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

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

Face to Face (1966) by The Kinks

Categories: 1966 and Music.

I have come to the early Kinks records backwards, listening to their late 60s classics before these earlier records and so my experience of them is coloured by being far more familiar with Davies’ mature songs than his early songs, leading to me listening to his early songs and thinking they are not as good (shock of all shocks). Read More

Music from The Unrealized Film Script Dusk at Cubist Castle (1996) by The Olivia Tremor Control

Categories: 1996 and Music.

This is a rather ridiculous record that asks us to indulge this band’s impulses immediately. This is a debut album and yet it’s a double LP length and it’s full of 10 tracks with the same name and numerous experiment that could have been cut. When these guys want to write songs, they’re pretty good at it. But there’s just so much damn material here and lots of it isn’t up to the standards of the opening tracks. And this thing is just so damn worshipful of both 60s psychedelia and early 70s McCartney. If you like that stuff, well 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

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

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

Aoxomoxoa (1969) by the Grateful Dead

Categories: 1969 and Music.

This is the first Dead studio album to come after the ridiculous mindfuck that was Anthem of the Sun. This is much more representative of the Dead as a band (and, with hindsight, we can say especially as a band in the studio) but it’s far less interesting as a record. That’s not to say it’s bad, not at all. It’s just not crazy and life changing. In retrospect we can view it as a transition from the psychedelia and avant rock of their early records to the country and roots of the next year. But for the most part Read More

Live/Dead (1969) by the Grateful Dead

Categories: 1969 and Music.

Before this album was released, I suspect much of the world didn’t realize what the Dead actually sounded like. After all, they had only been around for a couple of years and their studio albums to this point didn’t exactly give you an idea of what they were like on stage (which, as we know, was where they shone). I don’t think it’s hyperbole to rank this among the greatest live rock albums ever made: no official live rock album had ever sounded like this before – nothing contained such long performances, nothing contained so much improvisation (and of such Read More

Projections (1966) by the Blues Project

Categories: 1966 and Music.

To some extent, I can see how the Blues Project could be dismissed as second rate Paul Butterfield, especially in their jammiest moments. But that criticism misses the vast stylistic variety the band displays (for the time), touching on garage rock and folk rock (and other genres) in addition to the blues jams. (Certainly the PBBB never wrote anything like Katz’s contributions, though that’s both a bad thing and a good thing.) The band inhabit a really weird place – not quite rock enough to fit in with bands such as Cream, not quite blues enough to fit in with Read More

The United States of America (1968 Columbia)

Categories: 1968 and Music.

This stuff is mind-blowing. 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 do get that having a singer like her was part of Read More

My Favourite Music Scene

Categories: Music.

Throughout the years, New York has been a hot bed of the avant garde, the new, and the different. And London has also been a real centre of forward thinking music. (Though with London – even more so than NY – many of the bands that were doing the forward thinking originated in other communities before moving to London.) But for me, the one scene that consistently excites me – when I go back to it, when I encounter new bands from it, and when I think about the overall creativity of a given time and place – actually was Read More