Here we are with an album I actually own, although my copy is a nice re-issue, with a different cover, that I bought in Portugal while I was on holiday a few years ago. By the time of this release in 1956 Holiday’s voice had noticeably deteriorated from her earlier recordings but it didn’t really matter, the imperfections are quite appropriate for the mood of the songs. Holiday’s autobiography was released the same year, with the same title, and the album is a companion for the book, possibly purposfully, possibly not.
Holiday and the song ‘Strange Fruit’ will be eternally linked and in her autobiography she suggested that she, together with her musical collaborators, set the poem to music. The writers David Margolick and Hilton Als dismissed that claim in their work ‘Strange Fruit: The Biography of a Song’, writing that hers was “an account that may set a record for most misinformation per column inch”. When challenged, Holiday—whose autobiography had been ghostwritten by William Dufty—claimed, “I ain’t never read that book.”
Ella and Louis were accompanied by the Oscar Peterson Quartet for this 1956 release and it is primarily a vocal album, and a charming one. Having previously collaborated in the late 1940s for the Decca label, this was the first of three albums that Fitzgerald and Armstrong were to record together for Verve Records, later followed by 1957’s Ella and Louis Again and 1959’s Porgy and Bess.
Norman Granz, the founder of the Verve label, selected eleven ballads for Fitzgerald and Armstrong, all in a slow or moderate tempo, which gives this album an overall laid back feel and even though their voices are poles apart, they really do seem to work together quite beautifully.
This early Atlantic session in 1955 was one of the first of the bassist-composer’s workshop styled programmes. He felt that written music could not convey the true music of the composer as musicians would put their own invention on it. His method was to play each individual part to each musician on piano so that they fully understood the composer’s intention and would play it the way he “heard” it.
The title song was described by Mingus as a ten-minute tone poem, depicting the rise of man from his hominid roots (Pithecanthropus erectus) to an eventual downfall. A section of the piece was free improvisation, free of structure or theme.
I know that to many, Jazz is sometimes just noise but these recordings bridge the gap in some ways. There are random noises within the compositions but there is always a melody and Mingus tends to stick to chord structures.
I only discovered this album recently and I am simply astounded that it was recorded as far back as 1955. I love strange cut ups such as those one might hear from Prefuse 73 and all sorts of strnage ambient music appeals to me so to discover that these two people who I have never heard of were basically doing the same thing on what can be considered to be primative equipment 65 years ago is fantastic, and it reminds me just how much music there is still out there just waiting to be discovered.
I haven’t been able to find much information in relation to this project but what I do know is that American composer, conductor, composition teacher, and flutist Otto Luening and fellow composer Vladimir Ussachevsky helped to establish the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center in the 1950’s where they created on a landmark series of collaborative compositions for magnetic tape and synthesizer, as well as works for acoustic instruments in combination with electronic sounds.
The music they created, “tape music,” was a uniquely American synthesis of the French musique concrète and the German pure electronic schools.It is a revelation to me.
I had originally discounted this album as I wrongly assumed it was included in the 1001 Albums To Hear Before You Die book. I’ve no idea why it wasn’t really, although the 50’s isn’t well represented and I can think of 30 albums that should be in there off the top of my head. Even the wikipedia page for this album is pretty short which I find suprising.
It has had various covers over the years and the one i’ve included is the one I remember seeing in family homes in the UK when I was a small boy. I’m pretty sure I played it at somebodys house back in the early 70’s and the whole thing was an energetic delight. There is more to this album than the two openers, and for many in the UK back in 1956 it was their first proper introduction to Rock and Roll. This is why I feel it is important but alos because it’s a really fun listen.
After 4 months working from home I returned to work for a day on Thursday for the first time. My office was empty and it was a peaceful and productive work day. While there I collected the four albums that had arrived from Rough Trade while I had been away. The album selections are unknown to me so I find out what they are as I open them. As things stand I’ve had a quick listen to all of them and I would say at this point that I really like one of them, the other three I’m not sure about at all, I know I wouldn’t have bought them if I was browsing at a store or online, but this is the music discovery aspect of the monthly subscription to Rough Trade.
Briefly, these are the 4 albums I received.
Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs – Viscerals
Rolling Blackouts Coastal Fever – Sideways To New Italy
Dream Wife – So When You Gonna…
Ben Lukas Boysen – Mirage
This was the one I liked, the others may well grow on me, we’ll see.
