Monday, August 21, 2017

McQ's Best Of 1966 Mix Collection

All right! 1966!

For some, this was rock 'n' roll's finest year, and there's no question that when judged purely on the  strength and impact of its top three albums, only a handful of years can compete with 1966's powerhouse trio of The Beatle's Revolver, The Beach Boy's Pet Sounds, and Bob Dylan's Blonde On Blonde (though I actually have one of these three albums rated fourth on our best of 1966 list).

But for me, that's where comparisons to other top contenders for the "greatest rock year ever" ends.

As great as it was, 1966 just didn't quite deliver the same amazing depth of classic full-length releases that other all-time great contenders like 1967-69, 1971, 1977, and 1994 did.

That said, 1966 was still a phenomenal year for rock, both in how it set up the explosive flowering of new styles and genres that would land in 1967 (for a sense of that, check out our 1967 retrospective here), and also in how so many of the decade's defining sub-genres -- early garage, blues rock, folk rock -- hit their absolute zenith during 1966's twelve month span.

This eight volume mix collection aims to capture all that and more!

So what are you waiting for? Jump in and enjoy!

My choices for the very best singles and top tracks from the most significant albums of 1966, minus whichever hits Nancy selected for her mix, which was fewer this year than normal.

The 60's guitar gods take center stage here, as filtered through their devoted love of the blues.  While Eric Clapton, (through his blistering 1966 work with both John Mayall and Cream), and The Yardbird's Jeff Beck dominate, there are all manner of '66 white-boy blues to be found in this mix, as well as a few tracks from established African-American artists of the day like Slim Harpo and Koko Taylor, and a blistering early live recording of The Jimi Hendrix Experience for BBC Radio. This is definitely a standout of the 1966 collection.

The impact of Revolver and Pet Sounds on pop music is almost immeasureable and still being felt today, but there were several other fantastic pop efforts in 1966.  The Who landed the silliest album of their career with A Quick One. The Kinks started their classic "quaint English life" triology with the often brilliant Face To Face, L.A.'s Love dabbled in all manner of orchestral pop and folk rock experimentation on a pair of memorable '66 releases (their self-titled debut and the more psychedelic Da Capo), and the world witnessed the arrival of its all-time favorite made-for-television band The Monkees. 1966 efforts from these artists and more are featured here.

For those familiar with the soul mix from our 1967 collection, this mix stands as another testament to the unbelievably rich landscape of mid-sixties soul.  Tina Turner, with an assist from the demonic duo of husband Ike and producer Phil Spector, plays a big role here, and Wilson Picket, Marvin Gaye, and Jr. Walker carry a bigger portion of the burden this time around for the Motown / Stax crews, but from start to finish, this is just another fantastic soul romp and a great mix for parties.

Yeah, folk rock was big in 1966.  Just saying.  All the year's heavy hitters are represented here.

1966 was, by all practical measures, the year of the decade as far as garage rock was concerned.  Yes, The Sonics debut and The Standell's Dirty Water hit in 1965, and '67 sported its share of classic garage hits as well, but take one scroll through this track list and it's staggereing how many of garage rock's all-time hits landed in 1966. Another one of my favorites mixes in this year's collection, but for maximum impact on this one, you've got to play it loud. Really loud!!!

1966 was in many ways the cutoff, the last year where the more saccarhine, old-fashioned acts of the previous five-ten years could still ply their trade and be taken seriously.  Your first instinct hearing many of these tracks will be to laugh, but stay with it,  of all this year's mixes, this one's got  a special Ronco-styled synergy going on. It's become my favorite mix of the entire collection.

Another upbeat Nancy classic - served this together with Volume 1, and you'll hear the majority of the 1966's top tracks.

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