Album Of The Year: 1967

The idea behind this ‘series’ is that once every two weeks another year will be brought into attention, starting with 1963 and moving onward chronologically. One and only one album will be selected and written about from each year, the criteria being a mix of personal preference and historical relevance. If you stumble upon this article by any chance and end up not clicking the ‘x’ button in disgust, keep in mind that I would love to hear your choice for the respective year – from a simple comment stating the album’s name, to detailed analysis that will destroy my argument and make me reconsider my reasoning. Remember, one of the main reasons I’m doing this is to get a better perspective of what albums I’ve missed out on, from each period of time.

Today’s Pick: The Velvet UndergroundThe Velvet Underground & Nico

the-velvet-underground--nico-4f7bf700d18cc

I must admit, I’ve always found it difficult to come up with a short and concise answer when asked “What kind of music do you listen to?”. If I say “oh, just about everything” I’ll sound like one of those persons whose only daily contact to music is turning the radio on for 20 minutes on the way to work and listening to whatever’s on. I’m not big on naming specific genres either. First because they usually come with preconceptions attached to them such as “Country music is so formulaic that it all sounds the same” or even worse, “Rock?! You mean you worship Satan?”. And second, how does one classify, say, The Beatles as? Is there a single term that can seriously comprise every song they’ve ever done? Didn’t think so either.

However, if there is a word that can characterize a good deal of my favourite albums, it’s intriguing. It’s true, I’ve always been attracted to things that stand out for better or for worse, and that have an interesting story behind them. ‘Velvet Underground & Nico’ is, simply put, the definition of intriguing. It’s one of those records that sold few copies upon release, but whose popularity and influence grew gradually as time went by. Meeting a Velvet Underground fan in 1967 was probably as hard of a task as it is today to find a “best albums of all-time” list that doesn’t feature this album. Another aspect that makes it so unique is its eclectic blend of personalities and styles, in many ways reminiscent of the whole ‘Warhol factory’ scene it came from – a place where everyone got a chance to express their creativity, however weird and unconventional, and regardless of the art form they chose as medium.

And then there’s the album itself. To say that each song is a highlight is to say nothing – the Velvet Underground seem to re-invent the rules of music-making over and over again as the album progresses. Simply put, there are no two tracks that sound alike and you’d struggle to find precursors in the 60’s pop music for many of them. If there is one thing that they have in common, and that somehow assures the flow of the album, it’s that they’re all so goddamn brilliant. A rare case in which a song-by-song analysis would actually work just as much as discussing the album as a whole.

To be honest, the main reason why it took me so long to post this article is because I had the hardest of time deciding upon the album that I’ll talk about. It will come as no surprise to you when I say this, but the number of artists reaching their peak in 1967 almost equals that of female celebrities that John Mayer dated. But in the end, as much as I would love picturing myself in a boat on a river, lying on an eiderdown, thinking I’m happy then becoming happy as a result of that, singing together with everybody and seeing what will happen, a good old afternoon tea, a sweet little foxy lady or simply relaxing and settling down, none of them creates such a strong impression on both my heart and my brain as does Velvet Underground’s hard-hitting street-poetry.

Do you agree? What’s your favourite album from 1967?

Find the previous parts here: 196319641965, 1966

 

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12 replies

  1. No argument from the cave-Lou Reed and Warhol. Great choice!

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  2. It took me many years to buy this record and even more years to really listen to it, I don’t live in New York and have never tried heroin so I couldn’t identify with it at all. Oddly enough Heroin’s inclusion in The Doors movie got me started on Vellvet Underground. But now that’s one of the reasons I enjoy the album now because it is a totally different world. I love your observation about the difficulty of finding VU fans but how easy it is to find on best of lists, so true. VU & Nico has had a very consistent shelf life for critics even Sgt. Pepper’s has had its ups and downs as far as its popularity on best of list. I personally have to go with Are You Experienced since it was the first Hendrix record I listened to and it has left the longest lasting impression on me (And I Love Sgt. Pepper’s).

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  3. Great choice for album of the year 1967, Ovidiu, and an excellent write-up. It’s not my favorite but I do have a strong connection to it that started in 2001. Living in NYC, as you can imagine that was a traumatic year for me & everyone I knew. My band at the time was hosting a Halloween party, less than 2 months after the 9/11 attacks, where we performed the entire VU+Nico album with special guest vocalists for each song. It was a cathartic experience listening to the album dozens of times as I learned the exact drumming patterns on every song, and that party is remembered fondly by everyone who attended…and the album is still my favorite by VU.

    As for my particular favorite from ’67, I can’t narrow it down to just one. I was only a 1-year-old in ’67 so I came to all of the great music released that year when I was in my teens & 20s. Here are the albums I’ve loved the longest:
    Cream – Disraeli Gears (I had the album cover painted on the back of a denim jacket in high school)
    Pink Floyd – The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
    The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Magical Mystery Tour
    Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced? and Axis: Bold As Love
    The Rolling Stones – Between The Buttons
    The Who – Sell Out
    Traffic – Dear Mr. Fantasy

    Other 1967 I fell in love with in later years, all of which are worthy of being album of the year:
    Leonard Cohen – Songs Of Leonard Cohen
    Aretha Franklin – I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You
    Vanilla Fudge – Vanilla Fudge
    The Kinks – Something Else
    Love – Forever Changes

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    • Nice to see you again, Rich, interesting anecdote as well as choices. Kudos for Aretha Franklin in particular, an amazing album which I did consider at some point. Are you familiar with other stuff of hers? What is worth exploring?

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      • I have a couple of other Aretha studio albums, and “Lady Soul” is the best of them. “Aretha Live At The Fillmore West” is an astounding concert recording. I’m sure others might disagree, but the 1992 4-CD “Queen Of Soul: The Atlantic Recordings” box set might be all you need from her beyond a handful of key individual albums.

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  4. Great choice, and well defended. As said, the complete dichotomy between lack of VU fans in 1967 and the hallowed status of this LP nowadays is amazing and a great argument for its fearless artistry. But I also love good ol’ hippie/acid rock so I’ll put in my two cents for Jefferson Airplane’s “After Bathing at Baxters.”

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    • Nice thoughts, sir. I like the Airplane all right, but Baxter’s is a bit too excessive for me. They did better earlier that year with ‘Surrealistic Pillow’, I feel.

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      • Yeah, most people don’t like Baxter’s as well as me but I was looking a little outside the box, just like the Airplane, they were way outside the box with that LP, but that can be good. If I was going to make a more sober choice, I’d go with “Who Sell Out” and “Something Else” too, along with VU. These single LP choices are great discussion starters.

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  5. Love the album to death, and I’d put it at the top of 1967 as well, but frankly, they made 2 better albums right after.

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  6. This is an album I want to like more – many artists I quite like have been influenced by it but as of yet, I haven’t fully understood its appeal. Your review makes me want to give it another chance though.

    I enjoy that description: intriguing. And for sure, how does one go about classifying The Beatles? It just can’t be done!

    My top 3 from ’67:
    3. Something Else
    2. The Who Sell Out
    1. Sgt. Pepper – but the Who’s gaining on it!

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  7. “Intriguing” is how I will now describe my favorite albums, should someone ask. Great descriptive word. One of my favorite “intriguing” albums, full of swirling psychedelia echoing the best of the Beach Boys and the Beatles, is Giant Steps by the Boo Radleys. It came out in 1993, and sounds nothing like the date is which it was released. From what I’ve read of your blog thus far I kind of think you may dig it!

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