Tag: Blues Rock

1968, Music

Cheap Thrills (1968) by Big Brother and the Holding Company

In the version of the ’60s I got from ’90s music television, Cheap Thrills is one of the seminal documents of the San Francisco psychedelic scene. But listening to it for the first time all these years later, it’s hard to see why it was such a big deal. I guess it’s considered the best …

1973, Music

We’re An American Band (1973) by Grand Funk Railroad

I don’t know much about Grand Funk Railroad. I’ve heard the title track and a few other hits, but most of what I know of them consists of jokes about them from The Simpsons and other places, so I have kind of always dismissed them without giving it a second thought. And, since it’s been …

1983, Music

Texas Flood (1983) by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble

When I was first becoming a really serious music fan, Stevie Ray Vaughan was just one of the guitar greats. It was just assumed but it was hard to really question it. If you talked to more knowledgeable (inevitably male) music fans about which guitarists to listen to, SRV was always on the list. I …

1968, Music

It’s All About (1968) by Spooky Tooth

This is one of those records I thought about listening to a decade and a half ago and I’m just getting to it now. That’s often a recipe for disappointment as my tastes in my mid 30s are definitely not what they were in my early 20s.

1973, Music

Approximately Infinite Universe (1973) by Yoko Ono

My first encounter with Yoko Ono as the dominant performer (as opposed to Lennon) was with her Plastic Ono Band. I guess I wasn’t in the right mood for it, as it felt just way too directionless and faux avant garde to my ears at the time. (Some of the stuff they do on that …

1967, Music

Mr. Fantasy (1967) by Traffic

Traffic is one of those bands I’ve come at bass-ackwards, being way too familiar with their jazz rock reunion iteration and not very familiar with the original psychedelic rock band. It’s a stupid way of approaching any band, but particularly one that changed its identity as much as as Traffic did.

1977, Music

Slowhand (1977) by Eric Clapton

At some point during Clapton’s recovery from heroin addiction, his style of music changed rather drastically. He still played the blues but a lot of the fire and rawness of that playing was gone. His solo records from the ’70s (excepting the first one) all have a similar pop blues style, even if the individual …

1977, Music

Street Survivors (1977) by Lynyrd Skynyrd

This album is perhaps most famous for its unfortunate album cover, showing the band (nearly) engulfed in flames. Three days after this album was released, 2/7ths of Lynyrd Skynyrd and four other people were killed in a plane crash, including one of their backing vocalists. The album then became their most successful, as is often …

1982, Music

Ice Cream for Crow (1982) by Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band

If you have come at the Captain through his earliest works, this record might feel like not much or a man settling into his mid life. It’s far less radical than his most radical work of the early ’70s, wherein he basically pioneered the intersection of blues and free jazz and other things.

1992

Danzig III: How the Gods Kill (1992)

I have never heard Danzig before and, to the best of my knowledge, never heard Glenn Danzig before (except maybe on some Misfits song, but I think the only version of the band I’ve heard is one without him in it). And there’s something I am having a hard time shaking, which will likely infuriate …

1970, Music

Kooper Session (1970) by Al Kooper, Shuggie Otis

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 …

1970, Music

Easy Does it (1970) by Al Kooper

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 …

1968, 1969, Music

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

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 …

1976, Music

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

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 …

1971, Music

Fireball (1971) by Deep Purple

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 …

1966, Music

Yardbirds aka Roger The Engineer (1966)

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 …

1966, Music

The Blues Breakers with Eric Clapton (1966)

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 …

1966, Music

Animalisms (1966) by The Animals

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 …

1976, Music

Fly Like an Eagle (1976) by Steve Miller Band

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 …

1976, Music

Rocks (1976) by Aerosmith

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 …

1971, Music

Every Picture Tells a Story (1971) by Rod Stewart

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 …

1975, 1976, Music

High Voltage (1976) by AC/DC

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 …

1971, Movies

Pearl (1971) by Janis Joplin

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 …

1968, Music

Vincebus Eruptum (1968) by Blue Cheer

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 …

1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 2000, Music

The Jimi Hendrix Experience (2000)

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 …

1980, Music

Emotional Rescue (1980) by the Rolling Stones

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 …

1975, Music

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

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 …

1970, Music

Workingman’s Dead (1970) by the Grateful Dead

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 …