy metal songs, but is among those selected by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the Top 500 rock songs of all time. The song is not only a romanticizing about Death's inevitability, and his personification as the Grim Reaper, but also about premature death, suicide and eternal love ("Romeo and Juliet are together in eternity"). The song and the album it appeared on, "Agents Of Fortune," came out in time for October and Halloween 1976. At that time there was a mysterious illness called Legionnaire's disease and a swine flu epidemic scare in progress in the United States. The entire US population had to be vaccinated against swine flu, myself included, beginning on October 1, 1976. The scare was unwarranted and the vaccine caused more deaths and illnesses from side effects than the disease it was intended to protect everyone against. I always thought the lyrics of "Reaper," along with its wild and scary lead guitar solo in the middle part, was especially ironic given the almost apocalyptic mood of the time. October 1976 was also a rather interesting month musically for rock music in that a few other songs appropriate for the Halloween season were also popular at the same time as Blue Oyster Cult's masterpiece: these include "Magic Man" by Heart and "Devil Woman" by Cliff Richard, as well as the rather weird TV music video with a vampire in it by George Harrison, created for his song "Crackerbox Palace" (which would not be released as a single until early 1977). In October 1978, "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" would enter the world of cinema as the rock song playing on the car radio being driven through the town of Haddonfield, Illinois by Annie Brackett (Nancy Kyes) with her friend Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) in the unforgettable film classic "Halloween." In any event, here is my music video, one possible interpretation out of doubtlessly many others, of one of the great legends of Halloween classic songs, "(Don't Fear) The Reaper" by Blue Oyster Cult. Have a Happy Halloween!!!
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"Take Me To The River" was originally written by one of my favorite R&B and soul singers of the early 1970s, Al Green, along with band mate Mabon Hodges. Green recorded it in 1974 and, although he did not release it as a single, it was taken up by other artists such as Syl Johnson, Foghat, Levon Helm, and Bryan Ferry of Roxy Music. Johnson had a modest hit with it in 1975, reaching #48 on Billboard. But it was the Talking Heads version that took "Take Me To The River" to the top. I first began hearing it in the summer of 1978 ... and throughout the rest of the year ... which is why I give 1978 as the year, although it did not actually become a hit until 1979. It was the penultimate track of Talking Heads' second LP, More Songs About Buildings and Food, which was doing quite well on FM radio. I picked up the single in November 1978 and it became VERY POPULAR at the bar I worked at over the Thanksgiving/Christmas holiday season. It was frequently requested and happens to be one of my personal favorite songs of that year, easily on my Top 10 for 1978. By year's end it was getting a lot of air play on Top 40 radio. "Take Me To The River" reached #26 in the US on Billboard's Hot 100 on February 3, 1979. This was the song that first captured my attention of the group Talking Heads and not a more emotionally-charged version of it has ever been recorded since. David Byrne and Talking Heads would go on to help define New Wave and the decade of the 1980s. I hope you will enjoy the video. This is also the first time I have done the song's lyrics within a music video format.
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As much as I loved all of Jefferson Airplane's music, I can honestly say that my two all-time favorites were this song, "Come Up The Years," and the haunting vocal by Grace Slick in "Triad." Speaking of haunting, this song has haunted me over the long decades since I first heard it on the radio in the mid-to-late 1960's. It was on a winter night, walking down the street with my transistor radio (the same one I mentioned in my comments on the Little Peggy March video). I found out later that this song was done before Grace Slick, when the first female singer of the group was Signe Anderson (pictured above). After hearing more songs from the first album I can honestly say I wish Signe could have been twin-billing with Marty Balin a bit longer than she did. They certainly made beautiful music together. Credits say that Marty, Signe, and Paul Kantner are all singing on this track. I know one person who doubts Signe is in there. Be that as it may, she was certainly there in the vocals spiritually. In any event, Signe is credited with playing the glockenspiel on this song, which has a prominent solo in the latter section.
