Conventional wisdom says after the Beatles enshrined the LP’s importance over the 45 single with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967 that LPs became the ultimate format until the iPod brought back the single.
Conventional wisdom is silly, since albums such as Rubber Soul, The Kinks’ Face to Face, Elvis Presley and every jazz album ever made proved the importance of the LP before Sgt. Pepper’s.
Listed below are the 12 albums that hung to the #1 spot in 1968 in chronological order, based on the first week the album hit #1, with the (#) indicating the number of weeks it remained there.
12) Magical Mystery Tour — The Beatles (8): The film puzzled fans, but finally the US release bested the UK edition with the addition of “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever.”
11) Blooming Hits — Paul Mauriat and His Orchestra (5): Orchestras were on their way out, but not without a fight. Besides, the Moody Blues, Procol Harum, and eventually Metallica would invite them back!
10) The Graduate — Simon & Garfunkel/ Soundtrack (7) + (2): Interesting to see Simon & Garfunkel playing footsie with themselves as this soundtrack album battled their official album Bookends for the #1 slot.
9) Bookends — Simon & Garfunkel (3) + (4): Educated consumers opted for a full album of new tunes.
8) The Beat of the Brass — Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass (2): It’s called variety and it gave the charts the feeling that more than one generation was being marketed to.
7) Wheels of Fire — Cream (4): Of all the bands to land a #1 album. And a double album? Nothing stops a teenager with money!
6) Waiting for the Sun — The Doors (3) + (1): New generations continue to purchase their albums, but even the first time around the Doors attracted pop music fans and wannabe poets.
5) Time Peace: The Rascals’ Greatest Hits (1): Greatest Hits albums feel like cheating. Of course they’re better than most albums. They have ALL the hits!
4) Cheap Thrills — Big Brother and the Holding Company (5) + (3): Plenty of people felt Big Brother were not up to Joplin’s level, but it’s disrespectful, IMHO, to complain about a band that made this much chaos.
3) Electric Ladyland — Jimi Hendrix Experience (2): Of all the musicians to die young back then, none affected the music more than Hendrix. Sure, he could’ve gone into a mid-70s slump like his contemporaries, but it sure seemed like he was beyond his fellow musicians.
2) Wichita Lineman — Glen Campbell (1): There were also four non-consecutive weeks at #1 in 1969, proving that with a title track this good, fans want to know what’s inside.
1) The Beatles (The White Album) — The Beatles (1): 1969 would see eight more non-consecutive weeks at #1. The Beatles dominated the charts the way your parents once dominated your life and made you visit all those relatives you didn’t want to see.