This is part two countdown of my personal favorite of a Best of the Rest British Invasion Countdown. Songs that are eligible must have US Billboard Top 40, and be performed by any British act other than the Beatles and the Rolling Stones (we all know they were good). I have previously done songs 40-31; here are songs 30-21. Look for the top half of the countdown in April.
30. Pretty Flamingo, Manfred Mann, United Artists 50040
I was not familiar with this song prior to prepping for this countdown. It was only a minor hit in the U.S., peaking at number 29 in August 1966. In the U.K., it was a number one hit in May of that year. In Ireland, it spent four weeks at the top. The songwriter’s story is even more interesting (to me anyway). Mark Barkan did reasonably well as a songwriter in the 1960s and was the musical director for The Banana Splits Adventure Hour. As a kid who watched the Banana Splits back then, I can never forget his composition, “The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana).” As for “Pretty Flamingo,” it seems to me that it should have been bigger here. My theory regarding why it did so much better in the British Isles has to do with language. In Britain, “bird” refers to a young woman, used much like “chick” is used in the United States. “Pretty Flamingo” simply makes more sense to a British bloke.
29. I’m Into Something Good, Herman’s Hermits, MGM 13280
In Britain, Herman’s Hermits debut single was its only number one song. In the United States, “I’m Into Something Good” missed the top ten, but introduced the Hermits to an American audience at the height of the British Invasion. For the rest of the decade, Herman’s Hermits had more success in the American than in Britain. Gerry Goffin and Carole King wrote “I’m Into Something Good,” allowing them to continue their hit making success even after the Beatles arrived. Some may know the song for its use in the film The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! That was lead singer Peter Noone’s solo version of the song. In the early 1970s, Noone alienated himself from several original band members. The band continued to tour as “Herman’s Hermits,” but without Noone. The result is rather sad. One group is touring as Herman’s Hermits but features only the drummer from the original lineup. Noone continues to tour under a similar but not exact band name.
The Hermits lip-synch on Pop Gear in 1964: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FFvXvfUF-Co
Barry Whitwam on the breakup: http://popcultureaddict.com/interviews/barrywhitwam/
Noone’s response: http://popcultureaddict.com/interviews/peternoone/
28. Glad All Over, The Dave Clark Five, Epic 9656
Here is a song whose sound screams British Invasion. “Glad All Over” was the first number one hit in the U.K. for the Dave Clark Five, who rivaled the Beatles for some time. Released late in 1963, “Glad All Over” replaced “I Want To Hold Your Hand” atop the British charts in January 1964. Clark wrote it with pianist/vocalist Mike Smith, who sings lead on the track. The song features a call and response vocal style, alternating Smith’s lead with the band singing in unison. Clark was the group’s drummer, usually placed front and center on stage and not in the background where many drummers reside. In the United States, “Glad All Over” quickly climbed the charts in the midst of Beatlemania. When it hit the top 10 the week of March 28, four Beatles songs sat in the top four positions. When it peaked at number six four weeks later, the Beatles had three songs in the top seven and the DC5 had two (Louis Armstrong and Terry Stafford had the other two). In America, it was just the beginning for the Dave Clark Five.
27. My Love, Petula Clark, Warner 5684
You may not think of Petula Clark as a British Invasion artist, but she was among the most successful British artists on the American charts in the mid-1960s. “My Love” was Clark’s second number one song, spending two weeks at the pole position in February 1966. “My Love” ended the Beatles’ three-week run at the top with “We Can Work It Out.” For Clark, its was the first song she recorded in America. It’s also believed to be the first number one song written on a transatlantic flight. Clark was on the plane from London to Los Angeles in November 1965 with writer-producer Tony Hatch, who finished most of the song on the flight. She recorded it in L.A. and hit number one within three months. It was an international hit, reaching number one in Canada and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), and the top 10 in the U.K. and elsewhere. Petula Clark was a child star in England dating back to the mid-1940s. Her singing career was slow to take off, and it is perhaps fortunate that her breakthrough happened to occur around the time of the British Invasion. Had the timing been different, she may have been a star only in the British Isles. Sonny James topped the country charts in 1970 with a cover. Florence Henderson covered it and sang it on Tonight to celebrate the famous wedding of Miss Vicky and Tiny Tim.
Clark on TV in 1966: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IuNCZfd93bc
Henderson in 1967 on Hollywood Palace: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=25h6Nvr8NOo
James on The Ed Sullivan Show in ’70: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEsLIhj5Zcw
26. Silence Is Golden, The Tremeloes, Epic 10184
When I was a kid, I thought this was a 4 Seasons song. When I was a bit older, I learned it was the Tremeloes, and thought, “Who are the Tremeloes?” Well, the Tremeloes hit the Billboard Top 40 three times in 1967 and never again after that. They are, however, still active. Their second hit peaked at number 11 in August 1967, and well, there’s a reason I thought it was the 4 Seasons. It was the B side of the 4 Seasons smash hit, “Rag Doll,” and the Tremeloes version was a successful cover that is a little faster in tempo. With guitarist Rick West taking the Frankie Valli role by singing lead, the Tremeloes’ cover of “Silence Is Golden” was a huge hit in the U.K., where it spent three weeks at number one in May 1967. They recorded an Italian version, but to my knowledge, it was not a hit in Italy. The band’s success was much bigger in Britain, where they had 11 top 10 hits between 1963 and 1970, including two number ones.
The Tremeloes perform on TV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n03g8nsaBro
Italian version (audio only): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zt5Bfv3t-xw
4 Seasons, somewhat recent: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HeaOQtJV-r8
25. I Can See For Miles, The Who, Decca 32206
The Who produced memorable songs across several decades. “I Can See For Miles” was their only Billboard Top 10 hit. While “I Can See For Miles” was a breakthrough for The Who in America, the band was very well-known back in England. They had already racked up six Top 10 hits by the time they released their third studio album, The Who Sell Out, in 1967. Having already hit number two twice in the U.K., The Who had high hopes for “I Can See For Miles,” the last track on side one of the album. Songwriter Pete Townshend was reportedly very disappointed that it peaked at number 10 in Britain, thinking it would be their first number one. In America, it achieved one spot higher, spending two weeks at number nine in November/December 1967. It barely made this countdown, as only songs released between 1964 and 1967 are eligible. The recording and harmonies were quite complex, and were compiled from several sessions. The complexity makes it difficult to replicate on stage.
24. Wild Thing, The Troggs, Atco 6415 & Fontana 1548
“Wild Thing” was the first number one song to have been released widely on two labels. Apparently there was a distribution dispute and each record had the same recording on the A side but different songs on the B side. It was written by Chip Taylor, brother of Jon Voight, and an American band released it to little fanfare in 1965. The simplicity made it a song that young guitar players learned early on. Taylor later admitted that at the time, he didn’t know a lot of chords. The Troggs took it to number one in America the following year. It was their first top 40 hit in the United States. It almost didn’t happen. The band’s manager, Larry Page, wanted “Wild Thing” to be the B side of the song he envisioned to be the Troggs’ single. The intended A side was a cover of “Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind,” which had been recorded by the Lovin’ Spoonful. The Spoonful later released it and hit #2 in June 1966. The Troggs lobbied for “Wild Thing” and apparently made the right call. “Wild Thing” rocketed into the top 10 as the Spoonful were falling down the charts. It spent two weeks at number one, and oddly enough, was replaced at the top by “Summer In The City,” by the Lovin’ Spoonful. “Wild Thing” has a baseball association, cemented by its use in the Major League franchise. The movie recording was by a band called X and was used as a crowd singalong to greet relief pitcher Rick Vaughn (Charlie Sheen). Some MLB teams took note. It was played most famously for the Phillies’ Mitch Williams and to a lesser extent for the Orioles’ Gregg Olson.
A Troggs video from ’66: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hce74cEAAaE
Movie clip from Major League: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sa0v08XY2G8
Sam Kinison cover (cameos by hair bands): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mwNW8lqe1tk
Story behind the song: http://www.classicrockmagazine.com/features/the-troggs-wild-thing-the-story-behind-the-song/
23. A Summer Song, Chad Stuart and Jeremy Clyde, World Artists 1027
Chad & Jeremy will never be confused with Cream or Led Zeppelin. They were able to ride the British Invasion wave to release a string of easy listening folk hits. Since folk music was better established in America than in Britain, Chad & Jeremy were more successful in the U.S. and in Canada than in Britain, where they had but one chart hit. Both the sound and the lyrics are pretty light. Both summer and a relationship are coming to a close with a mood of wistful remembrance. Having said all that, why does this song work? It just has a refreshing sound and the vocals underscore that. “A Summer Song” was released in July 1964 on both sides of the Atlantic. It flopped in Britain. In American, it climbed slowly, finally reaching the top 20 at the end of September, when as they sang, “autumn leaves must fall.” It spent two weeks at its peak position of number seven in mid-October. In Canada, “A Summer Song” matched that peak position, reaching number seven there. For me, the song made a bit of a comeback in the mid 1980s, when a completely different song reminded me of this Chad & Jeremy hit. The Nails originally recorded “88 Lines About 44 Women” in 1982, but it became a minor hit in America in the 1984-85 winter. The hummed part that separates the verses has a melody that strongly resembles “A Summer Song” (video link below).
Chad & Jeremy on American Bandstand with Dick Clark intro: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vfvL2oLeBYs
Chad & Jeremy live (year unknown): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCNingQlFV0
“88 Lines About 44 Women:” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oai3mUL-T-I
22. She’s Not There, The Zombies, Parrot 9695
Oh, the things you learn from Wikipedia. The electric piano sound on the Zombies hit, “She’s Not There,” comes from a pianet. The pianet appeared more than just occasionally on some of the bigger hits of the 1960s and early 1970s. Made by Hohner in what was then West Germany, used stainless steel reeds and transmitted the sound output electronically. Back to the Zombies. Band member Rod Argent, who plays pianet on this record, wrote the song to fit the vocal range of Colin Blunstone. It has a jazzy mood with a hint of early British Invasion coming on the chorus. It hit number 12 in the United Kingdom, but was a far bigger hit in North America. In Canada, “She’s Not There” peaked at number two. In the United States, it was a slow-rising hit that took off into the top 10 in November 1964, following a July release. Once there, it spent eight weeks in the Billboard top 10, including one week at number two behind Bobby Vinton’s “Mr. Lonely.” The Zombies did hit number one on the rival Cash Box chart. There were many covers, but perhaps the most notable was by Santana in 1977, who had a minor hit in Canada with it. It is in current use in a commercial for Chanel.
The Zombies on Hullabaloo in 1965: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKmA_9bSHYI
Santana live in 1979: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRNvFPvN7LQ
Chanel ad from 2014: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_ZAZD3ylG6Y
Song review from allmusic.com: http://www.allmusic.com/song/shes-not-there-mt0012224160
21. I Go To Pieces, Peter and Gordon, Capitol 5335
Peter and Gordon became famous by recording songs written by Paul McCartney. “I Go To Pieces” was written by the American rock star Del Shannon. Shannon wrote it with R&B singer Lloyd Brown in mind. Brown’s version was not picked up by a record label. It would up with Peter & Gordon during a tour of Australia late in 1964. Del Shannon took it to the Searchers, who decided not to record it. Peter and Gordon overheard Shannon sing it to the Searchers and asked if they could have it. So before the end of 1964, Peter and Gordon recorded “I Go To Pieces” at the Abbey Road Studio. Its November release flopped in the U.K. but a December release in the states proved far more successful. “I Go To Pieces” has a bigger sound than many of their previous hits. It hit the Billboard top 10 the week of February 13, 1965. It spent the rest of February in the top 10, peaking at number nine. There have been many covers, notably one by Nils Lofgren in 1981 that featured vocals by Del Shannon. An Italian version was released as a single by Camaleonti in 1967. Peter Asher continues to perform it even after Gordon Waller passed away in 2009. “I Go To Pieces” was reportedly Waller’s favorite Peter and Gordon song.
Televised mimed performance: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HB6l4i-zA_Q
Del Shannon, appears to be mid-1980s: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ibNqFLdwdS4
Nils Lofgren in 1981: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bmDn1GzyCI