This one won't be a hard choice either, but what the heck, let's travel through another great set of music, shall we? C'mon!
We get off to a great, flying start with Journey To The Center Of The Mind, the record that gave us Ted Nugent, but let's not hold that against it, shall we? It is a great bit of late garage-psych, very memorable, very catchy. And the guitar is undeniably great.
Joanna was a safer, MOR choice for a Scott single in between the freaked Brel of Mathilde and Jackie. But it is Scott, therefore it is a strange, beautiful, soulful piece of work that has nothing in common with the Humperdincks of this world. Comes off a bit long in this context.
Jennifer Juniper isn't the most brilliant of Donovan singles, being so twee that you may want to steal its lunch money. But I still have an unaccountable fondness for it, as I do all other 60's Don 45's. And it was written about the beautiful Jenny Boyd!
About the same as above holds for Jennifer Eccles, which is super-twee, not as good as the record before or after it, but it is 60's Hollies, so I love it.
To give a proper summary of this, the Year of the Bubblegum, I included Jelly Jungle, a personal genre favourite, solid gum, though obviously derivative of the Pipers' more well-known Green Tambourine. Jungle s a great example of Gum's more psych tendencies. If you like this, check out their bigger hit of this year, Rice Is Nice, a shockingly fey record for an American band.
It's You is an incredible vital blast of pure power-pop fresh air, one that sounds amazingly contemporary, like it could have been recorded yesterday, if people still made records this good (*COUGH*). The Millennium are a band that floors those coming across them at this later date, and the work by Michael Fennelly on their classic Begin album is just as impressive (though less lauded) as that of Curt Boettcher. Wish I could vote for this here. Why the fuck wasn' it a hit?
Thought I should include The Everlys as they were still making great records at this point, and I chose their wistful It's My Time. They only managed to scrape into the Bubbling Under chart with this, and that is a seriously bad reflection upon the American recordbuyer and radio listener.
It Would Be So Nice is another of the post-Syd Floyd's attempts to put together a pop single, and it is as unsatisfying and jumbled as Point Me At The Sky. And too damn long! Still, I like it.
Finally adding some coffee into the sugar are the mighty Gladys Knight and her Pips. It Should Have Been Me is a keynote Knight performance, full of pain, hurt, anger, regret, sadness, beauty, rage and glory. The thing that gets me is that Gladys somehow manages to burn down the house with her dynamic restraint. Along with It's You, this one could have grabbed my vote if it weren't for the all-timer on hand.
Israelites might be the most memorable 60's island classic that somehow managed to cross over into the US market. As a kid I found the record to be a funny, enjoyable novelty, then I keyed into it in a major fashion when it was used over the opening credits of the film Drugstore Cowboy. Marvelous, primeval record that could almost be one of Dylan's Basement Tapes songs in an alternate universe. "I don't want to end up like Bonnie and Clyde!".
Indian Lake is a smashing Cowsills jump-off-the-AM-airwaves effort, a big personal favourite. What the hell is it about? Where is the Cove? Where is the Grove? How can I get there to jam with America's premier family singing group?
Just after Loretta Lynn's epochal Coal Miner's Daughter, Dolly's In The Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad) is the ultimate autobiographical hard-luck growing-up story in the country canon. Check out the odd time signature and the floating vocal melody, which showcases the fresh elements Parton was bringing to the genre. The ironic hookline is trademark Dolly, knowing, intelligent and arresting.
In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida is what it is. Gary Puckett smokes a banana peel and decides he's "heavy". These days, the side-long unedited version is more popular than the hit single edit, but all of worth in this song is heard in less than three minutes. It kinda sucks, but it is also kinda great, and one can't really imagine later metal riff classics such as Iron Man without it.
If You Can Want, along with The Miracles' other singles of the year, isn't one of their more well-remembered hits. But it is another personal favourite of mine, with a horn riff to die for, a tight Funk Bros. groove throughout (listen for the quick breakbeat breakdown), Smokey at his ever-coolest. Also, the record is the clear basis for an even finer record, the Spinners' definitive I'll Be Around.