Views: 117924 MUNROWS RETRO
At age 12 I was rummaging through my grandparents' attic when I came across several boxes of 78 rpm records, many going back to the turn of the last century and early 1900s through the First World War period. Included was an old portable wind-up phonograph machine from the 1940s with a generous supply of unused needles. In one box was an assortment of '20s and '30s music, but mostly in the collection were 78s from the late '30s and '40s swing era. This was my introduction to the music of Glenn Miller ... lucky for me I found the King of Swing, the guy who made the Big Band Era possible. I was probably the only kid in town who loved the music of The Beatles and Glenn Miller simultaneously. His was a new sound for me, a distant yet familiar sound from a long ago past that existed before I was born. And I was growing up in an era where every year music seemed to undergo the kind of change we normally do not see in ten years. "In The Mood," "Moonlight Serenade," and this song, "A String Of Pearls," were the first Glenn Miller songs I would hear. It was indeed a thrill to listen to these echoes from another time. I was sad to learn that Miller, who had joined the army in 1942 and led the Army Air Force Band during World War II, had disappeared in a small plane flying over the English Channel on December 15, 1944. To this day his status remains "missing in action." Talk about "the day the music died." In this case it was true. Big Band swing music, the kind Glenn Miller, The Dorsey Brothers, Artie Shaw, Woody Herman, Benny Goodman, and others played, was doomed to die a slow but certain death. Thirty-five years later another major music craze, disco, would suffer the same sort of decline. "A String Of Pearls" was released as a 78 rpm single in September 1941. It reached #1 on Billboard for two weeks in January 1942 and ran the chart for 22 weeks. This video is a tribute to that song, and to one of the greatest musical forms of the 20th Century before the birth of rock and roll, the times in which it was popular, and to the genius who created it. The immortal music of Glenn Miller.
Views: 601044 MUNROWS RETRO
Oh no! Has Munrow lost his mind and become .. a Monkees maniac??? More mindless psychedelic fun coming your way, this time from the famous TV rock band, The Monkees. "(I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone" was probably one of the best songs the group ever did, becoming a very popular surprise hit for the psychedelic crowd. As the B-side of the #1 hit "I'm A Believer," it charted in its own right at #20 on Billboard (#25 on Cash Box) for the last two weeks of December 1966. Not too shabby for a B-side! Oh, and yes ... I NEVER missed an episode, a big Monkees fan at the time (age 13), although I can't remember one single show now ... LOL!
Views: 190404 MUNROWS RETRO
The opening track from Freedom at Point Zero by Jefferson Starship, released November 1, 1979. One of the darkest, hardest, rock love songs to close out the '70s, you could almost sense the storm approaching and the lightning flashing as you heard it on the huge barroom speakers. As popular as the song was, it was not frequently requested, except by one girl who came to my booth almost every night from November through January. A little blonde named, you guessed it, Jane. I never forget a name, and if I do, I never forget a face ... or the song or songs associated with them. Thirty-seven long years later and I still remember my own personal darkness as a relationship I was in became threatened and would come crashing down by March 1980. It seemed as though every song then had a black edge to it. Somewhere in some ghostly bar it still rocks and resounds in such glorious shades of black and grey. This music video features a different kind of Jane ... not the cute little blonde customer and friend who requested the song nightly then suddenly disappeared into the late January winter of 1980, nor some mythical girlfriend haunting the lyrics named Jane cheating on her man, but a Jane who spelled her name "Jayne." A doomed actress who was "playing a game" of a different kind that led to a lonely stretch of country road in the dark of night ... and an early, tragic, violent death. The actual circumstances of her life and ultimate demise are forever a blend of folklore and reality. There is also a tip of the hat to the film Crash (1997) which focused on several famous car accidents, particularly that of actress Jayne Mansfield. "Jane" soared to #6 on Cash Box on December 29, 1979 for three weeks, but only reached #14 on Billboard for one week on January 19, 1980. In Canada it peaked at #13. The song was featured in the 2009 video game Grand Theft Auto IV: The Lost and Damned, as well as the opening music to the film Wet Hot American Summer. It was one of the band's greatest all time hits in my opinion, regardless of chart action. Fasten your seat belts.
