This Week In History: The Supremes, Hits From Sweden And A Love Anthem For Rock ‘N’ Roll
The music history books are vast and full of interesting bits of knowledge. “Big” Jay Sorensen gives you a recap of the biggest and most interesting music news from the week; something from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s.
Though their sixth album, More Hits by the Supremes, merely reached number six on the Pop album chart and number two on the R&B album chart later in 1965, it did include three Top-11 singles; two that were Pop chart number one songs, with this week’s being the first.
“Stop In The Name Of Love” on Motown Records, written by the red-hot team of Holland-Dozier-Holland, was recorded at the Motown command center in Detroit in early January 1965 and was released as a single less than a month afterward. The practically unidentified studio vocal group the Andantes (who usually puffed up the vocals of the Supremes) did it again on this track.
In addition to the Funk Brothers (the Motown studio band), the strings on the track were supplied by portions of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. The now renowned dance routine featuring the three women holding their hand as if to say “Stop,” was taught to Diana, Florence and Mary backstage at a London TV show by two members of the Temptations: Melvin Franklin and Paul Williams.
This song was selected for a GRAMMY nomination for Best Contemporary Rock & Roll Group Vocal Performance, but lost to a miscategorized record “Flowers On The Wall” by the Country vocal group the Statler Brothers.
The other number one from More Hits by the Supremes was “Back In My Arms Again” and “Nothing But Heartaches,” which only reached number 11; at that point in time was not acceptable to the production/songwriting team. Their next song was a concrete number one; “I Hear A Symphony.”
This week’s top tune was a remake of a remake. The Mark James work of art was cut by B.J. Thomas in 1968, becoming a hit in 1969. In 1971, English music industrialist Jonathan King recorded a adaptation of “Hooked On A Feeling” featuring chanting, similar to the “ugo ugo” sounds performed by the Big Bopper and Country singer George Jones on the 1960 number one song “Running Bear” by Johnny Preston.
Flash forward to 1973 and Swedish solo singer Bjorn Skifs was looking for a band to be his back-up accompanists at concerts. That group (translated into English) was called Blue Blouse, a loose translation for “blues music,” became Blue Swede. Their version of “Hooked On A Feeling” was released in Sweden in May of 1973 and crossed the Atlantic to be this week’s number one record in America for just a solitary week. The record, released on EMI, ultimately sold over a million copies in the US. The group had one more large hit, another remake of a previous smash, “Never My Love,” initially done by the Association without the novelty vocals.
Skifs exited Blue Swede in 1976 and would later represent his nation at the Eurovision Music Awards. He was the voice of the “Arbiter” on the novel studio double concept album for the musical Chess, released in 1984 and written by fellow Swedes Benny Andersson and Bjorn Ulvaeus (formerly of ABBA) with lyrics by Tim Rice. Skifs recorded the demo tape version of “One Night In Bangkok” from the musical copied by Murray Head, which became the hit song and a number three US Pop single in 1984.
While the Go-Go’s had the top album in America this week in 1982, a female rocker and her band held the top spot on the Pop singles chart. This song has ancestry as far back as 1975 when a British/American group called Arrows recorded the song fashioned by legendary producer Mickey Most; written by Alan Merrill (one of the first solo English pop stars to turn into a superstar in Japan) and American-born Jake Hooker. The song was purportedly a knee-jerk reaction to the Rolling Stones tune, “It’s Only Rock & Roll (But I Like It).”
Joan Jett had seen that group perform their song on their own TV show called Arrows while she was in England with her assemblage the Runaways. She initially did a remake of the song in 1979 with a couple of members of the Sex Pistols (which eventually saw release in the 1990s). Returning to America, she formed a new band called The Blackhearts from responses to an advertisement in an LA newspaper. Their manager Kenny Laguna sold their first album out of the trunk of his vehicle, but when he realized he couldn’t keep up with the demand, he was able to sign a contract with a real record company; the Casablanca subsidiary, Boardwalk Records. The result was the album Bad Reputation.
About a year later, I Love Rock & Roll made it to number two, featuring the namesake single and another remake, “Crimson And Clover,” the Tommy James & The Shondells chart-topper from the 1960s. “I Love Rock & Roll” (which was in week three of an eventual seven weeks in the peak spot on the chart) was also the biggest dance hit in the land.
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