Friday, August 22, 2014

50 years ago: Martha & the Vandellas chart with “Dancing in the Street”

Dancing in the Street

Martha & the Vandellas

Writer(s): William Stevenson/Ivy Hunter/Marvin Gaye (see lyrics here)

Released: July 31, 1964

First Charted: August 22, 1964

Peak: 2 US, 4 CB, 8 GR, 2 HR, 2 RB, 4 UK, 3 CN, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 0.2 UK, 1.21 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 3.0 radio, 12.89 video, 170.01 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Martha Reeves was a secretary at Motown who had sung backup on Marvin Gaye’s hits “Stubborn Kind of Fellow” and “Hitch Hike” SS when she got the opportunity of a lifetime – she was given the chance to record a demo. RS500 The song, “Dancing in the Street,” was originally offered to Kim Weston, who would later marry William Stevenson, RS500 one of the writers, but she turned it down. NRR As Stevenson says, though, “When Martha got into the song…that was the end of the conversation!” RS500 She said, it “was Mickey’s greatest gift to me.” SS

Stevenson says the inspiration for the song came from riding through Detroit during the summer with Marvin Gaye, another of the song’s writers. To let the kids cool off, the city would open up the fire hydrants to release the water into the streets. Stevenson says, “They appeared to be dancing in the water.” SF In an amusing twist, Gaye sang backup on the song for the singer who used to sing backup for him. SS

Writer Paul Williams called it “the quintessential hymn of revolution.” PW Indeed, the song came at the peak of the civil rights movement which could lead one to interpret the song as a call to “mobilize for freedom. But even if taken on its own terms as intended by its creators – just a joyous celebration of music and dancing – this is a classic.” SS

Of all the dance songs ever written, none come as close as this one to “conveying not only the physical experience but the emotional tenor of what it means to dance publicly.” MA The song’s “primal rhythms [are]…so simple anyone can groove to it and so infectious everyone does.” AMG As “the quintessential hymn of revolution, riot, and rapture” it makes everyone want to join the party. PW Music historian Steve Sullivan says “no record exemplified the mergence of rhythm & blues’ new golden age like ‘Dancing in the Street.’” SS


First posted 8/22/2011; last updated 2/3/2023.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New Book from Dave's Music Database!

The Top 100 Albums of All Time

is now available at for $13.95!

Ah, the music list. Music journalists love to create them and fans love to shred them. However, by aggregating hundreds of best-of lists, Dave’s Music Database has stripped away subjectivity in favor of cold, hard numbers. Commentaries about the albums consolidate the views of multiple experts instead of serving up single opinions. It all makes for one definitive, inarguable best-of-all-time list. Okay, maybe not – but here’s hoping you’ll find value in this list, even if that’s in dissecting, disagreeing, debating, or debunking it. Rock on and read on.

Friday, August 8, 2014

World’s Best-Selling Compilations

The August 2, 2014 issue of Billboard magazine published an article on the “Best of Best-Sellers” (page 74) which presented the top 10 best-selling compilations of the SoundScan era (1991 to present). Here’s the list:

The Top 10 Best-Selling Compilations of the SoundScan Era (1991-present)
  1. 12.4 million: The Beatles 1 (2000)
  2. 11.6 m: Bob Marley & the Wailers Legend (1984)
  3. 9.4 m: Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band Greatest Hits (1994)
  4. 8.6 m: Journey Greatest Hits (1988)
  5. 8.2 m: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers Greatest Hits (1993)
  6. 8.0 m: Celine Dion All the Way: A Decade of Song (1999)
  7. 7.8 m: Garth Brooks The Hits (1994)
  8. 7.2 m: James Taylor Greatest Hits (1976)
  9. 7.2 m: Queen Greatest Hits (1981)
  10. 6.7 m: Jimmy Buffett Songs You Know by Heart
The World’s All-Time Best-Selling Compilations

In response, here is the DMDB’s list of the world’s best-selling compilations of all-time. The list is comprised of all compilations selling ten million or more worldwide.

  1. 42.9 m: Eagles Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975 (1976)
  2. 34.4 m: Abba Gold: Greatest Hits (1993)
  3. 31.5 m: Madonna The Immaculate Collection – Madonna (1990)
  4. 31.5 m: The Beatles 1 (2000)
  5. 31.3 m: Bob Marley & the Wailers Legend (1984)
  6. 30.0 m: The Beatles 1962-1966 (1973)
  7. 29.8 m: The Beatles 1967-1970 (1973)
  8. 27.6 m: Queen Greatest Hits (1981)
  9. 27.0 m: Elton John Greatest Hits (1974)
  10. 25.1 m: Simon & Garfunkel Greatest Hits (1972)

  11. 22.3 m: Queen Greatest Hits 2 (1991)
  12. 21.7 m: Celine Dion All the Way…A Decade of Song (1999)
  13. 21.5 m: Michael Jackson HIStory: Past, Present, and Future Book 1 (2 discs – 1 compilation, 1 disc of new studio material; 1995)
  14. 21.4 m: Billy Joel Greatest Hits Volume I & II (1985)
  15. 21.0 m: Bon Jovi Cross Road (1994)
  16. 19.0 m: Garth Brooks The Hits (1994)
  17. 18.5 m: U2 Best of 1980-1990 (1998)
  18. 18.0 m: Elton John Very Best of (1990)
  19. 18.0 m: James Taylor Greatest Hits (1976)
  20. 16.5 m: Fleetwood Mac Greatest Hits (1988)