Views: 64826 MUNROWS RETRO
The unexpected and sad passing of the great 60's pop singer Lesley Gore had me thinking back about another tragic loss from the music world that happened over 30 years ago: the death of John Lennon in December 1980. After over five years of "retirement" without producing an album, John Lennon was back in the studio again. His new hit single "(Just Like) Starting Over" was released in late October 1980 in both the US and UK. It debuted at #49 on Cash Box on November 1. It would appear on his final studio album, Double Fantasy, before Thanksgiving Day. I purchased the single sometime in mid-November 1980 and would not buy the album until after his murder on December 8, 1980. Prior to that awful night, I can attest that the song was well-liked by patrons of the nightclub where I deejayed, but not often requested. That would change, along with a lot of other things. The song had a lot of remarkable competition to say the least: The Police, Steely Dan, Bruce Springsteen, The Cars, The Kings, AC/DC, Bob Seger, Diana Ross, Kool & The Gang, Devo, and others ... all had major hits out at the time. Nevertheless, it was rising on US charts when the terrible news broke. For most of us, that news was not learned until the wee dark hours of the AM after returning home from the bars. When I got home, I turned on one of the FM radio stations I listened to and it was playing Beatles songs non-stop. Great, I thought ... haven't heard this much interest in The Beatles in quite a while! No word from the DJ though and no commercials. Hmmmmmm. Out of curiosity I checked another FM station. Same. Must be Beatles competition night, I thought. Tried a third station. Same. What the hell is going on? After two more Beatles songs played, I would find out when the deejay returned to his ramble that must have been going on for several hours. Then I turned on CNN, which had just debuted as the first 24/7 cable news channel earlier that summer. The cameras were on the crowds in New York City gathered outside of The Dakota where John Lennon had been shot. My initial reaction was a peculiar sense of disbelief and deja vu which vanished after the reality set in. Was it only 10 years earlier I was in high school and we were all talking about whether or not Paul McCartney was really dead or not? Most of us outgrew the conspiracy, others never did. Whatever the truth, this tragedy was not a fiction. And I would be playing a lot of Beatles songs over the next year for crying young women ... not crying and swooning with excitement over their girlish crush on the Fab Four, but crying in mourning of John Lennon's ghastly, premature death at the age of 40. "(Just Like) Starting Over," an upbeat Elvis-style song intended to mark a new beginning for John and Yoko, and for the resumption of John's recording career at the dawning year of the 1980s, was perhaps only destined to reach #6 on US charts. Instead it soared to #1 on December 27, 1980, and held the position for five consecutive weeks until toppled by Blondie's "The Tide Is High" on January 31, 1981. The retro trend that had dominated the first year of the new decade had found its resolution in the renewed popularity of the greatest rock band in history, a nearly year-long farewell tribute by millions of fans of that band's iconic founder and leader, the late, great John Lennon.
Views: 199945 MUNROWS RETRO
The great R&B band, Tower Of Power, originated out of Oakland, CA in 1968. Very popular among West Coast concert goers, they developed a huge nationwide following in the early 1970s among FM band listeners, leading to concert tours all over North America. In July 1972, "You're Still A Young Man" was released as single off their LP, Bump City. It ran on US charts for 13 weeks, peaking at #22 on Cash Box for two weeks during the first half of September (#29 on Billboard). One of my top favorite R&B love ballads of the year, I think it deserved to chart much higher, certainly making it to the Top Ten of either Billboard or Cash Box. There have been many personnel changes to the band over the years, which still is together today and performing concert tours, some of which appear in this video. Although Lenny Williams has been the most famous lead singer identified with the group, his predecessor, Rick Stevens, was the actual front man who sang the lead vocal on "You're Still A Young Man." In 2012 he reunited with the band for several concerts and gave a stellar performance of his 1972 hit song. A portion of that performance appears later on in this video. The video itself works on several levels and I hope the finished product is in keeping with the spirit of the music that made it possible.
