173. ‘It’s All Over Now’, by The Rolling Stones

Lock up your daughters, the headlines screamed. It’s The Rolling Stones! And with a discordant, clanging intro – an intro that strongly hints at this being a band about to get up to no good – here they are.


It’s All Over Now, by The Rolling Stones (their 1st of eight #1s)

1 week, from 16th – 23rd July 1964

Once the intro is out of the way, the song settles down into a jaunty, chugging rhythm. There’s a natty little bassline and jazzy drum-fills. In my previous post I billboarded this as Pt. II of the Great British Blues Invasion, following on from ‘The House of The Rising Sun’. But ‘It’s All Over Now’ sounds a little lightweight compared to The Animals’ record – a song that could have rattled the gates of hell. Anything would feel lightweight after that, to be fair.

Well baby used to stay out, All night long, She made me cry, She done me wrong… Lyrically this #1 follows a well-trodden path – the brave-face-on-a-break-up theme we’ve heard in discs like ‘That’ll Be the Day’, ‘Who’s Sorry Now’ and ‘Needles and Pins’ to name but a few. Except this is The Stones, authors of feminist anthems like ‘Heart of Stone’ and ‘Under My Thumb’, and so the barbs are aimed a little lower and hit a little harder than those fired by, say, The Searchers.

Well, She used to run around, With every man in town, Spending all my money… At this point we arrive at a momentous occasion in our countdown – the first genuine swear word!… Playing her half-assed game. (I know it’s nothing shocking in this day and age, but I bet the BBC weren’t playing it at the time.) She put me out, It was a pity how I cried, Tables turn and now, Her turn to cry…


It’s a slightly sloppily written song: note the ‘cried’ being rhymed with ‘cry’, while the line about ‘every man in town’ is also recycled in the final verse. It wasn’t originally a Stones song either, as it had been released, in the US at least, in a much more soulful, funkier version by Bobby Womack & The Valentinos. In this sense, then, it is a Stones song – the ominous, passive-aggressive, arrogance of this version is all them. It’s a song with swagger. The Stones were here, with added swearing and no time for heartache.

We reach the solo – a manic, disjointed effort from Brian Jones which I don’t think would win any technical awards but which sums up the early-Stones perfectly. This and the solo from Elvis’s ‘Devil in Disguise’ were the two solos I wanted to learn guitar in order to play, aged sixteen. (I still haven’t got round to it…) Mick Jagger squawks and squeals in the background, in a manner we just haven’t heard over the past hundred and seventy two #1s. Then we fade to black with the same clanging chords from the intro, but only after Jagger has promised that he won’t be taken for that same old clown. Because he used to love her; but it’s all over now.

There we have it. Two debut number ones. Both of which managed only a solitary week at the top of the UK singles charts; but both of which changed the direction of British pop as we know it. The bad boys were on top! Listen to ‘It’s All Over Now’ and then ‘I Like It’ by Gerry and The Pacemakers and tell me who you think would win in a fight… One thing’s for sure – pop music was evolving at an astonishing rate in the mid-sixties and we can now safely declare that – barely a year after it broke through – Merseybeat is dead, trampled under Jagger, Richards, Jones and co’s wedge-heeled brogues.

Listen to every #1 so far in this handy playlist:


172. ‘The House of the Rising Sun’, by The Animals

What have we here, then? A riff kicks in – and keeps on kicking for the next four and a half minutes – beckoning us towards a song about a whorehouse-slash-gambling den. Is this the moment in which the ‘and roll’ is dropped, and ‘rock’ strikes out on his own, with a capital R, O, C and K?


The House of the Rising Sun, by The Animals (their 1st and only #1)

1 week, from 9th – 16th July 1964

It’s an ominous, minor-key intro. Nothing good is going to come of it. And when the vocals start, the mood darkens further. There is, A house, In New Orleans… They call the Rising Sun… (I’ve always liked the flamboyant way that the singer pronounces ‘New Orlay-ons’ in his sonorous voice.) And it’s been the ruin, Of many a poor boy, And God, I know, I’m one…

A young man, son of a tailor-woman and a gambler, heads into the latter-day Sodom and Gomorrah that is The Big Easy, and comes unstuck. How exactly he comes unstuck isn’t elaborated on – it is still only 1964, after all – but you can imagine. Cards, booze, women… If this were a movie, then the frenzied organ solo at the midway point would be the soundtrack to his descent into depravity.

Then comes a word of warning: Oh mother, Tell your children, Not to do what I have done… Except, the singer can’t heed his own advice – can’t resist the temptation of New Orleans: I got one foot on the platform, The other foot on the train, I’m going back to New Orleans, To wear that ball and chain… The organ grows more and more intense, the vocals wracked and howling – a voice that could cause avalanches. It’s completely different to Roy Orbison’s approach in the preceding #1, but it’s every bit as impressive. And the final, drawn-out horror movie chord that the song ends on is, frankly, terrifying.

This is something different… Every so often we arrive at #1s which feel like a level-up – chart-topping discs that raise the stakes (gambling pun very much intended). ‘Rock Around the Clock’, ‘Great Balls of Fire’, ‘How Do You Do It?’… and now this. After ‘House of the Rising Sun’ has blasted your eardrums, The Beatles and their Merseybeat chums sound like school kids. The Animals were men. The name alone is raw, and untamed. It’s also the longest number one single so far by some distance. The Animals didn’t edit their singles for nobody!


They were a five-piece from Newcastle, and the lead singer with the voice of a wolf was one Eric Burden, a man who started smoking aged 10, fell in love with an older woman aged 13, and who preferred drinking ale to going to school (they breed them tough in the north-east.) He is, allegedly, The Eggman of ‘I Am the Walrus’ fame, due to an incident involving amyl nitrate and a fried breakfast… I really want to read his autobiography. Besides this disc, The Animals gave us two more ‘Best of the 60s’ perennials – ‘Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’ and ‘We’ve Got to Get Out of This Place’. They weren’t ones for shortening their song titles either…

‘House of the Rising Sun’ has an equally interesting, and hard-edged history. Sources differ, but it seems certain that the song is as old as the 17th century. It originated either in England or France. The lyrics were originally about a woman led astray; The Animal’s version was the first to reverse the gender.

If this record hitting #1 is a game-changer – giving us pure, southern R&B at the top of the hit parade – then it has to be viewed as the first of a two-parter. While this is a seminal record; The Animals chart career didn’t last. Our next, bluesy chart-topper may not be as well-known, but the group that recorded it are perhaps the most famous rock ‘n’ roll band in history…

171. ‘It’s Over’, by Roy Orbison

Out of nowhere, the Big ‘O’ is back. Enough of this new-fangled ‘Beat’ nonsense, he says. It’s been a little too happy at the top of the charts recently; a little too much positivity going round. Roy is here to change all that.


It’s Over, by Roy Orbison (his 2nd of three #1s)

2 weeks, from 25th June – 9th July 1964

This isn’t any kind of reinvention. Orbison hasn’t updated his sound to keep up with the kids. Last we heard from him, over three and a half years ago, it was with ‘Only the Lonely’. Now, ‘It’s Over’. And if you held any hopes that that might just be a misleading title, then the opening line crushes them. A guitar gently strums… Your baby doesn’t love you, Anymore…

And so we embark on a song absolutely drowning in melodramatic heartbreak. Roy O excelled at this kind of OTT emoting. Lines like: All the rainbows in the sky, Start to weep and say goodbye… and Setting suns before they fall, Echo to you ‘That’s all, that’s all’… are both ridiculous and perfect. While in the build-up to the chorus, when he sings She says to you, There’s someone new, Were throu-ou-ough… and then, just for good measure, another We’re through! Goosebumps.

I had never heard of a ‘bolero’ before researching this song, but it’s a term that’s been used to describe what Orbison was doing in ballads like these. A bolero being, in Latin music, a piece that ‘builds’; and in pop music a song that builds to a climax without the traditional verse, bridge, chorus structure. Not that ‘It’s Over’ is strictly a bolero. There is a latin flavour to the insistent guitars, and the occasional castanets, but there is a reset halfway through, after the first three It’s overs… For a true taste of Orbison-bolero, check out the equally sublime ‘Running Scared’.

