Jon Savage’s 1967 -The Year Pop Divided.

Nowadays, 1967 is regarded by critics and cultural commentators as one of the most important years in musical history. It’s remembered for its Summer Of Love in San Francisco, and the birth of Flower Power. 1967 is also a remembered as the year that pop divided. 

A signal of what was about to unfold was the Human Be-In in San Francisco, Polo Fields on January the ’14th’ 1967. Young Americans flocked what was advertised as “A Gathering of the Tribes for a Human Be-In”. The “tribes” were invited by LSD guru Dr. Timothy Leary to: “turn on, tune in, drop out.” Most of the audience dropped acid which was freely available and watched as poets like Allen Ginsberg and local bands like the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. The bands showcase the new psychedelic West Coast sound that would provide the soundtrack to much of 1967.

Meanwhile, record buyers on both sides of the Atlantic watched the events of January the ’14th’ 1967 with interest. They realised that music was about to change. What nobody could foresee was how much music would change during 1967.

Especially in Britain, where the birth of progressive pop in 1966, proved to be a game-changer. At the forefront of this change were The Beatles, who released Revolver during 1966. This showcased a much more sophisticated and progressive sound. It was very different from the MOR and bland pop that filled the UK charts. Alas, that was still the case as 1967 dawned.

Things though, were about to change in 1967, when psychedelic rock transformed the musical landscape. Psychedelia played an important part in the eclectic soundtrack to Britain’s Summer Of Love. So to some extent, did folk rock, pop, ska and the soul music being produced by Stax and Motown. Little did record buyers realise in January 1967 musical history would be made throughout 1967.

Hardly a week went by in 1967 without a significant musical event happening. This ranged from bands new being formed and old band breaking up. Meanwhile, top bands embarked on major concert tours and festivals like the Monterey Pop Festival grew in popularity. However, 1967 was also a year when numerous classic singles and landmark albums were released. 

This included the release of The Doors eponymous debut album in January 1967. Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow and The Byrds’ Younger Than Yesterday followed in February. In  March, The Grateful Dead released their debut album Grateful Dead and two classic albums were released, Aretha Franklin’s I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You and The Velvet Underground and Nico’s eponymous debut album. Already, 1967 was shaping up to be an important year in musical history.

April 1967 saw the release of The Electric Prunes’ eponymous debut album, which featured I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night). May saw Country Joe and The Fish release Electric Music for the Mind and Body, while a week later, The Jimi Hendrix’s Are You Experienced? June marked the release The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, and week later Moby Grape. During the first six months of 1967, the music being released was truly eclectic. 

In Britain, popular music had become even more divided than before. Popular music had always become divided into “tribes,”  from the days of mods and rockers. This continued to be the case as sixties progressed. 1967 was no different. There were still many who preferred the bland pop and MOR. They had rejected out of hand progressive pop and had eschewed  psychedelia. Others embraced psychedelia and were drawn to this new and innovative genre. Others rejected pop and rock out of hand, preferring ska and the soul that was being produced by Stax and Motown. Some record buyers had eclectic taste in music and were enjoying the eclectic music that was being released during 1967, which was the first year that albums outsold singles. No wonder, given the music that had been released, and was about to be released.

Just like first half of 1967, the second half of 1967, countless classic albums were released. This included psychedelic folk rockers the Incredible String Band’s landmark album The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion. It was just the latest career defining album to be released during 1967.

August 1967, saw several debut albums being released. This included Pink Floyd’s Piper At The Gates Of Dawn, Frank Zappa’s Lumpy Gravy,Big Brother and the Holding Company and Vanilla Fudge. Tim Buckley’s also released his sophomore album Hello and Goodbye. Little did anyone realise when each of these albums hit the shelves for the first time, that fifty years later they would be regarded as classics. 1967 was shaping up to be one of the most important years in the history of music. 