Views: 484387 MUNROWS RETRO
No, not during the Halloween season but the first flush of lovely spring did this masterpiece by Warren Zevon make the rounds on the airwaves. It also became a frequently requested song where I was spinning records. An interesting note here I never knew about: drummer Mick Fleetwood and bassist John McVie of Fleetwood Mac were in on the recording of this song. The song entered the US charts on April 22, 1978 ... which is about the time the music began to really change for the last time in the 70's. It was a great spring and summer that year, and "Werewolves Of London" had fabulous company in the record stores by other acts like Meat Loaf, Gerry Rafferty, Abba, Bonnie Tyler, Patti Smith Group, Bob Seger, George Benson, Billy Joel, Sweet, Jefferson Starship, Plastic Bertrand, Spyro Gyra, The Cars and so many other truly great bands and artists. Although Warren Zevon would have several other hits (not to mention hits he wrote for other people), this would be the song he would be best remembered for. Zevon's werewolf was a cut above the rest as he was well-dressed ("I'd like to meet his tailor") and "his hair was perfect." Thus, I do the best I can in this video to render his vision of a dapper but violent "hairy-handed gent" walking about the streets and pubs of London cinematically (to do a 100% job would be impossible, however). "Werewolves Of London" peaked rather unceremoniously at #21 on Billboard's Hot 100 on May 13, 1978. However, on Cash Box it reached #15 for two weeks on that same day. For those of you in a celebratory mood, I hope you all have a howling good time!
Views: 140537 MUNROWS RETRO
"Julia Dream" was recorded by Pink Floyd in April 1968 as a B-side to "It Would Be So Nice," but remained unreleased to US audiences until it appeared on the Relics album in May 1971. Relics was more than a "greatest hits"/compilation LP, but was a welcome addition to the group's late 1960s repertoire, containing songs never before heard by American audiences. The album included the previously unreleased gem "Biding My Time" as well as British B-side singles such as "Paintbox" and "Careful With That Axe, Eugene" (which most US fans had heard only in its live form on the LP, Ummagumma), as well as "Arnold Layne" (an A-side single in the UK only). The psychedelic folk ballad "Julia Dream" is among my favorite early Pink Floyd songs along with "Arnold Layne," "See Emily Play" and "Paintbox." One might also consider it as an early form of gothic rock music. Visually, I have given it the dreamlike, phantasmagoric treatment the song begs the listener to create in his or her own mind. I hope it measures up to expectations. Written by Roger Waters and sung by David Gilmour, Richard Wright lends an eerie accompaniment on Mellotron and organ creating a strange, surreal beauty unique to early Pink Floyd ballads. This is a reposted video.
Views: 79335 MUNROWS RETRO
1969, certainly by the spring, was probably the real year the 1970s began. I haven't done very many music videos of songs from that year, "Touch Me" by The Doors and "Things I'd Like To Say" by The New Colony Six being about it so far ... until today. Of all the songs ever recorded by Stevie Wonder, and I love nearly all of them, "My Cherie Amour" is the one that really takes me back to that wonderful year, and a spring and summer that seemed to stretch out forever. This is a romantic love song about beginnings, real and in the imagination, popular at a time that itself seemed to be a new beginning, sunny green as the baby leaves of spring. "My Cherie Amour," released on January 28, debuted on the top 100 of most US charts in May, reaching #3 on Cash Box and #4 on Billboard August 2, 1969.
Views: 84435 MUNROWS RETRO
So far, a lot of the videos of "disco" songs I have put up have actually been funk or funk fused with disco, new wave or synth pop fused with disco, Europop mixed with disco, jazz fused with disco, hard rock fused with disco, and so on. Very few videos thus far have been true disco and they are only three: "More, More, More" by Andrea True Connection (1976), "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor (1979), and "Come To Me" by France Joli (1979). I would put two of these, Andrea True and France Joli, in my personal Top Ten favorite true disco songs of all time. 1979 saw a lot of disco, but not much that was not fused with some other form. By the late 70's the hallmark of many of the real disco songs was a string or orchestral backing, often with female backup singers, popularized by groups like The Salsoul Orchestra. "Ain't No Stopping Us Now," I am not kidding, THIS was my favorite disco song of 1979 ... it NEVER got any better than this and I never saw two singers I enjoyed more watching perform. They were also one of the last of the artists associated with the Philadelphia sound that brought us so many great songs in the early and middle 1970s. The duo wrote many songs and one of them, "Back Stabbers," became a big hit in 1972 by The O'Jays. This was a very difficult synchronization, by the way. McFadden and Whitehead performed this song LIVE on BBC's Tops Of The Pops ... and did NOT lip sync to the original track like many artists of the day did. You can see the BBC studio orchestra being conducted and playing live at the beginning along with four female backup singers. McFadden and Whitehead varied their speed and presentation a lot in the first half and here and there you will see a few EXTRA words they threw in you don't hear on the original hit track. But 100% of this sync is right on the beat and, man, is it ever powerful to watch these guys match and move with the original song. If you want to hear what the live version sounds like you can check it out on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgCD9qBt258 or here at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0QFtd_C-BsI . "Ain't No Stoppin' Us Now" marked one of the highest emotional peaks for disco in the summer of 1979. At least, I always thought so. Surprisingly, it only reached #13 on Billboard's Hot 100 on July 14, 1979, although it was #1 on Billboard's Hot R&B chart and #10 on the Hot Dance Club Songs chart. On Cash Box it peaked at #12 on July 21, 1979 for two weeks. It scored higher than on the two main US charts in Ireland (#9) and in the UK (#5). Sadly, neither singer is alive and with us today. in May 2004, Whitehead was shot to death at age 55 in a drive-by while someone was helping him repair his SUV and in January the following year, McFadden succumbed to liver and lung cancer at age 57.
Views: 103773 MUNROWS RETRO
"Perfidia" was The Ventures' second charted hit single, following "Walk, Don't Run." It reached #15 on Billboard and #18 on Cash Box on December 24, 1960. Enough of the teenyboppers, watch some real pros on the dance floor! Courtesy of one of my favorite retro TV shows, 77 Sunset Strip.
Views: 217404 MUNROWS RETRO
NOTE: At the composer's request, this video corrects the 10% lag in the song's speed that was on my previous video. The visual portion is the same. "Wedding Bell Blues," "One Last Bell To Answer," "(Last Night) I Didn't Get To Sleep At All," and others not withstanding, and all the wonderful and bittersweet memories associated with them, this is the favorite that drives deep into my heart. "If I Could Reach You" was the most powerful and emotional ballad I think the 5th Dimension ever recorded or that Marilyn McCoo ever sang. Of course, that is my personal and subjective opinion. It came out in 1972, a few months after "Last Night" was through dominating the charts. It never quite reached the height of popularity over time that their other hits managed to achieve. But then this is from someone who thinks "Broken" was one of the best hit songs The Guess Who ever recorded. Maybe it's because these songs remain on the fringe of memory, haven't gotten any real airplay on oldies stations over the years, yet were so powerful that as soon as you do hear them again you are transported back to the time you first heard them. Oldies that are played over and over again through the years don't have that capability. But "fringe of memory" power ballads of all genres are indeed the most emotionally intense songs of all. "If I Could Reach You" was The 5th Dimension's final top 10 hit, reaching #10 on Billboard and Cash Box on November 25, 1972.
Views: 38549 MUNROWS RETRO
In late 1974, concept rock albums, progressive and avant-garde rock bands, and various types of musical artists, known and obscure, many that got their start in the psychedelic era and late 1960s FM radio scene, rapidly faded off into the sunset. In the meantime, Top 40 pop and rock music, which had also largely stagnated in 1973 and 1974, began to experience a renewed vigor and a new sound. Disco was right around the bend, and some recording artists tried out various novel approaches towards dance music. Billy Swan scored a #1 hit in late November 1974 with "I Can Help," a crossover country tune with elements of early 30's jazz dance and 50's rock 'n' roll. It was his biggest hit and one of my favorite songs of the time, definitely heralding to music listeners that a time of change and a return to glamour was once again upon us.
