Wednesday, 3 April 2019

1001 Albums You Must Hear: An Alternative (Part 1 - Early 20th Century to 1969)




1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die was first published in 2005 by Universe Publishing. Edited by Robert Dimery, it contains a chronological list of albums chosen by a panel of music critics to be the most important, influential, and best in popular music between the 1950s and the 2000s. It was reissued in 2008 with a revised list, and again in 2011, 2013 and 2016. From first publication the list has been a topic of much debate, with some disagreement regarding albums left out or included; however, it is widely regarded as a very useful starting point for the main musical references of the late 20th century. As the 2005 book is the first and has the most impact, that is the list I've used here.

I'm working my way through the list, and also comparing it with other lists.


Albums marked $ are ones I agree with
Albums marked + are ones I have added to the list
Albums marked XX are ones I have removed
Albums marked RS are on Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Albums


Albums marked CCC are on Robert Christgau's Core Collection (pre-1980 albums)

Albums marked C4 are on Channel 4's 100 Greatest Albums 

Albums marked NM are on NARM The Definitive 200 

Albums marked G50 are on The Guardian 50 Albums That Changed Music 
Albums marked UC are on Uncut's 200 Greatest Albums Of All Time 

Albums marked NME are on NME's 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time  
Albums marked Q are on Q's 100 Greatest Albums Ever (2006)   




1940

Woody Guthrie Dust Bowl Ballads (MC) (CCC)   Guthrie underpins Bob Dylan and the whole singer-songwriter genre. He made folk music important and cool, and gave it social significance and political importance. His influence cannot be over stated, though is often under looked. Though some critics assert that St Peppers was the first concept albumDust Bowl Ballads came over 25 years earlier, and is a proper, fully conceived concept, dealing with a significant event - the Dust Bowl droughts in mid-America between 1934 and 1940, and gives the affected people a voice.  It is one of the earliest albums of popular music, and was released on six 78rpm discs in two folders or "albums".  Aside from its cultural and social significance, this is also a work that is artistically strong, and still sounds fresh and vivid nearly 80 years later. 
Bessie Smith Empress of The Blues  [2001 CD]    This is a 2001 compilation, but placed here in 1940, as this was her period.  
Glenn Miller - Glenn Miller   Released in 1945 shortly after Miller's death as a 4 disc set of 78s with two tracks on each disc, this was one of the first bestselling albums on the newly created Billboard album chart, staying at number one for 16 weeks. Glenn Miller was the most famous, popular and acclaimed big band leader of the 20th century. Many jazz critics dismiss his style of smooth swing as too commercial, preferring the snap and energy of Benny Goodman and Count Basie. I see what they mean, but I don't see the need to dismiss the one or other as both have their place and both require skill and artistry, just of a slightly different sort. The album linked to on Spotify is a 2010 release with 18 tracks, so is not the original 1945 album which only had eight tracks. 

***

1950 

Benny Goodman - The Famous 1938 Carnegie Hall Jazz Concert    Recorded in 1938 when Benny Goodman was at his height as a big band leader of jazz, this was released in 1950 as a three vinyl disc album, quite possibly the first such "triple album", and went on to sell over a million copies. Benny Goodman is regarded as the most important bandleader of the thirties, and hugely influential on the development of jazz music. The Carnegie Hall concert, the first jazz concert in that respectable venue, has been considered as potentially the most significant jazz concert of all time as it gave jazz both respectability and a wider audience. 

***

1952


Various Artists Anthology of American Folk Music (MC) (RS)  This collection is of cultural significance as the music contained here are the roots of pop, rock, folk and country - the four main music genres of the 20th century. The album was hugely influential on early Sixties folk artists, particularly Bob Dylan. As such it underpins not just American music, but world music. 

Gene Autry - Christmas Album   Autry was a very popular old fashioned Country & Western singer who had a series of hits in the Thirties and Forties, and became known as "The Singing Cowboy". He moved into TV and film in the Fifties, continuing to enjoy hits, especially with Christmas songs. He retired in 1964. Despite the date of this Spotify album saying 1947, I don't think he made a contemporary album of his Christmas songs. Indeed, some of the songs were first recorded after 1947. There are a number of compilation albums of his Christmas songs. This one is as good as any, and 1952 is I think the latest date for any of the songs included. 

***

1953


Professor Longhair - New Orleans Piano  (1972) (RS)  Instrumental in creating the New Orleans sound we associate with Fats Domino and Dr John. The album was released in 1972, but was composed of tracks previously released in the 40s and early 50s. Neither the Spotify nor the YouTube albums are the exact one, but the nearest I could find.   

