“Orphan Hits” of the 1960s

Orphan hits? What in the world are orphan hits, you ask?

Well, that’s the little name I came up with long ago for a special category of hit singles. Orphan hits are an artist’s popular songs that were never on any of their albums until they were “adopted” onto a hits collection. This means that even if you collect every regular album by that band or singer, you’re still missing an essential track or two and therefore have to buy a ‘Greatest Hits’ album to score it, which, unfortunately, usually means re-buying a lot of tracks you already have on the regular albums in the process.

This article will take an artist-by-artist look at many of these pesky orphans. By no means do I present this as a complete list, but I’d say it covers a lot of ground; but before covering said ground, let me lay down the ground rules:

I’ll be going strictly by American albums, even if the band comes from elsewhere. Now, I’m well aware that American albums by British bands up until about 1967 are really more the American record label’s creations than that of the artist and don’t technically qualify as “real” albums by that artist. Just overlook that for now, as this is all from the point of view of the American consumer. It’s also important to stick to American albums because in England in the 1960s, leaving singles off the album was a common practice (one often erroneously credited to being a Beatles-created policy but which in truth existed in the European recording industry well before the Fabs made an album) so a list of British hit singles not on albums would be the size of a book. I’m also aware that some of these artists are not necessarily artists for whom people would generally be buying albums by rather than just the singles, but I can’t make that call for everyone.

I’ll also be limiting this, for the most part, to high-charting singles, though I will include some that may not have charted high but rank among the band’s most famous songs (the Byrds and Who entries particularly have such examples,) so if you know of a single by one of these artists that only got to #35 or so and it’s not mentioned here, it wasn’t necessarily forgotten. This will also not list stray B-sides. Those may be covered in a future list.

And with that, here is a look at some classic ’60s hits that could only be found on ‘Hits’ collections.

The Animals

AnimalsFans of the beasts of Burdon who had already purchased the band’s regular albums might not have loved the thought of buying 1966’s The Best of the Animals and re-buying many tracks they already owned (as well as getting liner notes that referred to someone named Alan “Prince”,) but doing so had two advantages. One, it finally gave them an Animals release in America of the full-length “The House of the Rising Sun,” previously only on American vinyl on an MGM collection of several English groups the label had US release dibs on, entitled Mickie Most Presents British Go-Go. Two, it also collected the previously single-only “It’s My Life,” which had a good life on the charts the previous autumn.

The Beach Boys

Beach BoysIt’s no real surprise that with a group with as many hits as Brian and the boys, one or two singles would slip on through the album selection process. “The Little Girl I Once Knew” may not have been one of their biggest of their peak period (and those who blame that on its pauses for dead silence might want to pause themselves to consider that the Mamas and the Papas’ “Monday Monday,” the Young Rascals’ “Good Lovin'” and that song “Good Vibrations” by… um… well… their name escapes me at the moment, all took their pausing songs to Number One that same year) but still has plenty to make it a pop gem, but apparently not enough to make it an album track. Not until 1968’s Best of the Beach Boys Volume 3 was the track no longer silenced.

The Beatles

BeatlesSo you’ve got every American Beatles album from their first Captiol album Meet the Beatles up to their last album release, Let It Be? Well, then, you have a mighty fine album collection, my friend. Even if the rest of your album collection blows, at least you have these must-owns.

But you know what you don’t have? You don’t have their first indisputable Number One single in England, “From Me to You,” that’s what — and that’s quite an essential omission.

“From Me to You” has a rather bizarre album history in America. Its first appearance on American 12-inch vinyl was on an album the Beatles could hardly call theirs. Their first American record label, Vee-Jay, scored Stateside release rights (at least for a little while) to the tracks that made up the group’s first three UK singles and their first British album, and the Chicago label kept coming up with more and more ways to rerelease their limited stash of songs before the sand ran out. Among them was a bizarre album released at different points in 1964 with different covers and titles. Those who bought the version issued in the immediate wake of the Beatles’ February 1964 visit came home with something called Jolly What! England’s Greatest Recording Stars: The Beatles and Frank Ifield on Stage, containing eight songs by the singer Americans only remember for remembering you, and a mere four songs by the Fab Four, one of which was “From Me to You.” And no, these were not live recordings despite the “on stage” claim in the title, so Beatles fans who purchased got quite screwed, making this album virtual copulation (hey, why not use that word to describe this album? Vee-Jay did, right on the back cover.)

