1. Booker T. and the MGs, "Green Onions."
2. Ray Charles, "I Can't Stop Loving You." What was left for Charles to conquer, in 1962? Among the albums he'd made at that point in his career were such titles as Soul Brothers, Genius + Soul = Jazz, The Genius Sings the Blues, and Do the Twist with Ray Charles. Next? Two volumes of Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music," the first volume of which hit #1 on the pop charts. This song made it to #1 on the Adult Contemporary, Black, and Pop Singles charts. By the end of the year, he had three #1 singles and a #1 album.
3. Billy Vaughn, "A Swingin' Safari." This instrumental, in a version by composer Bert Kaempfert, was the theme song for the original version of The Match Game. Aging baby boomers who want to reminisce about a time when that game show hadn't yet discovered sex are directed to the video link for this one. Fans of Mariska Hargitay's mom might want to check it out as well.
4. Jimmy Reed, "Oh John." Just Jimmy Reed was an interesting album because it featured "live in the studio" ambience. Reed was a delightfully popular bluesman who, it must be said, was also among the simplest bluesmen from a musical standpoint ... the Ramones of the blues. "Oh John" is one of Reed's finest recordings, because, as the in-studio conversation demonstrates, Reed could write a song on the spot ... and it sounded exactly like a Jimmy Reed song. Someone, presumably the producer, asks Jimmy what song he wants to do next. The immortal reply from Reed? "You name 'em, I play 'em." The producer continues, asking Jimmy to play anything that's on his mind. Reed sees "John" in the studio, and starts improvising. "Oh John, look at you sitting in that corner... Oh John, I know they call ya Big Bad John."
5. Patsy Cline, "She's Got You."
6. Arthur Alexander, "Anna." People know about Ray Charles and country music ... Alexander was an unsung pioneer at blending country and soul. His songs were covered by the Stones and, in this case, by the Beatles.
7. Odetta, "He's Got the Whole World in His Hands."
8. Frank Ifield, "I Remember You." I really loved this record when I was a kid, for no clear reason I can think of.
9. The Crystals, "He's a Rebel." Gene Pitney wrote a song and Phil Spector got his hands on it. He thought it would make a good record for the Crystals, but that group was on the road, and Spector was in a hurry. So he got the Blossoms, who usually worked as backup singers, to cut the track, with the group's Darlene Love on lead vocals. Spector then put the record out under the name of the Crystals. Confused yet? You wouldn't be far off if you just put the names of Darlene and the Blossoms on most everything Spector did in those days.
10. Bob Dylan, "Freight Train Blues." Perhaps because it only features two original songs, Dylan's debut is underrated. I think it's more listenable than any of his other first four albums. He's having a blast with this track. The video is a nicely-done piece on riding the rails. Here's another, from a Bob Dylan Imitators contest: