Move Over! It's the 1960's and Here Comes Rock 'n Roll! by Ronnie Slade
By the time album sales overtook singles in Britain and America in 1967, the LP's principal purchasers were teenagers and the prevailing repertoire was pop and rock - not the soundtracks, Broadway show scores and easy - listening favourites of the 1950s. Indeed rock-band recordings from the last third of the 1960s account for more than half of the decades best sellers.
This dramatic turn of events owed much to The Beatles, whose arrival supercharged both the business engine and the aural aesthetic of popular music. Armed with new resources and inspiration, late-1960s musicians embarked on artistic ventures undreamed of only a few years before. These albums contained much highly innovative music and the freedom from prior restraints generated such musical milestones as Jimi Hendrix's Are You Experienced? and Van Morrison's Moondance.
The massive commercial success of rock led to the development of whole new sub-genres, each sparking its own hugely popular works. Led Zeppelin helped create the heavy metal genre and bands such as Blood, Sweat and Tears and Chicago experimented with brass-assisted rock.
So great was the young public's appetite for the new music that a fresh radio format, FM, emerged to expose the wealth of releases that could not be accommodated by AM Top 40 stations with their restrictions on record length and subject matter. Further fallout from the album-rock era was an increased attention to packaging, which can be seen on the rich diversity of designs featured in the Top 20. Another expression of this trend could be seen in the development of the promotional music video. The Monkees' musical success was increased by their frequent appearances on television.
Later 1960s non-rock artists benefited greatly from the expanded album-buying market, especially if they had some connection to the rock audience. Johnny Cash's At Folsom Prison and At San Quentin are a case in point. The singer's iconoclastic stance and irreverent material drew fans from the college crowd as much as it did older country fans, which helped boost sales of Folsom past the 3 million mark.
The new album format provided pop musicians with a whole new palette in which to work. In 1959, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) reported total phonograph-record sales of $603 million. By 1969, these sales had reached almost $1.6 billion. The sales figures for the decade suggest that in the 1960s the public's musical expectations were being met, regularly and richly. The fact that so many of the albums of the 1960s continue to be bought today - in many cases by members of generations unborn at the time of the records' initial release - says even more than the statistics.
For a great selection of 1960s music please visit our site at http://www.essential-music.co.uk and take yourself back to a place in time!
Thank you for reading - Ronnie Slade.