I can tell ‘Good Vibrations’ has been played a lot, it pops and clicks all the way through – although there are no scratches, and it never jumps – and the paper sleeve is in a bit of a state.
This is one of the singles i think I heard being played when I was a kid, but I’m not sure*. It certainly wasn’t played as much as ‘Hotel California’ or ‘American Pie’, but nothing was (until mum’s Barbara Streisand phase in the early 1980s).
The Beach Boys “Good Vibrations”
For such an upbeat track, ‘Good Vibrations’ has an unexpected air of melancholy. It starts in a minor key ‘I… love the colourful clothes she wears…‘, and quickly moves to major chords, but even during those ecstatic stacked harmonies – good! Good! GOOD! – it seems somehow sad, like the minor chords have stained the positivity, uncertainty spilling out over the three and a half minutes.
The song almost seems like instant nostalgia, knowing that this perfect summer, this perfect girl, this happiness, is fleeting. Is the ‘she’ of the song even real?
*I suppose I could just phone him and ask, but that takes all the fun out of it.
Some 60’s records get played over and over again, like ‘Whiter Shade of Pale’ (you know the sort of record), and others just seem to have disappeared. I hadn’t even heard of this song until The Damned released their version in 1986, and got to #3 in the charts, and I’ve not heard it since.
‘Eloise’ by Barry Ryan
This is a properly mad record.
Barry’s singing starts off mildly frantic and breathlessly over-enunciated, and 5 minutes later he’s sounding like a man with his extremities on fire and a gun to his head. The music is similarly ridiculous, arranged to within an inch of its life, with parping horn sections, angelic choirs, two drummers (one in each ear) and ending with a climax balancing on top of another, larger climax, balanced on a pyramid made of loud bits.
Going through Dad’s old singles, I’m surprised at how much R&B there is. These days it seems he mostly listens to Don Henley. Back then – his late teens, early twenties – there was a fair bit of soul: some Marvin, Pickett, Smokey, Supremes, and a couple of singles by The Isley Brothers.
This Old Heart Of Mine (Is Weak For You) – The Isley Brothers
The Isley brothers may not one of the first bands you think of when you think of Soul/R&B , but they’ve been having hits since the 1950’s, and are amazingly still going (although they are now down to just 2 members, the others lost to death, illness or religion).
This was their second big hit, from the brief time they were signed to Tamla and had Lamont and Dozier writing, and the Funk Brothers playing. A lot of Motown and Tamla singles from this time sound similar, not surprising when they were written and played – and often produced – by the same few people. The real character of the piece comes from the singer, in this case Ronald Isley, and what a singer he is. His voice is silky smooth, but not too smooth, there’s a bit of grit in there too.
A few hit-free years after this, they left Motown to (re)start their own label and had a big hit with ‘It’s your thing‘, which is ridiculously funky, and which went on to sell a million copies, which singles could do back in those days.