Looking back at my posts, I notice that I’ve avoided the year 1967. Not so much because of a lack of material. Indeed not. In fact, I have not addressed the year in depth because it was such a significant year, personally and musically. A few notables…
1. The Summer of Love (as summer ’67 was dubbed)
2. Monterey Pop
3. Expo ’67 in Montreal
4. Canada’s Centennial
5. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
6. My family opened a new restaurant in our village and
7. My first full year of high school!
and so on and so on…
I remember the year as one which saw my parents purchase a rather decrepit storefront along our village main street and (with a lot of elbow grease) transform it into a decent little restaurant. A fair amount of time that year was devoted to renovating the upper floor of the building to create (or recreate) a habitable apartment. And no teenager (at least, of my acquaintance at the time) participates in that sort of thing without a radio nearby.
I mentioned that our obscurity submission #3 (Tranquility’s Where You Are) was an indulgence which would not have occurred circa 1966. I’ll explain indulgence by referring to three albums which topped the charts in 1967 (no obscurities here!)
Exhibit A Sgt.Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band The Beatles
The album probably merits a post unto itself (if not a book) but, for our purposes, it is significant because, as innovative as it was and as popular as it was, it produced no singles. Does that mean that the album received no airplay? Au contraire! The album was number one for fifteen weeks in the U.S. and stayed on the charts (top 200) for almost 200 weeks in the U.S.(and longer in Britain).
Was it the first or only album to ignore the “single” in favour of the “album”? No… but as the “soundtrack of the summer of love” its influence on the marketing of popular music was unquestionable.
Exhibit B The Doors and Light My Fire
If you dig back through my posts to one titled 1966, you will find reference to Terry Kirkman’s comments about trying to get Cherish airplay by playing the “game” (playing the song faster than he had wanted/speeding up the recorded result/lying about the actual length on the label). Now, just one year later a band like The Doors brings out Light My Fire and radio stations are actually playing the “full version” (proudly, I might add). Yes, there is an abbreviated ’45 version pressed as well… but it is a matter of closing the gate after the horses have escaped. Here’s the “indulgent” version of the song…
… all 7 minutes and 9 seconds worth!
Exhibit C The Association Windy and Insight Out
Ah, but that’s The Doors you say (subversives that they were!)… so why am I including a group like The Association and their 1967 album Insight Out in this discussion. Well, as I was tearing apart and painting in the apartment that summer I remember how both these songs (Light My Fire and Windy) dominated the airwaves. Throw in a Never My Love and you might think of The Association as purely a “singles band”. If you were to listen to the entire album you might think differently. And that’s exactly what one FM station of the time invited listeners to do! I remember altering my listening habits about that time to include FM radio… now (in 1967) making inroads into the youth market. This station (I think, out of Detroit) invited listeners on a Saturday evening to join in hearing various popular new albums in their entirity… a different album every week! And Insight Out was one of the featured albums that summer. So listeners were now being exposed to songs which weren’t even singles (and, as I pointed out in Exhibit A, sometimes there were no singles). This discussion wouldn’t be complete without a listen (on vinyl) to this quintessential pop song of ’67 (#1 on the charts for four weeks beginning on July 1st,1967 and followed by Light My Fire as #1)…
My point… (and there was one)
When Tranquility indulged in their elongated version of Where You Are (obs. #3), they were able to do so (and I was able to hear it on the radio) because
1. singles (ie. 45’s) were no longer the sole source of material for pop radio stations
2. longer songs could expect airplay along with their “sub 3-minute” fellows (in the right circumstances)
3. AM radio was being challenged by its FM counterpart (better fidelity [often in stereo] and a more flexible programming format).