The Forgotten Hits: 60’s Pop

Every era and genre of music has songs that were popular in their day, but whose footprints have been washed from the sand over time. Our goal in this series of posts is to resurrect their memory; to help in a small way to reverse the process of the “top tenning” of oldies formats, which reduce hit makers from previous decades to their most popular song or two and then overplay them until you almost loathe an artist you used to enjoy (think “Sweet Caroline” or “Don’t Stop Believin’”).

I’ll be citing the Billboard pop charts for reference. Billboard Hot 100 charts of the 60′s and 70′s were a much more accurate reflection of a song’s popularity, before there were so many other ways for a song to enter the public consciousness (reflected by the number of pop charts Billboard now uses). It was an era when radio ruled–before a car commercial, social music sharing site, or Glee were equally likely ways for a song to break through.

The Joe Jeffrey Group: “My Pledge of Love”

#14 in 1969

Cleveland’s Joe Jeffrey isn’t exactly a household name, and it isn’t easy digging up information about him or his band. That’s what one-hit status will do for you. He did release a cover of British group White Plains’ “My Baby Loves Lovin” that was released a week earlier stateside, but his bid to steal their chart thunder failed when his version charted just outside the top 100 while White Plains’ went to number 13.

His label, Wand, did issue a poor-selling LP with the same title as his hit single though, and its liner notes hyped it as “the best all-around pop album since ‘Sgt. Pepper.'” Hmm…

Good song, though.

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Turn Down Day

The Cyrkle: “Turn Down Day”

#16 in 1966

The Cyrkle were managed by Beatles manager Brian Epstein and given their name by John Lennon. Their biggest hit was the #2 “Red Rubber Ball”, which was written by Paul Simon and still gets oldies radio airplay. Time hasn’t been quite so kind to “Turn Down Day” in terms of continued exposure. But it’s a nice musical snapshot of its time. And the fact that someone posts songs like this on YouTube, and tens of thousands of others view it, proves some people havan’t forgotten.

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Oh Happy Day: The Best Of The Edwin Hawkins Singers

The Edwin Hawkins Singers: “Oh Happy Day”

#4 in 1969

The Edwin Hawkins Singers were actually the Northern California State Youth Choir, and “Oh Happy Day” was from an album they recorded (called Let Us Go Into the House of the Lord) with the intention of selling it privately to raise money for a choir trip. But their modest 500-copy pressing wasn’t nearly enough after a local DJ at KSAN in San Francisco started playing the song. Buddah Records signed them to distribute it nationally (also changing the choir’s name to the Edwin Hawkins Singers) and the record became a million-seller.

The song also inspired George Harrison to write “My Sweet Lord” (well, this song and, apparently, “He’s So Fine.”) But it also caused some degree of controversy regarding the commercialization of gospel music. But hey, as I’ll be pointing out in a future post, it wasn’t unique–there was lots of God on the radio in the 60’s and 70’s.

This song’s style may sound like one you’ve heard before, but it was fresh then. “Oh Happy Day” actually helped pioneer the black gospel sound that is commonly used in contemporary worship.

The Edwin Hawkins Singers actually did see the top ten once more, backing Melanie on her 1970 hit “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)”.

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Best of

James & Bobby Purify: “Let Love Come Between Us”

#23 in 1967

James & Bobby Purify have been described as “Sam & Dave without the ugly and offensive sweat.” They were indeed a poppier version of the legendary soul duo as this, their second-highest charting hit, attests. They were better known for the hits “I’m Your Puppet” and “Shake a Tail Feather”, the latter of which actually charted at just #25. But “Let Love Come Between Us” is the hit that radio left behind for some reason.

The duo were not brothers but cousins James Purify and Robert Lee Dickey.

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Reach Out of the Darkness

Friend & Lover: “Reach Out of the Darkness”

#10 in 1968

Friend & Lover were husband and wife duo Jim and Cathy Post. Dig the groovy tune and get hip to the message, man. This one just reeks of the flower power, post-Sgt. Pepper Age of Aquarius and all that–the Indian Summer of Love, if you will.