This album from Sarah Vaughan is one of those albums where everything is just right, nothing seems out of place and it feels effortlessly crafted. Enhanced by the excellent trumpet playing of Clifford Brown each song follows into the next to create a wonderful atmosphere of late night jazz clubs.
Though it was not entirely without criticism on its release I really can’t see that any of the criticism was really deserved and it’s critical reception upon release was overwhelmingly poitive. A contemporaneous review in the music magazine Metronome lamented that “Sarah sounds like an imitation of herself, sloppy, affected and so concerned with sound that she forgets that she is a singer, forgets the lyric of the song itself to indulge in sounds that are meaningless.” To which I say, that’s bollocks.
Welcome to the oddness of Alt-folk and the world of Moondog. Louis Thomas Hardin, also known as Moondog, was an American musician, composer, theoretician, poet and inventor of several musical instruments. He was blind from the age of 16.
Hardin lived in New York City from the late 1940s until 1972, and during this time he could often be found on 6th Avenue, between 52nd and 55th Streets, wearing a cloak and a horned helmet sometimes busking or selling music, but often just standing silently on the sidewalk. He was widely recognized as “the Viking of 6th Avenue” by thousands of passersby and residents who were not aware of his musical career.
Moondog’s music from the 1940s and 1950s is said to have been a strong influence on many early minimalist composers. Philip Glass has written that he and Steve Reich took Moondog’s work “very seriously and understood and appreciated it much more than what we were exposed to at Juilliard”
When listening to this album today, it does not feel the weight of its almost 70 years at all and it doesn’t seem to me to fit in the decade at all. It still seems a little out there so in the 50’s it must have been almost copmpletly alien to most. It is a very short album at 28 minutes but this may have been as it was originally released as a 10“ rather than an LP (I haven’t checked this but it makes sense) and of the tracks on it, I would highly reccomend The whole of Suite No.1 and Suite No.2
It may seem odd to say it, but Black Coffee by Peggy Lee is a collection of songs that sound exactly as you would expect them to sound, which is exactly as they should sound. The mid fifties are preserved in amber in these songs that seem to contain the wholesome ideolised american dream and a hint of the reality of the seediness that existed but was hidden beneath the shimmering sheen presented to the world. America in the fifties was not the wholesome soda fountain world it now seems to be fondly remembered as the problems that still exist today where even deeper seated then and not even seen as being a problem.
I have always thought of Peggy Lee as being old but she was 33 at the time of recording this album, 20 years younger than I am today and when I clear my own misguided pre-conceptions and listen to the songs as though it were a woman in her thirties singing them it all makes much more sense to me. This was her first album, having previously been part of the Benny Goodman Orchestr since 1941 and, as was the standard practice at the time, the songs are all written by somebody else, often having already been performed on record by many other artist with the Cole Porter song ‘I’ve Got You Under My Skin’ being a good example.
interestingly, to me at least, Joni Mitchell declared the album one of her favorites, leading off her torch song album of 2000, Both Sides Now, with her version of Black Coffee.
What is certaibnly true is that there is much more to Lee than just the song Fever!
The Anthology of American Folk Music is a six-album compilation released in 1952 by Folkways Records comprising eighty-four American folk, blues and country music recordings that were originally issued from 1926 to 1933. Experimental film maker Harry Smith compiled the music from his personal collection of 78 rpm records. He had begun collecting these records around 1940 when many Americans considered 78’s almost disposable and his collection grew to around 7000 recordings which he felt should be preserved and curated.
As the rights to the recordings were held by many different record labels, many of whom were still in existence, the 1952 release was, technically, a bootleg and it was not until a re-issue in 1977 that all the rights were obtained by Folkways.
The music on the compilation is generally thought to have been enormously influential on the folk & blues revival of the 1950s and 1960s, and brought the works of Blind Lemon Jefferson, Mississippi John Hurt, Dick Justice and many others to the attention of musicians such as Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. The “Harry Smith Anthology,” as some call it, was the bible of folk music during the late 1950s and early 1960s Greenwich Village folk scene.
Moving forward from there, all the artists influenced by Dylan etc. and the artists they subsequently influenced can be traced back to some of the songs in this collection, which is one of the reasons they are so important. They are also offer an alternative snapshot of a place and time where history was usually written from a white perspective.
