Various Artists

Hal Lifson's 1966

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Hal Lifson, one-time DJ for legendary KRLA in Los Angeles in the late '90s, has written a book, Hal Lifson's 1966, in which he takes a look at the culture and music of the year he calls the "coolest year in pop culture history." This disc is an audio document of that year. It includes radio commercials (the Yardbirds shilling for Great Shakes, a promo for the TNT show); themes to television shows like Batman, Star Trek, and The Newlywed Game; themes from movies like Our Man Flint and Time Tunnel; lots of cool memorabilia in the booklet; and great music. From the frat rock of "Double Shot of My Baby's Love" by the Swingin' Medallions to the insane garage rock of "Psychotic Reaction" to the ultra-pop of "You Baby" by the Turtles, America was rocking in 1966. (Britain was too, though not as much, since only the Yardbirds' "Shapes of Things" and the decidedly non-rocking "Who Am I?" by Petula Clark are included here). Along with some of the more obscure tracks, Lifson adds some of 1966's biggest hits, like "Good Vibrations" by the Beach Boys and "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" by Nancy Sinatra. The problem with a disc chosen by a personality, even one as relatively unknown as Lifson, is that you are at the whim of their often-narrow tastes. The obvious limitation of this disc is that, with the exception of the Capitols' "Cool Jerk," this disc is as white as Wonderbread. Where is Otis Redding? Where is Motown? 1966 was a huge year for them, with Stevie Wonder's "Up Tight (Everything's Alright)," the Temptations' "Beauty Is Only Skin Deep," and the Supremes' "You Keep Me Hanging On," to name just three. And while complaints are being registered, why the bland folk-rock of Bobby Darin's "If I Were a Carpenter" and not the Byrds' earth-shattering "8 Miles High"? Could it be licensing problems or just poor choices? Despite these strong concerns, the tracks that are here make for a fun hour of listening, and Lifson has a point that 1966 was an amazing year for music. It is just too bad that his choices present such a blinkered vision.

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