Monday, 23 May 2016
1966: Best Year Ever?
In May alone - the month of Pet Sounds and Blonde on Blonde - Stevie Wonder released Up-Tight, the Small Faces their eponymous debut album, and Marvin Gaye Moods of Marvin Gaye. Earlier in the year, highlights included James Brown's I Got You LP, Simon & Garfunkel's Sounds of Silence, Them Again (by, er, Them), John Coltrane's Ascension (to take a detour into jazz), The Young Rascals, the Lovin' Spoonful's Daydream album, The Fugs (if you like that kind of thing; I did), the Mamas & the Papas' If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears, Sam & Dave's Hold On, I'm Coming and Otis Redding's The Soul Album.
And the gems just kept on coming through the rest of the year: the Byrds' Fifth Dimension, the Beatles' Revolver, Aretha Franklin's Soul Sister, the Mothers of Inventions' Freak Out! (if you like, etc.), the Incredible String Band's debut album (ditto), Sunshine Superman by the mighty Donovan, Jefferson Airplane's first album (and Buffalo Springfield's), The Exciting Wilson Pickett, very different first albums by the Monkees and Tim Buckley, Love's Da Capo, Junior Walker's Road Runner LP and the Rolling Stones' youthful live album Got Live if You Want It - not to mention The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators. And this is to say nothing of a vintage crop of singles...
Surely this was a truly great year, an annus mirabilis - it certainly felt like it at the time, and it still looks that way now. Was there ever a better year? Probably not, at least for the music-crazed 16-going-on-17-year-old that I was half a century ago.