Ritual of the Savage is an album by American composer Les Baxter, released in 1951 often cited as one of the most important exotica albums. The album features lush orchestral arrangements along with tribal rhythms and offered such classics as “Quiet Village”, “Jungle River Boat”, “Love Dance”, and “Stone God.”
Nowadays there may be some who would have issues with the general concept, which is understandable, the world has in many ways changed since 1951, and, unfortunatly in many ways hasn’t
Baxter described the album as a “tone poem of the sound and the struggle of the jungle.”The album’s liner notes requested the listener to imagine themselves transported to a tropical land. “Do the mysteries of native rituals intrigue you…does the haunting beat of savage drums fascinate you? Are you captivated by the forbidden ceremonies of primitive peoples in far-off Africa or deep in the interior of the Belgian Congo?”
So this is probabaly a rather leftfield choice and a difficult album to kick proceedings off with as parts of it sound rather odd 70 years after it’s release, but odd in a rather brilliant way. Voice of the Xtabay is the first studio album by Peruvian soprano Yma Sumac, released in 1950 by Capitol Records and produced and composed by Les Baxter, along with Moisés Vivanco (whom she later married I believe, then divorced when he sired twins with another partner then remarried and subsequently divorced) and John Rose. Sumac sings magnificently on the album, accompanied by ethnic percussion and musical variations influenced by the music of Peru.
Sumac’s vocal range of 5 octaves (some say 4 1/2) is quite startling at times, particularly when in the high register, the control she has over that voice is amazing as she moves from baritone to whistle register.
The more I listen th this album, and others of hers, the more I like them. I’ve only very recently discovered her work and amd very pleased that I did so.
Over a whatsapp video call, David showed me a new CD he had bought, I nodded politely as though I recognised the band and knew all about them and we moved on to the next one of three. The album was Black Pumas by Black Pumas and I thought little more of it until the very next day I somehow found myself in a record store for the first time in months since the lockdown started. I didn’t really have anything in mind to buy and was browsing around when I stumbled upon a vinyl copy of the album. I bought it, unheard, on a sort of recommendation by David. I think if I had gone to the store with a purpose, looking for something specific, I probably wouldn’t have, but apart from the recommendation it was on a nice splatter vinyl and came with a bonus CD, also it wasn’t particularly expensive.
I’ve played it several times since then and really do rather like it. If you haven’t heard them yet here is their track ‘Colours’ (which I’ve spelt correctly) for you to have a listen to before I go on:
So who are they? They are singer Eric Burton and guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada who got together in 2017 and released their debut album, Black Pumas, on June 21, 2019. They performed at South by Southwest in 2019 and won a best new band trophy at the 2019 Austin Music Awards. On November 20, 2019, they were nominated for a Grammy Award for Best New Artist. That’s quite a start.
Black Pumas performed “Colors” on Jimmy Kimmel Live! following their network TV debut on CBS This Morning along with a taping on season 45 of Austin City Limits. The band’s single “Colors” later reached number one on AAA radio. The single has been streamed over 60 million times across all platforms. Meanwhile, the official live video of “Colors” has been viewed over 25 million times on YouTube. Despite all this, nobody has pointed out that Colours has a U in it.
In their hometown of Austin, Texas, Black Pumas became the first band to sell out four consecutive shows at Stubbs, one of the city’s live venues, and on May 7, 2020, mayor Steve Adler proclaimed the date as Black Pumas Day.
The whole album is consistently good and doesn’t step outside it’s aesthtic with the production staying true troughout to a sort of modern 70’s feel that has been quite popular of late.
This is roughly what the vinyl looks like, not my picture but my copy is pretty similar:
Black Moon Rising
Know You Better
Touch The Sky
Black Moon Rising
I’ve yet to listen to the bonus CD, I’m not sure if they are demos or live or something else. I just checked, it’s a live session. SO that’s something to look forward to.
Shortly before Lockdown I saw a copy of ‘Inventions For Electric Guitar’ in my local record store and completely ignored it as, based on the cover, it was probabaly not my thing at all, soI flicked past it and pretty much forgot about it. Then, about a month ago I was reading an article on Krautrock and I realised that he was from Ash Ra Temple, which made me listen to them and then try and find this album on spotify and, to my suprise, it wasn’t there. I did find it on youtube and have put it down below if you would like a listen.