However, purchasers did have the only American album in 1964 with the Beatles’ recording of “From Me to You” issued in the 1960s. It would not find another home on an American LP until the 1973 compilation (yes, “compilation”) 1962-1966.

The Bee Gees

None of the Bee Gees’ albums were instrumental; all the same, none of them had “Words.” No, the 1968 golden Gibb great didn’t jump aboard an album until a year later when Atco served the world Best of the Bee Gees.

The Byrds

ByrdsWe’re gonna bend the “just the big hits” rule a bit here, but the Byrds are worth bending them for.

All of their Top 40 singles did appear on their albums, and their 1967 Greatest Hits album was completely skip-able for anyone who had the four studio albums that preceded it, as it did not present a single thing not already in their collection.

Outside the Top 40, though, was the 1967 work of art known as “Lady Friend,” high up on many ’60s music fans’ lists of “songs that really, really, really should have been big hits.” Well, it also really, really, really should have been on some kind of album at some point. Anyone in 1967 waiting for an album with “Lady Friend” had a long wait ahead of them. It took twenty-three years for the lady to find an album friend, and that album was a box set (we’ll disregard the rethink-with-overdubs mix heard on the 1988 rarities collection Never Before.)

And though it was only a B-side, we also have to mention “She Don’t Care About Time,” found in 1965 by those who turned turned turned over the single of the group’s second Number One, but almost unanimously regarded as one of their very best songs ever, and certainly one sought out by fans. This track endured a long wait for album inclusion as well, but a slightly shorter one with a more budget-friendly solution compared to “Lady Friend.” The team in charge of Byrds comps finally found time for the song on The Original Singles, 1965-1967, released in 1980.

The Dave Clark Five

Dave ClarkOn one hand, we’ve really gotta hand it to the DC5. They racked up so many hits that their 1966 Greatest Hits album may very well be rock’s first-ever greatest hits collection comprised entirely of indisputable hits. No favored album cuts or previously-unreleased-in-this-country tracks put on there to fill the thing up. Nope, every song on there is a classic that charted in the Top 15. Heck, it didn’t even include all of their smashes up to that point (“Come Home” was left home.) Well done, guys. Sure, one could argue that it’s not difficult to fill up a twenty-minute album, but I will most certainly not bring that up.

Epic in America had been pretty good about supplying their seemingly hourly offering of new Dave Clark albums with hit singles, but the late ’65 chart-topping “Over and Over” never did get assigned a regular album abode. The aforementioned Greatest Hits album took care of that.

The following year, More Greatest Hits found room (as if shortage of space was ever an issue on a DC5 album) for the 1966 single-only “At the Scene” and took pity on the likewise 45-only “Reelin’ and Rockin'” from 1965 which, like a kid with limited athletic skill during a school baseball game’s team selection process, sat sadly ignored and unchosen when the first collection’s contents were chosen up.

Donovan

DonovanThe young Scottish bloke, as Animal Alan Price (not Prince — see Animals entry above) described him to Bob Dylan, had a lot to say, and in the 1960s utilized many a 45 and album to say it. For those who only wanted what he had to say that sold well on the singles chart, 1968’s Donovan’s Greatest Hits served them well. It also served well anyone looking for an album with his joyous “There is a Mountain,” as well as “Lalena” and “Epistle to Dippy,” none of which had ever graced space on album before then. Throw in fresh remakes of “Catch the Wind” and “Colours” (you know, one of those label copyright squabbles) and the never-heard-before full-length “Sunshine Superman” and the first issue of “Season of the Witch” in stereo and one could make the case for any purchasers who already had all previous Donovan albums getting some consolation prizes for having to purchase a few dupes.

Bob Dylan

Dylan The full impact of Bob Dylan’s 1960s studio albums cannot be properly measured. They gave us so much… new things to think about, original intriguing concepts, rewritten rules, different ways to look at things, blah blah blah.

Rhetoric aside, one thing those albums most definitely did not give us was his Top Ten “Like a Rolling Stone” follow-up, “Positively 4th Street.” This late-summer ’65 gem, while far from being a complete unknown, was on its own without an album home until 1967 where it appeared as the penultimate track on Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits.

The Four Seasons

Their Gold Vault of Hits compilation of late 1965 gave that year’s “Let’s Hang On” its first album to hang onto. A year later their 2nd Vault of Golden Hits became the first album to get “I’ve Got You Under My Skin” under its skin.

The Grass Roots

The Grass was growing strong with a good run of hits, but while most of them grew on albums, 1968’s “Midnight Confessions” was left to graze until Golden Grass at year’s end.

