Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Annual Report: 1967

When asked about the best year in music, 1967 is among the most popular responses. And it's no wonder with powerhouse, pantheon, test-of-time releases like:

(Now, I wasn't there. So I'm warily trusting a mix of Wikipedia, iTunes, and random other googling.)

The Beatles//Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
For a long time, this record was considered the gamebreaker, the most important album, the best album, the measuring stick. Then, fickle tides turned and journalists learned they'd sell more magazines and get more click-thrus if they went with something more controversial (less obvious) or unexpected. I'm not saying it's my favorite album (a distinction Charlie T outlined expertly in the previous post), but it's gotta be up there with the best. Especially in the historical (an artist no less than Jimi Hendrix was covering Sgt Pepper mere days after its release), break down the walls (a concept record that stretched the studio-as-instrument concept) context. And especially because it has the song "A Day In The Life" on it. And then consider that "Penny Lane" and "Strawberry Fields Forever"– both released as singles– could technically be on this record? Goodness gracious. Oh, and they also released Magical Mystery Tour this year.
Jimi Hendrix//Are You Experienced and Axis: Bold As Love
Speaking of Jimi Hendrix and two-albums-in-one-year, this pair is ridiculous. And, no offense to Magical Mystery Tour, but it's no Axis: Bold As Love. Try "Little Wing" and "Castles Made of Sand" and "Spanish Castle Magic" and "Stone Free." That's insane. I don't think today's generation understands what we lost when we lost Hendrix. He showed more greatness in a few short years than the careers of most bands today combined. Pardon me while I go yell at the kids on the lawn.

Aretha Franklin//I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You
Love//Forever Changes
Cream//Disraeli Gears
Big Brother & The Holding Company//s/t...janis...
The Velvet Underground & Nico
Miles Davis//Neferiti
Bob Dylan//John Wesley Harding
It gets lost in the shuffle of Insanely Great Dylan albums, but this is solid. And culturally relevant. Try these reviews on for size:
"For an album of this kind to be released amidst Sgt. Pepper, Their Satanic Majesties Request, After Bathing at Baxter's, somebody must have had a lot of confidence in what he was doing ... Dylan seems to feel no need to respond to the predominate [sic] trends in pop music at all. And he is the only major pop artist about whom this can be said." -Jon Landau//Crawdaddy

And it gave us "All Along The Watchtower" which was covered memorably (to the point of changing Dylan's view on the original) by- wait for it- Jimi Hendrix.
13th Floor Elevators//Easter Everywhere
"Roky Erickson and the 13th Floor Elevators, a band out of Texas. They were basically the first psychedelic-rock band. 1965. And if you listen to old 13th Floor Elevators stuff—Roky Erickson especially, his voice—and then go back and listen to early Led Zeppelin, you know that Robert Plant absolutely copped everything from Roky Erickson. And it's amazing. And Roky Erickson is sitting in Austin, Texas; he's just there. And Robert Plant had a huge hit. It always goes back to those guys, you know? I love those fucking guys." -Johnny Depp//2005//Esquire Magazine
With Roky Erickson's deserved resurgence over the last couple years and triumphant album with Okervill River this year, we see once again that Johnny Depp was ahead of the curve. Robert Plant, you're on the clock.
debuts by The Doors and Grateful Dead
solid showings from Pink Floyd, The Who, The Small Faces, the Stones (a kind of pathetic reaction to Sgt. Pepper, but with some ok songs), Buffalo Springfield...

and that's ignoring albums by seminal artists I'm less familiar with like Wes Montgomery, BB King, Roy Orbison, Howlin' Wolf, and Coltrane.

The sheer volume of great music coming out of 1967 may not compare to that of other years, but the longstanding greatness does. We will find years with more great music, but will we find years with greater music?

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