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Friday, May 6, 2016

Basic Biittner : List

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Anyone who knows me knows that I love popular music. In an earlier column, I also mentioned that I love to make lists. My only lists of any importance to anyone else are the grocery list, the "what to take on vacation" list, and of course, the ever-popular "honey do list."

The lists I enjoy making, however - which I realize are of absolutely no importance to anyone but me - are entertainment-related lists. Normally, I keep these lists to myself, but -as a fellow columnist once said -sometimes you just have to find something to "fill the space" for a column. With that inspiring thought in mind, I will unveil today a list of great "first recordings."

For several years now, I have felt that the two best "first recordings" of the "rock era" were the Jackson Five's "I Want You Back" and Crosby, Stills and Nash's "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes." (The latter was not the group's first single, but it was the first track on their debut album). I often shared this opinion with anyone who would ask - which, it turned out, was no one. Rather than just accept this opinion from myself as a fact, I decided to look into it a little further (can you tell that I'm also the one who writes the occasional "Musings Of an Idle Mind" piece?)

The criteria I established for a song to qualify for this list was fairly simple: The artist had to have placed singles and/or albums on the Billboard "Top 40" chart over a period of at least 5 years (no "one hit wonders" here) after their initial success. As I went on, I developed a couple of other criteria: 1) The song in question might not actually be the artist's very first recording, but would be the first one to hit the Top 40 on the record label most associated with the artist (see Aretha Franklin) ; and, if the artist in question is a group, it would be the first record from the most popular group configuration (see Fleetwood Mac).

Now that I've set the rules (which of course I can, since I'm the only one "playing the game"), I proudly present my list of "great first recordings." I have listed the recordings in chronological order, as many of these songs are favorites of mine, and I've found that numbering such a list from #1 to whatever, is a hopeless task. I have limited the number of songs, though. Due to space considerations, I have included only records released between 1955- 1975 - "the Golden Age of Rock and Roll."

Without further adieu, then, I present (drum roll, please!) my list of great first records.

1956 - Heartbreak Hotel - Elvis Presley (first RCA Victor record)

I Walk the Line - Johnny Cash

1957 - Bye-Bye Love - The Everly Brothers

Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On - Jerry Lee Lewis

You Send Me - Sam Cooke

1958 - I Wonder Why - Dion (& Belmonts)

It's Only Make Believe - Conway Twitty

1960 - Only The Lonely - Roy Orbison

1961 - Shop Around - The Miracles

1962 - Sherry - Four Seasons

Green Onions - Booker T. & the MGs

1963 - Fingertips Part Two - Stevie Wonder

1964 - I Want to Hold Your Hand - The Beatles (first US release)

The Way You Do the Things You Do - Temptations

House of the Rising Sun - The Animals

You Really Got Me - The Kinks

You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling- Righteous Brothers

1965 - My Generation - The Who (UK release)

It's Not Unusual - Tom Jones

In The Midnight Hour - Wilson Pickett

Sounds of Silence- Simon and Garfunkel

1966 - Good Lovin' - Young Rascals

Tell It Like It Is - Aaron Neville

1967 - I Never Loved a Man - Aretha Franklin

Brown Eyed Girl - Van Morrison 1969 - Ramblin' Gamblin' Man - Bob Seger

These Eyes - The Guess Who

Suite: Judy Blue Eyes- Crosby, Stills, and Nash

I Want You Back - The Jackson Five

1970 - Close To You - The Carpenters

Fire and Rain - James Taylor

Your Song - Elton John

1971 - Maggie May - Rod Stewart

1972 - Taxi - Harry Chapin

Take It Easy - The Eagles

1974 - Piano Man - Billy Joel

1975 - Born To Run- Bruce Springsteen

Over My Head - Fleetwood Mac

A few outstanding "first record" songs didn't make the list simply because the artist didn't meet the "five years" criteria - often, unfortunately, due to the artist's early death. Included in this group would be such songs as "That'll Be the Day" by Buddy Holly and the Crickets (1957), "You Don't Mess With Jim" by Jim Croce (1972), "Light My Fire" by the Doors (1967) , "Sweet Home Alabama," by Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the two-sided hit by Ritchie Valens - "Donna/La Bamba." (1958), among others.

Gee, that would make a good list, too - The Top Ten "Couldabeen" artists!

- or maybe not.

That's all, folks!

- from that "Little Old List Maker," me

Dan Whitney
Basic Biittner