Kooper Session (1970) by Al Kooper, Shuggie Otis

Categories: 1970 and Music.

Al Kooper tries to capture lightning in a bottle again, replicating the old Super Session format this time with Shuggie Otis and a complementary change in sound. Both halves have their hits and misses but, for me, there is enough here to enjoy, even if this isn’t anything revelatory. The two halves definitely appeal to different tastes too, so that’s something that might put some people off, though I find the gospel and R&B stuff a refreshing change of pace for Kooper. 7/10 Read More

Easy Does it (1970) by Al Kooper

Categories: 1970 and Music.

By the time Kooper released this double album in 1970 he had put out 6 albums (including this one) in something like 2 years. Yes, two of those were partially improvised, but Kooper was the prime creative force of all of them. So it should come as no surprise that this record feels like it doesn’t have enough content for its length. Some of the covers are good (and sometimes they are quite idiosyncratic) but Kooper’s songs themselves are not great. He’s pulled back on his artsiness on this record but he doesn’t have enough good songs and just seems Read More

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

Night Moves (1976) by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band

Categories: 1976 and Music.

For much of my life I have had a hatred for “boomer nostalgia” – movies and music that lionize growing up in the 50s and 60s as if it was just the bees knees. I am getting to an age where I am finally able to better understand the appeal of such nostalgia – I’m likely a sucker for some nostalgia for growing up in the 80s and the 90s – but I still think that art that relies on a such a strong emotional pull to a particular generation probably can never be truly great art. Truly great art Read More

Fireball (1971) by Deep Purple

Categories: 1971 and Music.

I feel like Fireball perfectly illustrates why Purple are known less than Zeppelin and Sabbath: the playing is excellent (it feels like Blackmore and Lord just keep trying to push each other), Gillan is doing his insane over-singing thing and the record is actually more diverse than you might guess, but the songs aren’t great (though I will say that some of Gillan’s lyrics here are better than some of his lyrics). That’s the problem with this record, that keeps it from being among the great early metal records. They just didn’t write great songs. I will be hard pressed Read More

Yardbirds aka Roger The Engineer (1966)

Categories: 1966 and Music.

The Yardbirds’ third album is definitely away from straight-ahead British blues towards psychedelia and even heavy metal (the intro to “Ever Since the World Began” almost sounds like a psychedelic Sabbath). And for that, it should be celebrated. And Beck does some (relatively) interesting things with his guitar, some of which likely don’t have much precedent in rock music (like that sustained note on that one song). But the songs are pretty weak. There’s a reason you don’t hear these on the radio. There’s quite a lot of filler – well played filler but filler nonetheless. For example “Hot House Read More

The Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton (1966)

Categories: 1966 and Music.

This is probably the definitive British blues album: it sounds like it could have been made by Americans in the US, it features great playing (particularly by Clapton) and I don’t know of any other pre-psychedelic blues album from the UK that is remotely this good. There is just one minor problem: by the time of its release, it was almost out of date, as both Clapton himself and Hendrix would absolutely transform blues-based guitar playing beginning only a few short months after its release. Had Hendrix not come along, maybe this album would be the gold standard for blues-based Read More

Animalisms (1966) by The Animals

Categories: 1966 and Music.

I’m pretty sure this music seemed quite rough, ragged and hard to British audiences in 1966. And I guess I should try to keep that in mind, but it’s hard. Because, of course, it wasn’t particularly grittier than its inspirations. I mean, this is mostly a covers record and there are better versions of these songs, and there were better versions of these songs in existence in 1966 (though they may not have been available in the UK or in many places in the US). So I am having more than my usual trouble imagining what it would have been Read More

Fly Like an Eagle (1976) by Steve Miller Band

Categories: 1976 and Music.

This is my first Steve Miller record, and I don’t get it. It makes sense that it’s his most popular, as there are 3 radio hits here. But it’s oddly constructed. It’s book-ended by tracks that try to sound futuristic (a ’70s attempt at it), with lots of ARP. As if Miller had just found out about this instrument the Who and the Floyd were fooling around with in 1970. But in the middle is straight ahead roots rock and roots pop, some okay covers and some completely unnecessary ones. But at least they don’t date themselves like his ARP Read More

Rocks (1976) by Aerosmith

Categories: 1976 and Music.

The first time through this, I didn’t like it as much as Toys in the Attic. Aside from the opening track, there are fewer hits and the songs sounded weaker on the whole. But this is a dirty, perhaps deliberately poorly sounding record. (Listen to the piano on the last track – that piano sounds terrible). At a time when most rock bands were still trying to sound as perfect as possible in studio, and over-rehearsing the shit out of everything, here is a band that sounds messy, unpolished and raw, despite the commercial success of the last record. It’s Read More

Every Picture Tells a Story (1971) by Rod Stewart

Categories: 1971 and Music.

Though it’s hard for us to imagine now, at one point Rod Stewart was a vital, dare I say ‘cool,’ performer. He was involved in two of the great bands of the late ’60s and early ’70s and I have always heard good things about his early solo records. This one – his first big hit, to my knowledge – is the first one I’ve heard. It’s much easier to separate The Jeff Beck Group and The Faces from what Rod Stewart has become, but it feels harder with his solo stuff. I mean, he’s the driving creative force now, Read More

High Voltage (1976) by AC/DC

Categories: 1975, 1976, and Music.

AC/DC’s first international release is actually a compilation of music from their first two records, released only in Australia. (Oh, the days when music was that regionalized…) I haven’t heard either of those records, so I don’t know if they did a good job of compiling this, but my guess is they did. This record establishes exactly what has been since: big, simple, sleazy rock music. And, for some reason, I don’t mind the misogyny as much from Bon Scott, perhaps because I think he didn’t know any better, perhaps because this is very much the template for all future Read More

Pearl (1971) by Janis Joplin

Categories: 1971 and Movies.

I haven’t heard her debut, and it’s been ages since I listened to Big Brother and the Holding Company, so I honestly don’t know how this compares to her previous work. It definitely has the reputation it has in part because it’s a (good) posthumous record. But, to my knowledge, this is as good a showcase of perhaps the greatest female rock singer ever as I’ve heard. The covers are solid choices – and her “Me and Bobby McGee” is obviously the definitive version – and her own contributions are strong (“Mercedes Benz” is a highlight). There’s just one thing 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

Workingman’s Dead (1970) by the Grateful Dead

Categories: 1970 and Music.

If you had been aware of the Dead in Spring 1970 but you didn’t live in San Francisco, you would have no way of knowing the band was birthed by a folk band in the mid ’60s. If you caught them live, you would have been familiar with how they were the first ever jam band (though the name may not have existed yet) or if you listened to their albums, you would think they were by far the weirdest psychedelic band to emerge from San Francisco (unless you only heard their debut). You certainly wouldn’t have guess they had Read More

Emotional Rescue (1980) by the Rolling Stones

Categories: 1980 and Music.

I don’t know what to do with my first impressions.I’ve learned to distrust them. I give every album I review a minimum of three listens in order to defeat my initial prejudice. I adopted this approach, I think, because I wanted to be fair, but also because sometimes my initial impression did not jive with a review I read or a recommendation I received. And it’s served me well, mostly. I would have never become a prog rock fan without the method, and that means I probably wouldn’t have found my way to jazz and much of the other esoteric Read More

Tonight’s the Night (1973, 1975) by Neil Young

Categories: 1975 and Music.

Neil Young was a star for the first time in 1973. And yet even though he was star, and he was expected to pump out further “Heart of Gold” style hits, his life was a mess. Whether or not he may acknowledge it now, he had drug issues. And within a rather short span of time, the rhythm guitarist for one of his bands died, and then a roadie died, both of heroin overdoses. And he was expected to keep playing “Heart of Gold” and writing more stuff like it. Instead he made this record. I can’t remember why it Read More

Valleys of Neptune (2010) by Jimi Hendrix

Categories: 2010 and Music.

This is yet another collection of Hendrix demos and alternate takes. As usual everything sounds great (though in one case the sound quality is weak compared to the other tracks) and professional. The tracks are from all over the place, as usual, and it’s a record that’s for Hendrix fans rather than for casual listeners. There are a few new songs, but many have other takes other places. One notable thing is that this version of “Sunshine of Your Love” contains a hilarious bass solo from Redding, much like some live versions of this song. So if you want to Read More

South Saturn Delta (1997) by Jimi Hendrix

Categories: 1997 and Music.

So this is sort of the companion piece to First Rays of the New Rising Sun, the album that tried to replicate what would have been Hendrix’s last album. But whereas First Rays was a coherent piece, this is more an abritrary collection of rarities. Like most of Hendrix’s demos and alternates that have been released, everything is very professional. And it’s of interest to any Hendrix fan (though it’s hard to hear what’s different about this version of “All Along the Watchtower”). But it’s not any kind of definitive rarities collection or anything like that. It’s fine. 6/10 Read More

Winterland [Highlights] (2011) by the Jimi Hendrix Experience

Categories: 2011 and Music.

This is the “highlights” disc taken from the Box Set documenting 3 Experience shows at the Winterland in October of 1968.It begins with a performance of “Fire” that is highlighted by a series of crazy drum fills by Mitchell that substitute as a drum solo.“Foxey Lady” follows, with its introductory feedback drawn out twice as long. Otherwise it’s not anything special, some hilarious dialogue before nad in it. Just like any show (it seems) Hendrix’s amps keep breaking.Perhaps the hilghlight of the entire disc is their take on Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.” Hendrix was always a great interpretive artists, Read More

Miami Pop Festival (2013) by the Jimi Hendrix Experience

Categories: 2013 and Music.

This is an Experiene concert from the 1968 Miami Pop Festival (obviously) containing remarkably little music from either Axis or Ladyland (which they had already begun recording). Actually I don’t think there’s a single song. It’s a strong set and it shows off the Experience as a great live band, which is something we don’t always think of them as (or at least I don’t).The opening version of “Hey Joe” is considerably looser than any I’ve heard before, opening with more than a minute of feedback and definitely showing signs that the band is getting tired of playing this song.The Read More

People, Hell and Angels (2013) by Jimi Hendrix

Categories: 2013 and Music.

This is apparently the “final” official rarities collection we will get from the Hendrix vaults. These are the last previously unreleased studio tracks. It only took 40 years.This collection shows off the direction Hendrix was contemplating post-Electric Ladyland, the funkier, rootsier one displayed on First Rays of the New Rising Sun, his unfinished final album. But these performances are looser than that record, and they have fewer overdubs. It’s fairly obvious that most of them are just (complete) early demos. But the music is fantastic – Hendrix is on fire, even if he’s playing more lead (and more conventional rhythm) Read More

Toys in the Attic (1975) by Aerosmith

Categories: 1975 and Music.

I grew up during Aerosmith’s reunion: I was eight when Pump came out and twelve when Get a Grip was released (which was apparently old enough to stay up to watch that SNL skit pointing out all Aerosmith ballads are the same). My introduction to Aerosmith was therefore Much Music (Canada’s version of MTV) and Wayne’s World 2. When I was young enough, they seemed cool. The older I got, the more like a caricature of the hard rock bands I was slowly discovering they seemed. And then they released “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” which may be Read More

White Lies for Dark Times (2009) by Ben Harper and Relentless7

Categories: 2009 and Music.

I have long struggled with Harper. When I arrived at University at the beginning of this century, I don’t know what I was expecting, but what I found was that there was a remarkable amount of commonality in the “underground” music that was cool. In fact, looking back it seems really odd to me that it was so uniform. (I guess that has a lot to do with going to a school in a very small town.) Harper was one of the people I was supposed to like – everyone else seemed to like him – while I was obsessing Read More

The Dancing Avocado (1969 Bootleg) by Led Zeppelin

Categories: 1969 and Music.

This is an entertaining early show that mostly works in my mind, save maybe the obligatory drum solo. 5 songs in an hour, which is ridiculous but (mostly) works. They are firing on all cylinders, even during Jones’ equipment trouble, when they just ad lib a jam thing (taking the track, which they never did in studio, to nearly 20 minutes). “Killing Floor” makes you wonder why they didn’t credit “The Lemon Song” to its composers when they are recorded it for the second album later in the year. But as someone else said, details details. Everything is well done Read More

Gladsaxe Teen Club, March 17, 1969 – aired on Danish TV (1969 TV program) by Led Zeppelin

Categories: 1969 and Music.

This first ever TV appearance is pretty solid. The whole thing is pretty straigh ahead given, I would assume, they had to keep it short as this was a TV special. The audience is hilariously uninvolved. There are much better later shows, but it’s fun to see the band at a really early stage of their career (this occurred prior to the release of the debut). The orgasm bit is funny. 7/10 Read More

Don’t Mess with Texas (1969?, 1991 Bootleg) by Led Zeppelin

Categories: 1969 and Music.

This is a pretty strong but very early show featuring excellent versions of material from the debut, including a medley, and a couple covers as well (though obviously some of the “originals” are also covers…). Speaking of the medley, the (very brief) version of “Susie Q” is particularly bizarre (in a good way). Everyone is one their game and the show is generally quite good. It’s a festival slot apparently, so it’s not like they play forever, but that brevity actually serves them well, as there is no insanely long and unnecessary Bonham solo, for example. 8/10 Read More

Mudslide (1971, 1991 Bootleg) by Led Zeppelin

Categories: 1971 and Music.

This is a pretty strong show – notable for particularly great performances of material from the second album, especially “Thank You”, which can be wussy – but, as someone who has listened to relatively few Zep shows, it’s clear to me that the band improved with time, like a fine wine really. And I find myself generally preferring later, crazier, shows. This is all very professional, and the performance of “Thank You” might be the definitive version, but there are better versions of “Since I’ve Been Loving You” and other material out there. Still well worth listening to, though. 7/10 Read More

Listen to this, Eddie (1977 Bootleg) by Led Zeppelin

Categories: 1977 and Music.

Now this is a show. I would highly recommend this to anyone who thinks The Song Remains the Same is Zeppelin at their best. Here they are ragged, loose, powerful and full of a ridiculous amount of stamina. This is one of those nights, I guess, when a great band just didn’t want to stop playing. Everything about Zeppelin is here: the loud, pummeling and frenetic rock music, the super indulgent solos from Jones, Page and Bonham, and the general dance-ability of most of it. There’s also an acoustic set, which I believe is rare for this period of their Read More