TOP 50 singles of 1966
For me 1966 is a year of magic; it's the zenith of
something called rock 'n' roll that started in 1955...and died in 1967 to be
reborn in 1976.
(selection made in 1997; soon I'll make a completely new selection)
1. The Myddle Class : I happen to love you (Tomorrow 45-7503)
Shivering : the ultimate love song. Itís only this version you ought to know. I didnít know Carole King and Gerry Goffin could write something like this. Best credits go to the unknown band The Myddle Class with some Charlie Larkey. Later heís back in other bands such as The Fugs and also The City, a band around song writer Carole King. Maybe Charlie addressed this song towards her, because a while later they married. This is the best slow from the best year and I dedicate it to all rock Ďní roll queens. On a Swedish live EP you can find a remarkable live version by The Electric Prunes. Also Them recorded a version but it doesn't include Van Morrison of course.
2. The Electras : Dirty ol' man (Scotty 6621)
First an explanation: this Dirty Old Man, Themís and The Sonicsí are three totally different songs (and certainly the Three Degrees song). I used to know just the Litter version and I adored it. The first and third Litter singles have got a different flip, but share the same catalogue number. When I heard this original version in 1987, I first thought: "This is impossible! A better version of Dirty Old Man!!!" And just thank Gregg Kostelich for the excellent "Best Of" on his Get Hip label. To complete the confusion about this track : Twas Brillig is the same band as The Electras. Coincidence or not: also The Litter released this song twice with the same catalog number and different flip. Label owner Kendrick wrote their songs all but one (Pregnant pig). Draft, college et al. disbanded the group, but in 1985 a reunion with original line-up was a fact. Harvey replaced Earl's brother Bill.
3. Davie Allan & The Arrows : Blues theme (Tower 295)
Yeah! For years the best instrumental I knew. It takes you away as if youíre on Jack Nicholsonís Harley rapidly heading nowhere. Davie Allan was the instro-biker-king! Itís amazing how many biker movies soundtracks heís featured on, and especially on Tower Records. The three best cover versions are one by one beautiful recordings, especially the Chocolate Watch Band version which was recorded under the moniker of The Hogs. They turned the song into a garage classic. This explains the numerous covers in the 80s by bands such as The Fuzztones (a killer live version) and in the 90s with The Mortals on top. Play these four versions after one another and enjoy the ride.
4. Jacques Dutronc : Mini mini mini (Vogue V45.1359)
Early 1966 his first EP was released with four tracks: "Et moi et moi et moi", "J'ai mis un tigre dans ma guitare", "Les gens sont fous, les temps sont flous" and this "Mini mini mini". And it's his best EP. The same year three more EP's followed and the next years were golden years as well for this French beat-hero. Two bands were named after him and play his repertoire. In England there's Dutronc (including a Headcoat) and Belgium has got Dutronic.
5. The Groupies : Primitive (Atco 6393)
"Primitive" has an oppressingly sounding feeling, just like New York City, or even mesmerizing. This slow punker also shows the atmosphere of The Crampsí second album. Itís always gonna be a mystery why this tremendous single hasnít got a successor, for this is one of the most magnificent songs ever to come out of the Big Apple. The Cannibals' rendition is full of energy too. But the original is unequalled so far, not even by the Italian 90s garage band The Kartoons which can be found on the compilation "Mindexpanding vol 1". It's the Cramps who recorded the second best version.
6. The Sparkles : No friend of mine (Hickory 45P1443)
This is one of my absolute faves from my best loved year 1966. This classy song (first class punk) knows only classy cover versions. The Swampratsí smashing version is one of the best songs ever played in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The New York band the Fuzztones and the Spikes from Australia did a fine job as well.
7. The Cavaliers : Seven days of cryin' (Crisis 101)
Whoís got more info about one of the most fabulous songs from that fabulous year? Almost nothing is known about this band. I often wonder why Crypt chief Tim Warren who found this incredibly wild gem, hasnít given any more details in his liner notes on "Back from the grave vol 7". I know now! Warren had no permission to use this song. Steve Cunningham, their guitar player, told me all about it. This 45 was their sole release.
8. Randy Alvey & The Green Fuz : Green fuz (Big Tex 445)
One of the most savage primitive garage punksongs. The band with the 15 year old Randy, hated their (only) single and being pissed and drunk they destroyed as many copies as possible. No surprise the single is extremely hard to find and very expensive. Randy was (and still is) surprised "Green fuz" had become a popular song in the genre, especially by the quintessential Cramps cover version and also by the Pebbles series. The Miracle Workers did an excellent job too as did Beatman with his band The In-Sekt on the Mondo Beatman EP. The German Beatitudes version can be found on "Raw Cuts vol 3".
