Before we dive deeper into the sounds of 1968, perhaps I should give a little more insight into my attitude toward music from more recent years, just for full disclosure.
As one who is admittedly out of touch with much of the current music scene, one pitfall I certainly want to avoid is the attitude of “music from the 1960’s and 70’s is so much better than today’s music.” I know there’s good music today just as there was in the final two decades of the last century, but I just keep peeling layers off the onion that is music from “back in the day” and I don’t want to stop. By the time I finish learning the roots of a band or individual performer I end up in places like the Mississippi Delta in the 1920’s or some bizarre nooks and crannies of Appalachia, and that’s exciting to me! When I hear something from the last decade that I enjoy, it doesn’t take long for me to realize it’s because it sounds a bit derivative, but that’s not a bad thing in my book. I think the difference in my mind is that, for example, the British blues-rock bands of the late 60’s trace their roots to the Delta or Chicago, whereas a band like Wolfmother sounds like its roots are found in the aforementioned British bands. The War on Drugs sounds a little like late 1970’s-early 1980’s Fleetwood Mac. Michael Kiwanuka’s first release is somehow a mix of Bill Withers, Van Morrison, and a whole stew of audio goodness (though his more recent album certainly blazed a nice trail of its own). Madeleine Peyroux sounds like Billie Holiday singing Dylan and Leonard Cohen covers. It’s all good!
But 1968? The list of bands that disbanded and formed I find rather remarkable. Some of the groups who called it quits half a century ago this year: Buffalo Springfield, Cream, The Righteous Bros., The Yardbirds, and the Zombies. And some of the heavies who got it together that year? How about Black Sabbath (as Earth), Deep Purple, Free, King Crimson, Led Zeppelin (as the New Yardbirds), Nazareth, Rush, Yes, and Crosby, Stills and Nash. And let’s not forget Neil Young’s solo debut. Mercy, that’s a nice little chunk of my music collection!
We’re already four days into January and I haven’t gotten to our first album yet. We’ve lots to get into, so let’s get rolling.