  21. 16.5 m: Journey Greatest Hits (1988)
  22. 15.9 m: Bryan Adams So Far So Good (1993)
  23. 15.9 m: Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers Greatest Hits (1993)
  24. 15.8 m: Mariah Carey #1’s (1998)
  25. 15.6 m: Kenny Rogers Greatest Hits (1980)
  26. 15.4 m: Steve Miller Band Greatest Hits 1974-1978) (1978)
  27. 15.0 m: Eagles Greatest Hits Volume II (1982)
  28. 15.0 m: Bruce Springsteen Greatest Hits (1995)
  29. 14.9 m: The Doobie Brothers Best of the Doobies (1976)
  30. 14.9 m: The Doors Best of the Doors 1987)

  31. 14.0 m: Aerosmith Greatest Hits (1980)
  32. 13.7 m: The Rolling Stones Hot Rocks 1964-1971 (1971)
  33. 13.6 m: The Police Every Breath You Take: The Singles (1986)
  34. 13.5 m: Eric Clapton Time Pieces – The Best of (1982)
  35. 13.1 m: Phil Collins Hits (1998)
  36. 13.1 m: Enya Paint the Sky with Stars: The Best of (1997)
  37. 12.7 m: Sade Best of (1994)
  38. 12.5 m: Janis Joplin Greatest Hits (1973)
  39. 12.1 m: Creedence Clearwater Revival Chronicle (1976)
  40. 12.1 m: Elton John Love Songs (1996)

  41. 12.1 m: Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band Greatest Hits (1994)
  42. 12.1 m: Barbra Streisand Memories (1981)
  43. 11.8 m: George Michael Ladies and Gentlemen – Best of (1998)
  44. 11.7 m: Bob Dylan Greatest Hits (1967)
  45. 11.6 m: Lionel Richie Back to Front (1992)
  46. 11.4 m: Dire Straits Money for Nothing (1988)
  47. 11.4 m: Foreigner Records (1982)
  48. 11.3 m: The Carpenters The Singles 1969-1973 (1973)
  49. 11.3 m: Tina Turner Simply the Best (1991)
  50. 11.2 m: John Denver Greatest Hits (1973)

  51. 11.2 m: Elvis Presley 30 #1 Hits (2002)
  52. 11.2 m: Robbie Wiliams Greatest Hits (2004)
  53. 11.0 m: Abba Greatest Hits (1976)
  54. 11.0 m: Michael Jackson Number Ones (2003)
  55. 10.9 m: Patsy Cline 12 Greatest Hits (1973)
  56. 10.8 m: Eagles Very Best of (2003)
  57. 10.7 m: Guns N’ Roses Greatest Hits (2004)
  58. 10.4 m: Lenny Kravitz Greatest Hits (2000)
  59. 10.3 m: Madonna Something to Remember (1995)
  60. 10.2 m: Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young So Far (1974)

  61. 10.2 m: Whitney Houston Greatest Hits (2000)
  62. 10.2 m: ZZ Top Greatest Hits (1992)
  63. 10.1 m: The Rolling Stones Forty Licks (2002)
  64. 10.0 m: Elvis Presley Golden Records (1958)
  65. 10.0 m: R.E.M. In Time: The Best of, 1988-2003 (2003)
  66. 10.0 m: Rod Stewart Greatest Hits (1979)
  67. 10.0 m: Sting Fields of Gold: The Best of 1984-1994 (1994)

Resources and Related Links:

Friday, August 1, 2014

50 years ago: The Beatles hit #1 with “A Hard Day’s Night”

A Hard Day’s Night

The Beatles

Writer(s): John Lennon, Paul McCartney (see lyrics here)

Released: July 10, 1964

First Charted: July 11, 1964

Peak: 1 US, 13 CB, 2 GR, 13 HR, 1 CL, 13 UK, 11 CN, 16 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 36.0 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Village Voice film critic Andrew Sarris called A Hard Day’s Night, the Beatles’ first film, “the Citizen Kane of jukebox musicals.” FB The Daily Mail declared the Beatles “as funny as the Marx Brothers.” FB The idea was to follow a fictional account of the Beatles for two days, effectively capturing what it was like for them to live their lives in a fish bowl.

Filmed under the working title Beatlemania, it acquired its name from a comment from Beatles’ drummer Ringo Starr. After a day of strenuous filming, he said, “It’s been a hard day’s night, that was!” FB Another account, however, suggested that it was after a day in the recording studio and he was possibly quoting the title of Eartha Kitt’s “I Had a Hard Day Last Night.” KL

According to an interview with Ringo in 1964, he said, “We went to do a job, and we’d worked all day and we happened to work all night. I came up still thinking it was day I suppose, and I said, ‘It’s been a hard day…’ and I looked around and saw it was dark so I said, ‘Night! So we came to ‘A Hard Day’s Night.’” SF Before it was used for the movie or song title, John Lennon used it in his short story “Sad Michael,” saying “There was no reason for Michael to be sad that morning, (the little wretch): everyone liked him (the scab). He’d had a hard day’s night that day, for Michael was a Cocky Watchtower.” SF

Lennon wrote the song with some contributions from Paul McCartney. WK It was the last to be composed for the movie’s soundtrack. SF Walter Shenson, the movie’s producer, told PBS that he’d asked John to write a song incorporating the movie’s title. He assumed it would take days or weeks to write, but John came in the next day with it. SF It featured “long, repeating notes, that are uncommon in pop music.” SF It featured “double-tracked vocals by Lennon, and lead and harmony vocals by McCartney.” FB The unmistakable “mighty opening chord” WK was played on a Rickenbacker 360/12 12-string guitar by George Harrison. WK


  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for The Beatles
  • FB Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 153.
  • KL Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh (2005). 1000 UK Number One Hits: The Stories Behind Every Number One Single Since 1952. London, Great Britain: Omnibus Press. Page 100-102.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia

Related Links:

First posted 3/17/2021; last updated 7/13/2023.