Guide to British Music of the 1960s

 
 

 

The Top 10 Introductions

Some songs are recognisable as soon as you hear the introduction. 1960s British music offered some classic intros. Making Time has chosen ten of the best with no artist featured more than once. Of course, you may have your own ideas.

10

The Animals - House of the Rising Sun

Hilton Valentine's A minor arpeggio guitar opening leads into this classic Animals song. The modern take on a traditional folk song made it effectively the first folk rock chart hit. It was recorded in just one take on 18 May 1964 and reached number 1 in the UK by July 1964.

9

Jimi Hendrix Experience - Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)

The final track on Electric Ladyland the third album by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Released on 16 September 1968 it was later a single (released 1970). It was initially a reprise of Voodoo Child an earlier track on the album but certainly stands out in its own right.

The song was very powerful live and would vary from 7 to 18 minutes. Hendrix played Voodoo Chile (Slight Return) on the BBC Happening for Lulu show prior to starting the single Hey Joe when they then stopped playing part-through and started playing Cream's Sunshine of Your Love.

8

Procul Harem - A Whiter Shade of Pale

One of the most unusual tracks of the 1960s and a massive hit. Released on 12 May 1967, this was Procul Harem's debut single and it reached number 1 in the UK and US.

The song was co-written by Gary Brooker, Keith Reid and Matthew Fisher, Fisher gaining his share of the writing credit in 2009 following a court battle.

The song was based around a Bach melody with seemingly nonsense lyrics although it has been suggested that they are about a drunken seduction and sexual relationship.

The song is one of the most played of all time in the UK.

7

The Small Faces - Tin Soldier

For many Small Faces fans this is the band's outstanding track. The single was the follow-up to Itchycoo Park and was released in December 1967 the song was written by Steve Marriott and featured former Ikette PP Arnold on backing vocals.

Tin Soldier did not initially appear on any album although it has since been available as an additional track on the first Immediate album as well as in Greatest Hits compilations. The track was included, however, on the US There Are But Four Small Faces.

What makes this intro special is the way the instruments come in with every band member playing at their peak. The song also shows the range of Marriott's superb soul voice.

6

Cream - Sunshine of Your Love

An iconic riff as practised by guitarists all over the world. Sunshine of Your Love was Cream's fifth single and was taken from the album Disraeli Gears. The album was released in December 1967 with the single issued in February 1968.

The song was written by Jack Bruce, Pete Brown and Eric Clapton. The riff case from Bruce, most of the lyrics from Brown while Clapton provided the bridge. Drummer Ginger Baker also had a major impact with his highly distinctive African-style drumming.

Although the single only reached 25 in the UK and 5 in the US, it remains a rock classic.

5

Led Zeppelin - Whole Lotta Love

Led Zeppelin's first two albums were released in 1969. After the power of the first album there must have been incredible anticipation for Led Zeppelin 2. With Whole Lotta Love as the opening track it certainly does not disappoint. Jimmy Page's riff runs through the song and it has become one of best-known riffs in rock music. The song was also used for many years as the theme tune for BBC's Top of the Pops although it was a version by CCS.

The lyrics were similar you Muddy Waters' You Need Love which was written by Willie Dixon. A version  of the song called You Need Loving was recorded by the Small Faces on their eponymous debut album and credit to Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane as writers. While Plant was an admirer of Muddy Waters his style of singing clearly owed much to Marriott's style.

Although the song was pressed as a single with a December 1969 release date, it was never issued as the band had already decided on a no-singles policy for the UK. However, the song was a major hit in many other countries and it one of the most-recognised Led Zeppelin songs.

4

The Kinks - You Really Got Me

The chords that defined rock music in the 1960s. Dave Davies' distinctive introduction to The Kinks' first major hit has led to many imitations, even the Who's debut single I Can't Explain showed a clear influence.

This was The Kinks' third single but their first major hit. The song was written by Ray Davies and was released as a single on 4th October 1964. It also appeared on their debut album Kinks. Alongside the power chords, the track used distortion on Dave Davies' guitar which he achieved by slicing the paper cone of his guitar amplifier. These were new sounds back in 1964.

A long-standing myth about this track is that Jimmy Page, then a top session musician, played the lead guitar solo, Producer Shel Talmy has denied that Page did play on the track.

3

The Beatles - I Feel Fine

There are so many great intros to choose from for The Beatles, such as the single chord of A Hard Day's Night, the fuzz guitar of Revolution or McCartney's bass line on Taxman. I Feel Fine has been chosen not just for John Lennon's opening riff but also the feedback that precedes it. Listen to the second volume of BBC tracks to hear Lennon trying to achieve this in the BBC studios. Although feedback had been used intentionally by The Who and The Kinks when playing love this was effectively the first time that it had been used on vinyl. Engineers were normally trying to eliminate the feedback. The Beatles used it creatively. 

Released in November 1964, this was The Beatles' eighth single. It reached the UK number 1 spot in December.

2

The Who - Pinball Wizard

By the late 1960s, Pete Townshend was already becoming more experimental with his writing. A Quick One While He's Away had shown him looking towards a rock opera but more was to follow with Tommy.

Pinball Wizard was released as a single in March 1969 reaching number 4 in the UK and 19 in the US.

1

The Rolling Stones - (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction

Satisfaction was released in August 1965 although it was available on the US album Out of Our Heads in June of that year and as a single. It spent two weeks at number 1 in the UK although it has subsequently been cited as one of the greatest singles ever released.

Keith Richards' fuzz box is what made the track sound particularly innovative even though he had originally intended that the 3-note riff be played on horns, much like the later Otis Redding cover version.

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