Still though, artists and bands continued to release groundbreaking and influential albums. September saw the release of two more debut albums, when Captain Beefheart’s Safe As Milk and Scott Walker’s Scott. The Doors returned with their much-anticipated sophomore album Strange Day. 1967 was the year that kept on giving.

In October, Buffalo Springfield returned with Buffalo Springfield Again and Judy Collins released Wildflowers. Two important debut albums were Ten Years After and Sly and The Family Stone’s A Whole New Thing. However, one of the most important musical months of 1967 was November.

Over the course of thirty days, Cream released Disraeli Gears, The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour and Love’s released their career defining third album Forever Changes. Making a welcome return were Jefferson Airplane with After Bathing At Baxter’s and Country Joe and the Fish with I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die. It wasn’t going to be easy to surpass the music released during November 1967.

Some of music’s big hitters returned with new albums during December 1967. They all had the ucrative Christmas market in mind. In the UK, The Jimi Hendrix Experience released Axis: Bold As Love. A week later, the Rolling Stones released Their Satanic Majesties Request. This was just the tip of the musical iceberg. The Who released The Who Sell Out and Leonard Cohen debuted with Songs Of Leonard Cohen. Another group making their debut were Traffic, who released Mr. Fantasy. One of the last albums to be released during 1967, was Miles Davis’ Sorcerer. It was just the latest landmark album that was released during 1967, which was the year of Flower Power, the Summer of Love and the Monterey Pop Festival. It was, without doubt, one of the most important years in musical history, and is documented and celebrated on Jon Savage’s 1967 -The Year Pop Divided, which was recently released by Ace Records.

Disc One.

Opening Jon Savage’s 1967 -The Year Pop Divided is The Byrds released their anthemic single So You Want To Be A Rock N’ Roll Star. It was released  on Columbia on ‘9th’ January and reached number twenty-nine on the US Billboard 100. So You Want To Be A Rock N’ Roll Star was taken ’from The Byrds’ fourth album Younger Than Yesterday, which was released in February 1967. It found The Byrds building on their previous album Third Dimension, as they continue to incorporate psychedelic rock into their music.

February 1967 saw psychedelic pioneers the 13th Floor Elevators release as a Levitation as single. This fusion of proto-punk and psychedelia failed to find an audience. Later in 1967, Roky Erickson and Co. returned with their sophomore album Easter Easter. This was the followup to their groundbreaking debut album The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators. One of the highlights of Easter Easter is Levitation, which features the 13th Floor Elevators at the peak of their powers.

Many people won’t have heard of the Chicago based rock band, The Shadows Of The Night. By the time they released their sophomore album Back Door Men in February 1967, The Shadows Of The Night were pioneering the raga-rock sound. One of their finest moments of this oft-overlooked album is Behemoth, which is a welcome addition to the compilation.

Gladys Knight And The Pips released Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me as a single in March 1967. It was taken from her third album Everybody Needs Love, which was released on the Soul label. Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me features Gladys Knight at her soulful best as she delivers a sensual vocal. This resulted a breakthrough hit for Gladys Knight And The Pips, when Take Me In Your Arms And Love Me reached number thirteen in the UK.

In March 1967, Soft Machine released their debut single Love Makes Sweet Music on Polydor. Tucked away on the B-Side was Feelin’ Reelin’ Squeelin’, a groundbreaking slice of lysergic music from musical pioneers Soft Machine, who would go on to enjoy a long and illustrious career.

When The Move released I Can Hear The Grass Grow on Deram in late March 1967, Roy Wood and Jeff Lynne’s love of The Beatles shawn through. The Fab Four have obviously inspired this melodic psychedelic single, that would give The Move a top five single.

Since the release of their debut single in 1965, The Young Rascals had been signed to Atlantic Records. Two years later, and they released Groovin’ in May 1967. This was their answer to The Lovin’ Spoonful’s 1966 single Summer In The City. Groovin’ caught the imagination of record buyers on both sides of the Atlantic, reaching number one on the US Billboard 100 and number eight in UK. Fifty years later, and Groovin’ is a classic single and is still regularly features on radio playlists.

The Bar-Kays were formed in 1966, and a year later in July 1967, released Soul Finger on Stax’s Volt imprint. This instrumental gave The Bar-Kays the biggest single of their career when it reached seventeen in the US R&B charts and thirty-three in the UK. Later in 1967, The Bar-Kays biggest single lent its name to their debut album Soul Finger.

In June 1967, Aretha Franklin released a cover of Otis Redding’s Respect as a single on Atlantic Records. Respect was taken from her album I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You. One of the highlights of this classic album was Respect, which gave the further Queen of Soul one of the biggest singles of her career. Respect topped the US Billboard and US R&B charts, and in the UK reached number eight. Fifty years later, and Respect is regarded as a soul classic.

One of the hidden gems on disc one is The Hand Don’t Fit The Glove, which comes courtesy of Terry Reid With Peter Jay’s Jaywalkers. It was released on Columbia in April 1967, and showcased the considerable talent of the man who later become known as Super Lungs. Terry Reid was only seventeen when he unleashed a vocal powerhouse on The Hand Don’t Fit The Glove was released. Even then, it was apparent that Terry Reid was destined for greatness.

Dyke and The Blazers were formed in 1965 in Phoenix, Arizona. They’re best known for their 1966 hit single Funky Broadway. However, there’s more to Dyke and The Blazers than one single. In May 1967, they released So Sharp, which reached forty-one in the US R&B charts. So Sharp has an uber funky groove and a wistful, plaintive and powerful vocal. Later in 1967, So Sharp featured on The Funky Broadway, which proved to be Dyke and The Blazers’ only album.

My final chose from disc one of Jon Savage’s 1967 -The Year Pop Divided is Buffalo Springfield’s Mr. Soul, which was the B-Side of their single Bluebird. It was released on Atco in June 1967. Later in 1967, Mr. Soul opened Buffalo Springfield’s sophomore album Buffalo Springfield Again. This hidden gem features a musical masterclass, and is a tantalising reminder of Buffalo Springfield in their prime.

Disc Two.

Sharon Tandy was born and brought up in South Africa, but when she moved to Britain embarked upon a musical career. She’s best known for blue-eyed soul and psychedelia. One of her finest releases was Hold On, which was released on Atlantic Records in July 1967. Sadly, this psych soul single failed to find the audience it deserved. Recently, there’s been a resurgence of interest in Sharon Tandy’s music, and this underrated singer’s music is belatedly reaching a wider audience.

Birmingham based The Fortunes were founded in 1963 and in 1965, enjoyed a hit on both sides of the Atlantic with You’ve Got Your Troubles. Two years later, in 1967, The Fortunes signed to United Artists and released The Idol in August. It was produced by Mel Shalmy, who previously had produced The Kinks. He plays his part in this melodic slice of power pop.

Eleven years after making their recording debut, The Four Tops released You Keep Running Away as a single in October 1967. It was penned and produced by Holland-Dozier-Holland, who would become one of Motown’s most successful songwriting and production partnerships. You Keep Running Away is a carefully crafted song, that featured soul-baring vocal. Given the quality of the single, it’s no surprise that You Keep Running Away reached twenty-six in the UK and nineteen in the US Billboard 100. 

September 1967 saw Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band released their debut album Safe As Milk Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band. Four month later, in January 1968 Yellow Brick Road was released as a single. However, if failed to make any impression on the charts. The majority of the record buying public neither understood nor appreciated what was a groundbreaking single from a classic album. Sadly, fifty years later and that’s still the case.

Although Booker T and MGs were Stax Records’ house band, they also enjoyed a successful recording career. Their recording career began in 1962, and five years later Booker T and MGs were Stax Records released Groovin’ as a single stateside. It reached number twenty-one in the US Billboard 100. Tucked away on the B-Side was Slim Jenkins Place a simple, funky and effective instrumental that showcases the talents of Booker T and MGs.

One of most underrated bands of the psychedelic era were The Seeds. They were formed in Los Angeles and were fronted by he inimitable Sky Saxon. One of The Seeds’ finest singles was The Wind Blows Your Hair, which was released on GNP Crescendo in October of 1967. Despite the undoubted quality of The Wind Blows Your Hair, which is dark, eerie, otherworldly and lysergic, it passed record buyers by. For The Seeds it was a case of what might have been. Sadly, that was the case with their career. However, recently, there’s been a resurgence on interest in their music, and somewhat belatedly The Seeds music is finding a wider audience.

Ken Booth was only nineteen in when he recorded The One I Love with Tommy McCook and The Supersonics. Despite his youth, his vocal heartfelt bristles with emotion. By the time The One I Love was released on Jamaican Caltone label in November 1967, Ken Boothe’s star was in the ascendancy. He had enjoyed  a successful UK tour and was being tipped as one of the rising stars of Jamaican music. That proved to be the case, with Ken Boothe enjoying a successful career where he crossed-over and was popular among reggae fans and mainstream audiences.

By December 1967, Aretha Franklin’s hot streak continued when she released a cover of Don Covay’s Chain Of Fools on Atlantic Records. It had been recorded at Rick Hall’s Fame Studios, with the legendary rhythm section of drummer Roger Hawkins, bassist David Hood, guitarist Jimmy Johnson and keyboardist Roger Hawkins providing the perfect backdrop for the future Queen of Soul. She reached new heights on Chain Of Fools of soulfulness, on a single that reached number two in the US Billboard 100 and number one on the US R&B charts. However, in the UK Chain Of Fools struggled to thirty-seven in the charts. Still though, it’s one of the finest singles of Aretha Franklin’s career.

December 1967 saw The Mickey Finn release Garden Of My Mind as a single on the Direction label. It’s a propulsive fusion of pop, psych, rock and soul with glorious Hendrix inspired ascending guitar riffs. There’s an intensity and energy to this long lost hidden gem, which was The Mickey Finn’s sixtes’ swan-song.

The Easybeats were formed in Sydney, Australia towards the end of 1964, and by 1965 the band had signed to Parlophone, After releasing a trio of albums, The Easybeats moved to London, where they recorded their fifth album Vigil. It was released in December 1967 and featured The Music Goes Round My Head. It’s a haunting, lysergic and melodic song that’s the perfect way to closeJon Savage’s 1967 -The Year Pop Divided, which was recently released by Ace Records.

Jon Savage’s 1967 -The Year Pop Divided features forty-eight tracks that are spread across two CDs. They range from hit singles to little-known hidden gems, classic singles, B-Sides and album tracks. This ranges from folk and folk rock to funk, pop, and psychedelia, to R&B, reggae, rock  and soul. It’s an eclectic and lovingly compiled collection of songs fourteen year old Jon Savage remembers growing up to.

So do many other people, who embraced Flower Power and the Summer Of Love during 1967. Jon Savage’s 1967 -The Year Pop Divided documents and celebrates what was a landmark year for music. It saw a generation: “turn on, tune in, drop out,”  as they experimented with the drug ju jour LSD. For many, it fuelled the psychedelic revolution that unfolded during 1967. It’s now part of musical history.

For many who weren’t around to witness Flower Power and the Summer Of Love then Jon Savage’s 1967 The Year Pop Divided is the perfect introduction to what was a landmark year for music. Hardly a week went by without the release of a groundbreaking or classic album from artists and bands old and new. This included many members of musical royalty, who along with many of the artists on Jon Savage’s 1967 -The Year Pop Divided, played their part in transforming the musical landscape. Never again would music be the same, after 1967, which marked a changing of the guard musically, as music evolved and pop divided during what will always be remembered as a landmark year for music.

Jon Savage’s 1967 -The Year Pop Divided.

1 Comment

  1. So much amazing music.

    I’ve been doing an occasional series on 1967 albums over at Vinyl Connection but there is definitely a place for a compilation of some kind to collect the singles. And Savage knows his stuff, so that’s a good start!

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