9. The Troggs : Wild thing (Fontana TF689)
The author, Chip Taylor, is in fact James Wesley Voight, one of the Wild Ones and brother of Jon Voight. Perhaps the best example of a very simple song becoming a chart topper and an inspiration for a whole generation. Even now many bands start playing and rehearsing with this British 60ís punker. The many breaks and also the ocarino makes this song something special.
10. The Jagged Edge : How many times (Twirl 2024)
First this: this is different from the Roviní Flames song with the same title. Itís an intriguing moody punker and one of the best on "Sixties Choice vol 1". From 1966, and again it proves the quality of that year.
11. The Todds : I want her back (Toddlin' Town 102)
Much underrated and sole single by these unknown Chicago punkers. Sliding on the organ tunes you fly over this fuzz punk song. Probably Toddliní Town was the label of the auther Todd himself.
12. The Electric Prunes : I had too much to dream last night (Reprise RS20532)
Their most famous and best as well. Although the band started in Seattle, they soon came to L.A. Why? Why was this drug related song an instant hit and lotsa others not and just because of those same drug references? Perhaps because Dave Hasinger also worked as engineer with many Rolling Stones recordings. The weirdest version ever heard is by Rasputin & The Mad Monks. The best 80ís versions are played by The Cannibals and by Naz Nomad & the Nightmares aka The Damned.
13. The Four Tops : Reach out (I'll be there) (Motown 1098)
One of the best soul songs ever and according to rock journalist Dave Marsh the 4th best song (James Brown, Chuck Berry and Marvin Gaye is his top 3). Holland-Dozier-Holland never wrote a more romantic soul song.
14. The Kinks : I'm not like everybody else (Pye 7N17125)
This is the Kinks at their best. And this is my anthem. The day I die, people must sing this song. It was a difficult choice. The Nomads and the Chocolate Watchband play a blistering version, 1000% TNT. I still havenít figured out why this was just a B-side.
15. The Shandells : Go go gorilla (Bangar BA00659)
Prehistoric cavepunk from Ed Geinís state from the same town as Aldon & The E.C.ís. E.C. stands for Eau Claire. Whoís got more info about these four lads? Only 100 copies were pressed, but itís easy to be found on one of the best samplers ever: Wavy Gravy. If you got the time, listen as well to the devastating cover version by the Cheater Slicks.
16. The Bold : Gotta get some (Cameo C430)
New England is full of undiscovered nuggets of prime sixties punk. This could be the perfect Fuzztones song, but ití still from 1966. Donít look for the rest of their singles or their sole album. Just love this one and think about this night. Gotta get some...
17. Lil' Boy Blues : I'm not there (Bat Wing 2003)
These are not the Little Boy Blues from Chicago! Very popular in Northern California these psycho punks recorded "Iím not there", a fabulous example of West Coast fuzz punk from that magical year of 1966.
18. Mick & The Shambles : Lonely nights again (Verve Folkways 5010)
Their sole effort, but itís a killer, this slow menacing punker. Whenever youíre alone in your bed, donít think about masturbation for once, but imagine youíre dancing with a lovely girl (or boy) listening to these tunes. When youíre tired, you still can do what you were thinking before, just like every night.
19. Bo Diddley : We're gonna get married (Checker 1142)
One of Bo's most underrated songs and lesser known as well. Perhaps the main reason is that this was recorded in 1966, the year rock 'n' roll would fall asleep and start its hibernation for a whole decade. No more Memphis or Chicago, but San Francisco would become the center of the universe. The irresistible Diddley-beat rules this gem from start to finish and it's hard to ignore your tapping toes. Mickey (ex Milkshakes) and Ludella (Headcoatees) recorded this song for their fabulous duet album "Bedlam a go go" and of course that album has been produced by Diddley-Medway master Billy Childish.
20. Zorba & the Greeks : Shockwave (Golden State 597)
Lotsa organ and reverb sounds in this unknown surf instro makes this one of my fave from the Romulan surf compilations. It was no surprise at all that the Belgian instro band The Vice Barons covered this shock surf tune in 1994.
21. The Count Five : Psychotic reaction (Double Shot 104)
A San Jose smash hit from top year 1966, a one hit wonder band as they say including an Englishman called Byrne. Because they wanted to continue with their studies, they firmly declined a big record deal. Sometimes when they were performing, they were dressed in black capes, just perfect for psychotic minds. The harmonica solo is also to be found with these fabulous cover versions by The Cramps and The Fuzztones.
22. The Leaves : Hey Joe, where you gonna go (Mira 222)
Impossible to say how many cover versions there are. I do know it wasnít written (many books tell you this, but theyíre wrong) by a Grateful Dead member (fortunately not), that it was first performed live by The Byrds and the first vinyl release was done by The Leaves. Best version is their third (because of the fuzztone guitar) from my fave year. The first version is great as well, but it has got Bill Rinehart instead of Bobby Arlin. Concert posters showed marihuana leaves with the ad "The Leaves are happening". The most crazed cover version was recorded by Fred Coleís Dead Moon and I hate the "hippie" version of Jimi Hendrix.