By the end of the song, you’ve come to a startling realisation. The Big ‘O’ is bloody loving all this heartbreak. For a start, this song is written in the 2nd person – he’s singing about another person’s despair. He’s the angel of heartbreak swooping in through some poor guy’s bedroom window, as his wife slams the door behind her, singing And you’ll see lonely sunsets, After all… And then we get to the climax. It’s over, It’s over, It’s over! But it’s not. Oh no. Pause. One final breath. And Jeezo. That last It’s Over! No chart-topper, before or since – and bear in mind that we’re on around 1300 by now – has had as dramatic and emphatic an ending as chart-topper #171.

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As I wrote above, this was Roy Orbison’s 2nd number one after a near four year wait. Under normal circumstances, a four year gap between chart-toppers is nothing special. But for him to span these four years, which saw Elvis kill off what remained of rock ‘n’ roll and The Beatles et al launch a musical revolution, is pretty impressive. His contemporaries at the top when ‘Only The Lonely’ was there were Ricky Valance, Cliff and Johnny Tillotson. And he’s done it without compromise. This record is The Big ‘O’ doing what The Big ‘O’ does best, and for its two minutes and forty-seven seconds you could be forgiven for forgetting that anything has changed. Back when The Beatles and The Pacemakers landed on the charts, I compared them to a meteor, killing off all the musical dinosaurs. But I forgot about Roy Orbison. I now have a mental image of him coolly lifting the meteor up with one arm, stepping out from under it and dusting himself off. And re-adjusting his shades, of course.

Interestingly, he’s the first American-that-isn’t-Elvis-Presley to top the charts since Ray Charles in July 1962. The Beat revolution has been, up to now, a strictly British affair. But that’s going to start slowly changing. As for Roy, it’s certainly not over. Not yet. He’s got one final #1 left in the tank, and it might just be his signature song.

Follow along with my Spotify playlist:

170. ‘You’re My World’, by Cilla Black

A word of warning. If you listen to this next #1 through headphones, and haven’t checked the volume levels on your device, then the violins that open this song may burst your eardrums. Take it from me. They’re the violins from the shower scene in ‘Psycho’, remixed.


You’re My World, by Cilla Black (her 2nd and final #1)

4 weeks, from 28th May – 25th June 1964

Once they settle down, though, we head into solid ‘sixties ballad’ territory. Dramatic piano, tumbling drums, a soaring chorus… You’re my world, You’re every breath I take, You’re my world, You’re every move I make… The lyrics are trite, no doubt about it – but does that really matter? It’s an over-the-top record, that requires some over-the-top emoting. As the trees reach for the sun, Above, So my arms reach out to you, For love…

I still can’t shake the feeling I had while listening to her first #1: ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’ – that Cilla was but a second-rate Dusty Springfield. She gives it a good go, and does sing it very well, but her voice just doesn’t have enough behind it – it’s still a little too reedy. It’s harsh, you might argue, to compare a perfectly good singer to the one and only Dusty. And this, after all, is Cilla’s second chart-topper while we are still yet to hear from Ms. Springfield… But. From a 2019 standpoint, the patent on this type of pop-ballad is owned by Dusty, and almost everybody else will fall short of her standards.

Still, when we get to the line that builds up to the chorus – With your hand, Resting in mine… I feel a po-wer, So, divine… I’m completely won over by this song. That’s how you do a chorus. We’re a long way yet from the golden age of the power-ballad; but this is a proto power-ballad. What the V2 rocket was to Apollo 11. It’s a song that manages to cram a lot into it’s three minute run-time. A song that takes you on a journey, and assorted other clichés.

