Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Summer of 1966 in Music

Many of the hits of 1966 are such timeless classics that it's hard to believe they are now 50 years old!  Music of that era satisfied diverse tastes, yet many of the songs became "crossover" hits, appealing to wide audiences.   1966 was also the year that the "concept album" took hold.  Earlier albums contained unrelated songs, but in a concept album the songs are part of a whole.

Here are some of the iconic albums of 1966:

Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde was released in May of 1966 and became a double platinum hit album.  This album includes "Just Like a Woman," "Rainy Day Women," "I Want You" and "Visions of Johanna."
Compact Disc 21960

Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys is one of the first concept albums, but more than that, it explored new sonic territory with innovative engineering techniques and a large assortment of acoustical instruments.  It is preserved in the Library of Congress's National Recording Registry and is second on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.  Hits from the album include:
  • Wouldn't it be Nice
  • Sloop John B
  • God Only Knows
Pet Sounds Sessions:  This 1996 reissue includes alternate takes and backing-only tracks.
Compact Disc 9735

The Pet Sounds reissue of 2012 includes both mono and stereo tracks: Compact Disc 22647

The Beatles' "Paperback Writer" is considered a pivotal single for the band, transitioning their sound from pop to rock.  It was a hit in the Summer of 1966 as a single and was included on the 1970 album, Hey Jude.
Compact Disc 21998

The Beatles' album, Revolver, released in August, 1966, contains hits "Taxman," "Eleanor Rigby," "Here, There, and Everywhere," "Good Day Sunshine," "Got to Get You into My Life" as well as "Yellow Submarine."
Compact Disc 18338 (reissue with added goodies)
Compact Disc 1153

Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention released "Freak Out!" which used unusual timbres, stretching the limits of pop sounds.  This concept album was an underground hit, exploring psychedelic sounds, avant garde techniques borrowed from jazz and classical music, and layered textures.  "In Memoriam, Edgard Varèse" references the composer who popularized musique concrète, the technique of using sounds created from objects that would not normally be considered musical instruments.
Compact Disc 15097

While rock music was evolving and pushing forward, Frank Sinatra, whose crooner career started in the Big Band era, continued to be popular.  His album, Frank Sinatra Sings for Moderns: Strangers in the Night, includes the title track, Summer Wind, and other popular songs by the then fifty-year-old superstar.
Compact Disc 11725

For more hits from 1966, check out these compilation albums:

Billboard Top Rock 'n' Roll Hits, 1966
Compact Disc 1743

Billboard Top R&B Hits, 1966
Compact Disc 114

"1966" from Time-Life Music
Compact Disc 239

1966: Shakin' All Over, from Time-Life Music
Compact Disc 240

1966, The Beat Goes On
Compact Disc 241

1966, Blowin' Your Mind
Compact Disc 358

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