Writer John Savage’s latest book is a look at popular culture in what he sees a seminal year … 1966. The book is simply called “1966 The Year the Decade Exploded” and it explores the various events and themes of the year through 12 essays – each based around one record (one for each month).
Savage says “The pop world accelerated and broke through the sound barrier in 1966. In America, in London, in Amsterdam, in Paris, revolutionary ideas slow-cooking since the late ’50s reached boiling point. In the worlds of pop, pop art, fashion and radical politics — often fuelled by perception-enhancing substances and literature” .
You can read the book to make up your own minds about all that but in the meantime , Ace records have just released a 2 CD, 48 tack compilation to tie in with the publication. The album offers a real cross section of sounds and as you’d expect, there’s plenty of great soul music – stuff like The San Remo Strings’ ‘Festival Time’, The Capitols’ ‘Cool Jerk’, Rex Garvin’s ‘Sock it To Em JB’, Otis Redding’s ‘I Can’t Turn You Loose’ and dear old Dusty’s ‘Little By Little’.
Lashings of great pop too… most of it labelled “underground” in ’66. So here there’s The Velvet Underground, The Roosters, The Seeds and Liverpool cult band The Cryin’ Shames amongst others. Mainstream pop is represented by The Who, though they never saw themselves as “mainstream” while there’s a cut from a young David Bowie.
Oddly no Beatles tunes…. licensing, I guess, and to put things in perspective , yes 1966 was an exciting year musically but the charts were still stuffed with artists like Jim Reeves, Herb Alpert, Frank Sinatra, the Bachelors, the New Vaudeville band… and good old Ken Dodd! None of them on this album though!