1968 was a major year for Rock music. Jimi Hendrix had “All Along the Watchtower,” Steppenwolf had “Born to Be Wild,” the Beatles had “Hey Jude,” and Canned Heat had “Going Up the Country.” And that’s barely even scratching the surface!
1968 (the band) pulls its name and sound from that classic year in music. To that end, the Welsh band plays fuzzy, lo-fi Hard Rock loaded with generous helpings of Stoner-inspired riffs—with all the hooks and guitar exploration of 1968 bubbling to the surface.
In fact, 1968 ticks off Thin Lizzy and Jimi Hendrix as major influences—right there alongside Black Sabbath.
With these inspirations intact, 1968 released Salvation, If You Need… on April 20, 2021 (a nod, no doubt, to 420).
1968 was founded after a chance online encounter between Sam Orr (guitar) and James Coppack (vocals). Although the band formed around a love of Classic Rock, their debut album, Ballads of the Godless (2018), was a heavy affair that actually owed more to bands like Soundgarden and Audioslave than Thin Lizzy and Jimi Hendrix.
Salvation, If You Need… proves to be a return to the band’s roots: fuzzy, retro guitars, breathy vocals, and Classic Rock-inspired hooks.
- James (Jimi) Coppack- Vocals
- Sam Orr – Guitar
- Bear – Bass
- Dan Amati – Drums
Salvation, If You Need… Review
Track One: Rail Road Boogie
“Rail Road Boogie” kicks off with a gradual build: first the high hats, then the shimmering guitars. Before we reach the one-minute mark, the album has roared to life with retro fuzz while Jimi’s vocals come through in a breathy growl, guiding us through the song.
It’s not until almost three minutes in that “Rail Road Boogie” truly deserves its name. Here, the rhythm section suddenly pulses together into freight train fashion, pushing the song forward at an incredible clip.
As an opener, “Rail Road Boogie” prepares us for the full adventure that is Salvation, If You Need…
Track Two: Trail of Dogs
“Trail of Dogs” features a powerful, driving chorus connected by verses that sport surprisingly clean guitars. Still, 1968 punches on each chorus with a wall of fuzz and echoing vocals.
As cool as “Trail of Dogs” is, it hits like a song that could have hit harder. Here, the lo-fi recording works against the band since you need to crank the song to really appreciate its force.
Track Three: Blackwing
“Blackwing” is really a song in two parts: a first half and a second half.
The first half is powerful and direct, with the drums acting as the song’s hero. Dan Amati attacks the drum kit like a frenetic Punk rocker, propelling the song forward at a quick clip—and the rest of the band works just as hard to keep up.
The second half is a guitarist’s feast. Sam Orr soars over the rest of the band with intricate guitar work until the song’s conclusion.
Track Four: Here It Lies
After its rumbling bass line intro, “Here It Lies” bursts into action, often brushing up into Metal territory. Surprisingly, “Here It Lies” also contains some of the album’s best lyrics, with lines like “Saints and sinners are all the same / Practitioners of mercy, agents of hate.”
While the first half of the track isn’t exactly impressive when compared to the rest of the songs on Salvation, If You Need…, the band makes up for it with an incendiary second half (especially with Sam’s unpredictable guitar solo).
Track Five: Guts
“Guts” is a heavy cover of the Budgie original. For the unfamiliar, Budgie was a fellow Welsh band from the ‘60s and ‘70s (and a few reunions later on) that was, at one time, one of the heaviest bands in the UK (and the world, for that matter).
The 1968 version is a fairly faithful cover, with much of the original’s fuzz still intact.
Track Six: Expressway
“Expressway” is the type of song you might hear blasting from a Harley-Davidson on the desert highway. It’s fast and powerful, and it’s also infectious enough that you want to replay it as soon as it’s over. Unfortunately, it’s also the shortest track on the album. Running only 1 minute and 17 seconds, “Expressway” concludes almost as quickly as it began.
Track Seven: Eastern Wind
“Eastern Wind” kicks off with high energy and delicious guitar work. Carefully balanced by slower movements, “Eastern Wind” eventually erupts into another beautiful guitar solo courtesy of Sam Orr.
Track Eight: Small Victories
“Small Victories” is a plodding romper with plenty of bass and wailing vocals. Here, vocalist Jimi offers another great line that works best with his slightly distorted voice: “Let nobody tell you you’re not the one to change the world!”
That line is best delivered in the second half of the song over another Jimi Hendrix-inspired guitar solo.
Track Nine: Rise of the Night Hornets
First of all, what a great name for a song.
“Rise of the Night Hornets” stands out from the rest of the album because this is the first song to open with tons of relatively clean guitars dressed in reverb. Here, the band works to build space, eventually crafting something that moves from the glistening Mac Demarco music of 2021 to something much more Psychedelic—while still retaining that distinct 1968 sound. “Rise of the Night Hornets” is largely a beautiful, cosmic tune that eventually turns into a romping, guitar-happy, bass-driven rager.
It’s a strange combination for a song, but a name like “Rise of the Night Hornets” doesn’t exactly promise something standard.
Track Ten: God Bless
“God Bless” is another Psychedelic Rock song with plenty of Classic Rock influence.
From the first few measures, the Pink Floyd influence is obvious—there’s a hint of an organ in the background, there’s the big, thumping, Roger Waters-inspired bass line, and there’s the David Gilmour-esque guitar solos that burst onto the scene when the vocals calm down.
“God Bless” is a killer guitar song and it’s a powerful way to conclude the album, even if it doesn’t quite align with the fuzzy retro Rock found in 80% of Salvation, If You Need…
Final Score: 7.5/10
Standout Tracks: “Rail Road Boogie,” “Guts,” and “God Bless”
Pros: Salvation, If You Need… is simply fun. For the most part, this album is filled with delightful Classic Rock-inspired fuzz. As a band, 1968 has developed a new signature sound that feels absolutely natural coming from them, and continuing down this path promises great albums in the future.
Cons: As great as 1968 is at fuzzed-out, retro-inspired Rock, they play Psychedelic Rock as well as nearly anyone else in the genre right now (as “God Bless” demonstrates). By the time the album ended, we were left wondering why 1968 didn’t commit to an even larger change in sound—especially since “God Bless” showed them at their very best. This seems like a missed opportunity, but it could also be a sign of what’s to come in future projects.
Additionally, there are a few tracks here that could have been ironed out further. “Rise of the Night Hornets,” for example, is an interesting enough concept, but it lacks the connective tissue for a smooth, logical transition from its soft opening to its rough finish. Already the third-longest track on the album, “Rise of the Night Hornets” could have benefited from a minute or two of transition in the middle of the song.