Although it is a solo album and all the instruments (Guitar) are played by Göttsching it was originally subtittled Ash Ra Tempel VI, technically making it the sixth and final album under the Ash Ra Tempel name.
Göttsching started his career in music at a young age, with various Berlin pop and blues bands in the late-1960’s, including the Steeple Chase Bluesband. He was the mainstay of Ash Ra Tempel and Ashra, and also worked with The Cosmic Jokers, and other Kosmische Kuriere projects. Later he established a project together with Michael Hoenig, and on numerous occasions he also played as a guest/collaborator along with Klaus Schulze.
I like repetitive music that I can get lost in, I also like complex music, this album is both, and at times it can get pretty heavy. I can identify with it too as I released a couple of albums of my own that utilised only one guitar and it is difficult to differentiate the tones and sounds when you have only a single instrument. While Manuel was decades before me and is much better at it than I could ever be, I’m going to put a track called ‘Firefly Dance’ from the album ‘Massive’ that was recorded using only one guitar and nothing else.
I get a lot of inspiration from artists like Göttsching and whenever I listen back to tracks I’ve done in the past I get the urge to set all the gear up again and have another go, then something mundane happens, like needing to take the recycling out, and that urge fades as quickly as it arrived, but maybe, one of these days, I will inflict further noise pollution on a world that really already has enough, the only thing I really need, is time.
I played my copy of Nashville Skyline by Bob Dylan at the weekend and it had one of those inner sleeves that advertises other albums, that I like. I knew most of the artists on it, although there were a couple I didn’t know and some I don’t remember listening to ever, even though I knew of them.
Here are the inner sleeves:
I find these really interesting and I do wish that it was still a thing, or more of a thing as it does happen occasionally. It’s a good way to find other music that one might normally overlook. For my own listening pleasure I made a playlist of the artists on the inner sleeve, which you can listen to if you wish, although it is ‘Old Timey’ music.
I would also like to point out how far ahead of his time Dylan was. As far back as 1969 he included a youtube play button on the album cover which is extraordinary foresight.
Due to the global pandemic RSD 2020 was put on hold and re-designed so that instead of a single day there will be three ‘Drops’ over a period of three months begining in August. From a budgeting perspective this is actually rather advantageous and probabaly good for the stores as well, however, the majority of items will be on the first drop with the next two being mini drops really.
A full list of what is being released is available HERE but I am just going to talk about the records I’m interested in picking up. So, starting with August:
The Amorphous Androgynous – A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble
This is a project involving The Future Sound of London, who seem to always have something out for RSD recenty, and appear futher down. Not 100% on this one, it depends very much on the price.
Asha Puthli – Asha Puthli
I’ve been listening to this on Spotify and I really liked it so if I see a copy I will give serious consideration to picking it up.
The Cure – Bloodflowers
One to add to my very slowly expanding Cure collection. I think Disintergration was around where I stopped listening to new cure releases as much so anything after that is sort of new to me, which is nice.
Future Sound Of London – Cascade 2020
I already have the original 1993 release but this is a 2020 update, much as they previously did with Yage and My Kingdom.
Gary Numan with The Skaparis Orchestra – When the Sky Came Down (Live at The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester)
I like GN and this seemed interesting, again, price will be the decider.
Gorillaz – D-Sides & G-Sides
So this is 2 albums and I’m on the fence, I suspect they will be £50 for the two, which is probabaly more than I want to pay.
Holger Czukay, Jaki Liebezeit, Jah Wobble – A Full Circle
If I see it and I have money left to spend then I’ll get it.
Ennio Morricone – Peur Sur La Ville OST
RSD Morricone releases have been very overpriced in my view, single albums being in the £38 range ( and then often discounted months later into the mid twenties, where thwy should have been in the first place).
I have had an entire movie going around and around in my head today, which is where it should stay as in there it is epic but if I wrote it down it would probably not be. One thing I did do was include, in my head, various bits of soundtrack, snippets from longer songs to help create atmosphere for the scenes appearing in my head. Then I made a playlist of them, which is below.
1967 was probabaly the greatest year ever, mainly because it was the year I came into this world. As a result of being 0 years old I don’t remember any of these at the time but so many of them have endured over the years that it doesn’t matter that much. As with all my lists they are my opinion and there are no doubt records missing that you may think should be included, if so please do say so, I may have just forgotten them. Let’s go.
30 – A Fistful of Dollars – Ennio Morricone
Well, I love the films, I love the music, iconic as it is and I love the composer so this was a must for me. Growing up in the 70’s these spaghetti westerns were the big Saturday night films that were on TV and were an event. We would have a bag of sweets and some pop and settle in for the film. Of course, back then I had no clue about Morricone but that’s probabaly for the best. I loved everything about the movies.
29 – Disraeli Gears – Cream
I know that many people would excpect this to be listed much higher up but it was a record I never quite managed to conect with. Other than the first two tracks I don’t have that much interest in it, and ‘Sunshine of your Love’ I know mostly from Hendrix playing it. Truth is I’m not the biggest Clapton fan and often wonder what all the fuss was/is about, not that I can’t appreciate what he has done I just don’t see it as earth shattering stuff.
28 – Straight, No Chaser – Thelonius Monk
Well I do love a bit of Jazz and I’ve been meaning to pick up a copy of this for a while, perhaps now I actualy will. The album was recorded in New York City on November 14/15, 1966 & January 10, 1967 with Charlie Rouse (tenor sax), Larry Gales (bass) & Ben Riley(drums). I don’t think it is a particularly well known release from Monk, but it is well worth a listen.
27 – Scott – Scott Walker
I have always found the music of Scott Walker to be old fashioned, a throwback even, but I’ve recently been viewing that more as a positive than a negative and this album has grown on me with repeated listens. The music is beautifully produced and delivered. It makes me think that this is where Divine Comedy came from.
26 – Sings the Blues – Nina Simone
A brilliant album, of course it is, it’s Nina Simone, but in the context of 1967 there are many others that best represent the year and she had performed and released a number of these tracks before.
25 – Wave – Antonio Carlos Joabim
By the time this album was released, Antonio Carlos Jobim was already an international superstar. Having recently won a Grammy (1965) for “The Girl From Ipanema”, by 1967 all the big name stars from up north were breaking down his door to work with the new “Gershwin of Brazil.” In fact, Jobim had just finished working on an album with Frank Sinatra when he went into the studio to record this album. Recorded in 1967, Wave is actually one of the lesser known masterpieces of Brazilian music, and undoubtedly one of Jobim’s greatest. Here Jobim and the great Claus Ogerman lead a top-flight cast on hidden classics like Batidinha, Triste and Wave.
24 – Big Brother & The Holding Company – Big Brother & the Holding Company
Recorded in three days in mid-December of 1966 on a shoestring budget in Los Angeles at United Studios, Big Brother & The Holding Company has a sincere garage band simplicity that pervades the entire album and gives it a certain do-it-yourself sincerity not found on breakthrough release Cheap Thrills. Later releases added “Featuring Janis Joplin” but at this point they were a band and she was yet to be the superstar she was to become.
23 – Their Satanic Majesties Request – The Rolling Stones
Keith Richards probabaly said it best, ““none of us wanted to make [Satanic Majesties], but it was time for another Stones album, and Sgt. Pepper’s was coming out, so we thought basically we were doing a put-on”
22 – Goodbye And Hello -Tim Buckley
I’m sure many people discovered Tim Buckley via Jeff, I didn’t, I discovered him through This Mortal Coil who covered ‘Song to the SIren’ with Elizabeth Fraser on vocals back in 1984. The Buckley album that was taken from was ‘Starsailor’ released in 1970. This album, his second, is less folkey I suppose but contains some great tracks such as ‘Pleasant Street’, which you can hear beow.
21 – Days Of Future Passed – The Moody Blues
Yes, it’s the one with ‘Nights in White Satin’ on it, ‘Days of Future’ Passed is their second album and first concept album it is a fusion of orchestral and rock elements and has been cited as one of the first examples of progressive rock. I’d never listened to it all the way through before, it’s pretty good.
20 – Easter Everywhere – 13th Floor Elevators
Hailing from Austin, Texas, the members of 13th Floor Elevators were quite possibly the first artists to describe their music as psychedelic. Their lyrics and sleeve notes openly and religiously endorsed the use of drugs (particularly LSD) to alter human consciousness for the better. I first came acccross them via the B-Side of ‘World Shut Your Mouth’ by Julian Cope, where he does a cover of the song ‘I’ve Got Levitation’.
