heard on the wire

The day that Brussels burned

On May 22, 1967, fire engulfed L’Innovation department store in Brussels, killing 322 people and sparking cold war controversy. It was a tragedy in a year of tragedies that included the escalation of the Vietnam war — or American War as the Vietnamese call it, the start of the horrendous and doomed fight for Biafran independence in Nigeria, flooding that killed 462 people in Lisbon and the Stockport Air Disaster. And The Doors released their first LP.

On a brighter note, the Kray brothers reign of terror in London’s East End came to an end, after both were convicted of murder and the UK parliament decriminalised homosexuality. Sweden’s H-Day accomplished the not inconsiderable feat of switching from driving on the left to the right — overnight — while the small town of Winneconne seceded from the state of Wisconsin after being left off the state’s official road map. Secession lasted a day.

Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was the musical event of the year, but it wasn’t really that good. Much better was the Velvet Underground’s debut with the Warhol banana on the cover. In Jamaica, ska mutated into rocksteady, which flowered briefly but beautifully. And then there was a new LP from OV Wright, soul’s greatest singer. This, the title track, is the second song-from-each-year-of-my life.

OV Wright :: Eight men, four women
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