It’s also a song with a bit of a story behind it. It had originally been written the year before, in Italian as ‘Il Mio Mondo’ – which explains the operatic vibe – and translated into English, then French, then Spanish. It was a hit record in whatever language they tried; apart from, interestingly enough, in Italy… George Martin, who had an ear for these kind of things, was the man who spotted its potential and gave it to Cilla…


And so it was her, and her alone, who could break up these nine months of Merseybeat with two #1 blockbuster ballads. She was a huge star, no doubt about that, though with this her chart-topping career ended quite abruptly. Whatever happened to her…? She lasted throughout the sixties – not something that all of her contemporaries managed – scoring nine more Top 10s (the last of which, the sublime ‘Something Tells Me (Something’s Gonna Happen Tonight)’ is the best.)

Oh yes. And then she became one of the most famous TV personalities in the country, as the face of Saturday night light entertainment shows like ‘Surprise, Surprise’ and ‘Blind Date’. I wasn’t allowed to watch ‘Blind Date’ as a kid; my mum thought it was trash. I mean, it was trash – that was the entire point… Anyway, unresolved childhood grievances aside, Cilla Black was part of the fabric of British live in the eighties and nineties and it was genuinely shocking when she died suddenly in 2015. Her death sent a ‘Greatest Hits’ compilation to the top of the UK Album Charts – the first time she had topped any chart since ‘You’re My World’…

I once spent an enjoyable hour reading a thread by anonymous British Airways cabin crew who had had the misfortune to serve Cilla on flights. She could *allegedly* be, shall we say, demanding… It made me love her even more. A proper diva, the likes of whom we see fewer and fewer of these days. RIP, and onwards.

169. ‘Juliet’, by The Four Pennies

Before listening to this next UK chart-topper, I would have put the house on ‘Juliet’ being a doo-wopish, soulful, Motown record and The Four Pennies a black vocal group from Detroit. And if I had, I would now be homeless.


Juliet, by The Four Pennies (their 1st and only #1)

1 week, from 21st – 28th May 1964

For this is another Beat record, and The Four Pennies a band from Blackburn, Lancashire. Which goes to show how much of a forgotten #1 single this is. I have genuinely never heard this record before. I suspect most people haven’t. This record is so inconspicuous that I missed it every time I glanced down my list of UK chart-toppers, what with its single week at the top being completely buried amongst large swathes of Beatles, Pacemakers, Searchers and Cilla.

What is it, then – this most forgotten of #1s? Well, if I had to pick one word to describe it that word would be ‘gentle’. A gentle guitar rhythm, gentle drums, and oh-so gentle vocals that give us something approaching a lullaby. There was a love, I knew before, She broke my heart, Left me unsure…. It sounds like the last number played at a spring dance in 1955, a soundtrack to which sweethearts would pair up and decide to ‘go steady’, not a hit single from the swinging sixties. Ju-li-e-e-e-et, Don’t forget… (some high quality rhyming, there.)

It’s got a pleasantly lo-fi, home-demo quality to it, and I quite like the soaring, layered you gave me… line in the bridge. It’s nice that it sneaked a week at the top in amongst all the huge hits of the time; but there’s a good reason as to why ‘Juliet’ has been well-forgotten by the collective conscience… It’s pretty dull. Kind of like The Bachelors from a few weeks back, it’s a case of bandwagon-jumping, or perhaps clever marketing, from four guys with guitars who look like a cool new Beat group, but who are recording music for mums.


Actually, the more I listen to it, and the more I look at my list of upcoming number one singles, I think this might be the final genuine, Merseybeat chart-topper. Suddenly the movement is dead. Or, if not dead then about to splinter into lots of different styles: R &B, garage, folk… especially once the Americans get involved. But what a run it’s been. I can’t imagine a similarly homogenous run of #1 singles at any other time, before or after. Since The Searchers hit the top back in August ’63 with ‘Sweets For My Sweet’ we’ve had a near flawless procession of Beat pop at the top of the charts. I make it fourteen out of fifteen #1s, with the only exception being Cilla Black’s ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’, and she was from Liverpool and so was still halfway there.