Views: 179311 MUNROWS RETRO
Here's a fun, cute one .. dedicated to all those "early bloomers" who were too young to date those older boys and girls they had crushes on. Not to mention the "too late" romances that folded up as fast as Mom and Dad said "time to move to another town and you to another school. But just think, an opportunity to make new friends!" LOL. Unlike the early 1960s, there was a comparative dearth of girl groups during the 1950s. Not that there weren't any, just not as many. One of the most outstanding girl group songs of the 1950s was this smash hit by The Poni-Tails entitled "Born Too Late" .. and definitely one of my favs along with several songs by The Chordettes. Released in June 1958 and hitting the charts in July, "Born Too Late" soared to #7 on Billboard and peaked at #10 on Cash Box on September 13, 1958 ... but also reached an amazing #5 in the UK! Once again, thank goodness for Centron Productions for producing the kinds of short films that make videos like this one possible. I think this one was a year before Herk Harvey started directing them, but still has the magic Centron touch.
Views: 51717 MUNROWS RETRO
"Somebody To Love" was the first of the "Summer of Love" era psychedelic songs to make it inside of the Top Ten in the United States. It appeared on Jefferson Airplane's album Surrealistic Pillow, which is among the very best rock albums ever recorded, let alone among the very best psychedelic albums ever recorded. It was one of my early album purchases and I regard the album as PERFECTION ON VINYL (and now CD of course). "Somebody To Love" debuted on Billboard at #88 on April 1, 1967 and on the Cash Box Top 100 Singles chart at #71 on April 8, 1967. It peaked at #5 on June 17, 1967 on both Cash Box and Billboard. This was history in the making and the true beginning of the psychedelic pop era (note I said "pop"). For the most part, the Top Ten or Top 20 at that time were dominated by The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The Turtles, The Young Rascals, The Hollies, Sonny & Cher, the Mamas & the Papas, Simon & Garfunkel, Paul Revere & The Raiders (not feeling quite as psychedelic as they had with "Kicks" the previous year), Neil Diamond, Engelbert Humperdinck, Herb Alpert, Petula Clark, Lesley Gore (still), Motown artists, especially The Supremes, Aretha Franklin, The Four Tops, and Arthur Conley, and the two Sinatras (Nancy and Frank and Nancy and Frank together). However, on May 27, 1967, Jefferson Airplane's "Somebody To Love" shot into the Top 10 like a bullet out of nowhere, after having climbed up the charts from the bottom depths slower than some vines. The Easybeats were at #16 with their iconic hit "Friday On My Mind" .. they got no higher (pardon the pun). But the next blockbuster psychedelic hit would be "Light My Fire" by The Doors when they entered The Top 20 at #20 on July 1, 1967 while "Somebody To Love" was still at #18 on its way back down. Scott McKenzie's folk hit, "San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)," written by John Phillips, became an anthem for "the Summer of Love" during this time. Personally, I do not consider 1967 as an isolated year. Most of the great psychedelic songs of the late 1960s, often applied to the Summer of Love (1967), actually were released and became popular throughout the year 1968. Psychedelic music began to lose its grip in 1969, although some fabulous psychedelic songs were released that year as well. Eventually what was once "psychedelic" became what has since been called "progressive rock." Now, regarding my music video: When I do a synchronization, usually it is not to win over the general YouTube audience. I am well aware that others are doing the same thing .. and some much better. I do it for my CHANNEL audience, not the general audience. I want to give my channel viewers a reason to stay a while. Once they have had their fill of my retro or contemporary dramatizations of lyrics, or my slideshows (which I seldom do anymore), or my experimental visuals of songs, I like them to be able to click on a video just to watch their favorite band or artist, performing live if possible, with the original track synchronized as perfectly as is possible in place of the live track. Most recently I did that with Elvis Presley performing "Don't Be Cruel" on The Ed Sullivan Show in January 1957. Sometimes I spike the punch a bit and give them some drama along with the synchronization, like Talking Heads' "Take Me To The River" (I even put lyrics captions on that one) ... but usually it is straight syncing. This is a synchronization from the original track (on CD) of "Somebody To Love" to the live broadcast performance of the song by Jefferson Airplane when they appeared on The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour on June 25, 1967.
Views: 294793 MUNROWS RETRO