Tag Archives: 1964

Rocks In The Attic #304: John Barry – ‘Goldfinger (O.S.T.)’ (1964)

RITA#301One of the things that will forever be associated with Bond is a thundering brass score on the soundtrack. This soundtrack for the series’ third film is where John Barry really hits his stride and forever links Bond with the sound of brass. From now on, the music was just as important as the moving image.

Goldfinger also represents Shirley Bassey’s debut performance as a singer of a Bond song – she would go on to provide the vocals to 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever and 1979’s Moonraker. At Glastonbury in 2007 I saw Bassey do a medley of her Bond songs – something I was glad to see, being a huge Bond fan, despite the medley sounding like it was crowbarred together by a musical arranger with epilepsy. I also saw Chris Cornell perform You Know My Name a few days later in Dublin – four Bond themes sung by their original artists in four days!

Goldfinger is far from being my favourite Bond film, but I can understand why it’s a popular favourite. It’s the archetypal Bond film that set the template for pretty much every Bond film, until 2006’s Casino Royale reset the clock.

Hit: Main Title (Goldfinger) – Shirley Bassey

Hidden Gem: Alpine Drive – Auric’s Factory

Rocks In The Attic #237: The Beatles – ‘A Hard Day’s Night’ (1964)

RITA#237Arguably the first classic Beatles record, and definitely the first one where the band seems to be firing on all cylinders, this is a great thirty minutes of music.

I’ve heard it said before that this was the first pop record where all of the material was written by its performers, and I’m not so sure about such a claim. I’d even doubt it was the first record by a beat group to be fully self-composed. Surely not…

Another thing I’ve read in the odd book or magazine is that one way of quantifying The Beatles’ classic period is their output between the crashing G chord that opens this album, and the crashing E chord that closes Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. That’s too overly simplistic for me – there’s a fair bit of fluff between those two moments, and far too much good stuff on either side, especially after 1967, for it to make any sense.

The strength of this album really shows how weak its follow-up, Beatles For Sale, is. That album really comes across as a shuffle sideways, and shows a band falling back on safe material – rock and roll covers – back from even their Hamburg days.  If they’d have had time to compose a second album as strong as this in 1964, we might have another five or six Beatlemania-era Lennon & McCartney songs in the Beatles songbook.

Lennon’s output on this album is very strong, and I think possibly his strongest album in terms of compositions versus McCartney. I remember at one dull point during university, I counted the number of Lennon songs and McCartney songs on each album, and this album marks Lennon’s strongest count, with McCartney’s strongest period during Sgt. Peppers and Magical Mystery Tour when Lennon had become disillusioned with the idea of being a pop star.

Hit: A Hard Day’s Night

Hidden Gem: Any Time At All

Rocks In The Attic #183: The Rolling Stones – ‘The Rolling Stones’ (1964)

RITA#183When I first started to listen to Aerosmith – about twenty years before I would actually get chance to listen to this debut by the Stones – I could never quite figure out the severity of the comparisons of the two bands. Yes, Tyler and Perry and are a carbon copy of Jagger and Richards – they even have a moniker, the Toxic Twins, to rival Jagger and Richards as the Glimmer Twins, but apart from that I couldn’t really see what else there was.

Arguably – and of course this is purely subjective – Steven Tyler is a superior vocalist to Mick Jagger; and perhaps less arguably, Perry can run rings around Richards on the guitar (which isn’t exactly that shaming on the part of Keith who is more of a rhythm guitarist anyway). The Stones frontmen are better songwriters of course (well, some of the time), so apart from looks and a general Stones-ey feeling from Aerosmith’s brand of rock n’ roll, I could never quite understand what else (like there had to be something else!) there was.

After finally getting to hear the Stones’ debut earlier this year – the answer is obvious. Rather than doing their best to avoid the Stones comparisons, Aerosmith very stupidly decided to cover the same song to close their debut album – Rufus Thomas’ Walking The Dog – that the Stones had closed their debut album just nine years earlier!

Both versions are fantastic – as is the original – and each band does the song a little differently, but you think somebody might have mentioned that this wasn’t too hot an idea when they were putting Aerosmith’s album together.

This Stones debut is fantastic – with about double the energy the Beatles had managed to pull together for their debut the previous year – and alongside the eleven covers on here (only one song is a Jagger/Richards original), I love their version of Chuck Berry’s Carol – which reminds me of this hilarious version of Keith getting to play the song with his hero.

Hit: Route 66

Hidden Gem: Carol

Rocks In The Attic #152: Bob Dylan – ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’’ (1964)

Of Dylan’s early albums, this is probably the one most representative of him as a protest singer. Each of the albums that would follow would slowly take him away folk music in general, and towards the pop charts.

There are three things I love about this album. Firstly, The Times They Are A-Changin’ is a fantastic single, and one of my favourites before he went electric. Blowin’ In The Wind always gets selected as the ‘song of a generation’ – mainly because of its resonance (read: vagueness), but in my eyes The Times They Are A-Changin’ is far superior in its relevance to the 1960s.

Secondly, I like the cover. In extreme close-up, Dylan looks almost like he comes from another planet. The vinyl copy I have has a slightly corrugated front cover, which makes it feel nice too.

Finally, I love Boots Of Spanish Leather. I don’t love it as much as Girl From The North Country from the previous album – it’s the same chord progression and finger-picking style – but it’s almost as good. I guess folk music lends itself a little better to being able to mix and match lyrics to chord progressions – at least more than traditional pop music does – and at least if he’s stealing from somebody, he’s only stealing from himself.

Hit: The Times They Are A-Changin’

Hidden Gem: Boots Of Spanish Leather