Pop Music History
Great Hits of 1969/1970 (Part 2)
UK and Foreign Sounds Top the Charts
Honky Tonk Women- Rolling Stones
‘Honky Tonk Women’ marked the beginning of a new era for the Rolling Stones and set the stage for their emergence as the world’s top rock band in the coming decade. Issued a few days after the death of founding member Brian Jones in July of 1969 this 3 minute Stones r&b ditty combined funny, even risque (for the time) lyrics in a hazy Jagger/Richards jamboree. Along with the classy flipside of ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ this remains in the eyes and ears of the critics one of the top singles of the 60’s. It hit #1 in the US, the UK and many other spots around the world.
Time of the Season- The Zombies.…bubble gum meets the keyboards of Rod Argent. This US #1 (in Cashbox) brought new life to a band that was fading into the sunset as the song blared out of transistor radios in February of ’69. In fact the Zombies had already effectively broken up back in 1967! At the urging of Blood, Sweat and Tears founder Al Kooper Epic Records issued the Zombies final record in late 1968 and it must have been the right time of the season because it soon climbed to the top of the US charts and remains popular to this day, offering a time-travelling like odyssey back to the late 60’s.
Another big name UK band that imploded during this period was the Yardbirds, who officially called it a day in the summer of ’68. Guitarist and producer Jimmy Page had other plans however and kept the name- added three new players, Plant, Jones and and Bonham and the New Yardbirds toured northern Europe in September 1968. In January of ’69 they issued their first album, as Led Zeppelin, to roaring success. As was the norm in those days Led Zepppelin’s second album would be issued the same year (in October), led by the explosive and risque (for the time) ‘Whole Lotta Love’, which became a US Top 5 hit in early 1970.
As their career went on Zeppelin shunned the hit singles market, so these 1969 45’s are rare collectibles, especially if you can find the AM version of ‘Whole Lotta Love’ which had a full 2 and 1/2 minutes edited out….but little kids and their older brothers didn’t care…and the 45 was certified as a Gold Record (for 1 million copies sold) on April 13, 1970. So maybe they’re not that rare.
Like ‘Age of Aquarius’ the UK #1 ‘Something In The Air’ by Thunderclap Newman immediately transports me back to the essence of 1969. “Revolution” was in the air…and patience was running out as the hippies now told us to gather our “arms and ammo”….interestingly this song was produced by Pete Townsend who has tended to distance himself from the hippie era and finds no hippie sentiment in the classic counter-culture anthem ‘We Won’t Get Fooled Again’, which was issued in late 1970. Thunderclap Newman were not your usual one-hit wonders- their lead guitarist was a teenager named Jimmy McCullough, a hellluva player…who would soon join Paul McCartney’s Wings. ‘Something In The Air‘ only made it to #37 in the US, but it also appeared on the soundtrack to the Ringo Starr/Peter Sellers comedy ‘The Magic Christian’ which was a minor box office hit in early 1970.
One of the most risque (for the time) singles ever issued was the french song ‘Je T’Aime Moi Non Plus’ by Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin- a celebrity couple of sorts living in Paris in 1969. Gainsbourg is now seen as a cult leader of a certain lounge and jazz mentality and the song sums up a sexual mood prevalent in the late 60s and early ’70s. Think of it as the original version of ‘Last Tango In Paris’.
While only a minor hit in the US ‘Je T’Aime Moi Non Plus’ topped the charts in Europe (it was released on 5 different labels in France!) and #2 on the UK charts…where it was promptly banned.in fact it was banned for the sole purpose of ensuring that it would not become a UK chart-topper..Jane Birkin’s sighs being a bit to sexy for the Crown (for the time)…;-) (to be continued…)