Inspired by the #PopInjustice hashtag on Twitter, highlighting great singles which never got the chart success they deserved. 19 tracks (or a perfect C60, if you like) from 1965-69, all great singles that never made the UK top 50. Pop, soul, freakbeat, out-and-out psych, everything that made late 60's UK pop great. There's people who would never score a hit, then there's big names making a commercial misstep. There's something for everyone, so click the play button and I hope the sleevenotes below are informative (or at least prompt you to further investigate some top notch acts).
The Poets – That’s The Way It’s Got To Be (1965) - Decca F12074
When this Glasgow band’s Decca debut, Now We’re Thru crept to number 31 there were probably high hopes for the follow-up, but the brilliant That’s The Way It’s Got To Be bafflingly didn’t register. It did, however find its way onto the soundtrack of Frankenstein Meets The Space Monster (1965). Go figure.
The Eyes – When The Night Falls (1966) - Mercury MF881
Their first two corking singles for Mercury (of which this was the first) were also combined on a most desirable EP. When The Night Falls has been often comped since, and quite rightly. After two further singles and a budget collection of Stones covers (credited to The Pupils), The Eyes disappeared but would eventually gain cult immortality.
The Bats – Listen To My Heart (1966) - Decca F22534
With success in their native South Africa, The Bats tried their luck in the UK, recording Listen To My Heart for Decca. A self-penned cracking blue-eyed soul track, it failed to click at the time but has since found its admirers. Two further releases for Decca sank likewise and the band had returned home before 1967 was out.
Honeybus – (Do I Figure) In Your Life (1967) - Deram DM152
If The Left Banke were the US kings of baroque pop, then Honeybus are the UK’s monarchs. They hit the top 10 with I Can’t Let Maggie Go, but none of their other fine singles for Deram came anywhere near repeating the success. Still, (Do I Figure) In Your Life would get covers from Joe Cocker and Paul Carrick.
P.P. Arnold – Everything’s Gonna Be Alright (1967) - Immediate IM040
The former Ikette’s opening shot for Andrew Loog Oldham’s Immediate label, a bouncy soulful track which bafflingly didn’t chart, although Arnold would fare much better with her next release, The First Cut Is The Deepest.
Elmer Gantry’s Velvet Opera – Flames (1967) - CBS Direction 58-3083
So close for this one, it lurked on the Breakers list for a week but didn’t quite make the Top 50 proper. It did, however end up in a lot of homes thanks to its inclusion on the CBS sampler album, The Rock Machine Turns You On.
Dusty Springfield – What’s It’s Gonna Be (1967) - Philips BF1608
A rare 60’s flop for Dusty but, following the massive success of You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me both Philips and the public were perhaps pigeon-holing her as a ballad singer. This unjustly ignored soul belter perhaps indicated more where her heart truly lay.
The Creation – How Does It Feel To Feel? (1967) - Polydor 56230/US Decca 32227
There were different mixes for this record’s respective UK and US releases, but I’ve opted for the US version with its crunching, bowed guitar. This was the version that provided the template for Ride’s cover.
The Action – Shadows And Reflections (1967) - Parlophone R5610
They were mentored by The Beatles’ producer George Martin, but despite his best efforts The Action never had a hit. Shadows And Reflections was their last Parlophone release.
Denny Laine – Say You Don’t Mind (1967) - Deram DM122
In between leaving The Moody Blues and joining Paul McCartney’s Wings, Laine released Say You Don’t Mind and if it flopped, it wasn’t for lack of trying on Deram’s part – they released the single three times in the hope of a hit. Colin Blunstone would eventually take it to the top 10 in 1972.
Fairport Convention – Meet On The Ledge (1968) - Island WIP6047
It may have become Fairport Convention’s signature song, but singles buyers weren’t biting in 1968. When they re-recorded the track for their 20th anniversary in 1987, violinist Ric Sanders apparently joked: “We're going to release it every 20 years until it's a hit"
Warm Sounds – Night Is-A Comin’ (1968) - Deram DM174
They made the UK top 30 with the baroque-tinged Birds And Bees in ’67, but the storming Nite Is A Comin’ (with its backwards b-side Smeta Murgaty) sounds like the work of a completely different outfit. It turned out to be their parting shot on Deram.
Calum Bryce – Love-Maker (1968) - Conder PS1001
Originally a TV-ad jingle for Woodpecker Cider, Love-Maker’s breakbeat-friendly nature means that original copies on the Conder label now sell for insane prices. This was the only release from Calum Bryce.
The Factory – Path Through The Forest (1968) - MGM 1444
Quite rightly now considered one of the finest UK Psych singles, this sank without trace when released on MGM in 1968, so much so that demo copies are said to be more common than the ones that reached the shops.
Pink Floyd – Point Me At The Sky (1968) - Columbia DB8511
A Roger Waters/David Gilmour collaboration, its failure convinced both the band and EMI that they should concentrate on albums, and they would not release another UK single until Another Brick In The Wall in 1979. However, more recently Nick Mason’s Saucerful Of Secrets band revived Point Me At The Sky in their setlist.
The Zombies – Time Of The Season (1968) - CBS 3380
It enjoyed an amazing afterlife when it broke through in the USA the following year, but in 1968 Time Of The Season was yet another unfair flop and a muted coda for a band who had released one of the classiest runs of singles to grace the decade. The Zombies broke up, but their later rediscovery and resurgence was a timely reminder that the good stuff always finds its audience eventually.
The Flirtations – Nothing But A Heartache (1968) - Deram DM216
It can genuinely surprise people when you tell them that this track was recorded in the UK, but the ex-pat Flirtations did indeed record a string of great soul singles for Deram in Decca’s London studios. Ironically for the band trying their luck in the UK, the single did score them a US top 40 placing. Regardless, it is now a bona fide classic.
The Kinks – Shangri-La (1969) - Pye 7N 17812
It seemed that The Kinks couldn’t get arrested in 1969, although this five-minute-plus epic track from the Arthur project might seem a curious choice of single in retrospect. Lola would restore them to the top ten the following year.
Wallace Collection – Daydream (1969) - Parlophone R5764
This Belgian band recorded their magnum opus at EMI’s Abbey Road studio, and took their name from the nearby gallery but failed to score a hit in the land where they recorded it. Nonetheless, it did well in 20-odd other countries and has proven remarkably durable. The song (in a different version by The Gunter Kallmann Choir) would provide the bedrock for Daydream In Blue by I Monster (2001) and The Beta Band’s Squares (2002).