But even with all this incredible music behind it, the choice could be nothing other than If I Can Dream, the almost unbelievably strong and soulful climax to Elvis's 1968 comeback special, a return to the Top 20 for the former and future King, perhaps the most meaningful moment of his career, and just maybe his strongest performance ever. I mean, just listen to his blown-out, raw vocal chords which cause him to just rage out all the more to get his point across, a point he clearly believes in with all of his heart, all of his soul. Made in Hollywood, with slick strings and horns, but Elvis alone makes it as intense of a Memphis deep soul record as any James Carr platter. I dunno what else to say about it, really.
If this one doesn't get to the finals, there is no justice left in this world.
Posted July 6th, 2011 04:18 PM IPIt's You? Indian Lake? It's You? Indian Lake?? And then there's Joanna and Jennifer Juniper to consider!I don't know why I ever believed the Chipmunks had the lowdown on punk.
Posted July 6th, 2011 04:22 PM IPLook, Indian Lake. I had to. To me, it sounds like "Smiley Smile" as done by America's Premiere Singing Family. That's always been one of my favorites of theirs. But let me just say it was a SUPER TOUGH CHOICE between that and "It's You," which is just such a monumental song. I don't know why I ever believed the Chipmunks had the lowdown on punk.
Posted July 6th, 2011 04:24 PM IPEven though they do that Indian "woo-woo-woo-woo-woo" that as a native person myself I should be horribly offended by, too.I don't know why I ever believed the Chipmunks had the lowdown on punk.
Posted July 6th, 2011 06:08 PM IPIf I Can Dream, no contest. I have always thought this to be Elvis' single best vocal - gutty, gritty, my God what a bridge - "the strength to dream" - into the last verse - building to a climactic almost orgasmic finish...when he sings "right now" with "now" starting out of key and then sliding into line...it is truly amazing.Raw power, talent, and emotion on display and perhaps the year's winner."This one...is this one"
Posted July 6th, 2011 06:47 PM IPDoes it though? I'm grabbing the set now, so I'll see how I feel afterward - I just know that it's hit me harder at the climax of the Special than whenever I've tried to play the track 'cold'. But it never fails to devastate me, tear me completely apart - is that the aim of a single? To kill the listening audience?
Aren't there a few versions with different vocals floating around? Is this performance the same as the end of the Special, or did he do another studio version?"Nick is the Mode guy. Jon is the Duran guy."
Posted July 7th, 2011 04:20 AM IPI could say so much about it, but I'll just draw your attention to this:
Alright, If I Can Dream doesn't necessarily grab you right from the first notes... the subdued horn and string intro, E's hushed and hopeful voice. For me, the introduction of the organ into the arrangement is totally vital for taking the song up to the next level... reminds me of 'Jungleland' in this sense, injects them both with just the right amount of gospel, soul-stirring flavour:
If I can dream of a better land... WHERE ALL MY BROTHERS WALK HAND IN HAND!
FROM THE CHURCHES TO THE JAILS - tonight all is silent in the world...
And is it Hal Blaine on drums? The fills leading into the bridge are superb. "Nick is the Mode guy. Jon is the Duran guy."
Posted July 7th, 2011 04:35 AM IPElvis would get together with James Brown to sing Gospel (which must have been something to behold).
Listen again to those early Sun tracks to feel the pent-up emotional intensity he could generate
If I Could Dream has a clear message in the lyrics that was even more relevant in 68 but it also has a genuinely soulful vocal performance that just edges out Gladys Knight for me
Posted July 7th, 2011 05:31 AM IPAnywho, if you haven't voted yet - it's this simple:
Click the little circle next to 'If I Can Dream - Elvis Presley', Press 'Vote', done!
