A year so so back Ace Records started to chronicle the 60s year by year. The impetus was a hefty socio-musical history tome by sociologist/musicologist Jon Savage. In his book, Savage dissected 1966 by focusing on what he saw as key singles issued that year across all kinds of genres. The 650 page book was both provocative and intriguing and it made more sense after Ace Records contracted the writer to compile an album of the songs he singled out! ’66 was soon followed by Savage/Ace compilations on 1965 and ’67 and now they’ve launched an investigation into 1968, a year Savage says when “The world burned”.
Savage explains that it was a year of political unrest, assassinations, and strikes and, of course, the ongoing brutality/futility of the Vietnam War. He argues that the turmoil had a real impact on music and thus he offers, across 2 CDs, 48 tracks which he says sums up the mood of 1968.
The album boasts plenty of big name soul – Martha and the Vandellas, Eddie Floyd, Archie Bell, Al Wilson, Dionne Warwick, Otis Redding, James Carr, Aretha, 4 Tops and many more. Perhaps the best soul cuts that tie in with the album’s theme are Sly’s ‘Dance to the Music (which comes in the usual format and as ‘Danse a La Musique’ from The French Fries) and the Temptations’ ‘Cloud Nine’ – Norman Whitfield and Motown’s attempt to forge a new direction.
Naturally there’s plenty of pop and rock cuts – which you may or may not relate to, though Jon will argue about their significance… so amongst the names to enjoy are Buffalo Springfield, The Pretty Things, The Beau Brummels, The Move, Jethro Tull, Steppenwolf and Arthur Brown whose ‘Fire’ really did set 1968 alight!
1968 THE YEAR THE WORLD BURNED is out now on Ace Records.