Looking Through Time: The Albums of 1967

Story posted September 22, 2017 in Arts & Entertainment by Arts Staff.

With the anniversaries of cultural important albums sprouting up each and every year, the CommRadio Arts department will be diving into albums from select years and breaking down their impact. Here are the albums from 1967.

The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground and Nico

The Velvet Underground’s debut album, The Velvet Underground and Nico, pushed the boundaries of music at the time of its release while leaving a lasting influence on a generation of bands to follow. The album, which was released in March of 1967, explored rock music with a new intention through lyrics and purposeful tones which are difficult to miss throughout the tracks. The most notable fact regarding the record is the controversy that surrounded it upon its release. Music from this record was shunned for its evolution away from the typical pop sound that people were comfortable with from bands such as The Beatles. On this album, The Velvet Underground created simple songs to listen to with lyrics that explored taboo topics for music such as drugs and sex. Although the band did not intend for the record to be so alternative, after selling only 30,000 copies in the first five years, they were viewed as one of the pioneer bands in the alternative music scene. With the band’s bravery to take such a bold risk 50 years ago, The Velvet Underground and Nico has continued to inspire dozens of other bands such as U2, R.E.M. and The Talking Heads to experiment with music outside of the expected norm. – Jenna Minnig

The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

With the 50th anniversary of The Beatles critically acclaimed Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album already taking place in May, it is crucial not to forget the incredible significance this album has maintained throughout its timeless stature. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is a masterpiece dripping with genius. From its groundbreaking cover art and its extensive slate of engaging classics, to the innovative marketing tactics used to promote the album. There should be no question to why Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band caused extraordinary revisions to the exceedingly popular rock genre.

The first innovative aspect of this piece, the cover art, quickly subdues the attention of any record patron with its use of flashy, enticing colors. However, further analyzation of Jann Haworth and Peter Blake’s fantastic Grammy award winning pop art cover instantly reveals the endless complexities music faces within pop culture. It’s the idea of the cover art introducing both the bands ideology, as well as the personality of the industry that forms a new age of conceptual albums. This deep-level theoretical thinking prevalent throughout both vocal and visual content in Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is what establishes this piece as Fine Art and not just another hit album. 

The ingenious, unparalleled tactic employed in the distribution of this piece caused music consumers and production companies to turn onto their heads. The Beatles didn’t even promote a designated single for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. This was unheard of at the time. Doing this allowed The Beatles to receive an increased capitalization on their product as audiences couldn’t purchase a singular portion of their work, driving a demand for the album as a whole. Even radio shows began playing the entirety of The Beatles creation, unaware of what song could please the masses. Its triumphs in breaking down the normalities within traditional rock infrastructure represents why this album achieved overwhelming acclaim. – JonMichael Pereira

Leonard Cohen – Songs of Leonard Cohen

Just as Bob Dylan had established the conventions for the modern singer/songwriter, Leonard Cohen challenged almost every one of those convention of the genre with Songs of Leonard Cohen. Purposefully devoid of political stances or offering cultural commentary, Songs of Leonard Cohen instead is a mystic journey through the narratives of a man who could turn a phrase like few who have followed him in the fifty years since the album’s release. Cohen never wastes a single verse, chorus or musical moment as he paves the road on which his songs’ narrators wander. These narrators never find an end nor an answer to the philosophical metaphors Cohen entangles them in, but that’s precisely why Songs of Leonard Cohen continues to hold up and influence every significant singer/songwriter. These lyrical passages and their musical accompaniments offer the listener an experience, but leaves them to take from it what they can find, not what Cohen gives them. This trick is present from the opening moments of the first track “Suzanne,” where Cohen sings about you, the listener, and your journey with the mysterious lover you long for and your longing to be saved by a greater power who perfectly understands your human struggles. While his physical presence may have left Earth in 2016, Songs of Leonard Cohen ensures his longevity for the rest of mankind's existence. It taps into the existential threads that unite all people in a way no piece of art had quite done before it and that none has quite replicated since. – Chandler Copenheaver

The Doors – The Doors

It’s amazing the cultural, social and even historical impact debuts can have in the music, film and literature genres. For some artists, debuts can be just a simple dipping of the toe in the pool of an extensive industry. It can go unnoticed for weeks. For others, like for musical legends The Doors, their debut album, which released the first week of January in 1967, left a monumental legacy on themselves and the music they made. Their self-titled album made a steady, but influential, climb up the Billboard 200 in 1967 and by September the album was ranked number 2 on the list, right behind rock icons The Beatles.

In only 9 months, the L.A natives, who had only been playing together for a year, were being spoken alongside names like John Lennon, Davy Jones and Diana Ross. Jim Morrison, known as the Lizard King, would quickly find himself said amongst these names. The Doors self-titled album features songs that are, and forever will be, iconic, with examples like the first song on the albu, “Break on Through (to the Other Side),” their side A ending single “Light My Fire,” which is currently ranked 35 in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, “20th Century fox” and ending with the widely known spoken word, 12 minute psychedelic song “The End.”  The album is a total psychedelic rock aesthetic, feel and vibe and forever will be renowned in the genre as one of the greatest albums of all time. – Lilly Adams


Jenna Minnig is a freshman majoring in journalism. To contact her, email jkm5756@psu.edu.

JonMichael Pereira is a freshman majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email jqp5759@psu.edu.

Chandler Copenheaver is a senior majoring in public relations. To contact him, email chandlercopenheaver@gmail.com.

Lilly Adams is a freshman majoring in film/video studies. To contact her, email lillyadams11@gmail.com.

About the Contributors

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Senior / Public Relations

Chandler Copenheaver is a Production Director and Arts Director of CommRadio who has been a member of CommRadio since the spring of 2015. Chandler’s responsibilities entail managing the production department, managing the arts department, creating audio commercials for CommRadio and external organizations, scheduling commercial blocks, and writing editorial content related to the arts. Chandler Copenheaver has worked most recently at Arlington Thrive in Arlington, VA as a Development & Program Intern, WellSpan Health in South Central PA as a Public Relations & Marketing Intern and served as a teaching assistant for the Penn State course BiSci 3 Environmental Science. Chandler aims to work in the fields of Public Relations, Communications Strategy or Communications Management. Follow him on Twitter @C_Copenheaver or email him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).