23. The Chocolate Watch Band : Baby blue (Uptown 740)
After their first single (as by The Hogs) this was issued. Being Ed Cobb proteges they released their stuff through Tower and sublabel Uptown. Many have tried to make a good cover version of this Bob Dylan standard, but this is the top.
24. The Stoics : Enough of what I need (Brams 101)
This folk garage classic only sold about 150 copies because of a local radio ban concerned about the "obscene lyrics". Where have I heard that before? I must admit I had a difficult choice between the original and the breath taking 1984 cover by the Mystic Eyes from Buffalo, New York. The lyrics are great: "... remember all the nights you kissed my lips and the pleasure of my fingertips...".
25. The Grodes : Let's talk about girls (Current 112)
What better subject can there be than girls for young guys? Maybe thatís how their manager Don Gates "managed" to release this song under a different name The Tongues Of Truth. The guys went wild and threw him out. Nevertheless it was a local hit record. Best known version is done by The Chocolate Watchband, the strangest perhaps by the Undertones. I still prefer the fuzz-organ-garage punk of The Grodes and thatís why I wasnít surprised at all by the awesome Cannibals version.
26. The Tropics : As time's gone (Columbia 4-43976)
The Tropics had a dozen singles and still nobody seems to know them until the awesome Fuzztones cover. Here you can notice the transition from garage punk to that hippie stuff of that awful year 1967. Later on this band split into two new Florida bands, White Witch and Bacchus.
27. London & the Bridges : It just ain't right (Date 1502)
No, it just ainít right that this wasnít a hit for this five piece combo. Itís the classic (for a garage band) line-up: two guitars, a bass guitar, drums and an organ. Not so many young punk bands had a single release across the Atlantic and certainly not a first single; these guys were lucky. After this two more releases would follow.
28. The Haunted : 1 - 2 - 5 (Quality 1814)
If Iíd be truly honest: the best version is the Fuzztonesí. It was also the first time I ever heard this song. It was on a splitsingle Fuzztones with the Wipers. But because The Haunted were such a fine band, their version had to be featured here. The album version though, is more relaxed. This is undoubtedly a 1966 fuzz punk classic which has numerous cover versions: Wet Taxis, Green Telescope, Lipstick Killers, Electric Roaches, and who knows how many more yet to come.
29. The Eyes : You're too much (Mercury MF910)
These British lads recorded a handful of 45s, all very sought after, especially by mod collectors. This is the flipside of the Everly Brothers song "Man with money". Dig the fierce fuzz lead guitar of this London quintet.
30. The French Church : Slapneck 1943 (Princeton 101)
This excellent B-side is a fine example of simple but powerful Ď66 garage punk. Lotsa fuzz and juvenile noises, strong enough to kill every squareís desire to stop all teenage rebellion.
31. Michel Polnareff : La poupťe qui fait non (Palette PB40.261)
One of the coolest French beatpunkers, Michel recorded dozens of 45s and (too) many albums. His mid-60s stuff (and some early 70s as well) is still very much wanted at parties.
32. The Small Faces : Almost grown (Decca F12393)
Instrumental mod-classic as a B-side for "Hey Girl", the follow-up for "Sha la la la lee" which has also an instrumental super track "Grow your own". The organ is the main ingredient here, played superbly by Ian McLagan, who married Sandy Sargeant, a London Dancer who sang the luscious "Can't stop the want".
33. Larry & the Loafers : Let's go to the beach (Shurfine 017)
This hard anti-Beach Boys beach tribute song should have been recorded in Ď62 and it coul have been one of the highlights of vocal tracks of that period. I can see people running away from the beaches when these violent guys arrive singing their kind of garagepunk.
34. Nancy Sinatra : These boots are made for walkin' (Reprise R20432)
Undoubtedly the best known song by Frankís daughter. Her partnership with Lee Hazlewood was a very successful one. Lotsa beginning bands have played this song, but itís been a pop standard for three decades already. Hundreds of covers exist, but one of the most exciting efforts is by British punk band The Unwanted in 1977.
35. The Golden Catalinas : Varsity club song (Target 45-101/102)
The Varsity Club was a club in LaCrosse, Wisconsin and the Target label had its seat in Appleton, Wisconsin. This foursome were just called The Catalinas, but on this live single (their last but one) they were dressed in golden suits. Their image was: golden suits, golden shoes and even golden dyed hair and a killer fuzz sound. Denny Noie seemed to be a good successor to Alan Posniak.
