Nightman Listens To – The Spencer Davis Group – The Second Album (1966 Series)!

The Second Album (The Spencer Davis Group album) - Wikipedia

Greetings, Glancers! Last time we had our first truly, fully positive experience in this series so far thanks to Roy Orbison. I hope that trend continues but it doesn’t look good given that I don’t know anything about the Spencer Davis Group. I’ve heard the name somewhere on my travels, and I’m thinking jazz, in which case this is going to be a chore. I’m going to assume this is their second album. Actually, in looking at the tracklist this appears to include yet another series of covers. Lets do this.

Look Away‘ starts with piano in a light blues infused jazz rhythm. The vocals are crisp and clean and we then get some fine gospel style backing vocals. I don’t think I’ve heard the song before, but it’s a good start. A solid bass line propels things with the piano over the top and the vocal combo the cherry on top.

Keep On Running‘ is a song I do know, but I don’t think I’ve heard this version. It’s given more of a Garage rock feel and the vocals are up there with the original. As always I could do without the hand claps. It’s another one of those songs from this era that you can’t imagine anyone could really mess up, such is the strength of the melody and the energy needed to carry it.

This Hammer‘ opens with a suggestion of country infused garage, before dropping into a blues rock stammer. What makes it stand out from it’s ilk is those high pitched vocals. It’s all very Dukes Of Hazzard. 

Georgia On My Mind‘ starts with slow saloon piano – it’s another song I know from others. Even with the piano doing some jazz spin-offs, it’s too slow and drunken for my liking.

Please Do Something‘ opens with a simple two note riff and collection of beats before kicking up a gear for the chorus which brings layered vocals and chords. The vocals are still good, this is probably the catchiest song so far although it does lapse a little too easily in blues vocal melodies at times. Good drums throughout.

Let Me Down Easy‘ has very smooth almost Motown vocals and recalls many of the famous voices of that era. The touch of organ, staccato chords, and unusual melodic lines give this an air of mystery. There’s a decent guitar solo in the middle too.

Strong Love‘ gets off with a leap, faster drums, up down guitar and bass, some sort of hand drums in there too – it’s quite chaotic but fun. The ‘ooh ohhs’ are catchy and the rest of the vocals and melodies retain interest.

I Washed My Hands In Muddy Water‘ is classic blues as you would expect. Big guitar opening, feels Country alongside the Blues. Is it a different singer this time?

‘Since I Met You Baby‘ opens with similar guitar to the previous song, your standard descending Blues downwards scale. This sort of slow Blues quickly gets on my nerves if there’s a run of tracks in a row. There is a certain sweetness to this which I credit to being a bunch of white British dudes and for having a piano section in the middle more than the lyrics.

You Must Believe Me‘ sounds familiar. It has both a Swinging Sixties and Motown vibe. It’s certainly more pop-oriented than the run of Blues songs we’ve had. The title is used as the chorus, and it’s a catchy one.

Hey Darling‘ is a sex song. Low down sweaty blues at a seductive pace – it’s the sort of song British advertisers would use in a commercial for chocolate. You know the sort – a bunch of frustrated nymphs are watching a hot builder or gardener doing some sort of topless manual labour, and just as they’re about to climax they get distracted by a bar of chocolate, grab it, and head inside to close the curtains. As soon as the solo hits… that’s exactly the sort of solo you hear in softcore. It’s all very distracting and I can’t focus on any other merits of the song.

Watch Your Step‘ blasts open with an ascending riff and clattering drums for a frenetic closer. It’s very fuzzy, hissy – could be just the version I’m listening to but it feels more like a conscious choice. A nice slice of early garage rock with overlapping vocals. It’s pretty obvious that the original, which I don’t believe I’ve ever heard, must have influenced the likes of Moby Dick and Daytripper.

It wasn’t Jazz, so that’s already a positive. I still don’t know anything about the group, but this album at least was a mixed bag of 60s pop with a near garage rock infusion, Blues, and Motown – all good things – with the thread of solid vocals and playing tying it neatly together. I don’t think any of the songs are strong enough to make my long-time playlist, but there’s certainly plenty I would enjoy listening to again. A solid album again, but it’s difficult for me to recommend covers over the originals unless the originals are crap or the covers are exceptional.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Look Away. Keep On Running. Let Me Down Easy. You Must Believe Me. Watch Your Step.

Nightman Listens To Lightfoot – Gordon Lightfoot (1966 Series)!

