The Shangri-Las – Leader Of The Pack (1964)

Girlgroup The Shangri-Las singing Leader Of The Pack very convincingLeader Of The Pack by The Shangri-Las is to me the typical sound of this period in the 1960s with focus on the vocal in front. The Shangri-Las is an unusual constellation of two pairs of twins – having twins myself this is naturally a relevant knowledge….

I was introduced to the Leader Of The Pack at a party on a summer night probably in the early 1990s. The friend who played it to me was totally focuced on the sound of the motorcycle. He was going: “Hey, listen to this song, it uses the sound of a motorcycle as part of the melody”. We heard the song several times and another friends went: “That is a sad song, the guy on the motorcycle dies in the end”. The answer he got was “Ohhh. But listen, there is the sound from the bike again”. All information lost on him:-).

The Leader Of The Pack can be found on the Shargri-Las album with the same title.

Highest chart position: UK Singles Chart #11 and #1 on Billboard Hot 100.

Other 1960s music favorites are Mamas And The Papas and The Searchers.

The Shangri-Las had several hits in the 1960s including Leader Of The Pack.

Beach Boys – Surfin’ U.S.A. (1963)

Surfin' U.S.A. by the Beach Boys is a great summer hit and a Californian classic.Scenery: On my summer holiday I was standing on a beach with sand between my feet looking after my kinds not going to far out at sea (never got in the cold water myself). Standing there freezing and looking out on the blue ocean I find myself humming Surfin’ U.S.A. by the Beach Boys. Actually the music is Chuck Berrys Sweet Little Sixteen changed to a surfing extraordinaire hit by the Beach Boys. Strange but true. Why this song pops into my mind I do not know because no surfers were in sight. Maybe I was longing for a visit to the USA or my mind try to convince me to learn how to surf. I do not know but I like the song Surfin’ U.S.A, it is a great summer hit.

Highest chart position: US Billboard Hot 100 #3 and UK singles chart #34.

Another reminder from this summer holiday  is Mungo Jerrys In The Summertime.

Beach Boys with their perfect hair

Mamas And The Papas – California Dreamin’ (1965)

Mamas And The Papas massive hit California Dreamin' coverCalifornia Dreamin’ – oh yes I do dream about it. Never been to California but dream about blue skies, nice beaches and just sitting in the sun with a glass of wine watching the days go by. This song I hear sometime during the winter time when I get a little depressed about the bad weather. I use it to escape to a nice place in my mind where there is pretty and the weather is always nice and warm. And this is what I think music is capable of – that is getting you into a specific mood and escape the real life for just a few minutes.

California Dreamin’ is a cover version but even more know is of course the cover by Beach Boys though I like the Mamas And The Papas better.

Highest chart position: UK# 23 and US#4.

Band photo Mamas And The Papas

Jefferson Airplane – White Rabbit (1967)

White Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane is a classic rock song from the 1960sWhite Rabbit by Jefferson Airplane is a classic rock song from the late 1960s. I especially like the beginning which sounds something like a western theme to me with the march like drums and the simple guitar melody. But when the vocal begin your are torn out of this feeling:

“One pill makes you larger

And one pill makes you small

And the ones that mother gives you

Don’t do anything at all”

Best guess is that LSD has a part to play to this song both in the lyrics and in the making of the song. But maybe this is just my expectations about the time and a band performing on the Woodstock Festival…

This song along with some other classic rock songs made me look more into the music from the 1960s. In my opinion there are a lot of great rock to be found here. Jefferson Airplane were one of the bands performing at the legendary Woodstock Music & Arts Festival in 1969 among music dinosaurs like The Who, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and The Band. Try to search for their live performance of White Rabbit on Woodstock first of all to hear this fantastic song and especially the great vocal of Grace Slick but leo to see the atmosphere, clothes etc. from this iconic Woodstock Festival in 1969.

White rabbit by Jefferson Airplane is on the album Surrealistic Pillow.

Band portrait of Jefferson Airplane who was a part of the Woodstock Festival 1969.

 

The Searchers – Needles And Pins (1963)

Single cover - The Searchers Needles And Pins Merseybeat hitThe Searchers Needles And Pins are one of my favourite Merseybeat songs. Why? Because it have a very typical sound for this period among the bands from Liverpool. And also the song has a text about how difficult love can be – hurting like needles and pins and you have to hide you tears because of you pride. Simple but very effective I think. As it often was in the 1960s this hit was a cover version originally performed by Jackie De Shannon.

Needles An Pins by The Searchers can be found on the album It’s The Searchers but I have it on a compilation album which is a view into the sound of Merseybeat in the early 1960s.

Highest chart position: UK Singles Chart #1 and Billboard Hot 100 #13.

See them perform in the famous Ed Sullivan Show below.