36. The Executioners : I want the rain (Swan S4529)
This Ohio band (not those from Maryland) is a bit special, like so many bands from that crazy state. Richardís harmonica and above all Dick Stroniís keyboards are so distinctive and great this garage punksong is far much better than average. If you donít want to sing along, you can always listen to the instrumental side. Itís worth it too. Such a pity it was their last single.
37. Cream : NSU (Reaction 591011)
The best song on a 45 featuring Eric Clapton who was the British guitar hero before Jimi Himi Hendrix and Robert Plant took over the boring #1 spot.
38. The Standells : Sometimes good guys don't wear white (Tower 257)
They liked this song so much (unlike their Dirty Water) that they put it on the second album as well as on the third ďWhy pick on meĒ. My first encounter with this song was through The Nomads, archetypical Swedish neo-garagerock. Maybe they recorded this after watching the Cramps play this. The song title is one of my ten commandments. There's also a funny version as "Sometimes gay guys don't wear pink" by The Dwarves on their "Horror stories" album.
39. Antoine & ses ProblŤmes : Je dis ce que je pense (Vogue EPL8445)
This French beatnik guy has released plenty of records, but only a few are worth looking for. His 1966 Ep's are the best, including this one.
40. The Loved Ones: Surprise surprise (for you) (Ambassador TIF212)
A punky stomper by some New Jersey teenagers; no surprise at all. New Jersey had a lot of excellent bands. These Loved Ones were a perfect example of that East Coast punk sound although they only issued one release.
41. The Illusions : City of people (Michele 001-XX)
Like so many frat rock bands this 16-year old foursome got into the garage rock by listening to too many Pretty Things, Kinks and Stones albums. As far as I know they only released one single on their own label Michelle. When not playing gigs they usually were hanging around with friends like the Pleasure Seekers including Suzi Quatro.
42. The Pretty Things : Come see me (I'm your man) (Fontana TF688)
Although you can find this on several Pretty Things samplers, it never sounded better than on their 45. I came across this song in the early 80's thanks to the phenomenal Cannibals and the essential English comp "These cats ain't nothing but trash" containing also several songs by the Stingrays and the Milkshakes. The Pretty Things were influenced by Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry and lots of others just like the Rolling Stones which they were often compared with. After a few singles and one great album they ended up in those awful late 60's sounds that killed almost every band.
43. Dani : La fille ŗ la moto (Ductretet Thompson 460V739)
Dani, the beautiful Parisienne, who loves riding on her Suzuki around the Eiffel Tower. Her 1966 EP's are highly collectable now and not only for the good music. Vroom Vroom!!!
44. Jacqueline TaÔeb : 7 heures du matin (Impact IMP200 008M)
It's seven o'clock, time to get up for school and you don't know what to wear. The original 4-track EP, all sung in French, has been released on the Impact label. A little while later it's been reissued in the UK, but sung in English. I prefer the original version which can be found on one of the "Girls in the garage" compilations.
45. ? & the Mysterians : Girl, you captivate me (Cameo Parkway 479)
This was a small hit for this Tex-Mex punk band who mostly stayed in Flint, Michigan. Luckily the Fuzztones picked up this song, otherwise it might have never been known to me. Its typical organ sounds louder than the fuzz guitar and thatís how this has become their second best after 96 Tears.
46. The Rolling Stones : Paint it, black (Decca F12395)
One of their biggest hits and in 1990 again a hit record thanks to the "Tour of duty" TV series. There's been accusations of alleged racism concerning the song title. None of the numerous cover versions can match the original. This song's a landmark in the Stones' history. They became hippies after this one and should have disbanded at the end of 1966.
47. The Monkees: I'm not your steppin' stone (Colgems 1002)
Who can help me finding the Reboundsí original? Iíve got lots of cover versions: from punkrock with the Sex Pistols through psychedelica with the Ice Doves to the marvelous attempt by Paul Revere & The Raiders. And even great French and Spanish translations as well. How simple must or can be a pop song? The Monkees were the most American fake band ever and still they managed to records several great songs later on.
48. The Mourning Reign : Satisfaction guaranteed (Link MR-1)
Guaranteed satisfaction. Thatís what the title tells us. And itís true!! This is a powerful example of great 60ís punk. These Count Five neighbours released one other single on Contour.
49. The Velvet Underground : All tomorrow's parties (Verve 10427)
The Velvets never were a singles band, but this one was their first on my fave 7" format. The repetitive mesmerizing song structures so typical of this band, were years ahead of their time. Best cover version is Nick Caveís. Dark, menacing, awesome.
50. The Five Canadians : Writing on the wall (Domar 1120)
Its Canadian origin is responsible for the release on the Canadian Stone label; the fine organ playing however is responsible for a place in my Top. "Writing on the wall" (known for its inclusion on "Pebbles vol 5") is also on the flip of "Don't tell me", another great Five Canadians recording. Recently I heard it being covered by a new Belgian garage band called The Evil Thingies.