November 5 – Turntable Talk, Round 8 : Between The Sergeant And The Road…

Welcome back to Turntable Talk! As by now, regular readers know, that’s when I have several interesting guest writers sound off on one topic related to the music that we look at here daily. This is our seventh round of it, and if you’re new here, I recommend taking a look back at some of the earlier topics we’ve covered like why the Beatles are still relevant, or “did video kill the radio star?” or the one dealing with one hit wonders we ran at the start of last month.

This month, a simple category…but one which is challenging and should bring up some interesting memories : Those Were The Days My Friend. Simply put, we’re asking the contributors to write about “music’s best year.”

Obviously, that’s a pretty subjective choice. A few executives might try to look at sales charts and give a statistical answer based on album sales or concert grosses, but to most it comes down to the year that seemed to be when the best music was played, or when the most really good records came out. We’ve not limited it but I would expect that most are going to pick a year from the ‘rock era’ in the second half of the 20th Century. But if someone opines it was 1804 because that was when Beethoven started working on his 5th Symphony, that’ll be interesting to read about. Today we have Max from Power Pop blog. We know Max is a huge fan of the Beatles, the Who and, as his online moniker suggests, Badfinger. Will he opt for a year when those three acts careers intersected?:

Dave wanted us to come up with what we think the best year for music was. It’s so many years to pick from but I went with the music I know best. Although I was a teenager in the 1980s, I went to the music I grew up with from older singles and albums.

What I think of the era of music that I like, I would pick 1964 through 1971. I cannot pick all so here it goes…I pick 1968. It had some of the greatest albums and singles ever.

It was a turbulent year, to say the least. We lost two proponents of peace – Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy. Other events include the Vietnam War’s Tet Offensive, riots in Washington, DC, the Civil Rights Act of 1968, and heightened social unrest over the Vietnam War, values, and race.

The music was also toughened up by moving away from psychedelic music. The social climate and The Band’s album Music from Big Pink had a lot of influence on this. You still had psychedelic music released but overall, music was more stripped down to the basics.

My favorite album of all time was released by The Beatles. My favorite album by The Rolling Stones was released that year as well. Let’s look at the albums released in 1968…it’s outstanding.

The Beatles – The Beatles (The White Album)

The Rolling Stones – Beggars Banquet

The KinksAre the Village Green Preservation Society

The Band – Music From Big Pink

Small Faces – Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Electric Ladyland

Cream – Wheel Of Fire

The Byrds – Sweetheart Of The Rodeo

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Creedence Clearwater Revival

Big Brother and Holding Company – Cheap Thrills

Johnny Cash – At Folsom Prison

The Zombies – Odyssey and Oracle

The Grateful Dead – Anthem of the Sun

Van Morrison – Astral Weeks

Aretha Franklin – Lady Soul

Simon and Garfunkel – Bookends

Traffic – Traffic

That list could be on my desert island list… those albums are still being played today. I’ve only scratched the surface of the albums that year.

The Holy Trinity of Rock all released music that year… which would be The Beatles, The Who, and The Stones. I can’t imagine living in the era when these bands were in their prime and roamed the earth. The Who didn’t release an album, but they did release some singles and were gearing up for the following year. Let’s look at some of the singles of that year.

The Beatles – “Hey Jude/Revolution”

The Beatles – “Lady Madonna”

The Who – “Magic Bus”

The Rolling Stones – “Jumping Jack Flash”

Steppenwolf – “Born To Be Wild”

The Doors – “Hello, I Love You”

The Rascals – “People Got To Be Free”

Cream – “Sunshine Of Your Love”

Otis Redding – “The Dock of the Bay”

The Supremes – “Love Child”

The Chamber Brothers – “Time Has Come Today”

Janis Joplin – “Piece of My Heart”

Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Suzie Q”

Joe Cocker – “With A Little Help From My Friends”

The year featured the debut album of Creedence Clearwater Revival. Brian Jones made his final album with the Rolling Stones, and it was the start of their great 5 album stretch. The Who started to record the album that would break them worldwide with Tommy. “Dock of the Bay” would be released posthumously after Otis Redding died in a plane crash on December 10, 1967. The Grateful Dead would release their second album Anthem of the Sun and continue to build one of the largest fan bases ever. Jimi Hendrix was breaking barriers with his experimentation in the studio as well as live.

The Band would change the game by releasing Music From Big Pink. It influenced nearly everyone at the time to go back to a rootsy kind of music. Fleetwood Mac would release their debut album this year. Jeff Beck would release his legendary album Truth.

FM radio was getting huge at this time and showed that audiences didn’t have to have top 40 hits to buy albums. Take Van Morrison for instance. Astral Weeks didn’t have a “hit” on the album but continued to be played and sell. The Beatles “The White Album” is as diverse as you can get… Pop, Rock, Country, Folk, Reggae, Avant-Garde, Blues, Hard Rock, and some 20’s British Music Hall thrown in for good measure. No singles were released from this album or Sgt Pepper the previous year. They treated singles and albums as two different things. “Hey Jude” and the hit version of “Revolution” was recorded during “the White Album” but yet they left those two off. The Stones would do the same and leave off “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” from Beggars Banquet.

1968 set the stage for the coming decade’s rock music. Bands like The Who, Beatles, Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin didn’t need hit singles. You bought the album now and listened to the music in the context of that format. There were still pop/rock singles, but the albums were gaining traction.

To wrap it up…I think any of the years between 1965-1971 could have a strong argument for my tastes. If you are into disco or synth music…not as much. 


28 thoughts on “November 5 – Turntable Talk, Round 8 : Between The Sergeant And The Road…

  1. thanks Max! Another great year in music to be sure , and unquestionably one of the best for that first round of the British Invasion artists (even if there wasn’t your screenname’s band’s work yet). Again, the productivity of those great acts like the Beatles and Stones was amazing- usually more than an album a year and of such high quality. Nowadays, an artist is considered very productive if they put out a new record every two years. A fine pick I think a lot of readers will be in agreement on.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Badfinger (Max)

      Thanks for having me Dave. I could have picked any year…and also 1964 and be happy with it. This is when albums really started to explode against a background of unrest. You look at those lists and we still hear them today.
      It’s hard to believe those artists would release 1-2 albums a year plus different singles. Who would leave Hey Jude and Jumpin’ Jack Flash off of an album?

      Liked by 5 people

      1. For sure! I think we’ve talked about that before – it’s mind boggling they had the amount of material and audacity to do that – put out no singles off Sgt . Pepper for instance, or conversely, leave the smash radio hits they had at the time like ‘Penny Lane’ off the album!

        Liked by 3 people

  2. Lots of great music in 68 max and just think that we were only 1 yrs old. So cool that all this stuff has resonated with you over the last 54 years. You are right in saying that those lists are still revenant today which is amazing.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. I’d be hard pressed to find an argument against 1968, Max. Interesting though, how many UK bands / artists you cite here. I was 10 back then and not really into music at that point, though I can vaguely remember talking about The Beatles and The Stones.

    To me though, growing up in UK, 1968 was all about what was going on with USA – Kennedy; Vietnam war and space travel. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Badfinger (Max)

      For me…UK bands did what they did the best. I was one at the time so I didn’t know The Beatles from a rattle but I grew up later with these records and nothing matched them to me. I’ve seen where yea…it was a turbulent year all the way around from America to France…everywhere riots of some kind… and yea the War….

      Liked by 4 people

      1. it’s unfortunate but true that bad times seem to create great art – the American riots and assassinations, 15 years later the tough times in Britain and the effects of ‘Thatcherism’.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. you might have picked up on something important there – maybe it was around then there was cross-Atlantic influence. American acts began being heavily influenced by British rock and of course, the British greats were interested in what was going on now, and in the past in the US.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent write-up, Max. I like your addition of the historical context these tunes sprouted up within. As you listed the songs and albums for that year, it is truly amazing how many there are. Also happy you included The Band and the musical pivot that album had.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Badfinger (Max)

      Thanks Lisa…not a good year in the world really but it inspired a lot of great music. Just like Nirvana wiped out many of the 80s bands type of music…I think The Band changed their times as well with that album. Listen to The White album and many tracks have that feel…even The Stones had more earthy music after that.

      Liked by 4 people

  5. The longer I know you, Max, the more I realize how much alike we are. I was raised listening to music my folks liked. I didn’t start listening to the music my friends were listening to until much later in life. Sure, I bought new/current stuff occasionally, however, I was always listening to older music.
    Hell, one of the first albums I bought was a Beatles album! Lol.

    Fantastic write up, pal. (And thanks for your help deciding on a year for myself.). I can only hope to do my year justice.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. thinking back, ‘Revolver’ was the first Beatles album I owned myself, on LP. It was in rough shape so I can only assume (I don’t remember for sure) I got it used at a flea market or something like that, probably around ’78 or ’79.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Another stellar year for all the reasons put forward- the 45 was being seen as not enough, bands started to spread out even on singles, eg Hey Jude, so an album was now needed and with more to it than the old record company’s formula of two fading hits and a side and a half of tepid one-take cover songs to take advantage of the fame before the kids moved onto the next teen idol.
    Thanks for mentioning the Chambers Brothers- ‘Time’ is a weird and wonderful masterpiece IMHO.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. very true. Like honestly, as big as Elvis was, and as good as his early singles were, does anyone really point to one of his ’56-65 era albums and say ‘now THAT’S a truly fantastic album?’ I don’t think so.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Great and very well presented Max. An embarrassment of riches for album rock. The staying power of that music really speaks for itself, but you laid it out very well. After reading this I want to go back and revisit some music!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. so true! These days some artists (sheryl Crow comes to mind) don’t even bother to put out albums as such anymore because they figure so few people will go for that and listen to it all digitally, so it’s back to the age of singles, so to speak.


  8. Wow, looking at the list of albums and singles you highlighted, one cannot argue your chosen year is an excellent pick. “The White Album”, “Wheel of Fire” and “Electric Ladyland” are among my all-time albums. They already would be worth the price of admission. And, looking at some of those singles…Joe Cocker’s rendition of “With a Little Help From My Friends” is the ultimate remake in my book, at least when it comes to rock/pop. “Jumping Jack Flash” and “Sunshine of Your Love” are among my all-time favorites by the Stones and Cream, respectively. I also really love Otis Redding’s “The Dock of the Bay”. I could easily go on raving about the music you highlighted from 1968.

    I think it’s becoming more and more clear the entire period between 1965 and 1975 was an outstanding time for music. Obviously, that’s not to say other years didn’t have great music.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Pingback: The Music of 1968 – PowerPop… An Eclectic Collection of Pop Culture

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s