Revisit 1968 through the year's albums
Image: Elektra Records
When it comes to music, does any decade really beat the 1960s? Not only was it one of the most transitional decades in American history, but man, the music was just so good. In celebration of February’s airings of Decades Presents: 1968 - The Music, let’s travel through 1968 and look back at some of the year's albums: Some that hit No. 1, some that you honestly haven't thought about since 1968 and some that'll inspire you to revisit an old favorite.
White Light/White Heat by The Velvet Underground
Release date: January 30
What’s funny about White Light/White Heat is the fact that it was The Velvet Underground’s attempt to distance itself from Andy Warhol and Nico after The Velvet Underground & Nico flopped critically and financially the year before. Though White Light/White Heat was more successful at the time, these days, it tends to be eclipsed by the band’s previous release.
Horizontal by The Bee Gees
Release date: February 5
This psychedelic album was the group’s fourth album, but only the second to get an international release. Pre-disco Bee Gees is also one of the most underrated music acts of all time.
Dionne Warwick in Valley of the Dolls by Dionne Warwick
Release date: March 23
The late ‘60s were a real chronology of Valley of the Dolls. The novel by Jacqueline Susann was released in 1966, the film starring Sharon Tate, Barbara Parkins and Patty Duke was released in 1967, and R&B star Dionne Warwick released her tenth album which featured the theme from the movie.
Bookends by Simon & Garfunkel
Release date: April 3
Though everyone knows “Mrs. Robinson” from the soundtrack to The Graduate, a lot of the album actually consisted of songs that were passed over for the film. Movie producers opted to use older material like Sounds of Silence and Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme multiple times throughout the film.
Just Because I’m a Woman by Dolly Parton
Release date: May 4
Nobody shames Dolly! This album and title track was a reference to a boyfriend who judged her for her previous romantic relationships despite having a similar past himself — and she wasn’t havin’ it. While this kind of talk isn’t anything new these days, this was an edgy stance to take back in 1968.
Aretha Now by Aretha Franklin
Release date: June 14
This the second of THREE albums Franklin released in 1968, and her fifteenth overall. Granted, the third was a live album but that’s seriously impressive. Did we mention she was only 26 years old?
Waiting for the Sun by The Doors
Release date: July 3
Though Waiting for the Sun ended up being the only album by The Doors to hit No. 1 on the chart in the US, it wasn’t an easy album for the band to produce. It took a long time to write and they were running out of material. Luckily, they had “Hello, I Love You” up their sleeves.
Truth by Jeff Beck
Release date: August 1
The debut album by the former member of The Yardbirds took many by surprise when it turned out to be heavier and more bluesy than anything The Yardbirds did with him in the band. Fifty years later, it’s still considered a highly influential album in the genres of metal and hard rock.
Crown of Creation by Jefferson Airplane
Release date: September 1
Crown of Creation is the type of album that you probably forget about, especially considering all of the gems that Jefferson Airplane/Starship produced. However, when you revisit it, you think, “Why don’t I listen to this more?” It was a commercial and critical success upon its release.
Electric Ladyland by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Release date: October 16
If you weren’t listening to psychedelic rock in 1968, you were missing out. Electric Ladyland was loaded with hits, such as the cover of the Bob Dylan track “All Along the Watchtower” and “Voodoo Chile.” Unfortunately, it was the last album Hendrix released with The Experience.
The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society by The Kinks
Release date: November 22
They say hindsight is 20/20, and that couldn’t be more relevant than when it comes to The Kinks. Village Green wasn’t particularly successful upon release — it only sold 100,000 copies, despite receiving overall positive reviews. However, it’s gone down to be regarded as The Kinks’ best release and even made the list of Rolling Stone’s 500 greatest albums of all time. Again:
Head by The Monkees
Release date: December 1
What better way to ring in the holiday season than with another Monkees album? Really, it seemed like there had to be more than one Monkees in the ‘60s with how much material those guys were putting out. Head was the band’s only theatrical release, and it didn’t get a lot of talk, so this album was a bit lost, but gosh, it was good.