The Live Adventures of Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper (1969)

Categories: 1968, 1969, and Music.

Much like Super Session (the studio version of this record), this album suffers a little from happenstance: Mike Bloomfield had a habit of wearing himself out and he’s not present on all tracks (much like on Super Session where he was replaced for half of it by Stephen Stills). But he’s present on most (and Carlos Santana is one of his replacements). Read More

I Stand Alone (1968) by Al Kooper

Categories: 1968 and Music.

When I was younger, I was utterly fascinated by Kooper’s career: how he went from a successful songwriter to a less successful session guitarist to one of the best rock keyboardists of his era (or, perhaps, ever) and the major creative force behind some interesting ventures in the late 60s. But, for whatever reason, it took me ages to get around to his solo stuff. Read More

The Lee Konitz Duets (1968)

Categories: 1968 and Music.

Konitz presents a series of duets, plus some brief solo playing a one full band track, that explore a wide variety of jazz styles available in 1968. Konitz is excellent throughout and the guests are all great (even though not all of them are as famous). It works really well as a survey of jazz right at the dawn of fusion – the possibilities of what could be accomplished in the music before electrification (and with only a touch of editing) but with very few instruments. Really great stuff. 9/10 Read More

The Jazz Composer’s Orchestra (1968)

Categories: 1968 and Music.

Let’s put aside the ridiculous title for a minute. This is one of those ’60s efforts to try to bring free jazz into more conservative musical traditions. At least in conception, it reminds me a little bit of the [i]Symphony for Improvisers[/i]. There was definitely a group of musicians in the ’60s who wanted to use the language of the past to claim greater authority for their free jazz experiments. This one is pretty successful, the solos are about as out there for 1968 as you could imagine and even the band playing is pretty nuts at times. But the Read More

A Case of Need (1968) by Michael Crichton writing as Jeffery Hudson

Categories: 1968, Books, and Fiction.

This is a real page turner and it’s easy to see why it’s the book that properly launched Crichton’s career: it’s full of detailed information about contemporary medicine but Crichton uses that detail to drive the plot, not to overwhelm the reader in minutiae (as some “techno thriller” writers do). Though this type of thriller has become a cilche now, I bet that it was rather refreshing at the time. Crichton’s protagonist is a bit like the Dashiell Hammett version of a doctor. Yes, that’s implausible, but Crichton makes it work well enough. The biggest issue with the novel is Read More

Best of Enemies (Robert Gordon, Morgan Neville)

Categories: 1968, 2015, and Movies.

When I was younger, I used to long for the days when US news shows were just the news, and when talk shows had actual intellectuals on, on occasion, to debate. I remember once seeing a clip many years ago where Gore Vidal (whom I have a love/hate relationship with) and Norman Mailer (who I don’t know beyond one novel) had a debate…on Dick Cavett. The tone of the debate, and the substance (despite a few insults), was so different than now. But this fantastic film shows the downside of what I idealized. I had never seen the famous Buckley-Vidal Read More

Vincebus Eruptum (1968) by Blue Cheer

Categories: 1968 and Music.

For years and years I have been telling everyone who would listen that Jeff Beck’s Truth is the first heavy metal album of All Time. If people mentioned Blue Cheer, I dismissed them outright (despite only ever hearing their cover of “Summertime Blues” once or twice) or assumed that The Jeff Beck Group beat them to it. Well, the latter is obviously not true. RYM calls this “Heavy Psych.” I’ve honestly never heard that term until I looked up Blue Cheer. It’s hard to really decide if this quite qualifies as metal, since metal has changed so much, but also Read More

The Jimi Hendrix Experience (2000)

Categories: 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 2000, and Music.

This is an exhaustive collection of Experience alternate takes, outtakes, alternate mixes and live performances. For the Hendrix completist, it’s probably more essential than any of the other studio rarities collections that have come out, just because it shows off more facets of his playing and his experimentation – unlike those studio rarities collections, which are mostly demos, or those live sets which show him in an altogether different light – than any other set. This is as complete a picture you’ll get of the Experience (and Hendrix himself) outside of the original studio albums plus Band of Gypsies. But Read More

TIFF 2015: Ninth Floor (2015, Mina Shum) (9/15)

Categories: 1968, 1969, 2015, and Movies.

