A genre-spanning 2CD mix of hit singles, slow burners and lost gems from soul, funk, psych, garage and rock’n’roll. The 45s that defined 1965 and crystallised author Jon Savage’s memories of the year.
1965 was the year of Dylan, folk-rock and protest, and the year when the post-beat bohemian subculture took over from traditional showbiz as the principal youth culture. Suits and group uniforms were out: denim, suede and long hair in. It was also a vintage Motown year. In the first week of 1965, the Supremes were at #2 US and three other Motown records were in the Billboard Top 40. Two weeks later the Supremes reached #1, the first of six Motown achieved that year – and, in March, EMI UK launched the Tamla Motown label with hits by the Supremes and Martha & the Vandellas. Harder core soul artists such as Wilson Pickett and James Brown also had US pop hits and, thanks to the pirate radio stations and inspired promotion by Decca PR Tony Hall, Pickett narrowly missed the UK Top 10.
The thing about the 60s, certainly for a media-scanning 12 year-old like me, was that it wasn’t like an Austin Powers film, with a three-CD set of top hits blasting out of an E-Type on Carnaby Street. To hear the record you wanted, you had to wade through what seemed like oceans of dreck – maudlin ballads by the Bachelors, Jim Reeves and Ken Dodd that seemed to last a lifetime – before you got to the Yardbirds, Dylan, James Brown or the Who. The experience of hearing those great records then was even more powerful in that relief.
These two CDs are an enhanced version of what I remember from 1965, based on regular exposure to Ready Steady Go!, Top Of The Pops and Radio Caroline South. The tracks are arranged along chronological lines, with a few deviations for the sake of flow. It’s not possible to be definitive, and if there are any major artists missing, there is usually a good reason. Some of the records here are very familiar: others were extremely obscure in 1965, and have only come to light in recent years. Part of the pleasure of pop fandom is in discovering lost and hidden singles and albums from a familiar period that expand your knowledge of what was going on at the time – in a period that you might have been too young to fully comprehend.