When I think of my favorite music of the 1960s, I think of soul music. Specifically: driving bass lines, tambourine claps, and people yell-singing... essentially the song "Shotgun" and anything like it.
Booker T. & the M.G.'s released their album Green Onions during the 1964 award cycle. The lead track, also named "Green Onions", reminded me that my favorite music of the 60s is coming up and I got the most excited about it.
I also felt like the sound was sneaking up on me. Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder pinged my radar last year, but did I miss some of the transition albums that would lead to this new era? I decided to go back and revisit 1963, again.
In my re-revisiting travels, I found some singles that helped form that transition. Among them, The Contours' "Do You Love Me" was released in 1962, as was Loco-Motion, written by songwriting assassin Carole King and originally performed by her former babysitter!
I didn't look at singles for too long, because that would make this project rather overwhelming. However, here's a quick re-revisit of albums from the 1963 Album of the Year award cycle.
Aretha Franklin; The Supremes
First up is the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. She's not in full-blown Queen of Soul mode, yet, which is probably why I didn't originally mention the album.[1:1] That said, a song like "It's So Heartbreaking" shows flashes of the future.
The Supremes' Meet The Supremes also doesn't have the full Shotgun sound. Songs like the lead track, "Your Heart Belongs To Me", sound like they could be a part of the Enchantment Under The Sea dance. Recording quality aside, it feels similar to "Love Is Strange" by Mickey and Sylvia, which is from 1956.
However, once again we see glimpses of the future with songs like "Buttered Popcorn".
Two more (non-soul) albums
Since we're revisiting 1963, here are two more definitely-not-soul albums that are interesting.
Surfer's Choice by Dick Dale and his Del-Tone's
I always knew that "Surf Rock" was a thing. I never fully processed that it was a thing with a beginning. As in, there was a time when surf rock didn't exist, then someone invented it, and then it was a thing.
I also never really processed that Surf Rock was something that actually existed as its own thing. My main exposure to Surf Rock is when a movie uses it to evoke a certain sort of feeling from the audience[1:2]. But here is an album of it, just for the sake of having an album of it. It's weird to think about. But the album is actually okay.
All The Sad Young Men by Anita O'Day
I'm not exactly sure why, but I like this album a surprising amount. If I figure it out, I'll let you know.
We'll talk about this more in part two, but really, guys? 1964 is a really weird list of nominees.
In the Grammys' defense, Barbra Streisand's album was the strongest of the 1964 nominee list, and it did win the award.
In their complete non-defense, this is the second straight year they've basically had a list of nonsense.
It's similar to when I first heard the "falling in love" music in its natural habitat: Tchaikovsky's Romeo and Juliet (which is great, for the record). Prior to that point, I only knew it as the music that plays when falling in love happens, and mostly as a parody... like in a pizza commercial or something. ↩︎ ↩︎ ↩︎