Wednesday, August 16, 2017
FM Rock: August 1968
Another month, another dozen stations switching to the progressive rock format. This month marks one full year since Tom Donahue initiated his experiment in radio programming at KMPX-FM and to say it has been a success would be an understatement. KOIT-FM in San Francisco has taken the idea to a new place by focusing on soul music, playing album cuts by Aretha and Otis. This progressive seed that has been sowed across the nation will eventually bloom into a show called The Quiet Storm, pioneered by Washington, D.C. station WHUR-FM in the 1970's and which still airs every weeknight to this day on the station. It features mellow relaxing soul music intended to tell a story of love often using lengthy album cuts and has been so popular, the term "quiet storm" is often used as a genre description. Hopping over to another genre, country music, Buck Owens made the decision in August of '68 to switch the programming for two of the radio stations he owned from country to progressive rock - make of that what you will!
Musically, August '68 was a big month - new Beatles and Stones singles (the Beatles single marking the arrival of their own imprint, Apple), with both 45s packing a political bite to match the current atmosphere. A new Jimi Hendrix single arrived as well as the long awaited Big Brother & The Holding Co. album featuring Janis Joplin and the final Buffalo Springfield album. The Moody Blues continue their progressive journey with another strong album and the Bee Gees show their natural ability to stay contemporary on their new (and very progressive) album "Idea", the title track of which has a very blistering guitar solo....heavy!
Though Glen Campbell's records generally fall outside the scope of what we're exploring in this series, I am glad that I can at least mark his passing by including "My World Fell Down" by Sagittarius in this mix as the Sagittarius album was released in August of '68. The single itself was released back in '67 and was actually much more adventurous including a brilliantly abstract breakdown, but was tamed down considerably for the album version included here - but it still features Glen's versatile vocal on the mournful sounding verses. Farewell to a very talented artist who transcended genres and has left behind an amazing catalogue of works.