Toppa Top 10: Ten Classic Songs with a Melodica

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June 20, 2014

5. The Kinks- “Sunny Afternoon” (1966)

Augustus Pablo was the first musician to make melodica a staple of his studio repertoire in the ‘70s but the instrument, which was introduced by the Hohner company in the late 1950s, was used quite widely (if sporadically) during the 1960s by rock and roll bands. Although the track would not see release until years later, the Beach Boys, a group whose sonic innovations parallel those of dub pioneers like Tubby, Pablo and Perry in some ways, used a melodica on “Cabin Essence,” a tune recorded in 1969 during sessions for their long-delayed album Smile. And the Kinks had a massive 1966 hit with “Sunny Afternoon.” The song, which went to No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart that year and reached #14 in the US, features intermittent melodica playing from Nicky Hopkins, a musician best known for his work with the Rolling Stones. —Jesse Serwer