Monday 23 May 2016

1966: Best Year Ever?

In this month 50 years ago, two of the greatest albums ever made were released: the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds (did ever a classic album have a more ludicrously inappropriate cover?) and Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde. Each, in its own way, was a response to the release, in the last weeks of the previous year, of The Beatles' game-changing Rubber Soul - those were golden days for record-buying teenagers like my young self. Just how golden they were came home to me recently as I scanned a list of the year's major LP releases.
 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.


  1. With you most of the way on that journey, Nige (with the exception of the Mamas & the Papas.) Still have the LP's 'Sound of Silence' and 'Revolver.' As for Jefferson Airplane, that's you, me and Clive (James) as fans. Remarkably, my son, heavily into Motorhead at the time and my daughter, heavily into Miss Piggy, were converts after hearing 'You can count on me.'

    Don't forget the boy's from Muswell Hill and 'Sunny Afternoon'

  2. & the boys from Sheperds Bush with A Quick One.

  3. Shepherds Bush even - was distracted by the psychedelic sound of the 13th Floor Elevators.