I can't believe The Millennium are tied with it (it ain't even in my top 5 of those here) - anywho, it's the Big E then Smokey, Gladys, Dolly, Everlys, Desmond... I almost floated away from the lightness of Jennifer Juniper/Jennifer Eccles/Jelly Jungle. Cute.
(Edited by Matinee Idyll (129))"Nick is the Mode guy. Jon is the Duran guy."
Posted July 7th, 2011 06:24 AM IPI really, really can't stand that mono mix of It's You. If it were the stereo mix it might have got my vote as it's such an odd timeless song - doesn't really sound like it fits in with the music of any era.
In the end I had to go for Jennifer Juniper. Such a sweet little song.
Posted July 7th, 2011 06:34 AM IPI'm GUTTED that i can't vote for Israelites. What a mindblowing tune. Once i've listened to all these polls i'd be surprised if that wasn't in my top 5 of the year.
NO VOTES FOR IT?!
Had to vote Elvis. Time will never diminish its power."The other thing is that the quality of the mp3's I listen to varies especially as some of the music from the likes of Led Zeppelin is old, even with re-mastering still isnt up to the quality of the likes of Def Leppard."
Posted July 7th, 2011 07:17 AM IPIt makes me feel a bit better, yeah! You didn't like the Elvis?"The other thing is that the quality of the mp3's I listen to varies especially as some of the music from the likes of Led Zeppelin is old, even with re-mastering still isnt up to the quality of the likes of Def Leppard."
Posted July 7th, 2011 07:18 AM IPIncidentally, the only good thing about In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida is that it gave Nas something to sample for Thief's Theme and Hip Hop Is Dead...
"The other thing is that the quality of the mp3's I listen to varies especially as some of the music from the likes of Led Zeppelin is old, even with re-mastering still isnt up to the quality of the likes of Def Leppard."
Quote: Matinee Idyll (129) wrote:
Oh totally, there is literally no choice to be made here. Jon - you crazy.
I love the Elvis. It's just that I voted with my heart, as you did on many, many polls! That Cowsills song has given me a lot of joy over the years, many many loud singalongs in the car with my daughter. I absolutely associate that song with nothing but pure celebration, pure joy, summer days and sunshine and happiness. How the heck could I NOT have voted for that? Plus it's such a catchy little number. And the production is awesome too -- so low-key and lo-fi, very very much in the pocket of Smiley Smile or Wild Honey.
And I still stand by "It's You" as my #2. To me that's almost as powerful song in its own way as If I Can Dream. It has that droney potency that a lot of songs in this era were SHOOTING for but none achieved as well. And like someone said above, it is absolutely NOT OF ITS TIME in a way -- you could tell someone it was from 1975 or 1993 or something and they'd believe you. It exists in a weird vacuum of awesomeness, like a lotta the Millennium stuff. Like they were onto something important that wouldn't really be hit on until the mid-70s.
But "If I Can Dream" probably deserves the victory. It is something fucking else. It really is.I don't know why I ever believed the Chipmunks had the lowdown on punk.
Posted July 7th, 2011 01:08 PM IPI don't know if I'm such a big fan of "If I Can Dream." Unquestionably, Elvis sings the shit out of it. His performance is so full of heart that you can't deny it in your own. He overwhelms you completely. The other singers represented here are in a rock fight with Jesus. But I don't like "If I Can Dream" very much as a song. It's kind of dippy and transparent. And yet I am moved by the colossal schlock of "An American Trilogy" every time -- to tears, usually. Of course, that's the thing about "If I Can Dream," too, that Elvis brings everything to such a nothing song. He supplies all the pain and hope, and turns it into a triumph. But I think Elvis could've done as good a job with any song for the conclusion of the Comeback Special. I am imagining instead the great and terrible possibilities of a rendition of "MacArthur Park." That would've destroyed the world. But if Elvis had died in a plane crash in January 1969, "If I Can Dream" would've been the perfect song to go out on. It does fully transmit the totality of his greatness and blows away every other piece of shit here. I still like "In the Ghetto" better, though.