347. whatcha gonna do about it?

“It’s the noise that hooked me on this Small Faces nugget. Only 1966 and it’s already in evidence, tearing up the dimensions. The whole song‘s a blast really, sub-two-minutes of sheer fun and spite. Definitely not a love song.” (Philip Random)

SmallFaces-1966-live

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400. Visions of Johanna

“Back in 1999, I recall somebody somewhere putting forth the argument that Bob Dylan’s Visions of Johanna was the single greatest record of the twentieth century. Something to do with the line about the ghost of ‘lectricity howling in the bones of her face, or maybe it was the part about infinity going up on trial. Either way, he was talking about the studio version that showed up on Blonde on Blonde, which is weird, because that’s not even the best version, which is the 1966 live take that did the rounds on bootlegs for years, then finally showed up on the Biograph box set. Something about it being pared down to just Bob, guitar, harmonica, voice – nothing else getting in the way of his accelerated brain and the amphetamine precision of the impossible images it was putting forth. Which is entirely the point, I think. Young genius stepping up to his confusion, surfing its twists and convolutions, letting it take him places he could never have imagined existed … and then finding a way to channel it all to into breath and voice and words. Call it a song. A damned fine one. Yet not beyond parody.” (Philip Random)

BobDylan-1966-posterMirror

439. it was a very good year

“We’ve all gotta start somewhere. Before I got seriously hooked by the superlative noise of rock-roll-psyche-whatever-you-want-to-call-it (sometime safely before my tenth birthday in the form of The Beatles Revolution the shorter, sharper, nastier version), I only really cared for one so-called pop album:  What Now My Love, a 1966 chart topper from Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass (who weren’t from Tijuana, they weren’t even Mexican). Because it was the only halfway modern slab of vinyl in my parents’ collection. And now it’s in mine, the same original record (proudly slotted between the Allman Bros and Amon Duul), because it’s actually pretty darned fine in a sangria-soaked suburban backyard barbecue sort of way. Smooth Latin rhythms and sunny day melodies and occasional gushes of rapture like the part at the end of It Was A Very Good Year when the strings come swooping in like the gods themselves. What sentimental eight year old (of any age) ever needed anything more?” (Philip Random)

HerbAlpert-1966

 

514. the trip

Donovan never really gets the credit he deserves for kicking the future into motion. I’ve said that already, I know. But seriously, here he is detailing an acid trip in all its cool-and-gone poetic glory at least half a year in advance of the Beatles Sgt Pepper. And better yet, he keeps the groove bluesy, the whole thing strutting comfortably along, the sunshine superman in full cosmic bloom. Nothing could stop him but a drug bust, which is precisely what happened.” (Philip Random)

Donovan-1966-studio

578. who are the brain police?

It’s 1966 and it seems only Frank Zappa and his Mothers realize just how freaky and weird things are about to get, and Frank never even did drugs (beyond cigarettes and coffee). Nevertheless he could see them — the Brain Police. Or more to the point, he felt them, because you can’t see the brain police, can you? They’re within you, hiding behind your devices of oracular perception. Recording things. Seriously, they are there, implanted at birth.

Zappa-Mothers-1966

648. indication

The story on the Zombies is that they’d broken up before their best stuff was ever even released. A classic case of being too far ahead of the curve as a track like Indication indicates, a pumped up ride with some killer keyboards at the heart of it all, and all months before the Beatles had gotten around to releasing Revolver. The upside being that we’ve never really grown tired of it.

Zombies-1966

682. I’m only sleeping

“To my ears, the split that eventually sank the Beatles was evident as early as 1965-66. Because while Paul was getting all moist about Yesterday, John was penning a psychedelic love letter to lethargy, just wanting to roll over and sleep for a few more hours. Which is why John will always be cooler, better than Paul. Or as my friend Tim used to say, the key question isn’t, who do you like better, the Beatles or the Stones — it’s John or Paul? And anyone who says Paul needs immediate help.” (Philip Random)

BEatles-butcherSLEEPING

755. What’s Happening!?!?

In which The Byrds lay it all out for eternity, man. Because it’s 1966 and something is most definitely happening, but what!?!? (note the question and exclamation marks), What’s Happening !?!? being notable as A. David Crosby‘s first solo songwriting credit for the Byrds, and B. succinct to say the least, the whole virulent, acid drenched confusion of the times laid out in fifty-seven words or less. Not that it was a bad historical moment — more just a state of spiritual, philosophical and emotional critical mass, a sustained chain reaction of apparently conflicting beliefs, ideas, demands and feelings that was demanding an entirely fresh and conceivably radical new point of reference, man.

Byrds-1966

770. love you to

beatle-George-66

“I find I generally don’t have much to say about the Beatles (and they do have quite a few selections on this list) — probably because so much has already been said.  And yet, there’s always someone new coming along who needs to be reminded. They Changed Everything Forever. With a bunch of help from their friends.  Western man couldn’t even see in colour until they came along – not with his third eye anyway. I believe Love You To was the first time a sitar graced a Beatles tune. 1966, final seeds being sown for the summer of love about to erupt.” (Philip Random)

Beatles-1966