Smiley Smile (1967) by The Beach Boys

Categories: 1967 and Music.

If you read a lot of music criticism about the ’60s, like I used to, you have heard about Smile ad nauseum. If you read a lot of indiependent music criticism at the turn of the century, like I used to, you have also heard about Smile ad nauseum. You’ve heard about Smile to the point that, whatever it was supposed to sound like, your expectations have been permanently set either to view it as an unfinished (later finished!) masterpiece, or the manifestation of a bunch of silly pop critic dreams for something “even greater than Pet Sounds” that couldn’t Read More

Scott (1967) by Scott Walker

Categories: 1967 and Music.

I came to Scott Walker via The Drift over a decade ago. In that time, I’ve not find the time to listen to his earlier work but I’ve read a lot about about it and I saw that documentary (which I didn’t love). From reading about him, I had some idea of what I was getting into, but coming at someone like this backwards means that the listener is in for a rude awakening no matter how much they read. Read More

Vanilla Fudge (1967)

Categories: 1967 and Music.

This is an excellent covers album featuring mostly (but not entirely) fairly radical interpretations of two Beatles songs, a Zombies song, an Impressions song, a Supremes song, a Cher song (made famous by Nancy Sinatra) and a song by artists I’ve never heard of. You must admire these guys for the breadth of these covers, showing an interest in music that is wide-ranging. Read More

Mellow Yellow (1967) by Donovan

Categories: 1967 and Music.

This feels like a transitional effort for Donovan. On the one hand there’s still some songs that feel like they could have been on Sunshine Superman (though they feel like outtakes to me) on the other and there are some more subdued singer-songwriter things that feel nearly completely at odds with his sort of “Swinging London onlooker” persona he seemed to cultivate. Read More

King of the Blues Guitar (1969) by Alberta King

Categories: 1967, 1969, and Music.

This si a reissue of Born Under a Bad Sign (released only two years before), with the addition of a few more tracks (at least the version I am listening to, which has 17 tracks compared to the 11 listed for the original LP). Born Under a Bad Sign was itself a compilation, this time of singles King had recorded when he moved to Stax. One of the reasons the record is so well regarded is because so many blues albums back then apparently lacked strong material. Born Under a Bad Sign is considered to be the first “modern” blues 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

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

Indian War Whoop (1967) by The Holy Modal Rounders

Categories: 1967 and Music.

I have not heard the first two albums, but, by all accounts, this one is the zaniest to date. And zany it is, as the band gets as out there as any “popular music” band in the States at the time, rivaled only by the Mothers. (Of course, there is a little more going on in the Mothers’ music.) I have to admire the sheer bravado; not only making extremely noisy, and extremely goofy, recordings – including recordings of traditional folk songs that are unrecognizable, but pairing it with some bizarre narrative (one the one side). It’s like a more Read More

Playtime (1967, Jacques Tati)

Categories: 1967 and Movies.

Technology is so confusing nowadays, yuk, yuk, yuk. Buildings these days are so big it takes forever to get anywhere, yuk, yuk, yuk. Aren’t Americans so ignorant? Yuk, yuk, yuk. (And what about those British!?!) Why with all the technology, modern architecture, and American tourists, a man just can’t live in this world like he used to. It’s a good thing life is so moderately amusing otherwise maybe I’d have to kill myself or retire or something. That’s generally what I think of this film when I don’t get my emotions out of the way. That being said, this is Read More

Far East Suite (1967, 2003) by Duke Ellington

Categories: 1967 and Music.

This is a great piece: it’s fun, it’s engaging, it’s remarkably varied and it does sort of feel like a grand statement. But I can’t help but feel like it’s a statement made 3/4s of a decade too late. Though Ellington’s ability to make himself relevant again and to build upon people who built upon him – there is a definite Mingus influence here – is remarkable, there is also the fact that jazz musicians had been flirting with far more radical “eastern” influences for some time. I am thinking specifically of Trane but also the severely under-appreciated Ahmed Abdul-Malik, Read More

At Last the 1948 Show (1967)

Categories: 1967 and TV.

This show hasn’t held up that well, so it is mainly of historical interest for anyone seeing the birth of a pretty ridiculous generation in English comedy (Python etc). There are some skits that are simply amazing however, there’s probably only 3-5 in the entire 5 episode run. The rest of them are mostly either ideas that just don’t work that well (Python would do better) or of the kind of stuff that the Goodies later did (and if you like the Goodies, you’d probably like this). It’s definitely worth viewing if you are a fan of any of the Read More

Billion Dollar Brain (1967, Ken Russell)

Categories: 1967 and Movies.

This is a strange one. I have only seen one other Harry Palmer movie and it definitely didn’t prepare me for this, though I guess the title should have. The film – and, presumably, the novel – suffers from the kind of nonsense ’60s spy tech-nonsense that dates so many James Bond movies. Harry Palmer is usually the anti-Bond, but here his plot is caught up in super computers and a bizarre climactic set-piece that has to be seen to be believed. This is my first Ken Russell, and I would be tempted to trace the oddness of this film 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