Saturday, November 05, 2016

Fifty Years Ago Today. November 5th 1966.

I know exactly what I was doing on November 5th 1966 because it was Bonfire night and I had some money left from my 15th birthday but I wasn't going to spend it on fireworks. I had a much better idea of what to spend my money on. That afternoon I made my way to Boots store in Bridge Street and made a beeline for the record department up the far end and looked at the Top 20 for that week.
1) REACH OUT I'LL BE THERE Four Tops
2) STOP, STOP, STOP Hollies
3) I CAN'T CONTROL MYSELF The Troggs
4) DISTANT DRUMS Jim Reeves
5) WINCHESTER CATHEDRAL New Vaudeville Band
6) HIGH TIME Paul Jones
7) NO MILK TODAY Herman's Hermits
8) GUANTANAMERA Sandpipers
9) BEND IT Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich
10) TIME DRAGS BY Cliff Richard
11) SEMI-DETACHED SURBURBAN MR. JAMES Manfred Mann
12) I'VE GOT YOU UNDER MY SKIN Four Seasons
13) IF I WERE A CARPENTER Bobby Darin
14) A FOOL AM I Cilla Black
15) GOOD VIBRATIONS Beach Boys
16) I'M A BOY The Who
17) ALL I SEE IS YOU Dusty Springfield
18) ALL THAT I AM Elvis Presley
19) HAVE YOU SEEN YOUR MOTHER, BABY, STANDING IN THE SHADOWS Rolling Stones
20) YOU CAN'T HURRY LOVE Supremes
I knew exactly the one I wanted. I had been a Beach Boys fan for two years already since hearing I Get Around in an amusement arcade in Cromer in 1964. The Beach Boys had already had three top ten hits in 66 with Barbara Ann, Sloop John B and God Only Knows. The new song was straight in the charts at Number 15 and I hadn't heard it yet. "Can I have Good Vibrations by The Beach Boys please", I said to the girl and paid 6/8p (six shillings and eight pence). I pocketed my 3/4p change and hurried back up Bridge Street clutching my precious record. There was a man on the corner of Cathedral Square selling the Evening Telegraph and the Pink 'Un.
" How did Posh get on?",I asked him."They drew 1-1 with Bristol Rovers",he replied. I crossed the square and headed up Long Causeway and Broadway,past the Odean Cinema which was showing 'Finders Keepers' starring Cliff Richard. It was rubbish, we had seen it that week because I had won free tickets in the 99 Club in the Evening Telegraph. I ran up Park Road past my school The Kings School Peterborough kicking the fallen chestnut leaves along the pavement.It was a dark and windy evening now with just the odd rocket exploding in the gathering dusk. I got home and went straight to the front room and put on my new record and lay on the settee to listen. I was amazed.It was the best song I had ever heard in my life. I couldn't believe it. After one listen I knew that music had taken a quantum leap to another level. Nobody had made a record this sophisticated before. It was a mini-symphony of three and a half minutes. If Mozart had been alive in 1966 he would have listened with admiration to this song. When it ended I played it again, lying on the floor with my head near the speaker listening intently to sounds I had never heard before such as the theremin which was an instrument I had never even heard of. It was enthralling. Rolling Stone magazine put this song as number six on its list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. I would put it at number one. Then I played it again... and again...and again.Then played the flipside which was called Wendy and was a track off the All Summer Long album of two years earlier. It was alright but not a patch on Good Vibrations which I played again about five more times. With this song Brian Wilson had thrown down the gauntlet to the Beatles. He had assembled the record from 90 hours of recording tape and spliced the various parts together. Nobody had attempted this modular approach to recording before to produce the perfect song. There would have been no Strawberry Fields Forever or A Day In The Life if it hadn't been for Brian raising the bar in such spectacular fashion.
On that fateful evening of forty five years ago today my music appreciation had reached a new level. Brian Wilson had become my music god and my life would never be the same again. Shortly afterwards I had saved up the 32/6p to buy Pet Sounds which I thought was the best album ever until I heard Astral Weeks seven years later.

2 comments:

Will , Flanders said...

Hi Pat ,

To call this just 'interesting' ot 'cool' would be a huge understatement : it is also very moving and heart-warming and recognizable. Around the same time in Flanders I had about the same experience with this song , the only difference was I had to listen all weekend to Radio London (the pirates , you know) on my transistor radio to be able to hear it. Those were happier times indeed.

Pat said...

Thanks very much Will.I used to listen to the Pirate stations as well.You have given me an idea for another story.Watch this space!

Cheers, Pat.