I. “Hey, man, I’m selling my guitar so I can play the electric jug.”
Thinking about the early Bee Gees records reminded me that they were far from the only musicians to decide in 1967 that it was time to step up their ambitions. On both sides of the Atlantic, new and established acts alike could not help but hear the innovation happening around them. It was more than Sgt. Pepper and Revolver: the painstaking beauty of the Beach Boy’s Pet Sounds, the increasingly elaborate and emotional wordplay of Bob Dylan’s electric albums, and the fearless, avant-garde experimentation of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention on Freak Out! all helped to expand the definition of what pop and rock were capable of. And in 1967, there were no nationally-televised prime-time singing competitions, no radio conglomerates; was marketing, but marketing was new and willing to take chances. An artist could push the boundaries and get major-label deals and mainstream exposure.
The results were some terrific albums like those of the Brothers Gibb…and a lot of mediocre and just plain bad material. There’s only so many “electronic masses” and sound collages and electric jug bands a person can absorb without going insane.