Lightfoot! - Wikipedia

Greetings, Glancers! Never trust an album which ends with a exclamation mark. Anyway, I don’t know an awful lot about Gordon Lightfoot beyond that he’s a singer songwriter. At least that should mean we get an album of original material rather than the same old covers and standards. Looking at the tracklist, there is one song I recognise – a cover –  but it’s a song I like. Lets see what this is all about.

Rich Man’s Spiritual: Lovely folk guitar intro, fills you with warmth and happiness. Vocals a little too deep, too Country for my tastes. Lyrics hit that idyllic 60s vibe. The vocals don’t hit the emotional peaks I’d want and the melodies are too short and cyclical. Still, good enough start.

Long River: Great guitar again, smooth and sweet. There’s still that flicker of Country in the vocals, which makes sense given what he’s singing about. Vocals are nice though, easy to swallow without being too saccharine. A whistling part. Good, but too middle of the road for my tastes.

The Way I Feel: There’s something I love about just a singer and a guitar and no other crap. It does get samey after a while if I listen to too much – much faster than a standard band with full arrangement. The music and melody in this one are more interesting. It’s music for a contemplative mood. Too much of it puts me in a funk. Especially when it’s repetitive like this.

For Lovin Me: Faster. Definitely more Country. A more fun song but still missing the emotional hook or the quality melody or the sense of change and dynamics.

The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face: Lets see what he does with this. I’ve loved versions of this – I can barely listen to the original though. This is unfortunately closer to the original. It’s more palatable than the original, but it’s drained of emotion. He’s just singing sweetly and I feel no connection to the words, and the melody and phrasing are changed from those versions I like. He seems to never change his approach – every new verse is delivered in the exact same way – he may as well be reciting the alphabet.

Changes: Another cover I believe, though I’m not as familiar with the original. It’s sweet again but every positive and negative I’ve mentioned on every other song also applies here. There’s a lot more to go folks.

Early Morning Rain: Faster. Lighter. More singing. Competent.

Steel Rail Blues: Into the second half and more of the same. This has more of a hook, every so often. White boy blues. More lyrics about going home or going somewhere.

Sixteen Miles: The thing about folk music that I like and can listen to consistently always comes down to the voice – Lightfoot has a good voice, regardless of whether it’s the style I prefer – but it’s that lack of change in his delivery. Taylor, Mitchell, hell even Dylan will change it up from line to line – adding inflections, slurs, runs, a bit of gravel, a bit of force or restraint. This guy just sings at the same plateau and it really does make the whole repetitive.

I’m Not Sayin: Another faster, lighter one. Musically. The lyrics are typically good – descriptive if not overly poetic or unique. Better than most chart drivel. This one is more fun than most and I could see myself choosing this over the others. I’m not sayin I would, but if I was forced to choose.

Pride Of Man: This is in a similar pace to the one before. I prefer these faster ones – not just because he gets through them soon, but they feel more urgent.

Ribbon Of Darkness: Country whistlin’. Quite possibly while sittin’ on a rockin’ chair, drinkin’ and a spittin’ and a lookin’ o’er a field of wheat. Slows nicely before resuming for the verse. Or was it the chorus? It’s all just a bunch of words and unvaried guitar now.

Oh Linda: Well, this one is different. Leading with some sort of bass. That alone has allowed him to try something different with his vocals and melodies. Unfortunately he falls back on the same traps and just keeps doing the same thing over and over and over. CHANGE. SOMETHING.

Peaceful Waters: This is moderately different again. Feels genuinely melancholy. Too little too late, and not startling enough to truly stand out.

As is often the case with many of these albums, I dig the first song but then thee next few sound the same, and then it becomes apparent that the singer or band have one level. Or at least that’s how it’s conveyed to me. Towards the end of this album he broaches new territory but doesn’t actually do anything with it. Maybe that’s the restriction of folk, maybe that’s because he is restricted as an artist and couldn’t break through the tropes. Maybe it’s because I’m writing from fifty years after the songs were written and everything here has become so hackneyed and watered down that whatever truth and power it may have had has long since faded. Whatever emotion he put into these songs doesn’t translate to me, whether that be down to the genre, his voice, his vocal approach. There isn’t enough in any of the songs to grip me or speak to me on a melodic level and even as much as I enjoy the simplicity of a solo performance, the limitations of that approach become apparent very quickly over the course of a whole album. Unless you’re a beast. Lightfoot is not a beast.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Lightfoot!

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: None are bad, though none are really good. So take your pick as any is as average as the next.

Nightman Listens To – Five O’Clock World – The Vogues (1966 Series)!

