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Sounds of '68

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From psychedelic rock to country and jazz, the soundtrack of 1968 was a kaleidoscope of sounds. 

Just
take a look at the colorful tapestry of album sleeves decorating a
portion of "The 1968 Exhibit." Stroll around and you'll see only a few
of the hundreds of records released that year. They include Canadian
folk songstress Joni Mitchell's debut double-album "Song to a Seagull"; 
Diana Ross & the Supremes "Love Child," a record whose number one
single told the story of a child born out of wedlock, and
singer-songwriter Johnny Cash's "At Folsom Prison," an emotional set of
songs played in a California penitentiary. From avant-garde jazz to
stirring soul, 1968 seemed to have it all. 

Here's a look at some of the year's musical moments:

The Rise of the Fillmore East

In
March, Bay Area rock promoter Bill Graham opened the Fillmore East in an
abandoned theater in New York City. The space was dubbed  "the Church
of Rock n' Roll" and featured two nightly shows and a number of the
period's best known acts. Many live albums were recorded there including
sets by the Allman Brothers, the Grateful Dead and Miles Davis. 

Brown soothes Boston

One day after the April 4
assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., soul
singer James Brown took the stage in Boston to perform a stirring batch
of songs. The concert was broadcast on public television, and it is said
to have kept many from rioting in the streets.

'Age of Aquarius'

On April 29,
the musical "Hair" shook off its off-Broadway trappings and leapt into
the big time. Set in New York City, the Broadway show explored themes
near and dear to the counterculture including drug use, sex, war and
race. A worldwide smash, the rock opera spawned a Grammy-winning live
recording featuring the original cast.

The White Album

Following
a sojourn in India to soak up the teachings of guru and Transcendental
Meditation founder Maharishi Mahesh Yogi,  The Beatles hunkered down to
record a self-titled album that is known more popularly as "the White
Album."  The double-LP boasted a range of genres including psychedelic
rock, country, classical and vintage music hall and spawned the hits
"Hey Jude" and "Revolution." Unfortunately, the album was linked to the
brutal 1969 Charles Manson murders that put a tragic end to the decade. 

World beat

1968
was musically significant in other parts of the world. Brazilian
singer-songwriter Caetano Veloso released his first album, a self-titled
affair melding poetry, traditional Brazilian music, psychedelia and
pop; Jamaican reggae singer Bob Marley and his bandmates Rita Marley,
Bunny Livingston and Peter Tosh were working hard to nail down a
commercial sound.  Malian musician Ali Farka Toure had just bought his
first guitar and was busy soaking up the music of James Brown, Otis
Redding, John Lee Hooker and other blues luminaries. 

Revolutionary rhythms

Although
they didn't release their debut album until 1970, Harlem-based The Last
Poets trace their roots back to 1968. It was then that members Abiodun
Oyewole, Jalal Mansur Nuriddin and Umar Bin Hassan formed a musical
group that placed radical poetry against a soundtrack of drumming and
jazz. Inspiration came from the politics of the Black Panther Party and
the African American experience. 

The
year's albums included Van Morrison's "Astral Weeks"; Marvin Gaye's "I
Heard It Through the Grapevine"; "The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter" by
the Incredible String Band; Pink Floyd's "A Saucerful of Secrets"; The
Velvet Underground's "White Light/White Heat" ; "Dance to the Music" by
Sly and the Family Stone and Jimmy Hendrix's "Electric Ladyland." Top
hits included Otis Redding's "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay"; Simon
& Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson"; "Grazing in the Grass" by Hugh
Masekela and The Beatles' "Hello, Goodbye."