Saturday, May 27, 2017

"1966: The Year the Decade Exploded" by Jon Savage (Faber & Faber)

ISBN: 978-0571277629

I'll follow Jon Savage anywhere, especially to one of my favorite year: 1966.   I turned 12 that year, and I was very much into buying or receiving music at the time. I also had an intense curiosity about what's happening in England.  I was of course, aware of the Fab Four and the Stones, but I knew there were bands like The Small Faces, The Move and of course, shows as "Shindig" exposed me to other bands/artists of that year.  Oddly enough, there was so much great music from that era - and Savage opens the door to the reader that is 1966.  

According to Savage, '66 is the year where the 60s started to happen.  Acid (LSD) was hitting the teenage market, and politics, due to racial and Vietnam, were impossible to ignore.  Also, 1966 was the year when things got psychedelic, but at the same time, it got darker.  Things were groovy, but there were signs that things will turn to shit around the corner.  In a remarkable feat of excellent writing/reporting, Savage captures these series of moments in what I think was a correct and realistic manner.  There are at least four locations here in the book:  Los Angeles, London, San Francisco, and New York City.   The book has 12 chapters, representing each month in 1966, and the focus to start off the discussion is usually a very obscure 45 rpm single.   Perhaps 1966 was the last year of the single as an artform.   Not saying that were not great 45 rpm work in the future, but as a statement, for example, The Beach Boys' "Good Vibrations" which took months for them to complete.  

The book covers a lot of ground.  Savage doesn't forget feminism, gay liberation, students, and cinema as well as the music world/scene.  He covers Joe Meek to Country Joe and The Fish.   It's a large book that is over 500 pages, with an incredible discography.   Savage is an obsessed music lunatic, who can write and think objectively but also very pointed in his view of that world.  It's that balancing act and his intelligence that makes him such a great social historian.  

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