independent

Friday 23 August 2019

Retro top ten - this week in 1967

Engelbert Humperdinck
Engelbert Humperdinck

An eclectic top ten from over fifty years ago this week, with some true classics as well as a song which featured in the very first episode of The Muppet Show ('Simon Smith and His Amazing Dancing Bear'), the landslide winner from 1967's Eurovision Song Contest, which the singer detested ('Puppet On A String'), and a novelty record mostly performed by whistling ('I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman').

'Release Me' was a huge breakthrough hit for India-born Arnold George Dorsey, who had performed for a decade as Gerry Dorsey without any great success before adopting the stage name Engelbert Humperdinck.

The song was written in 1949 and recorded by many artists before Humperdinck, but it is his version that's best remembered, principally because it famously prevented one of the Beatles' best singles from reaching number one: the first time in four years the Liverpudlians had failed to top the UK singles charts.

However, chart positions don't tell the whole story. 'Strawberry Fields Forever'/'Penny Lane' sold in considerably more quantities than 'Release Me' but because it was a double A-sided single, the two sides were deemed individual releases.

After 'Release Me' Engelbert Humperdinck would go on to score a series of hits in the UK, including another No. 1 with 'The Last Waltz'. He enjoyed even more popularity in the Irish charts with no fewer than four number one hits here in 1967 and '68.

In 2012, 76-year-old Humperdinck - who has sold over 140 million records worldwide - made a somewhat unlikely appearance representing the UK in the Eurovision Song Contest, but he couldn't follow in the (bare)footsteps of Sandie Shaw. Singing 'Love Will Set You Free', he finished second last, 25th out of 26 finalists.

1 Release Me Engelbert Humperdinck

2 This Is My Song Harry Secombe

3 Edelweiss Vince Hill

4 Simon Smith and His Amazing Dancing Bear Alan Price Set

5 I Was Kaiser Bill's Batman Whistling Jack Smith

6 Puppet On A String Sandie Shaw

7 Georgy Girl The Seekers

8 This Is My Song Petula Clark

9 Somethin' Stupid Nancy Sinatra and Frank Sinatra

10 Penny Lane/Strawberry Fields Forever The Beatles

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