FLIPSIDE: Turning Over the #1 Singles of 1967

Nineteen sixty-seven was a rather flipped out year, so let’s flip over its #1 singles and examine the songs that stowaway-ed their way into millions of 45 collections across the country.

“(I’m Not Your) Stepping Stone,” The Monkees (Colgems)

As you’ll see, a fair number of the flips of 1967 chart toppers are classics in their own right, and that’s certainly the case with this Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart composition which rode shotgun with the immensely popular “I’m a Believer.” Fans of Paul Revere and the Raiders would have already heard the song on that group’s mid-1966 album Midnight Ride, but the Monkees’ version is the one that reached the most sets of ears between repeated usage on the television series and, yes, sharing space with a 45 that had a seven-week run at #1. Instrument-wise, the Monkees’ version is a little thicker than the Raiders’ take, which in turn is a little tighter. The Raiders seem to all be super solid in one groove, while on the Monkees’ version, various rhythms co-exist between the musicians. Both approaches work well. Micky Dolenz’s vocal delivery has a little less self-assurance than Mark Lindsay‘s, but the Monkee still gets his point across fine. Between the coarseness of both the lyrics and the music, it’s easy to hear why some regard this garage staple as an early punk record.

The flip, like the A-side, appeared on More of the Monkees.

“You Make Me Feel Good,” The Buckinghams (USA)

The song that occupied the flip of “Kind of a Drag” had already served that purpose for another big hit single back in 1964. Originally written and recorded by the Zombies, “You Make Me Feel Good” (the correct title, despite the label of the Buckinghams’ single erroneously sticking in a “So” before the last word) occupied the B-side of the British band’s smash “She’s Not There.” Chicago’s Buckinghams go a little gentler on the song than the original but follow its harmonies quite closely.

Both sides of the single appear on the album named after the hit.

“Let’s Spend the Night Together,” The Rolling Stones (London)

Well, I told you several of these were classics. This was a technical B-side, as the pairing of this with “Ruby Tuesday” constitutes one of the decade’s finest double-A delights, and perhaps the second-finest one to top the 1967 charts — the one that surpasses it comes up soon — but “Ruby Tuesday” was generally treated by radio as the hit side, and the one recorded as #1 in early March. In England, it was the exact opposite, with “Let’s Spend the Night Together” being favored. In fact, no 1967 Stones single matched exactly between the US and UK. Every US single either reversed the sides or was a non-UK 45 coupling created from album tracks the American label gambled on.

The American edition of Between the Buttons unbuttoned a bit to make room for both sides of the single.

“There’s No Stopping Us Now,” The Supremes (Motown)

There certainly was no stopping the Supremes in the mid-’60s, having smash after smash, like the wonderful harpsichord-laden “Love Is Here and Now You’re Gone,” one of their two 1967 toppers. And on the B-side, “There’s No Stopping Us Now” proved there was no stopping them from returning that “Baby Love” and “Where Did Our Love Go” groove (right down to the honking saxophone solo) at which they excelled.

Both A and B appeared on their album The Supremes Sing Holland–Dozier–Holland, something of which they also most definitely excelled.

“Strawberry Fields Forever,” The Beatles (Capitol)

Technically, neither side of this two-headed monster that also included “Penny Lane” was a B-side, but we’ll treat Lennon’s offering as the flip for no other reason than the fact that Paul’s side is the song which came in at Number One. Either way, this was the first of three visits to the top of the American singles charts the group made in 1967. In fact, 1967 was the only year in which, in America, they batted a perfect average in that regard, seeing every single and album Capitol released by them that year serving time as top dog.

Both tracks were orphans for most of the year, but before the curtain closed on 1967, the Magical Mystery Tour album adopted them.

“Like the Seasons,” The Turtles (White Whale)

https://youtu.be/KQRB1gjCaZY

The Turtles were happy to get “Happy Together” at the very top of the singles chart, but singer-songwriter Warren Zevon (still under his Lyme alias) was delighted by this as well, for he reaped plenty of songwriting royalties from singles sales, being the author of the song’s flip, “Like the Seasons.” A beautiful acoustic-based song that recalls “Yesterday” in both musical style as well as lyrical content with its lyrics about a departed (or departing if not yet out the door) lover, “Like the Seasons” had actually already served as a Turtles flip for their previous 45, “Can I Get to Know You Better.”

“Like the Seasons” saw inclusion on the Happy Together album. So did its titular track, but you probably figured that out already.

“Give Her Love” and “I Will Wait For You,” Frank Sinatra (Reprise)

Both Frank Sinatra and his daughter Nancy had scored #1 singles in 1966 as well as some well-charting follow ups, so with both having an active chart streak, perhaps it was a given that their combined forces would take them to #1, and to #1 they went, even keeping the top-selling act of the year, the Monkees, from having their third #1 in a row with “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” stuck in second place. While some music fans feel “Something Stupid” was a fitting title for that record, that criticism certainly didn’t go and spoil it all.

Two different editions of this single were pressed, each with a different flipside, both featuring Daddy on his own. Purchasers either were given “Give Her Love,” which advised guys out there how to keep their lady happy, providing a list of important intangibles that mean a lot, or “I Will Wait For You,” in which Ol’ Blue Eyes vows to be there no matter how long it takes for his lady’s (actually we don’t know, it could be a dog he’s waiting for) return.

Both flips came from on Sinatra’s 1966 That’s Life album. As for the duet that got all the attention — although Nancy was Frank’s daughter, “Something Stupid” was an orphan.

“All I Know About You,” The Supremes (Motown)

Things were happening for the Supremes in 1967, as they added two more #1 records to their ever-growing stash, with “The Happening,” the title song from an Anthony Quinn movie, being their second of the year. But it wasn’t all happening on the A-side, as “All I Know About You,” its flip, sounded a little like the A-side in a slower tempo, its chords following closely and the melody matching at times as well. Perhaps the co-writing credit of Frank DeVol, who wrote the hit side and all the movie’s music, explains that.

Both sides of the single were orphans… or love children, if you will.

“Sueno,” The Young Rascals (Atlantic)

Many music fans found themselves groovin’ to “Groovin,'” the Young Rascals’ second of ultimately three chart toppers. Those who grooved on over to the other side of the single were instantly transported to Spanish domain by way of some flamenco guitar (almost sounding like a precursor to “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill”) leading into a song of love and wonderful feelings, which perhaps could have been brought on by other things of Mexican origin. (Here’s some truly left-field trivia for you: “Groovin'” was one of two big hit singles released in 1967 with a song called “Sueno” as its flip, even if Human Beinz thought nobody but themselves did that.)

The Rascals’ “Sueno” swayed on the album named after its A-side.

“Dr. Feelgood,” Aretha Franklin (Atlantic)

Lady Soul commanded respect, and in early June, she got it when she scored her only #1 record of the decade (and only one other than a duet in the ’80s) with the Otis Redding number she turned into her own little feelgood record. But Aretha knew all about feeling good as is evident on the flip where Aretha and her piano don’t need no doctor, because she has a man who makes her feel just fine, thank you very much.

This 6/8 song, along with “Respect,” appeared on Aretha’s album I Never Loved a Man the Way I Loved You, where it was given the unsung (literally, that is) parenthetical title “Love is a Serious Business,” not seen on the 45.

“Sometimes,” The Association (Warner Brothers)

Nineteen sixty-seven brought the Association their second and final #1 when “Windy” blew away all other songs to clear its path to the top spot. Riding against the wind(y) was a very pleasant and gentler number written and sung by Russ Giguere. Basically a list song, with almost every line informing us of something that happens sometimes, “Sometimes” might have made a decent-charting A-side if given the chance.

“Sometimes” can at all times be found on the Association’s Insight-Out album.

“The Crystal Ship,” The Doors (Elektra)

Jimbo and his Los Angeles buddies amassed two #1 45s in their day, with the first being the everyone’s-heard-it-a-million-times “Light My Fire,” their second single, making up for their debut disc not quite breaking on through to the charts. Buyers burnt out by the hit side had the opportunity to flip the disc and sail off on “The Crystal Ship,” a soft and gorgeous moody melodic piece often interpreted as being about Methamphetamine (but usually by the people who interpret each and every song of the 1960s as being about drugs) but actually, according to keyboardist Ray Manzarek, a metaphorical ode to four young men about to set sail on the anticipated sea of success.

“The Crystal Ship” was docked on the Doors’ first album, as was “Light My Fire.”

“Baby, You’re a Rich Man,” The Beatles (Capitol)

Well, unlike the “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” coupling, on this second 1967 chart-topping 45 for the Beatles, it was a little easier to pinpoint the A and B side. Not that “Baby, You’re a Rich Man” wasn’t a fine song. It was. It just wasn’t, well, a song with a universal message in line with the “Summer of Love” and recently delivered to the planet on a worldwide satellite broadcast or something like that. So, naturally, “All You Need is Love” was the logical choice. Still, what made this pairing interesting was that it was a double dose of John, both sides being primarily Lennon compositions, instead of what by then was the usual case of pairing a taste of where John’s mind was at with a likewise representation of Paul. Also, both sides possibly had a Jaggered edge. The merry Mick-ster was among the revelers in the studio singing along on the hit side, and a handwritten comment on the tape box of the flip suggests he participated on that side as well. (Long-standing rumors that Brian Jones plays sax on “Baby” have been proven false, but this “fact” still pops up now and again.)

This was #1 on the singles charts while Sgt. Pepper was commanding the album charts, but neither of these tracks appeared on that album. Like all 1967 Beatles singles tracks, they wound up on Magical Mystery Tour in time for Christmas.