The Four Pennies weren’t quite one-hit wonders, but ‘Juliet’ was their only Top Ten hit. The follow-up, ‘I Found Out the Hard Way’, could only make #14. By 1966, after only three years together as a recording group, Lionel, Fritz, Alan and Mike had gone their separate ways. Perhaps most tellingly, they were the only group from the Beat movement – and I’m talking about all the bands covered so far in this countdown and all the bands still to come over the next few years – that failed to chart for even a single week in the USA during the famous ‘British Invasion’.

Listen to every #1 so far with this playlist:

168. ‘Don’t Throw Your Love Away’, by The Searchers

The Searchers complete their hat-trick of #1s, with a very ‘Searchers’ record. Light as a feather guitar, restrained vocals, a hint of melancholy… Check, check, check.


Don’t Throw Your Love Away, by The Searchers (their 3rd and final #1)

2 weeks, from 7th – 21st May 1964

If The Beatles were the popular kids, and Gerry & The Pacemakers the class clowns, The Searchers were the cool kids in the corner, planning out their next, more grown-up, hit record. ‘Don’t Throw Your Love Away’ is the sort of record your gran wouldn’t have minded; but she would definitely have told you to turn off The Dave Clark Five.

It’s another Beat-pop song with a less-than-positive message. A song about a man who has been burned in the past, and who now sits at the end of the bar doling out advice to anyone who’ll listen. Lovers of today, Just throw their dreams away, And play at love… They give their love away, To anyone who’ll say, I love you… He doesn’t refer to himself specifically; but you just know he’s had his heart broken. Don’t throw your love away… he counsels… For you, Might need it, Someday…

When I first listened to this record a few days ago – a record I was aware of but had never really listened to properly – I noted that I ‘couldn’t really get into it’, that it was a little bland and uninventive. I even jotted down the phrase ‘Landfill Merseybeat’, meaning it in the same way that anyone who wasn’t The Arctic Monkeys, Franz Ferdinand or The Libertines in 2006 was ‘Landfill Indie’. But I’d like to officially change my mind, having listened to it on repeat, and admit that what I mistook for a bland number is actually a very subtle song that simply takes a while to fully reveal itself. The vocal harmonies are cute, and the guitars chime very tightly (I especially like the little ‘Arabian Nights’ fill in the bridge.)

And all credit to The Searchers, for not chasing the ‘Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ of other Beat songs, for ploughing their own furrow and taking this forgotten little slice of sad-pop to number one. This is a very ‘Searchers’ record; and if that means it’s a little hard to get into at first, then fine. I think part of the reason I didn’t get into their first chart-topper, ‘Sweets For My Sweet’, is that that was a song that really needed an up-tempo, grinning approach, which The Searchers couldn’t provide.


That’s not to say that they couldn’t do better than ‘Don’t Throw Your Love Away’. ‘Needles and Pins’ stands out clearly as the best of their three #1s, if not one of the best Merseybeat records, period. And their next single but one, the brilliant ‘When You Walk Into the Room’, would have made an even better final chart-topper for the group. It only reached number three…

I really could just cut and paste this next sentence… The Searchers (as with Gerry & The P’s, Billy J, Peter & Gordon et al) couldn’t keep the hits going much longer than this. Their final Top 20 hit came in 1965. Perhaps their biggest problem was that they didn’t write their own hits – all their #1s were covers (‘Don’t Throw Your Love Away’ was originally released, in the US at least, by The Orlons.) In the fifties that would have been fine, but all of a sudden, it seems, acts – especially guitar bands – needed to be writing their own stuff. They tried to move with the times, covering songs by The Stones and The Hollies, but nothing stuck. The line-up changed at an alarming rate, and they now tour as both Mike Pender’s Searchers and the ‘original’ group. But, we can remember them fondly as the band who gave us a breather, with their wistful melodies and hesitant vocals, from the relentless march of the Beat revolution.

167. ‘A World Without Love’, by Peter & Gordon

With Beatlemania at its scream-until-you-vomit height, it should come as no surprise to learn that one Fab Four song is replacing another at the top of the charts. Except, one glance at the act involved in this latest #1 gives the game away… There was neither a Peter nor a Gordon in The Beatles.