Five O'Clock World (album) - Wikipedia

Greetings, Glancers! Here we go, another artist I know nothing about. I look at the band name and the album name and I know nothing. Is it a girl group? Is it another British Invasion band? Is it an American response to the British Invasion? Is it Jazz, rock, pop? Am I embarrassing myself by my lack of knowledge? Am I boring you with these questions? Hit play!

Five O Clock World: Skippy guitar. Dusty Springfield rhythms. Well, they’re men so that’s one mystery solved. A catchy verse with lots of yipping in the background. A breezy chorus which stinks of Swinging Sixties loveliness. Some surprise falsetto runs post-chorus. Strings and trumpets. That was short and sweet and fun.

Goodnight My Love: Slow organ and sax and blues. The blues sweeps away to became more of a vocal group pop ballad. The horns seem to be a little off key or out of sync with the vocals. Pure and smooth vocals – could be anyone singing though. Feels very much like a 50s ballad. It’s nice, I can imagine this being a slow dance at a 1950s Prom.

Sunday And Me: In reading the YouTube comments it looks like this is yet another covers album. Luckily I don’t recognise any of the songs so they feel new to me. This has a Spanish/Deliverance opening before another boppy melody flops in. At least Sunday is a person and not the actual day. It’s very innocent and sunny.

Everyone’s Gone To The Moon: Dodgy organ intro. I know this one. Not this version. Did I hear it on another recent 1966 album? Quite possibly. It’s dreamy but a little boring. The sound quality of the version I’m listening to doesn’t help.

Let’s Hang On: Another organ based ballad. Then da phat beat drops. It’s about to go rock, then it goes weird instead, with a lot of falsetto yaps and harmonised oohing. The lead singer sounds like he’s struggling to reach the high notes. I think this deserved another take or better lead vocals. The song is weird enough to be interesting with a lot of layers to the melodies. The vocals are terrible, it’s clearly beyond them, but I imagine it’s a tough one to sing.

A Thousand Miles Away: Better vocal performance this time – a simpler song in a lower key. It’s something your Grandmother would have thought was square. You only need a couple of these in an album, that’s three or four now.

One More Sunrise: Sexy slow jazz. While the kids were slow dancing at the prom, the teachers were eyeing each other backstage while swilling from the confiscated hooch. Nice arrangement, but it doesn’t go anywhere. It’s feels like the half-drunk accompaniment to a dazed walk home in a sunrise or a sunset.

Over And Over Again: Well, I couldn’t actually find this one so I went for a version by some group called the Moonglows. It may not even be the same song. It feels right. These Moonglows guys sound the same as The Vogues, with silkier vocals. It’s another ballad, another vocal group performance. Nothing memorable here.

Make The World Go Away: Out of tune guitars give way to – you’ve guessed it – another vocal ballad. WTF is this – the vocals are going deliberately out of tune. Whoever uploaded this – was this some ploy to avoid a copyright strike? I can’t believe the song is supposed to be like this. It also feels like it has been slowed. Ah well, if you think I’m going to find another version you have another thing coming.

Run Baby Run: I know this one. It’s not as vibrant as the one I know – I don’t even know who did it or why I know it, but I do – there’s something about the main hook and the high pitched vocals which has bored into my brain. I like it, but this version isn’t a patch on the one I know.

My Troubles Are Not At End: Another ballad, with more organ and more oohing and do-be-doing. It’s the same as the others.

Humpty Dumpty: This sounds familiar too. But a crap version. It’s a novelty song or song built around a dance – this sort of thing was big in the 50s. So I may be mistaking it for another such song. It’s not very good, but at least it’s not another ballad.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Five O Clock World. Run Baby Run.

It started out promisingly – the title track is a good song, as is the performance. I think I liked the second song. But a series of ballads which neither pleased the ear, brain, or heart dulled the senses. For a vocal group, quite a lot of the performances are bland or just not good. That probably explains why I haven’t hear of them. And unless they  had another album in 1966 I assume I’ll never hear them again. I think I need some more metal again.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Five O Clock World!

Nightman Listens To – A-Tom-Ic Jones – Tom Jones (1966 Series)!

Greetings, Glancers! It’s only two posts in but I’m already regretting this decision. Old snake hips himself, the man with the thunder balls and golden tonsils – Tom Jones – who has been accepting thrown panties in his face for 6 decades now. Imagine your grandad up on stage, belting one out while a size twelve silk thong plops onto his cheek and drapes down his chin. It’s tough being a star, folks.