“Mississippi Delta,” Bobbie Gentry (Capitol)

https://youtu.be/ujpntiM-N34

Next time someone hits you with that old trivia question, “What was the only album that went to #1 in 1967 that also had its title cut go to #1 on the singles chart that year?” you make sure to be ready to shoot back Ode to Billie Joe. Bobbie Gentry pulled off some interesting feats that year. Not only did she have that top-selling album and single, but she also, with both, bumped the Beatles in doing so. Her album de-ranked Sgt. Pepper, another trivia question answer worth keeping in storage, and the song proved that love wasn’t all American record buyers needed. Said single painted a grim picture of life in Delta down by the Tallahatchie Bridge. Things were a little more rockin’ on the other side of that bridge, with the blues-rockin’ “Mississippi Delta,” whereupon Gentry, over a “Taxman”-ish groove, sings of eating, drinking, fishing like the good Delta people do when they’re not jumping off bridges.

“Mississippi Delta” kicked off the aforementioned top-selling LP.

“The Boat That I Row,” Lulu (Epic)

In England, Lulu has had a nice steady stream of hits over several decades, but in America, she’s only made the Top 40 four times. “To Sir With Love” was her first and only Top Tenner here, its popularity stemming from its use as the title song of the acclaimed Sidney Poitier movie. Oddly, in England, this smash was merely a B-side, to the far-less remembered “Let’s Pretend” (and I’ll wager the bulk of that single’s sales were from buyers seeking the flip.)

In turn, the B-side of Lulu’s American monster 45 had been a British A-side, and a #6 hit to boot. “The Boat That I Row,” written by Neil Diamond, who was already having a very good year as a songwriter for other artists, is a fun and infectious “Cherry Cherry”-ish number on which Lulu sings of how while she’s doing well with her nonconformist ways, having you would make her feel she has it all.

“The Boat That I Row” rowed onto Lulu’s To Sir With Love album.

“The Birdman of Alkatrash,” The Strawberry Alarm Clock (Uni)

Some people think of the Strawberry Alarm Clock’s “Incense and Peppermints” as some kind of joke, or a bit of psychedelic hippie rhetoric to point to as proof that everybody was on drugs in the ’60s. That’s a bit harsh. All the same, if you wanted something to laugh about in a “were they serious?” kinda way with that 45, you needed to merely flip the single over for the goofy “The Birdman of Alkatrash.” Recorded when the Clock were still travelling under their original moniker the Sixpence, “Birdman” was actually originally the A-side when the two songs were first issued on a smaller label before Uni saw a chance to make a mint with the flipside and signed the group and reversed the sides for their own release of the single. “Birdman” combines silly lyrics about some crazy bird-like creature and his wild doings, with bird calls that suggest the mysterious bird is some kind of water fowl.

Uni gave “Birdman” the bird yet a second time by leaving it off the Incense and Peppermints LP, and the track remained an orphan flip.

“Goin’ Down,” The Monkees (Colgems)

Late 1967 brought the Monkees their third and final #1 with “Daydream Believer,” which sat at the top while the group also led the LP chart with Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones, Ltd. (which did not include “Daydream Believer”; it wouldn’t get album-ized until their next LP.)

While “Daydream Believer” was a masterful showcase for Davy Jones, the flip, “Goin’ Down,” was one of Micky Dolenz’s best-ever vocal performances. Over a fast-paced jazzy backing borne of “Parchment Farm,” Dolenz deftly spits out a ton of lyrics per verse, gradually turning into his “Micky James Brown Dolenz” persona as the four-minute record goes on, all in the name of what has to be one of the most upbeat songs ever sung about suicide.

“Goin’ Down” was an orphan flip but has been collected on countless comps. It was also one of the most frequently heard songs on their television series.

“I Am the Walrus,” The Beatles (Capitol)

The Fabs’ third and final #1 of 1967, as well as the final chart topper of the year by anyone, was Paul McCartney’s cheerful “Hello Goodbye.” Things were a little less cheery on the other side. “I Am the Walrus” may have been relegated to the flip and may have not gotten as much airplay as “Hello Goodbye,” but as for which song had the greater impact on rock music, well, how many “Hello Goodbye” imitations can you name?

“I Am the Walrus,” like its A-side, could be found on the Magical Mystery Tour album.

About Michael Lynch 13 Articles
Michael Lynch of Long Island, New York first began writing about music when he was nine years old (for his self-produced music magazine written on pages of loose-leaf) and has never stopped. Along the way he has written about the music he loves (and sometimes about music he doesn't love) for a variety of magazines, books, blogs, podcasts and radio programs.
  • George L

    I heard somewhere that “Mississippi Delta” was meant to be the A-side of Bobbie Gentry’s single. I think “Delta” is a cool song. Kind of has a pre-CCR groove to it.

  • John Trembly

    “Sueno” also received a nice cover by British duo the Truth. An online friend of mine pre-ordered the latest Stones single on London back then but got one of the digits in the catalog number wrong and was sent the Truth single. He says it was a nice discovery!

  • IDLERACER

    If I’m not mistaken, this article is leaving a #1 hit out. I believe in between “Ode To Billy Joe” and “To Sir With Love” there was “The Letter” by The Boxtops.