Year In Review: 1966
A terrific, exciting year for pop music as new talent came bursting out
from all directions while established acts made major advances. The
year's best record was the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds, the most carefully
crafted and consistently interesting rock record released up to that
point. The Beatles were no slouches, diving into experimentation with
studio effects and controlled substances, producing startling results on
The Rolling Stones were right behind, experimenting with song structure
and medieval instrumentation on Aftermath. Dylan's double album
Blonde On Blonde
incorporated country and western influences, though it was a step down
from his 1965 work; recovering troubador Donovan reinvented himself as a
flower power spokesman on his trippy Sunshine Superman.
Even the Supremes included some studio trickery on
their latest catchy collection, Supremes A Go Go.
Many other acts simply played to their existing strengths: sophisticated
soulstress Dionne Warwick released
her most affecting record to date; radical folkie Phil Ochs released a wonderful faux-live
album; Laura Nyro added swirling
arrangements to her off-kilter love songs;
while Otis Redding kept going strong
with his emotional brand of soul.
Important debuts were almost too numerous to count: the best was the
Mothers Of Invention's Freak
Out!, but three West Coast Byrds-influenced acid rock bands - Buffalo Springfield, Jefferson Airplane and Love - were all close behind.
There were only a few duds this year, mostly failed efforts by Motown to
reach middle America like Moods Of Marvin
Gaye and Stevie Wonder's Down To Earth. The jazz record of
the year was Thelonious Monk's Straight No
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