19 – Smiley Smile – The Beach Boys
Following Pet Sounds, group songwriter and producer Brian Wilson attempted a more light-hearted approach for Smile, an album that was to be released in 1967, but instead would sit on the shelf for over 40 years, to eventually become The Beach Boys’ first Grammy-winning project as a box set. The grandiose productions of both Pet Sounds and Smile began to seem extraneous to Brian Wilson at the time, and despite the lead single, ‘Good Vibrations’, being the biggest hit in the band’s oeuvre, Wilson left its production ethic behind and moved toward minimalism in order to finish what would become Smiley Smile.
18 – Songs Of Leonard Cohen – Leonard Cohen
Having just re-listened to this album I feel that I probabaly should have put it a little higher, songs like ‘Sisters Of Mercy’, ‘Suzanne’ and ‘So long, Marianne” really stand out, ahh well, maybe ill change it later when nobody is looking.
17 – Soul Men – Sam & Dave
I would expect almost everybody to know the track ‘Soul Man’ but there is more here than just the one song. With the help of Isaac Hayes and Booker T and the M.G.s here is an absolute scorcher of a record.
16 – Bee Gees – 1st Bee Gees
Long before the disco hits of Saturday Night Fever the Bee Gees were no strangers to the charts, although to be honest, before 1977 I’d never heard of them. Apparently, when played on US radio they were repeatedly mistaken for The Beatles, which is understandable I guess. I really enjoyed the songs on this album.
15 – John Wesley Harding – Bob Dylan
Tricky one this as on some days it would most likely be higher up, it does have I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine, All Along The Watchtower and The Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest, I’m slightly regretting my decision.
14 – Miles Smiles – Miles Davis
At this point in his career, Davis had been through his number of hardships, from overcoming a destructive heroin addiction, to encountering the brutal effects of racism on the American music industry, to undergoing larynx surgery that left him with his characteristic raspy voice. Miles’ “prince of darkness” persona—his quick temper, his quiet intensity, his perceived existential aloofness—was perhaps a psychological defence mechanism to combat the plethora of troubles in his life.
The quintet embraced the liberating principles of post-bop, a subgenre that featured the virtuosity of bebop, the independence of free jazz and the unwavering commitment to rhythmic and melodic development that runs throughout the many tributaries of the music. It is quite an uplifting album.
13 – Strange Days – The Doors
The second studio album from The Doors that spawned two hit singles, ‘People Are Strange’ and ‘Love Me Two Times’. The album received high praise from the rock press but the listening public was not quite as convinced, particularly in the UK where the album was largely ignored. It is a consistently good set of songs, except ‘Horse Latitudes’ which is shit.
12 – Buffalo Springfield Again – Buffalo Springfield
This, their 2nd release, took notably longer to record than their debut, not least because Neil Young had quit and rejoined the group on several occasions, notably absent for the band’s appearance at the famed Monterey Pop Festival where David Crosby substituted in his place at the request of guitarist Stephen Stills. If you’ve never heard the albums opening track ‘Mr. Soul’ give it a listen and tell me if it reminds you of any other song (that was released the following year).
11 – Piper At The Gates Of Dawn – Pink Floyd
There was a period in time when I couldn’t reconcile early Pink Floyd with later Pink Floyd and I do still tens to think of them as two different groups, although their earlier incarnation was necessary to inform what came later. Nowadays I really rather like all the experimental weirdness they were putting out, it is of its time, but that’s a good thing.
10 – Forever Changes – Love
when I first heard ‘Alone Again, Or’ I didn’t realise I’d heard it before or where I’d heard it, but I most certainly had. maybe it was on the radio as we drove through the valleys and across the mountains of Wales, but somewhere in my head it has sat waiting for me to find it again. Nowadays the album is lauded as one of the most perfect and influential albums of all-time, however, on its release it was a flop. Part of the reason for this may be that it is at times a little odd and it doesn’t really fit in with the other music that was being created in 60’s California.