A World Without Love, by Peter & Gordon (their 1st and only #1)

2 weeks, from 23rd April – 7th May 1964

For those keeping track, this is the 6th Lennon & McCartney composition to take the top spot in the UK: four recorded by The Beatles themselves; two covered by other artists. But even if you hadn’t been filled in beforehand, the second the needle drops on ‘A World Without Love’ you know it’s a L&M number.

Is it the chord progressions? The harmonies? The fact it’s a catchy song with a sad underbelly? Is it all those things; or none? I can’t put my finger on it – but it’s there throughout the song. That Lennon & McCartney fairy dust. At the same time, though, this disc doesn’t sound exactly like a Beatles’ number. They were still, at this point, a guitars and drums pop group; while this record is driven by a bass riff and an organ.

The voices are different too – softer, more Everly Brothers than Beatles. They’re nice, drenched in echo… Please, lock me away… And don’t allow the day… Here inside, Where I hide, With my loneliness… It’s a song about how awful the world looks after a break-up. And this particular break-up must have hit pretty darn hard… Birds sing out of tune, And rainclouds hide the moon… By the end, the duo are begging to be locked away, hidden from all, rather than staying in a world without love.

I’ve mentioned it before, but it is surprising just how melancholy and melodramatic some of these Beat #1s were. You think it’s all youthful exuberance and ‘Yeah Yeah Yeahs’, but when you sit down and listen intently you notice that songs like ‘Bad to Me’, ‘She Loves You’ and ‘Needles and Pins’ are more concerned with the downsides of love, and that it’s not all sweetness and light. Apparently this song was written by Paul McCartney aged just sixteen, and that makes complete sense. That line about ‘hiding with his loneliness’ is pure teen-angst; while the bridge – in which it is revealed that the singer still holds out hope of his beloved returning to him – is pure youthful optimism. Although the line When she does (come back) I lose… adds an ambiguous element into the mix. Does he want her to come back? Or is he enjoying his gloomy wallow a little too much?


Peter Asher and Gordon Waller were school friends, and ‘A World Without Love’ was their debut hit. Asher was the brother of Paul McCartney’s girlfriend, Jane, and actually shared a room with Paul when he first moved to London, hence how he got to know him and was allowed to ‘borrow’ one of his songs. All the duo’s biggest hits were covers – ‘True Love Ways’ and a version of ‘To Know Him Is To Love Him’ followed – before, as with so many of the bands that broke through in the Beat explosion, their careers crumbled circa 1966/67.

McCartney was honest enough to admit that he thought ‘A World Without Love’ wasn’t good enough for his own band, and so they never recorded so much as a demo of it. I think that’s a little harsh – it’s a neat slice of pop that’s the equal of many Beatles’ album tracks. But I also get what he means. Nothing here matches the euphoric rush of ‘She Loves You’ or the guitar on ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’. They may have had cute hairstyles and cheeky grins, but The Beatles, and Lennon & McCartney in particular, knew what they were doing, taking control of their careers from the off.

166. ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’, by The Beatles

Our next #1 is a record that wastes no time in getting to the heart of what it’s all about. The song is called ‘Can’t Buy Me Love’, and the intro goes:


Can’t Buy Me Love, by The Beatles (their 4th of seventeen #1s)

3 weeks, from 2nd – 23rd April 1964

Can’t buy me love…. No-oh…. Can’t buy me lo-ve… It’s a jarring intro – a bit too in your face – but things improve a lot with the verses. I’ve always liked the swinging, bluesy rhythm on this record and today, listening to it for the first time in ages, I still do. Buy you a diamond ring my friend, If it makes you feel alright, I’ll get you anything my friend, If it makes you feel alright…

It’s a song about money not being everything; which is a topic that always sounds a bit off coming from hugely successful and completely loaded musicians. But I think The Beatles were young enough, and sufficiently green behind the ears, in early-’64, to get away with it. Actually, in a similar manner to ‘She Loves You’, Lennon & McCartney take a familiar theme here and add a layer or two. The lyrics aren’t about not needing money; they’re about having money and not really caring what you do with it. I don’t care too much for money, Money can’t buy me love…

It’s also a kind of contradictory message, as they then list the things they’ll give someone – as long as they love them back. Give you all I’ve got to give, If you say you’ll love me too… So money can buy you love…? I’m confused, guys. Perhaps we’re getting a first glimpse, four number #1s into their career, of The Fab Four’s disillusionment with fame and riches…? Especially in the final verse, where they hope that the girl wants the kind of things that money just can’t buy. Had they already been burned by gold-digging groupies…? It ends on what almost sounds like a wistful sigh… Ohhhhh….


