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Posted By: Jim Liddane on: 06/09/2009 20:43:14 EDT
Subject: RE: Pop Instrumentals - The Horse (1968) - Cliff Nobles

Message Detail:
Interesting point about instrumentals being mainly turntable hits, but that of courses suggests that they were played on radio, but failed to sell to the buyers.

Yet many of them charted, at a time when the charts were based purely on sales - and airplay figures were not included in the chart positions.

In fact, if you look at the monthly sales figures provided by the record labels during the 50's amd 60's, it is clear that tracks like "Theme From A Summer Place", "Stranger On The Shore" and "Tequila" outsold the top vocals from the same years.

Again, official Gold Discs were awarded purely on sales figures, not chart or airplay positions, and between 1955 and 1963, the proportion of Gold Discs awarded to instrumental soloists and units in those years, was remarkably high.

As a kid, (and this is purely from memory), I actually went out and bought "On The Rebound", "Last Date" (and several other lower-charting Floyd Cramer titles), "Wheels", "Summer Place", "Walk Don't Run", "Topsy", "Take Five", "Apache", "Exodus", "Let There Be Drums", "Because They're Young" and "Shazam" (along with a few other Duane Eddy tracks), plus "Percolator Twist", "Wham" by Lonnie Mack and even "Hawaii 5-0", and when I look back now at the actual sales figures, I was obviously not all that unique.

Some of the instrumentalists were just huge.

Duane Eddy was up there alongside Buddy Holly, and Fats Domino and even Elvis, while The Ventures for example, sold more albums than quite a lot of vocal groups.

Even in the UK, The Shadows often out-charted their lead vocalist Cliff Richard, at a time when airplay had absolutely no input into the charts.

In fact, I wonder if Billboard's decision to include airplay returns alongside sales when compiling the Top 40 charts actually weakened the chart positioning of instrumentals?

I ask that simply because once they did this, instrumentals began to disappear from the singles charts - yet they continued to appear on the album charts which were still based purely on sales.

Nowadays, with charts based almost purely on airplay, no instrumentals appear, but if you look at the few remaining charts based purely on sales, you will still see the occasional entry.

I think the Liverpool invasion finished off the instrumentals, but I do not know why.

I remember interviewing Freddie of Freddie & The Dreamers some years ago, and asking him why The Dreamers (unlike for example Billy J Kramer's group The Dakotas) performed no instrumentals on stage, and his answer was more or less that girls preferred the vocals - only guys bought instrumentals and he wanted to attract the girl fans!

The last instrumemtal I remember paying money for (as opposed to getting it for free from a record label!) was probably Van McCoy's "The Hustle" although come to think of it, I did buy Floyd Cramer's single "Theme From Dallas" around 1980, when RCA failed to supply our radio station with the single.

If I had to pick my top ten singles of all time, I do not think too many instrumentals would feature - but one certainly would - Percy Faith's "Theme From A Summer Place".

It might even make Number 1!

Come on John - dig up an unusual version of it for an old man.

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