This is an important film for Canadians, about a subject that should have been turned into a documentary years ago, no doubt. And it is a necessary part of our history. However, I’m not sure this film is the film the events at Sir George Williams University in 1968 and 1969 deserve. Read More

Shame (1968, Ingmar Bergman)

Categories: 1968 and Movies.

This is a compelling study of what happens to the apolitical people when political conflicts (i.e. wars) interrupt their lives. The couple at the heart of it are believable and their sense of confusion is palpable. And I get that we the audience are supposed to share that sense of confusion. But I feel like setting this during an actual war – rather than a made up one – would have made the whole film more convincing. The problems mostly circle around why exactly this house in the middle of nowhere is the centre for so much action. We have Read More

Elgar: Sympyhonies 1 & 2 (1968, 2007) by London Philharmonic Orchestra, Adrian Boult

Categories: 1968 and Music.

I guess Elgar gets his rep because he was perhaps the first really notable British composer in some time (or up until that point, I don’t know). But I think that reputation is inflated – at least based on my earliest listens to his music – by the general Anglophilia that is a consequence of Britain once ruling much of the world, and of growing up in an English-speaking society. Because frankly, when I put this stuff beside Debussy or Mahler or other great composers’ works of the first decade or so of the 20th century I find this to Read More

Nefertiti by Miles Davis (1968 Colbumbia)

Categories: 1968 and Music.

This is probably best known as Miles’ last wholly acoustic album, before he began to embrace fusion and abandon bop. But that makes it sound like it is somehow more conservative than it actually is. Sure, it’s not free jazz, but this is still pretty out there. In fact, I detect at least a bit of an influence of free on the music (though it is very subtle) in addition to more obvious hard bop and modal strands. It’s a pretty sedate thing for something that is sort of stuck between two worlds. But that’s not a bad thing. It Read More

For the Sake of the Song (1968 Poppy) by Townes Van Zandt

Categories: 1968 and Music.

This is my first encounter with Townes; fittingly it is his debut. The songs themselves are pretty strong – and one is hilarious if a little xenophobic – but not enough for me to induct him into the canon. Alas, I have only ever heard these. Maybe some others would impress more. The problem isn’t the songs. The problem is the production / arrangements. This album is so over-produced. It is Bryter Layter over-produced (yes, not a great analogy, since it was recorded after this), except there they were trying to turn Nick Drake into a pop star, and here Read More

The United States of America (1968 Columbia)

Categories: 1968 and Music.

This stuff is mindblowing. Almost as out there as Zappa and the Mothers (at their very weirdest) or the Velvets (at their very artiest) and not quite as crazy – and far more artsy – as Beefheart was about to get. It’s too band the sound isn’t exactly great, as apparently these guys were very, very noisy in concert, which doesn’t exactly come across here. The songs aren’t exactly great – Zappa was certainly the better composer – and the band could really use a real rock singer (I get that having a singer like her was part of the Read More

The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard & Clark (1968 A&M)

Categories: 1968 and Music.

It’s funny that Clark quit the Byrds to pursue the music the Byrds themselves ended up pursuing. Though it has been ages since I listened to SOTR, I think I like this a little more. It’s a little more consistent in its mission, methinks. On the other hand, the Byrds album was first (albeit not by much) and obviously more important because people actually listened to it. Still an important landmark in the country rock merger. 9/10 Read More

Michel Brault: Oeuvres 1958-1974

Categories: 1958, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1974, and Movies.

Though not every film is absolutely stand out, this collection is mostly filled with great stuff and very well worth watching, especially for Canadians. We can see that the Canadian film tradition was a little richer than more recent NFB material might have led us to believe. Here we have engaging, sometimes provocative, examinations of both minor and serious issues within our culture. Brault’s work should be far more well known outside of Quebec than it currently is. It should be watched in schools. Here are the films included in the collection. Titles in quotes are shorts and italicized titles Read More

The 50th Anniversary Collection by James Brown (Polydor 2003)

Categories: 1956, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1979, 1988, 2003, and Music.

James Brown’s importance can not be understated. He is on The List of the most important musical figures of the twentieth century (along with Louis Armstrong, the Beatles, Miles Davis, Dylan, Duke Ellington, Schoenberg, Stockhausen, Frank Zappa and maybe a few others). This compilation of his hit singles gives a very good idea of his progression and how he turned gritty soul and R and B into funk and thus got sampled more than any other band leader ever. The one downside is that this compilation of his hit singles is missing one of his biggest hits. Hard to understand that Read More