Oh, the snot has caked against my pants It has turned into crystal There’s a bluebird sitting on a branch I guess I’ll take my pistol I’ve got it in my hand Because he’s on my land
(From ‘Live and Let Live)
9 – Absolutely Free – The Mothers of Invention
More weirdness and an acquired taste. Usually, when Frank Zappa was involved the resulting music was at the very least left of centre and sometimes so far left it was right. The music is often complex but still rooted in R&B and the subject matter political and humorous at times. It’s good to be different.
8 – Surrealistic Pillow – Jefferson Airplane
This album is so evocative of the time period that it had to be here, but not only becasue of that, but because it has really great songs from the well known ‘White Rabbit’ and ‘Somebody to Love’ to the instrumental ‘Embryonic Jorney’, which has some really lovely guitar playing. and the blues of ‘In The Morning’. With different vocalists and styles it is a bit all over the place, but better for it.
7 – London Conversation – John Martyn
The first release from one of my faviourite artists ever and becasue it led to so many, many good later releases I have it here becasue I can, although it is still a good album. Folkier than later releases and with a cleaner vocal that pre-dates the more slurred later performances, it shows where he came from, but not really where he was going.
6 – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles
This may well be a contentious placing for some people, however, while I appreciate the importance of the album, I don’t like all of it. ‘When I’m Sixty Four and ‘Lovely Rita’ I can do without and I’m not that keen on ‘Getting Better’ or ‘Fixing a hole’ and don’t like their version of ‘With a Little Help From My Friends’ (I like Joe Cockers version better). I did put it at number 1 initially, because everybody does but then I got to thinking about which albums I would actually sit down and listen to, all they way through, and moved this down a few places becasue I never listen to it all the way through.
5 – Axis: Bold As Love – Jimi Hendrix Experience
The second album from Hendrix, and the second in the same year. He had a little more time to craft his own songs for this album but still much of the soloing was all first take. Songs like ‘Little Wing’ are beautifully crafted, ‘Castles Made of Sand’, ‘Spanish Castle Magic’ and ‘If 6 were 9’ are fablous tracks and the consistency of the entire album is good from staert to finish.
4 – Velvet Underground And Nico – The Velvet Underground
When I listen to this album it almost always comes as a suprise that there are so many tracks on it that are so very good. While I had heard many of the songs here and there it was in 1993 for what I remember as a Pireli advert, but that was actually Dunlop, where I first heard ‘Venus in Furs’ and just loved both the advert and the music, it was the weirdest advert on TV at the time and possibly ever.
Add to this the other tracks such as ‘Sunday Morning’, ‘I’m Waiting for the Man’, ‘Al Tommorrows Parties’ and more and you have a truly brillian set of songs.
3 – The Doors – The Doors
Here we are at the top 3 of 1967 and the Doors again. It used to be quite te norm to release a coupke of albums a year wheras today the money is not in pysical product so much but in playing live, at least until the current pandemic hit. Of the two album releases in ’67 it is this, the second, where I think they really it their stride with ‘Break on Through’ and ‘Light My Fire’ but add to that ‘The Crystal Ship’, ‘The End’ and the rest and you have an album that helped define the era.
2 – The Beatles – Magical Mystery Tour
Continuing the controversty, possibly, you may agree with me, but given a choice of sitting down and listening to Sgt. Peppers or Maical Mystery Tour I would choose the latter every time. There are less tracks that I would drop from the running order:
Magical Mystery Tour The Fool On The Hill Flying Blue Jay Way Your Mother Should Know I Am The Walrus Hello Goodbye Strawberry Fields Forever Penny Lane Baby You’re A Rich Man All You Need Is Love
Is it technically a soundtrack? I’m not sure but it has some of my favourite Beatles songs on it.
1 – Are You Experienced – Jimi Hendrix Experience
Now it may be fair to say that if you aren’t a fan of Hendirx then this choice as the best album released in 1967 may not sit well with you, but I am a fan and this is a fantastic debut album, opening with ‘Foxy Lady’ and ending with the title track, everything inbetween is just brilliant, ‘Red House’, ‘Fire’, it is just, for me, the encapsulation of the music of the late 60’s.
I loved playing what I could of ‘Foxy Lady’ on the guitar, it is a joy to play and sounds great. As a guitarist who could only achieve average proficiancy there is so very much to admire in playing of Hendrix, but with the addition of Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding, what a three piece! An absolute powerhouse.
Here is a playlist that has a track from each of the albums above in descending order: