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

Camembert Electrique (1971) by Gong

Categories: 1971 and Music.

This is the first proper Gong album I’ve heard, because, for some reason, I’ve only heard their jazz rock spinoff to date. It seems pretty obvious to me that Allen was once in Soft Machine because this sure sounds to me like the kind of music The Softs were making early in their career. And maybe that’s why I find the record a little underwhelming. It is wacky, out there, fun, and ridiculous, as well as well-played, but I sort of feel like I’ve heard music like this from The Softs back in the 60s. I guess what I’m trying Read More

Sunshine Superman (1966) by Donovan

Categories: 1966 and Music.

I grew up listening to oldies radio so I have long been familiar with Donovan’s hit singles. I guess they made no impression on me because I really never thought much about it. But this record is a real standout. At the dawn of psychedelia (there had been very little psychedelic music), Donovan releases a record with a sitar player on a bunch of tracks, with a very distinct Indian influence on a few songs, with a chamber music influence on other songs, and even a little bit of a jazz influence at times (sometimes present all in the same Read More

Maggot Brain (1971) by Funkadelic

Categories: 1971 and Music.

My first exposure to Funkadelic didn’t exactly endear me to them and I generally want to like this record more. It opens with what I am assuming is the definitive Eddie Hazel guitar solo – that’s all it is, really, though it is pretty great – but the rest of the record is a far cry from that title track. The rest of the record is more what I was expecting. Though the lyrics are just about as inane as I was expecting, the bother me less this time out. And the music underlying it those lyrics is pretty much 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

Take it From the Man! (1996) by the Brian Jonestown Massacre

Categories: 1996 and Music.

This is the second BJM record I’ve heard and it’s basically just like the other one.  All I really hear is the Stones circa 1966-67. (Maybe the odd other influence.) And yes, this is louder, it sounds better, and it’s considerably more “rock” than that music, but I have no idea why a band would devote itself so slavishly to updating a sound from 30 years ago. Also, this record is interminable. I just don’t get this band – well, I don’t get the critical acclaim this band received – and I doubt I ever will. PS The thing song Read More

After Bathing at Baxter’s (1967) by Jefferson Airplane

Categories: 1967 and Music.

It’s been ages since I’ve listened to the other Airplane records from the era but, from memory, this is their most overtly psychedelic and experimental record, with a “freak out” and some jams (and more than a little Hendrix worship). It’s the weakest of their classic records in my mind, and they don’t quite find a balance between wanting to write accessible, political songs and wanting to expand my musical consciousness. That being said, everyone was doing stuff like this, and this has dated better than some of the other albums from the era. 7/10 Read More

Nothing’s Shocking (1988) by Jane’s Addiction

Categories: 1988 and Music.

Unlike the follow up, I really like this one. The production’s better, even if the song’s aren’t. (Everything’s a little more raw and unhinged.) Whether you think of this as hard rock or some kind of metal, there was nothing really like this being made in the late ’80s; funkier and way weirder than the Gunners but way louder and cooler than any other mainstream hard rock band at the time (that I’m aware of). I can hear a lot of ’90s rock in this record. And though a number of bands may have done this better, it sure sounds 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

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

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