Liner Note Author: Jon Savage .
Illustrator: Jon Savage .
Assembled by Jon Savage as a soundtrack to his book 1966: The Year The Decade Exploded, Ace's double-disc set of the same name does indeed bring his words to life, but it's not necessary to read his book to find this 48-track collection thrilling. The genius behind 1966: The Year the Decade Exploded is in its compilation. Savage assembled 1966 by relying equally on research and memory, intending to replicate the impact of the pop-art eruptions and the groovy swing of R&B, not to mention the nascent psychedelia floating in from the west coast of the U.S., the trash rock emanating from the American suburbs, and more than a hint of Britain's overheated music hall vaudeville and blistering style of Mod. There may be no Beatles, Stones, Bob Dylan, or the Kinks, but their impact can be felt throughout, whether it's through Tim Hardin, the Velvet Underground, and the Who -- heavy-hitters that help anchor this collection -- or with familiar songs by Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, the Four Tops, the Supremes, and James Brown. What matters are not these staples but what happens in the margins, which are occupied not just by cult favorites -- mainly some variation of psych or garage rock, but there's a fair amount of soul as well -- but by absolutely obscure and cracking singles that help re-create the electricity of 1966 and provide a considerable jolt to the warhorses, so they sound vital and alive again. It's this context that makes 1966: The Year the Decade Exploded so valuable: the juxtapositions and transitions do indeed seem like an inspired creative blast, making a convincing case that this -- not 1964, 1967, or 1968 -- was the pivotal year of the '60s. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine