Jon Savage follows up last year’s “1966” 2CD set with a similarly packaged anthology of hits and rarities from 1967. There is no accompanying book this time – so you’ll have to buy this to read all about it in his sleeve notes.
Now typified as the year of flower power, 1967 was the year the 60s divided. During those 12 months, the revenues from LP sales in Britain finally overtook those from 45s. It’s also the year when the British singles charts suddenly revealed a vacuum that, in March 1967, was filled by a Top 10 that included Englebert Humperdinck, Petula Clark, Harry Secombe, Vince Hill, the Seekers and other mums and dads records that you will not be hearing on this compilation.
For despite this sudden outburst of “reactione”, the single was still king … just. It took a while for albums to take over – this happened with the massive success of “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” in the summer. Although outlawed on 14 August 1967, the Pirate Radio stations were still operating for much of the year, with their highly eclectic playlists: soul was rampant, and many psychedelicised acts still felt compelled to pour all their ideas into three or four-minute symphonies for the kids.
The transatlantic split had begun to deepen, with America firmly in the driving seat. The UK chart might have been dominated by a succession of dreary ballads at #1 (‘Release Me’, ‘The Last Waltz’, ‘Silence is Golden’, ‘Let The Heartaches Begin’ etc) but the US had chart-toppers like ‘Light My Fire’, ‘Respect’, ‘Groovin’’ and, god bless the Strawberry Alarm Clock, ‘Incense And Peppermints’. The British equivalent of psychedelia had less of a look in at the top but resulted in fabulous Toytown hits like Simon Dupree’s ‘Kites’ and Traffic’s ‘Hole in My Shoe’.
The tension that made great pop was still there: by the next year, it would be dissipating further in the UK once the pirates were off the air and Radio 1 began its more restrictive playlist. By then, the cutting edge groups were concentrating on albums and standalone singles were falling by the wayside. The rock era had begun.