Best bands of the 1960s

August 24, 2022
100 Best Songs of the 1960s

Dutch psych rockers Shocking Blue would score a US Billboard Hot 100 No.1 with 1970's 'Venus' (covered so memorably by Bananarama 16 years later), but 'Send Me A Postcard' is a darker proposition altogether, singer Mariska Veres evoking Julie Driscoll or Jefferson Airplane's Grace Slick as she hollers over fuzzed guitar and the obligatory swirling organ.

This paean to the grisly aftermath of an unforgiving curry – or tribute to love's steamy embrace, whatever you fancy – was written by Johnny Cash's future wife June Carter with Merle Kilgore, and originally recorded by June's sister Anita. Cash boosted it with the mariachi horns that give it its overriding, buoyant character.

The opening track on Lenny Kaye's 'Nuggets', his essential compilation of late-60s garage and psych rock, 'I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)' was written by professional songwriting team Annette Tucker and Nancie Mantz but musses up its classic structure with needling, distorted guitar from Ken Williams – recorded backwards – and a growling lead vocal from James Lowe.

They might have done the gritty thing with 'Ball Of Confusion' and 'Papa Was A Rollin' Stone' or tried overwrought testifying on 'Ain't Too Proud To Beg', but the Temptations song that gets reeled out most these days is this soppy, doo-wopping poem to a girl who makes everything all right. Written and produced by Smokey Robinson with Ronald White, it features David Ruffin's first – silky smooth – lead vocal.

Written by Phil Medley and Bert Berns – later to produce Van Morrison's early solo recordings – 'Twist And Shout' would of course become best known for The Beatles' moptop-shaking version. Here The Isley Brothers continue their own shouting theme (after 1959's 'Shout'), taking The Top Notes' 'Shake It Up, Baby' and giving it some welly, eventually climbing into the US Top 20.

From the immortal songwriting/production team of Holland Dozier Holland, 'Stop In The Name Of Love' got its title from a rather melodramatic plea to a girlfriend by Lamont Dozier. Whether she stuck around is hazy, but – after Berry Gordy requested the tempo be raised – The Supremes bagged a fourth US No.1 with the song as Diana Ross gave it her beseeching all.

'To Love Somebody' was originally intended for Otis Redding, but he died before he could tackle Barry and Robin Gibb's latest masterpiece so the Bee Gees recorded it themselves. Although its chart performance was modest, the song has deservedly been covered on countless occasions by everyone from Jimmy Somerville to Leonard Cohen. That's some vocal range.

Like many Cream songs, 'White Room' was written by bassist and vocalist Jack Bruce with the English poet Pete Brown. It was the lead single from the blues-rock supergroup's third album Wheels Of Fire and sees them veering towards more expansive psychedelia, with Eric Clapton's wah-wah guitar chattering away in the verses. It's since been covered by The Vines and speed-metallers Helloween.

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