George Harrison (always the most psychedelic Beatle) offers up a nifty slice of so-called world music (before we had the lame marketing term for it). Found on the soundtrack for a 1968 movie called Wonderwall that nobody ever saw, but then Oasis copped the title for a song name a couple of decades later and went mega-platinum with it. But On The Bed is far better (and cooler) than that derivative and over seasoned pop stew.
“Jimi Hendrix’s superlative 1968 double shot Electric Ladyland features two versions of his anthem toward getting high and dreamy on a rainy day (the first more laid back one being Rainy Day Dream Away, the second more explosive one being Still Raining Still Dreaming). I long ago linked them via an edit that I can’t even find now, but trust that it all flows nicely, powerfully together, with Hendrix rhapsodics to make even the gods cry, which leads to more rain, of course, more dreaming.” (Philip Random)
“Patrick Gallagher was my life’s first full-on Beatles fan. Every Christmas, he’d get a new Beatles album. In 1968, that meant the White Album, two records exploring all kinds of extremes, most of them miles over our tiny heads (his ten years old, mine nine). But we liked the monkey song. What kid wouldn’t like a monkey song? Even if it turned out to have nothing to do with monkeys at all, but was John Lennon’s take on the great and faultless Maharishi being a bit of a horndog, trying to get his hands on Mia Farrow’s ass, and how this didn’t seem to fit the man’s intimations of higher wisdom and humanity. Also, maybe heroin.” (Philip Random)
“It says 1968 on the record jacket but this Taj Mahal stomper is pure 1998 for me, serving as a personal anthem while I scaled back certain extremes of lifestyle, making that decision that most of us make as we see our forties looming – to not just burn out, but to change, because change is good, certainly the kind you choose to make. Like maybe opening your mind, maybe starting to actually ‘get’ the blues. Not just the obvious stuff, howling and mean. No, the real stuff, or real enough anyway, whatever Taj Mahal was digging up and dealing out way back when.” (Philip Random)
The closest thing to a good ole fashioned pop song from Van Morrison‘s 1968 masterpiece Astral Weeks that changed everything forever. Which isn’t to say that Young Lovers doesn’t transcend like everything else on Astral Weeks – it just does so with brevity and deceptively easy purpose, like young lovers set loose in a field of green with soft breezes blowing through.
The Jeff Beck Group’s Truth was the other big deal British blues based hard rocking debut album of 1968 from an ex-Yardbird. Unfortunately for Mr. Beck, the more noted one came from Jimmy Page‘s new outfit Led Zeppelin, because as the history books now have it (and they’re not wrong) Led Zeppelin went on to conquer the known world and the Jeff Beck Group didn’t. Which really shouldn’t take anything away from Truth, because it’s all strong, all cool, all good, from lead off track Shapes Of Things (a smart rethink of a previous Yardbirds hit) onward. And yes, that’s Rod Stewart (still pretty much unknown in 1968) ripping up the lead vocal.
In which Aphrodite’s Child (featuring a young Vangelis among other Greek psyche-prog weirdos) deliver a nugget of pop drama that’s equal parts syrupy and creepy in all the right ways. Come, child, to the end of world which is not all fire and brimstone, plagues and pestilence — it’s just a quiet little place I know about, far, far away from your parents and your friends. Where nobody will hear our ecstatic screams.
“Believe it or not, it was actually half-way normal in certain circles to hate the Beatles at a certain point in the later 1980s, mainly due to twenty plus years of over-adulation, overexposure, over-everything. I remember one guy in particular, Ray, who had it narrowed down to only one song, the only Beatles track he could abide anymore, and he didn’t even know the title, just ‘from the White album, I think, the one about Sir Walter Raleigh being a stupid git for bringing tobacco to England.’ Ray was trying to quit smoking at the time, suffering insomnia as a result, so he was miles past pleasantries. The Winter of Hate, we called it – those bile filled seasons of righteous aggravation and antipathy. The polar opposite of the Summer of Love. Ronald Reagan was also to blame.” (Philip Random)
“It’s 1968 and even Frank Sinatra’s little girl Nancy is getting into the weird stuff, with a lot of help from Lee Hazelwood, who, as the story goes, earned himself a talking-to from a few of Frank’s ‘friends‘ from the old neighborhood for songs such as Sand. Which, it’s worth noting, I didn’t hear until after I’d encountered Einsturzende Neubauten’s rather bleak 1985 take. Strangely, Lee and Nancy’s original feels even darker.” (Philip Random)