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1
(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman
Aretha Franklin
02:46
2
California Soul - Remastered 2000
The 5th Dimension
03:14
3
Little Bird - Remastered 2001
The Beach Boys
01:59
4
America
Simon & Garfunkel
03:35
5
The Amorous Humphrey Plugg
Scott Walker
04:28
6
Like Always
The Association
03:04
7
Big Sky - 2018 Stereo Remaster
The Kinks
02:52
8
Brief Candles - Mono Version
The Zombies
03:30
9
Flea Market
Gary McFarland
02:23
10
Hear My Call
Pentangle
03:03
11
Marcie
Joni Mitchell
04:35
12
Eli's Comin'
Laura Nyro
03:56
13
Bullitt - Main Title
Lalo Schifrin
02:08
14
Psychedelic Sally - Remastered
Horace Silver
07:14
15
While My Guitar Gently Weeps - Remastered 2009
The Beatles
04:45
16
Happiness Stan (Stereo)
Small Faces
03:34
17
Artificial Energy
The Byrds
02:18
18
Those Were The Days
Cream
02:53
19
House Burning Down
Jimi Hendrix
04:32
20
Jigsaw Puzzle - 50th Anniversary Edition
The Rolling Stones
06:06
21
Means To An End
Traffic
02:36
22
Flower In the Sun
Big Brother & The Holding Company, Janis Joplin
03:03
23
Hard Coming Love
The United States Of America
04:41
24
Are You Ready
Sly & The Family Stone
02:49
25
Not to Touch the Earth - 2018 Remaster
The Doors
03:54
26
I Heard Her Call My Name
The Velvet Underground
04:38
27
Defecting Grey
The Pretty Things
04:30
28
World In A Jug
Canned Heat
03:25
29
Love Help Me - 2000 Remastered Version
Deep Purple
03:49
30
If I Can Dream - Live from the '68 Comeback Special
Elvis Presley
03:20

1968 in Albums

1968 was a year of phenomenal music, a year when the album really begins to become regarded as important for an artist to be able to make a statement.

1968 was the year when the album, as a medium for an artist to send a message to an audience, began to supersede the three-minute single. And in that year the album began to reflect the state of political and social turmoil that the world was experiencing in a way that still wasn’t reflected in the pop charts. It’s as if the pop single represented the world as it once was, whereas rock, folk, and blues used the album to tell how it actually was. Hair is growing even longer, the music is getting louder, and revolution is in the air.

The Beatles (The White album), Stones (Beggars Banquet) and Hendrix (Electric Ladyland) still rule. The Kinks produce a masterpiece (The Village Green Preservation Society) that flops badly at the time, as do the Beach Boys (Friends). Aretha establishes herself as Soul Lady #1. 

We see the signs of what would become the singer-songwriter boom and the emergence of folk into the mainstream, both in the US and the UK (Joni Mitchell, Simon & Garfunkel, Laura Nyro, Pentangle), in a year that was a quiet one for Dylan. 

I have arranged the songs roughly in a soft-progressing-to-hard order to reflect the growing disharmony between a satisfied and outwardly happy consumer-oriented society and the peace-driven, anti-war anti-oppression protests against the old order; a move from harmony-driven easy listening pop (The Association, Fifth Dimension, Gary McFarland) towards guitar-driven psychedelic or blues-inflected rock (Deep Purple, Canned Heat, Janis Joplin). Soul, too, was getting a harder edge (Sly & The Family Stone) and I’ve included jazz cuts from Horace Silver and Lalo Schifrin’s classic theme for Steve McQueen’s equally classic movie Bullitt.

I have tried not to select the obvious, most popular tracks from each album. At least not in all cases. I hope that if you hear something you like it’ll lead you to discover a whole new album or artist.

In case anyone is wondering why Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks is not represented here the simple answer is I’ve never cared for it. My loss maybe, but I’ve tried, and it just doesn’t hit my music bone.  

But, in a year marked by the assassinations of Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy, the Prague Spring, the Paris riots, student protests, and Vietnam, we end with The King — the climax to Elvis’ “comeback” TV Special aired in December 1968. Elvis needed a big number to end the show. His manager demanded a schmaltzy Christmas song but Elvis wanted to make a statement, something to reflect his feelings of a world in need of change. Walter Earl Brown wrote it overnight for Elvis to record the next day. Elvis never sang better nor expressed his inner feelings more powerfully with “If I Can Dream”. Its message is as relevant now as it was 51 years ago.

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