Herman’s Hermits

HermitsThere were plenty of Herm-hits to go around in the 1960s. There were also plenty of Hermits hit collections. Over a span of a little over two years their American label MGM squeezed three volumes of The Best of Herman’s Hermits. Just as well, for Peter and his mates had several high-charters that had never resided on their other albums. “Wonderful World” placed Top Five in the Spring of 1965, but its only album-placing had been on a various artists collection that year entitled Mickie Most Presents British Go-Go. Later that year the band took another ride into the high-reaches of the charts with the single-only “Just a Little Bit Better.” By Christmastime, both of these tracks could be found on The Best of Herman’s Hermits.

In early 1966 the Hermits hit the Top Five again with “Listen People,” only album-ized on the soundtrack LP to the movie in which the band appeared, When the Boys Meet the Girls. Hermits fans who chose not to buy this collection that presented a mere two tracks by ‘Erman among songs by Connie Francis, Louis Armstrong and Liberace (and one Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs track for good but not good enough measure) were better served by The Best of Herman’s Hermits Volume Two… which interestingly also featured a rare case of a song appearing on a greatest hits album before appearing on a regular album. The kinky and dandy “Dandy” later resurfaced on the 1967 album There’s a Kind of Hush All Over the World.

The Hollies

Hits were plentiful for and from the Manchester masters of pop singles, lovingly collected on 1967’s The Hollies’ Greatest Hits, which rectified the Imperial decision not to let the previous year’s “On a Carousel” go round and round and round and round on a regular album release.

Tommy James and the Shondells

What a fabulous run of hits Tommy gave us. So many that Tommy is a rare case of an “oldies” artist who can fill up a full-length show with his own hits. None of those fabricated “We toured with these guys back in 1968” or “We were offered this song and we turned it down and then someone else made it a big hit, but we’re gonna do it for you now” excuses to sing someone else’s hit because they don’t have enough of their own familiar songs from Tommy. He even leaves some of his hits behind.

And so did his albums. 1969’s Gothic “Ball of Fire” didn’t burn up any land on his regular albums. “Ball of Fire” was eventually contained on his late-’69 The Best of Tommy James & the Shondells.

The Kinks

KinksWhen it comes to American record companies dissecting the British LPs of their charges for domestic consumption, the Kinks actually got off relatively easy. Starting with only their third UK album, late 1965’s The Kink Kontroversy, their long-players survived the knife of American Reprise Records, being issued track for track identically in both countries (the cover art was another story if not another glory.) So from that point on, when a single didn’t appear on a UK album, Reprise did not squeeze it onto one of their hatchet jobs like they might of the year previously. So while Kinks fans might have seeked here and seeked there for an album with 1966’s “Dedicated Follower of Fashion,” they wouldn’t have found one until The Kinks’ Greatest Hits, alongside nine previously albumed-up tracks.

The Monkees

MonkeesMost of the Monkees’ big hits did appear on their albums, if not the most recent one. Case in point, both “I’m a Believer” and “Daydream Believer” were Number One singles during weeks when an album of theirs that did not include the track sat at the top of the album chart. One that did not get picked up until the 1969 Monkees’ Greatest Hits collection was their third single, “A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You,” a Number Two smash from the Spring of 1967. For an American album including the lower-charting but popular flipside, “The Girl I Knew Somewhere,” not counting a 1976 mail-order collection, fans had to wait until 1982’s More Greatest Hits. For the remaining orphan single sides, 1982’s Monkee Business indeed took care of business.

Paul Revere and the Raiders

Another group with a highly impressive run of 45s in the 1960s. Duds were rare. While the albums had their ups and downs, one thing they didn’t have was “Ups and Downs.” The early-’67 single which hit while their The Spirit of ’67 was going up and down the charts without the song’s help (and without the song, period) finally found album stability on that year’s Paul Revere and the Raiders’ Greatest Hits.

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles

I second that motion of naming Smokey Robinson one of the best songwriters of the decade, with “I Second That Emotion” being a strong piece of evidence to back that up. I might not have seconded the motion to leave it off an album, but the second volume of their Greatest Hits collections in 1968 made a motion, forwarded, to adopt the song under the belief that a taste of album inclusion is better than none at all.

The Rolling Stones

Rolling StonesAll of the Rolling Stones’ 1960s “regular” albums, meaning from 1964’s England’s Newest Hitmakers to 1969’s Let It Bleed are must-owns (and we’ll throw the 1967 mishmash-with-comp-leanings Flowers into the “regular album” category since despite repeating tracks from previous albums still featured tracks new to Americans and even some tracks never released anywhere in the universe previously.) However, if you want every Stones hit single from that decade… even if you just want the biggies… then the two Big Hits collections need be added to your album shelf. The first, Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass) from the spring of 1966, included the single-only “19th Nervous Breakdown,” and 1969’s Through the Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2) did likewise for “Dandelion,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” and “Honky Tonk Women.”

The Seekers

In 1965 they sang “I’ll Never Find Another You”…and you’ll never find that song on an album preceding their Best Of.

Sly and the Family Stone

Sly Sly and his comrades, family and otherwise, gave us some great, fun and catchy singles as well as some strong albums, but the albums didn’t give us all of those singles. 1969 was a dynamite year for the band, as not only did they take Woodstock higher, they also scored a Number One single with “Everyday People,” found on their classic album Stand. Midyear they just missed the top spot on the singles chart with “Hot Fun in the Summertime,” but didn’t grant it the shade of an album. That privilege was also denied of their early 1970 double-A Number One “Thank You (Falletinme Be Mice Elf Agin)” / “Everybody is a Star.” Epic Records finally decided “they gotta live together,” and later that year, those singles-only tracks became housemates with other favorites on Sly and the Family Stone’s Greatest Hits.

The Supremes

1967’s “The Happening,” a Number One single, wasn’t originally happening on a Supremes album, having been recorded specifically for the movie of the same name that year (one whose soundtrack album didn’t even include the Supremes’ recording.) A little later came Diana Ross an the Supremes Greatest Hits… then it happened.

The Temptations

Those Temptations tempted us many times with their sensational slew of singles. Anyone tempted into buying their albums would have gotten most of their classics, but “Beauty is Only Skin Deep” wasn’t album-deep until late 1966’s The Temptations’ Greatest Hits.

The Turtles

TurtlesDespite their name they sure weren’t slow in supplying the music word with fantastic forty-fives. They were slow, however, in attaching some of them to albums. The biggies did get album lodging, usually seeing the album named after it, even if they had to give the album a joint name (Happy Together / She’d Rather Be With Me). Any Turtles fans looking for albums with the 1967 sunny classics “You Know What I Mean” and “She’s My Girl,” on the other hand, were forced to shell (!) out for, respectively, Golden Hits and More Golden Hits, both of which introduced a few other lesser-charting singles to the world of 12-inch as well.

The Who

True, “I Can’t Explain,” “Anyway Anyhow Anywhere” and “Substitute” fall short of qualifying as American smash singles, but they are highly essential tracks in the Who’s catalog that cannot be obtained by buying all the regular albums. All of the above, plus “I’m a Boy” and “The Seeker,” didn’t make their American album debut until 1971 on Meaty, Beaty, Big and Bouncy, the first and still the best of the ten billion Who comps of the covered era.

The Yardbirds

Yardbirds The historic quintet (later quartet but we don’t get that far here) may have not desired to be a pop band, but whether they liked it or not (and I’m guessing they did) they did have a fair run of nicely-selling singles on the pop charts. Their albums were hit and miss, and while the scale tilted more toward hit with each album, that didn’t mean all hits saw inclusion on them. Most of the big ones did, but things did not shape that way for 1966’s “Shapes of Things.” By 1967 this was rectified on The Yardbirds’ Greatest Hits, which gave homes to “Shapes” as well as the less-successful but equally essential “Happenings Ten Years Time Ago” (and a stray flip, “New York City Blues.”)

The Young Rascals

Young rascals Those rockin’ Rascals made some fine albums for sure, with classic tracks aplenty. Their self-titled debut gave us “Good Lovin'” and “I Ain’t Gonna Eat Out My Heart Anymore.” Collections collected “I’ve Been Lonely Too Long.” Groovin’ gave us not only the timeless title track but also “A Girl Like You,” “How Can I Be Sure” and “You Better Run,” and Freedom Suite housed “People Got to Be Free.”

That’s value, I’d say. Except… what about “A Beautiful Morning?” That one didn’t share album space until the compilation ‘Time Peace,’ which turned out to be one of the decade’s best-selling greatest hits sets, and one of only two to top the album charts.

Did we miss any of your favorite “orphan hits”? Let us know in the comments!

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

    The original Martha & the Vandellas “Greatest Hits” album contained at least 6 “orphan hits” !