So Thomas Jones… I can’t say I’m a fan. I’ve nothing at all against the big lad (apart from that awful ‘burning down the house’ song he did) and all of his big songs – Delilah, It’s Not Unusual and the like are good for singing when you’re six bottles down and halfway to gutterville. He even did a song with the Manic Street Preachers, which isn’t half bad. This will be the first time I embark on a full album by him though and I’m not sure I can cope with his booming voice for so long. Maybe the songs will be good, who knows. Hilariously, the US cover for this album had to be replaced to remove the nuclear mushroom cloud in the background which Tom has presumably unleashed from his sphincter as he forces out a particularly high note, because in 1966 the US were scared of bombs. Pff, try living in Belfast guys – I can’t get to sleep if there isn’t a bomb going off.

Dr. Love: Well now, this gets off to an explosive start with booming horns and young Tom turned up to twelve. The lyrics are pretty saucy too. The chorus is too plain for his vocal approach. He’s spicing up the vocals in the verses with a series of growls and whispers. The backing vocals try to give the whole thing a Motown feel for the chorus, but still too plain. Ha – love-itis. A good start.

Face Of A Loser: Opens with a Dusty Springfield swing. A softer vocal approach. Slightly. Plenty more horns. More backing vocals for the chorus. It’s a better chorus this time, except I wish they would have continued down the scale when singing ‘lo-oh-oh-oh-ser’. That would have opened up the melody a little. Good verse melodies though, I could see myself singing this in the shower or to the bald train conductor whose face looks like the back of his head. Ah right, that’s a personal reference. Belts out those final notes.

It’s Been A Long Time Coming: I expected a lot of brass in this album, and boy am I getting it. I’m not a brass fan in general, hasn’t got on my nerve yet. This has a clear blues feel. I assume all of these songs had been recorded by others before Tom, but I don’t know any of them. It’s hard hearing this without thinking of Long Time Coming by The Delays. Check out that song, it’s great. This is too slow for my liking, those slow blues numbers never really work for me unless there’s some devilish guitar to slice my skin off. He lets off a great screech though, Little Richard style.

In A Woman’s Eyes: Horns, you know it. A touch of guitar. More of a rambling verse this time, with the melody held for the chorus. Great bridge though. ‘In a woman’s eyes I’m everything a man should be’. Watch that ego there, Tom, you’ll poke your eye out.

More: Hmm, reminiscent of a young Michael Jackson song. Violins to accompany the horns. Ahhh, that’s why I know this – it’s from Mondo Cane. I always thought that was a bizarre piece of music to accompany a film about force-feeding and tit-showing, and other strange human practices, but then the lovely music Riz made for Cannibal Holocause doesn’t exactly fit the story, at least on the surface.

I’ll Never Let You Go: Slow horns. A plain and simple verse melody. There hasn’t been a bad song yet, that’s good. A little samey maybe, but that’s the audience. This is middle album fare and doesn’t challenge. None of the songs are over three minutes, so they’re straight to the point and gone before I can get too pissed off. With a weaker voice the songs would feel much less significant.

The Loser: Another slow one, come on I want the up-tempo boy-os. Quite a few of these songs feel like they should be performed by women instead. I don’t mean that in any sort of condescending or sexist way – I just mean that in the climate of the mid-sixties these songs are exactly what solo female vocalists were singing so they feel strange coming from Tom. This is another rambler.

To Make A Big Man Cry: I’m going to get annoyed soon, it’s another soft and slow one. Come on, mix it up. Credit to Tom for trying to blast it out in the chorus, and the strings swell nicely to join him. That’s a pretty good chorus, the verses aren’t bad. I think I would like this a lot more if it didn’t come in a string of slower songs. Probably the best chorus on the album.

Key To My Heart: Speed! The album definitely has the swinging sixties feel, the arrangements and tone all remind me of other songs from the era. This is fun enough, some surprise guitar in the background and mostly string led rather than brass. As a flip-side to the previous song I would probably enjoy this song less if it hadn’t followed a series of slow ones.

True Loves Comes Only Once In A Lifetime: What the balls is this? An almost oriental intro. Very slow. Very brass. Weird backing vocals. An aimless verse leads to a plain chorus. That intro keeps coming back as a refrain, weird. Yeah, not great but didn’t hurt.

A Little You: This one starts out, if not quite like The Beatles, but some sort of 60s pop rock. A dinky, fun verse with plenty of backing vocals leads to an inconsequential chorus of sorts. It keeps that loose rambling style (when I say a song rambles, it usually means it doesn’t have an obvious verse/chorus structure – not a bad thing, or that the two entities are so similar that it’s difficult to distinguish between them – a bad thing) and never gets to where it wants to go.

You’re So Good For Me: Another mix of guitar horns, this feels like something Elvis would have done. The lead horn part is cool but again the chorus is more like a full stop – a recital of the song’s name followed by a hard stop. Nice long note to finish.

Where Do You Belong: I’m not sure how I feel about this one – the verse starts well but doesn’t take the melodic turns I want it to. It’s just nice, easy listening stuff that I’m not going to remember in a song’s time.

These Things You Don’t Forget: Anytime I see the words ‘these things’ together, it makes me think of Homer’s ‘this things I believe’. A slow, soft one to finish. At least until Tom unleashes a throat grenade. It’s not a great finish – verse is promising, those booming vocals in the pre-chorus are great, but the chorus is a let down.

There you go, my first Tom Jones album. It wasn’t anywhere near as horrible as I thought it was going to be – in fact, I can see now why he’s had such a long career, beyond being a generic male singer. He really does let rip in some songs and it’s abundantly clear that he is bigger than the songs he has been given. With better songs you could tell he would be a force to reckon with… but beyond the few hits of his that I’ve already mentioned I don’t know if he ever got material worthy of him. I get another chance to find out as September 1966 saw the release of his next album From The Heart. I go into that with less apprehension than I had earlier today.

Let us know in the comments what you think of A-Tom-Ic Jones!

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Dr. Love. Face Of A Loser. To Make A Big Man Cry.

Nightman Listens To – Just Like Us – Paul Revere And The Raiders (1966 Series)!

Greetings, Glancers! Here we go, the first post in a series I am sure to never finish – listening to every album released in 1966 (at least as listed by Wikipedia). That’s somewhere in the vicinity of three hundred albums, but taking out the compilations, EPs, ones I know, and ones which I already plan to listen to outside of this series we’ll hopefully get a less daunting figure. If you plan to follow along with me like a weirdo, I’m going from top to bottom on the 1966 In Music page on Wikipedia, and the first album on that list just happens to be a Compilation by James Brown – a singer who I haven’t listed to a full album by, but who I’ve always liked. We skip over him, and on to Paul Revere And The Raiders. Who?

Released on January 3rd 1966, it’s obviously one of the first releases of the year. It’s one I know nothing about, but according to Wikipedia was their fourth album and that they were a pop rock group. Hopefully we’ll get some nice 60s pop rock along the lines of The Beatles or The Beach Boys then. It’s not on Colin Larkin’s Top 1000 list and I can’t think of any other reason I would want to listen to it beyond this series of posts, so lets do it!

Steppin’ Out: Okay, gets off with a blast. Tambourines and a bluesy riff and Jagger swagger. Yes, this is much more like The Rolling Stones. There’s a switch in pace that comes out of nowhere and the song flies along before reverting back to the previous tempo. I’m not a huge fan of the vocals or vocal style, very much trying to capitalize on Jagger, but fine. It’s not what I was expecting, quite fun.

Doggone: Apparently a Smokey Robinson song. Continues with the Stones theme. The vocals are deeper and more controlled, theatrical, and vicious than Jagger. As it’s a Robinson song, there’s a lightness to the melody. Layered vocals give it a unique flavour. Central riff is simple but effective. So far a nice start to 1966 and exactly the sort of rock approach I was expecting bands to be producing, if a little heavier than what I thought.

Out Of Sight: Was that a shouty German intro? Ah, I see now that this is actually a covers album. I didn’t really want to include cover albums in these posts but we’ve started, and it’s good, so I’ll leave this as an exception. This is my least favourite track so far, but still more of the same – straight forward blues rock.

Baby, Please Don’t Go: Well, I know this one, natch. It’s a straight cover without much additional flourish. It’s a fun, quick song, but I was never a huge fan of it in any form. I always find it bizarre that these albums exist – even after The Beatles obliterated the model, multiple artists were still releasing multiple covers albums. Money drives, I guess.

I Know: I DON’T know this one. Heh. Lots of silly voices and laughter and background chit chat. Well played, but completely uneventful.

Night Train: It ain’t G’n’R. Nice intro with drums and brass as a fake train arrival. This is followed by your typical Blues stuff but the guitar tone is very flat and everything sounds like it was recorded in a tin of beans. It’s a mostly boring instrumental.

Just Like Me: Apparently this one isn’t necessarily a cover, but they bought the song from someone else. It has a similar rhythm to ‘Louie Louie’. Simple lyrics, lots of shouting. Too repetitive within its brief running time and lacking in the melody department to make any impact.

Catch The Wind: Not the first time I’ve heard this song on the blog, but of course my preferred version is the Susannah Hoffs one. Due to that, most other vocals sound flat to me. This one is especially lifeless – all the additional inflections and hooks and emotion Hoffs adds are absent here. The vocals on this version are almost as if he’s just reading them off the page having never heard the song – in fact it seems like he’s deliberately taking the piss, adding ‘da da das’ in a ‘who gives a shit’ way.

Satisfaction: More Stones. This is basically identical to the original, in other words, what’s the point? If you’re going to cover something, you have to add your own flavour and twist – in today’s sad parlance – you have to make it your own. This adds almost nothing, yet sounds less energetic and sleazy than the original. Still, it’s a classic song and it’s difficult to get it wrong.

I’m Crying: A count in intro like I Saw Her Standing There gets this one underway. It’s another famous British Invasion song, and again it’s not all that different. It’s all a bit pointless – here’s a bunch of songs other people wrote a few years ago, and look – we can play them too!

New Orleans: A marginally older song now, one with a famous ‘hey heya’ intro and a smooth swaying rhythm. There are countless versions of most of these songs out there, this one rocks a little more than the original thanks to the intervening years since it was written, but it’s mostly the same.

Action: I don’t know what this is, but it definitely has a Beach Boys vibe – similar harmonies and vocal style and even the lyrics are sunny and surfy. Like the rest of the album it’s all played with talent and energy.

That’s one album down, two hundred odd to go. I’m a little peeved this was just covers as its clear the band know how to play and how to rock. The early songs are the best as they capture a fun and youthful spirit, but it all wears thin quickly with the same range of songs that everyone else was covering at the time being played with a lack of invention and imagination. There’s nothing here to recommend any of the songs over the originals, unless you’re a die-hard of the band. There’s enough here to make me want to hear more by the band, but I want original material. With that being said, the band released three more albums in 1966 alone so I assume at least one of these is original material. We’ll get there, team, we’ll get there.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Just Like Us!

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Steppin’ Out.

Nightman Listens To – 1966 – By Everyone!

everyone2

Greetings, Glancers! Yeah… you… you read that right. If you’re not really sure what the title means, then let me enlighten you; I’ve listened to all the Bryan Adams albums, I’ve almost finished the Bon Jovi albums, and it won’t be long before I’m through with Madonna, Roxette, Bowie. I’ve started with The Rolling Stones and The Beach Boys, and those are going to take some time. I’ve also started to work my way through the albums by each member of The Beatles, and that’s going to take even longer. I’m still messing around with the Iron Maiden members non Iron Maiden work. I’m working my way slowly through the Best 1000 Albums Of All Time, and listening to chart singles from every year. My plate is full, in other words. Still, one idea which has been gnawing away at me for quite some time is to listen to every single album (or at least the official studio, non-live, non-compilation) released in a single year. It’s a ridiculous undertaking, considering any year from at least 1960 has at least one thousand album releases.

You see, often when my brain drifts off to fantasy lands of sleep and booze induced nonsense, I imagine being transported to another world or a parallel universe where the music of our 20th Century doesn’t exist. I then bring our music to that world either as a DJ of some sort, or by starting my own band and pretending to write the songs myself. Either way I become a beloved billionaire. It’s great – you should try it some time. In these flights of fancy, I try to imagine myself releasing the best songs in some sort of chronological way and replace the crap with the good – this means that, for example, The first Beatles album (as written and recorded and performed by me in this parallel world) would feature Del Shannon’s Runaway and BB King’s Stand By Me instead of some of the crap that actually appears – Boys, Chains, Anna etc. To cut a very long and depressing story short, I simply don’t know enough of the music released in the 20th Century to say what I would nick and claim as my own so I want to go listen to everything. Naturally, in these silly imaginings time wraps around itself meaning when I’m in the other land I don’t age even though weeks, months, and years pass, while as that time passes over there, in our world mere seconds have passed. You get it. It’s all balls.

That’s my reasoning. Or some part of it. Who knows – maybe as a music fan I just feel there are too many gaps in history that I want to fill in, and even with all of my other series those gaps are still too wide and varied. By listening to everything in a whole year I’ll be forcing myself to listen to artists I normally avoid and artists I’ve never heard of. Hopefully I find a lot of great stuff. Me being me, I’ll probably hate a lot of it.

Why 1966? Why not, really? Our current musical landscape, or at least up to around 2000, was defined by the emergence of The Beatles and the bands which followed in their wake. I feel like it took until around 1966 for the rest of the world to catch up. The Stones, The Beach Boys, Elvis, and many others had been making music at the same time and before, but in 1966 other artists were either forming or releasing their debuts or getting into their stride – The Doors, Them, The Who, The Kinks, The Animals, Dylan, Cream, Hendrix, Yardbirds, James Brown, The Supremes, Nancy Sinatra, Dusty Springfield, Otis Redding, Cher, Stevie Wonder, Johnny Cash, Marvin Gaye, Aretha, Donovan, Mamas & Papas, Tom Jones, Streisand, Bee Gees, Herb Alpert etc etc etc. It wasn’t exactly the beginning, but it seems like the beginning of the peak. If I somehow survive this challenge, I’ll move straight into 1967 and would aim to just keep going. Obviously there’s no way I’m getting through this, but I’m a fighter. And a lover. And maybe I do have access to a parallel world or a device which can stop time. You can’t prove I don’t.

I’m not going to bother publishing a list of all the albums I’ll be covering as that would take almost as much time as it would to listen to them. I’ll let you know what I’m doing when the day comes, but I’ll probably use Wikipedia and go through it in chronological order. I’m not going to listen to any albums I’ve already heard – which will be a lot, but in the grand scheme of things quite minuscule. I’m also going to pass over any albums which are already on one of my other lists – Stones, Beach Boys etc. If one artist repeatedly comes up who repeatedly offers nothing for me, then I’ll skip them. Otherwise, I’ll be listening to pop, rock, blues, gospel, folk, and gasp – even Country. Pray for my soul. Why not join me on this ride – pop on the records and see where they lead us?

Nightman’s Top Ten Films Of 1966

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

10: Carry On Screaming (UK)

9: Born Free (UK)

8: Alfie (UK)

7: The Professionals (US)

6: Blowup (UK/US/Italy)

5: One Million BC (UK)

4: Dracula, Prince Of Darkness (UK)

3: The Battle of Algiers (Italy/Algeria)

2: Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (USA)

1: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly (Italy/Germany/Spain/US)

How Many Of My Films Were In The Top 10 Grossing Of The Year: Three

How Many Of My Films Were Nominated For the Best Picture Oscar: Two

Chart Music – 1966

Yes! Back thanks to an almost universal lack of demand, I stretch back the scalp of time and feast upon the mushy innards of the past – in this instance I return to the UK music charts. If you’re interested, you can read my original post here – https://carlosnightman.wordpress.com/2015/10/22/the-uk-top-40/

1966 Glancers, 1966. The year which meany consider to be the pinnacle of music. A pivotal year by all accounts, for culture worldwide, for music, cinema, politics, civil rights and so on and so forth. Where were you? Where was I? Where am I? So many questions, and so few readers. As you may be aware, I was not yet part of this world, at least not as you understand it, but many people were and they bore witness to things such as England winning the World Cup, thousands more US troops landing in Vietnam, Time magazine asked if God Was Dead, The Church Of Satan was formed, Castro declared Martial Law, Star Trek debuted on TV, John met Yoko, and a maniac went on a shooting spree in Texas.

In the realm of music, David Bowie emerged, The Beatles became the first band to play the Nippon Budokan Hall, Van Morrison and The Doors appeared on stage together, and Bob Dylan turned Judas. A bunch of extraordinarily popular albums were released and many songs still played regularly today were recorded. Looking at the list of songs below, there are only three I know from the name but I’m sure once I listen I will know a few more. The list at a first glance doesn’t seem to be representative of the many great songs and albums which first appeared this year.

  1.  Jim Reeves. Distant Drums.

Smooth vocals. Slow. Far away. Basic beat, simple piano. Strings arrive. Shifts to a more Western style pace. All very pleasant but out of time. Nothing wrong with it, a little too nice for my liking.

2. Dave Dee: Bend It!

Descending riff. Slower pace. Quickening like a Greek tune. Faster. Collapse. Funny. Even Greek guitars so I assume a deliberate choice. I always liked this sort of music from my travels. What exactly is he bending? Pretty good, though probably a novelty song.

3. The Who: I’m A Boy.

Back when they sounded like a nice little garage band, though they still manage to make plenty of noise in the chorus and bridge with those chugging guitars and bin lid drums. Great lyrics, good music.

4. New Vaudeville Band: Winchester Cathedral.

Ha ha, South Park. There’s something in my pocket for you. Waterloo melody. More novelty stuff but still good. Not a bad song yet, yay.

5. The Rolling Stones: Have You Seen Your Mother Baby Standing In The Shadow.

Fuzz and throbbing and sudden trumpets. All a bit chaotic with the trumpets out of tune with the vocals and guitar. The little break in the middle is nice. I was never a huge fan of early Stones but this is pretty good. The bass is probably the best part. It all collapses into a surprise bonus riff at the end. You wouldn’t get that in the charts these days.

6. The Supremes: You Can’t Hurry Love.

You know it, of course you do. Or the Phil Collins version. Sweet, melodic, beautiful. Can’t say much more about it, just enjoy!

7. Sandpipers: Guatanamera.

A song forever adopted by football crowds with ‘Guatanamera’ changed to… something else. I have no idea what it’s about but all very nice – dreamy verses and of course an incredibly catchy chorus. Oh, a spoken explanation. I didn’t really need that, but thanks.

8. Sonny And Cher: Little Man.

Greek fingering (madam) and bangs (sir). Yes, I know this. Horn beeps. Lots of pauses. It is a very odd song, then again it was 1966. Good though.

9. The Troggs: I Can’t Control Myself.

To be fair, most morning I wake up and scream ‘OH NO!’ This is a song with a marching beat and a simple structure, catchy chorus, verses okay, probably shouldn’t be stretched to three minutes.

10. Dusty Springfield: All I See Is You

Your standard Springfield ballad – big vocals, a little mournful, you know the score.  The chorus/rest of song is much better – even bigger vocals and more emotion, and it keeps getting bigger in every sense as it goes along.

As mentioned earlier, 1966 had a wealth of quality releases – Sounds Of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel, Boots by Nancy Sinatra, Blonde On Blonde, Pet Sounds, Revolver, Freak Out, Jefferson Airplane Takes Off, A Quick One, and many others. Out of the top selling singles of the year in the US, three were by The Beatles, one by The Beach Boys, and one by Frank Sinatra – four out of five ain’t bad. For an alternative list of 10 great songs from 1966 (though most are incredibly famous) have a click on the links below:

  1. The Beatles: We Can Work It Out

2. James Brown: I Got You (I Feel Good)

3. The Mamas And The Papas: California Dreamin

4. The Rolling Stones: Paint It Black

5. The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Hey Joe

6. The Velvet Underground & Nico: I’ll Be Your Mirror

7. Janis Ian: Society’s Child

8. Jefferson Airplane: Let Me In

9. The Kinks: Sunny Afternoon

10. The Who: Boris The Spider

What is your favourite song from 1966? Let us know in the comments!

Best Cast – 1966

My Nominations: 7 Women. The Bible: In The Beginning. The Chase. The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. How To Steal A Million. A Man For All Seasons. Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?

Time for the all important Best Cast category of 1966, with a variety of epics, classics, and forgotten gems making up my list. Anne Bancfroft leads a nearly all-women cast in 7 Women, with Sue Lyon, Flora Dobson and other backing her up. On the epic front, The Bible goes old school, packing as many A listers and cameos in as possible but doesn’t quite match up to the movies it tries to emulate – Michael Parks, Ava Gardener, George C Scott, Peter O’Toole all popping up as your favourite Sunday School characters. A Man For All Seasons would likely have been the official winner if this category existed, with a handful of Redgraves starring alongside Orson Welles, John Hurt, Robert Shaw, and Paul Schofield, but it would have had a close fight on its hands thanks to the more powerful work by Taylor, Burton, Segal, and Dennis in Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? My remaining picks didn’t do as well at the Official ceremony, but are each packed with great performances, perhaps none more so than The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly – Eastwood, Wallach, and Van Cleer on top form. How To Steal A Million, saw Wallach again make an impact along with Audrey Hepburn, Peter O’Toole, and Hugh Griffith. My win though goes to the least known of the bunch, with Brando, Fonda, Angie Dickinson, and Robert Redford leading a cast including Robert Duvall and Clifton James.

My Winner: The Chase.

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Which film of 1966 do you think had the Best Cast giving the best performances? Let us know in the comments!

Best Stunt Work – 1966

My Nominations: Grand Prix. The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly. Is Paris Burning? The Sword Of Doom. The Wild Angels.

A selection of films from around the globe this year, with a Western, War movie, a Samurai epic, and two films focusing on man and machine making my list. Grand Prix takes my win for making car racing look much more exciting than it actually is, with Max Balchowsky, Tom Bamford, Carey Loftin, and Ronnie Rondell Jr performing the majority of the driving.

My Winner: Grand Prix

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Which film of 1966 do you think had the best Stunt Work? Let us know in the comments!