Sunday, April 25, 2010

Secret History: 1966

1966 is one of my favorite years in music, not just because I got my first album "Revolver" then, but because it's a year where the quality is still higher than the musicians themselves.

The music has a light touch. Psychedelia hasn't yet kicked in, the guitars aren't too distorted, the musicianship and songwriting is improving, the songs are still short and to the point. In other words, it's right before things started getting pretentious.

You already know about what the Beatles and Dylan were doing that year. And I'll save the Stones for a separate post. But until comes up with a "We Love 1966" post, you'll have to settle for my take on that year. So, in order of my preference, here's a few records worthy of your time and attention:
  • First, there's the Kink's greatest record "Face to Face". Here's my post on that criminally neglected era. Nuff said.
  • Then, there's the Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds", which I finally picked up in 1990. I have to admit being underwhelmed at first, especially with it popping up on all these all time greatest albums lists. I still think it's a bit overrated, but it's certainly a very worthy record. Brian Wilson with his heart on his sleeve.
  • And don't' forget the Byrds. Their third album, "Fifth Dimension" starts off with the title track – one of my all time favorite songs – and stays great until more than halfway through, up to “Eight Miles High”, after which  they do a lame version of "Hey Joe", a song that seems to trip up everyone except Jimi Hendrix. It's also followed by some filler, but the rest of it is brilliant, and well worth your while.
  • Then there's the Who, who are already getting a bit arty on "A Quick One". I also went on about them, too. Although the songwriting it divided pretty evenly, everybody comes up with good tunes. And the title tune - our first mini rock opera (awwww!) - is just wonderful. Sweet and funny all at once.

  • And don't forget "John Mayall's Bluesbreakers, With (a Pre Cream/post Yardbirds) Eric Clapton". Here, Slowhand has not yet turned into Slowhead. In fact, he's as sharp as a tack. Too bad about the singing, though. Not perfect, but pretty fine.

    And… well, I don't know
I'm sure I'm forgetting someone. (What do you want, I was nine years old.) So please remind me, or berate me for any obvious omissions.

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