But something about it wasn’t quite cool enough to earn it an afterlife in movie soundtracks and such, the way songs like “Let’s Get Together” and “Time of the Season” and “Good Morning Starshine” did. Oh well, that just makes it a more powerful burst of nostalgia to listen to if you do remember it.

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The Best of The Five Americans

The Five Americans: “Western Union”

#5 in 1967

The only time this Dallas band cracked the top twenty was this catchy little thing that sounds a little like the Hollies’ “Stop, Stop, Stop” with a Roger McGuin guitar sound. Maybe it’s the whole archaic telegram thing that has caused it to fall out of favor–couldn’t be that wonderfully cheesy organ solo!

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Very Best of

The Seekers: “I’ll Never Find Another You”

#4 in 1965

Judith Durham-fronted Australian folk-pop group the Seekers have at least one song you probably know: the #2 hit “Georgy Girl” was their biggest hit, though not a highlight of their catalog to me personally.

This one really is a gem I think, and a family favorite since back in the days of my dad’s living room stereo.

The twelve-string acoustic folk sound was a staple on radio from the late 50’s to at least the mid-60’s. The Kingston Trio, The Limeliters, The Mitchell Trio (with John Denver), The Rooftop Singers, The Serendipity Singers, The New Christy Minstrels (with Kenny Rogers) and Peter, Paul & Mary were artists of the ilk that the hilarious film A Mighty Wind totally took a piss on.

And some of it was over earnest, and hasn’t aged all that well admittedly. But I do have a soft spot for the Seekers, and can’t resist a lyric like:

If they gave me a fortune/My pleasure would be small/I could lose it all tomorrow and never mind at all

But if I should lose your love, dear/I don’t know what I’d do/For I know I’d never find another you

Earnest, yes. But beautifully rendered by folk diva Judith while the 12-string rings sympathetically. This works for me. It’s a loss for all of us that we don’t hear this stuff anymore.

9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lois
    Oct 11, 2012 @ 05:34:04

    OK, I confess, we had Edwin Hawkins… and the Seekers (actually we may have had the new seekers!)

    Reply

  2. Ed Cyphers
    Oct 11, 2012 @ 14:43:27

    I’m glad someone remembers! You do appreciate some music, Lois.

    Reply

  3. mvcoogan
    Oct 12, 2012 @ 19:13:10

    I still like Oh Happy Day — like to sing it to myself pretty often.
    And Jim Post (one or the other of Friend and Lover) used to tour around Chicago and northern Illinois as a very entertaining folky. Big bushy moustache with long hair.I bought two or three of his albums in the 78 – 81 type years. Good stuff. Then in about 1998 we caught him doing a one-man Mark Twain show, like Hal Holbrook made famous. (His big moustache had turned white.) A talented guy who hangs in Galena Illinois, now semi-retired, I think.

    Reply

  4. Ed Cyphers
    Oct 13, 2012 @ 01:02:53

    Wow, it amazes me that you encountered him and owned multiple albums by him! Cool.

    Reply

  5. John Pascoe
    Oct 19, 2018 @ 11:15:55

    The Seekers forever

    Reply

  6. Anonymous
    Sep 05, 2019 @ 18:28:12

    Thank you for jumpstarting a pleasant, old memory with “Western Union”

    Reply

  7. Bee Cee
    Jan 11, 2020 @ 13:15:07

    Nothing like hearing Dorothy Coombs Morrison singing lead on “Oh Happy Day”! Incredible record it is!!! Also, listen to Timi Yuro sing “Whats A Matter Baby?…another great song!! A 5 Americans 45 that I STILL play is “Evol Not Love”. Music isn’t written, arranged, produced, sung…..absolutely NOTHING close to 50’s, 60’s, & 70’s stuff!!

    Reply

  8. Ed Cyphers
    Jan 11, 2020 @ 14:14:49

    Thanks for your comment and for reading. I really should find time to post some more “forgotten hits” sometime.

    Reply

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