7 September was a notable date in both the early and late chart history of the Righteous Brothers. A comparison of the two singles in question, from the 1960s and the ’70s, also gives an interesting demonstration of how Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield’s style matured during their long recording span.
The Billboard Hot 100 for that date in 1963 had the duo making their second appearance in the hallowed countdown. After a No. 49 peak for their first chart single ‘Little Latin Lupe Lu’ in June, they broke into the survey with ‘My Babe.’ A different song from the Little Walter blues gem of the mid-1950s, this brassy, self-penned affair carried the hopes of the Moonglow label that it would provide the Righteous Brothers’ big breakthrough, which were dashed when it peaked at No. 75.
As we know, the pair’s emergence as one of the major pop attractions of the middle 1960s wasn’t far away. Late in 1964, ‘(You’ve Lost) That Lovin’ Feelin’’ raced to the top of the US chart and heralded a golden period on the Philles and Verve labels that lasted into 1966.
Then came Bill and Bobby’s remarkable chart comeback of 1974. Now on the Haven label, run by the distinguished production team of Dennis Lambert and Brian Potter, they delivered a new sound that reflected the more sophisticated production of the day, but kept their distinctive twin-vocal signature to the fore. The result was a huge No. 3 hit with Alan O’Day’s ‘Rock and Roll Heaven,’ in which they sang evocatively about much-missed music figureheads from Janis Joplin to Jimi Hendrix.
7 September of that year brought the chart debut of the follow-up single ‘Give It To The People.’ Written by Lambert & Potter themselves, it was the title song from an album that had charted a week before and itself reached No. 27. The single climbed to No. 20 and, while the same album’s ‘Dream On’ was a subsequent top 40 entry and the duo enjoyed massive new success with the ‘Unchained Melody’ reissue of 1990, ‘Give It To The People’ became the duo’s last new song to hit the US top 20.
‘My Babe’ and ‘Give It To The People’ are on the Righteous Brothers’ compilation Gold, which can be bought here.
Follow the official Righteous Brothers Best Of playlist.