Musically, it’s a little basic. At least, it’s Beatles-basic (which means that most other bands would have bitten your hand off for a chance to record it.) The high points are the ear-splitting shriek before the solo, and the echoey, plucked guitar that follows. It’s never been one of my favourite Beatles songs – I guess I always overlooked it in favour of the ‘bigger’ hits – but it’s been nice to re-discover it for this post. For some reason I will always associate it with an episode of The Simpsons, in which Grandpa and his friends frolic in a meadow (I’m sure I’m not imagining that…)

‘Can’t Buy Me Love’ ensured that The Beatles joined both Elvis and Frank Ifield in scoring 4 #1s in a year (though only Elvis did it in a calendar year.) In fact, this record hit the top simultaneously in the UK and the US and pretty much marks the absolutely demented, scream your head off and throw your panties height of Beatlemania. It was #1 in the week of the famous all-Beatles Top 5 in the Billboard Hot 100, and followed directly on from ‘I Want to Hold Your Hand’ and ‘She Loves You’ in occupying pole position. These three discs hogged the top spot over there for a full fourteen consecutive weeks.

Back on the other side of the Atlantic, though, you could be forgiven for thinking that a three-week stint at the top of the charts seems a little short for a hot new single from The Biggest Band the World Had Ever Seen. Perhaps, but they were about to be replaced at #1 by one of their own songs… again…

Listen to all the #1s so far by following my playlist:

165. ‘Little Children’, by Billy J. Kramer with The Dakotas

One of the earliest stars of the Beat explosion, Billy J. Kramer, returns for one last go on top. And he starts this latest #1 off with an intro full of intrigue. An intriguing intro. It’s a little slow and shuffling, a little woozy, like a pub band that’ve had one too many warming up for their final encore of the night. All that’s missing is a harmonica…


Little Children, by Billy J. Kramer with The Dakotas (their 2nd and final #1)

2 weeks, from 19th March – 2nd April 1964

Then the lyrics come in, and the intrigue grows ten-fold. Little children, You better not tell on me… I’m telling you… Little children, You better not tell what you see… It’s a song that tells a story – rather than the traditional ‘I love you, I’m in heaven, Hold my hand’ kind of songs that we’ve had a lot of recently – and that’s always a good thing. It makes them easier to write about for a start. But… And I’m sure you noticed it too… Those opening lines do sound kinda creepy.

It gets worse, too, before it gets better. I’ll give you candy, And a quarter, If you’re quiet, Like you oughta be, And keep the secret with me… Yep. I know. But, just as you reach for the phone to call ChildLine, all becomes clear. He wants the children to bugger off so that he can kiss and cuddle with their – presumably safely over-age – older sister. Nothing more sinister here than a spot of mild bribery. Phew.

Still, this is a strange little song. And not just because of those lyrics. I like it, the slightly seedy rhythm and the fact that it paints a picture of a very specific and believable scenario. Why does he not want his secret exposed? You saw me kissing your sister, You saw me holding her hand, But if you snitch to your mother, Your father won’t understand… Are her parents simply over-protective? Or has he got a reputation as a bit of a bounder? The best bits are the growled asides: I wish they would take a nap… And the simple, snide Go anywhere…! Add to this the fact that there isn’t really a chorus or a solo, just four ascending verses in which the singer grows more and more frustrated about not being left alone with his beau. I like it, even though it’s a strange song. I like it because it’s a strange song.


Given all the American references littered throughout the song – ‘quarters’, ‘movies’, ‘going steady’ – I was convinced that this #1 was going to add to the list of Beat-hits-that-were-actually-covers, but no. It was written by two American songwriters – J. Leslie McFarland and Mort Shuman – but Billy J. and The Dakotas recorded the first and only version. Apparently Kramer had been offered another Lennon and McCartney song but turned it down for something quirkier. Kudos to him for that. Although it has to be said that, as fun as this record is, ‘Bad to Me’, their first, Beatles-written, chart-topper is the superior disc.

That was it for Billy J. and number one hits. In a similar fashion to Gerry & The Pacemakers, his career fell off a cliff in 1965 as the Beat movement split into all its different sub-factions. He would only have one further UK Top 10, and parted from The Dakotas in 1967. In the seventies he worked in cabaret and regional television, and to this day he still does a turn on the oldies circuits. He has also been married twice, and so he must have persuaded those pesky kids to clear off, eventually…

164. ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’, by Cilla Black

Alright, chuck? What’s your name and where d’you come from? Me name’s Cilla, and I’m from Liverpool.

1962 and ’63 were barren years in terms of women reaching number one in the UK. 1963 had precisely zero female #1s, while 1962 had just the one – Wendy Richard popping up as the featured artist on Mike Sarne’s ‘Come Outside’ (and she didn’t even sing on that record!) No, if we are counting #1 discs sung solely by women we have to look all the way back to Helen Shapiro’s ‘Walkin’ Back to Happiness’ from October 1961! No pressure then, Cilla…


Anyone Who Had a Heart, by Cilla Black (her 1st of two #1s)

3 weeks, from 27th February – 19th March 1964

This is a dramatic record. Right from the opening chords. Dun… Dun Dun… It’s the sort of song sung onstage, in a movie, while a murder is being committed in the wings. We’ve got a jabbing piano, cascading strings, and those rolling drums that are fast becoming the sound of the mid-sixties. Anyone who ever loved, Could look at me, And know that I love you…. It’s the song of a spurned lover. One who demands better. Knowing I love you… so, Anyone who had a heart, Would take me in his arms and, Love me too…

Writing the words out like that, though, cannot convey the brilliantly stop-start, woozy way that they come at the listener – loud then quiet, soft then angry. The pauses before the ‘so’ and the ‘who’ in the chorus are perfect, as is the whispered What am I to do… before the gorgeous horn solo.

It is a slice of supreme balladry – a seriously classy record. And when you discover, as I just did, that it was written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, then that makes complete sense. It’s their 4th UK chart-topper so far. And the soaring ending – with the Anyone who had a heart would love me too… lines emphasised by drumbeats on each word, and Yeah Yeahs from the backing singers, is possibly the most sixties thing we’ve heard yet in this countdown.


The only unconvincing thing about this record is… sorry Cilla… the voice. Technically, it’s great. But, for me, it sounds just a little young. Anyone who had a heart would love me too… is a difficult line to sell, and in the hands of a twenty-year old Cilla Black it sounds a little bratty. You don’t like me so you must have something wrong with you… My first instinct is to ask: Did Dusty ever sing this? Dusty would have done it justice. And she did. It’s not her finest effort, and I’m not sure about the guitars in place of the piano, but still… Nobody conveys stoic heartbreak like Ms. Springfield. On top of this, the song was originally recorded by Dionne Warwick, who also gave a more grown-up rendition.

But, still, this single launched Cilla Black as one of the biggest British female singers of the decade. Her take on ‘Anyone Who Had a Heart’ was the biggest selling song by a woman for the entirety of the 1960s! She was, as many people know (and as she kept reminding us for years to come), best mates with The Beatles, coming up through the same club circuit as they did. John Lennon introduced her to Brian Epstein, and the band even accompanied her during her audition for Parlophone.

Maybe what I’m mistaking for brattishness was actually the reason Cilla Black became so popular – her genuine girl-next-door, cheeky charm. She’ll top the charts again very soon and so we’ll hold off talking about what was to come for our Cilla for now. It is interesting to note, though, that both she and the last woman to top the charts, the aforementioned Wendy Richard, went to on to be better known for their TV work than their singing. More on that later…

Listen to every #1 so far with this handy playlist: