The archetypal ‘cult album’ whose impact on alternative rock music is incalculably vast, ‘The Velvet Underground & Nico’ turns 50 years old.
by Ed Biggs By the time 1966 rolled around, The Beatles had unquestionably re-asserted their primacy in British pop music as a creative force, in addition to their long-standing commercial triumphs which had never shown any sign of flagging. Rubber Soul, hot on the heels of Help! in 1965, had been one of pop’s greatest artistic achievements, and their relentless touring schedule had ground on in the face of exhaustion. But
by Ed Biggs The final instalment of the triptych of masterpieces that made up Bob Dylan’s imperial phase of the mid-1960s, Blonde On Blonde is arguably the most impressive album he has ever recorded. Thought to be the first ever ‘double album’ in rock history, his seventh album is an exhaustive (but not exhausting) tour through Dylan’s ever-evolving musical and songwriting repertoire.
by Ed Biggs Given the endless summers, sun, surfing and convertibles with which The Beach Boys’ early career is always associated, the manner in which they delivered Pet Sounds, one of the very first undisputed masterpieces in pop, was rather curious and somewhat unexpected. Its release certainly blindsided many at the time, as critics were baffled by this resplendent, carefully orchestrated and not entirely danceable song cycle of love, heartbreak, depression,
by Ed Biggs The story of The Monks would surely have been written for a movie script if it hadn’t actually happened in real life. You can picture it on the big screen: five American GIs stationed in Germany during the ‘60s pop revolution and the outbreak of the Vietnam War, form their own group out of frustration and boredom. Honing their basic garage rock sound into guttural, twisted but undeniably
by Ed Biggs Given that their 1970 swansong Bridge Over Troubled Water is one of the biggest selling albums of all time, Simon & Garfunkel’s career started inauspiciously to say the least. Having started life as the squeaky clean teen harmony duo Tom & Jerry, their 1964 debut under their own names, Wednesday Morning, 3 AM, disappeared without trace.
by Ed Biggs 1965 proved to be the making of The Beatles as a long-term artistic force. In an era where careers could be over within months, never mind years, the band had enjoyed a dazzling run of creativity and bagged a shedload of hit singles in the first three years of their career, but by 1965 were at risk of being outflanked by newcomers. The Who and The Rolling Stones
by Ed Biggs With important albums turning 50 years old in the next 12 months, it’s perfectly arguable that Bob Dylan is the greatest artist of the 1960s, whose willingness to experiment with what pop music could sound like, and what topics it could address, predates even that of The Beatles. Fans often cite the three albums he made in 1965 and 1966 as his golden age, which saw him make
by Ed Biggs As both we and many others studying them have said before, The Beatles are a deceptively simple band to analyse, since so much of their fame and so many of their achievements look inevitable or preordained with the benefit of hindsight. However, their epoch-defining success was not as smooth as a cursory glance makes it appear. Mid-1965 presented the first of (arguably) two existential crises they faced in
by Ed Biggs It may not seem like it sometimes, but there’s a good reason why some people go on, and on, and on about Bob Dylan: it is quite impossible to overstate the influence he had upon the sound and structure of popular music. He was arguably the first pop musician to use the album format as vehicle to make an artistic statement – before 1964, the album was