by Alex Cosper (12/27/12)
The late sixties was still dominated by The Beatles and Motown and had transformed into an era where people wanted to explore beyond the hits. Freeform radio stations started spreading around America and artists began to focus on albums instead of singles, especially after The Sgt. Pepper album by The Beatles had become huge without releasing any singles. The Doors self-titled first album was also a masterpiece in 1967, opening the door to more album-driven tracks that broke the rules of hit singles.
The emergence of Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles White Album and psychedelic music opened the floodgates of creativity to amazing new territory. Progressive rock grew from rock artists experimenting with symphonic sounds on keyboards. Even a lot of the soul music of the era, including Motown hits, took on social commentary themes, such as "Love Child" by Diana Ross & The Supremes. Marvin Gaye's version of "I Heard It Through The Grapevine" and Aretha Franklin's "Respect" all carried heavy messages.
While freeform and psychedelia were flourishing, the AM radio dial was working on cutting certain songs out of the playlist. Many stations banned songs that used drug references or controversial messages. They began drifting toward a sound called "bubble gum," which was upbeat music with highly sweet melodies. "Sugar Sugar" by The Archies was the biggest of these bubble gum hits. Some artists, such as the 5th Dimension, used subtle orchestration to promote their message of peace.
By 1969 rock blossomed in many directions. Led Zeppelin introduced a new sound that some may call the beginning of hard rock. Creedence Clearwater Revival offered a more dance-driven countrified rock. Iggy Pop and MC5 began making garage rock that was later called early punk rock. Sly & The Family Stone successfully merged soul and rock. David Bowie's "A Space Oddity" also marked a new direction for rock where anything imaginable became possible. The idea that rock had no boundaries helped build its mysique for years to come.
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