Hank Williams Memorial Album  Hank Williams' significance is such that no list of 20th century music should be without him. This album - a posthumous compilation - was the first successful country album, and changed record buying habits.

***

1955

Frank Sinatra - In the Wee Small Hours (RS) (MC) (NM) (NME)  Another "concept" album created long before critics used the term. 

Fats Domino Rock and Rollin' with Fats Domino  Debut album which includes the hit single "The Fat Man" which is one of the songs considered as possibly the first rock and roll song.

Julie London Julie Is Her Name    In the 50s and early 60s jazz was a dominant form of music, and London's smooth, smoky, intimate approach, backed by Barney Kessel on guitar and Ray Leatherwood on bass, was hugely popular and quietly influential - it can be heard down the years in various singers.
Bill Haley - Rock Around The Clock / Shake Rattle and Roll The first rock and roll album. Originally released in 1955 as Shake Rattle and Roll it was re-released in December of that year under the title Rock Around The Clock, with a slightly changed song list, after the success of "Rock Around The Clock" as a single (which is a much sanitised version of "My Man Rocks Me" by Trixie Smith from 1922)


***

1956
Louis Prima – Wildest    
$ Frank Sinatra – Songs for Swingin’ Lovers! (RS) (C4) (G50)  This album has been famous for years. It has such style. Sinatra is one of the most significant and influential singers of the 20th century, and this is possibly his best album.  
Elvis Presley - Elvis Presley (RS) (CCC) (G50) (NM)  


Big Joe Turner Boss Of The Blues    Blues, jazz, boogie-woogie, and early rock n roll - there is little distinction on this album. Important in showing how related these genres actually were at the time. This is close in style and comparable to Louis Jordan. 

B.B. King – Singin' The Blues   Debut album. A lot of people feel his 1965 live album, Live at the Regal, is his most significant, but by 1965 his influence had already been felt, and those guitar players who were inspired by King - such as Clapton, Beck, and Page, had already taken his ideas and developed them further. The Yardbird's debut album was released in 1964, and albums by the Stones, Them, and the Who were all out before King's Regal album. Added to which, the recordings here are much crisper than the live album. 
Louis Jordan Somebody Up There Digs Me [also consider The Best of Louis Jordan (CCC) and Greatest Hits Vol. 2 (1941-1947) (CCC)]
Harry Belafonte Calypso The first million selling album, the first African-American pop star, and the roots of folk-rock
Billie Holiday Lady Sings The Blues (C4)   While I personally don't appreciate Holiday's voice or the type of songs she sings, her status is such that an album of her recordings should be on this list; however, I'm not sure that Lady In Satin is the right album, as it was recorded right at the end of her career when most folks consider her voice to be not at its best, there are sentimental strings all over the place to compensate, so any sense of her earthy Blues or sophisticated Jazz intonations are swamped by kitsch. I considered her first album Billie Holiday Sings (1952), but decided on Lady Sings The Blues because many regard it as the best compilation made during her lifetime - the songs are selected by Holiday herself, and include most of her legendary performances, such as "God Bless the Child", "Love Me Or Leave Me", and "Willow Weep For Me", which are missed out on Lady In Satin
Perez Prado - Havana, 3 a.m.    Cuban music would have a distinct influence on jazz and pop, and - slightly less so but still distinctive - on rock music. Tito Puente's 1958 Dance Mania was, albeit slowed down and smooth, fairly authentic, and was a big hit - but this is earlier, and 100% authentic. No compromises made here. This is powerful and gritty music. Perhaps both albums are needed.
Ravi Shankar –  Three Ragas  Shankar's debut album, recorded and released in London. His global influence starts here. 


XX Fats Domino This is Fats  Replaced by his 1955 debut album  

XX Louvin Brothers – Tragic Songs of Life    I pondered this for ages, as there is some appeal in this early country music, but with my addition of Gene Autry and Hank Williams, I feel that early country music is appropriately covered, and harmony singing is better covered by the Kingston Trio, and the comprehensive Doo Wop album. 

***


1957 



Sabu Martínez – Palo Congo    Afro-Cuban jazz percussionist. There's something attractively tribal and African about the sounds. Not sure that this is an important album though - it seems there were more important figures in the Afro-Cuban jazz movement. I like it though. Yes, go for it. 

Buddy Holly and The Crickets – The Chirping Crickets  (RS)  Still not sure about this. OK then. 
Little Richard – Here's Little Richard (RS)   Explosive.
Count Basie – Atomic Mr Basie    I don't like jazz, and I expected to remove this listing because Basie tends to be presented as jazz, but the energetic and rhythmic nature of this album gave me pause for thought - this is big band music with an emphasis on swing, rather than straight jazz, so is more melodic and appealing. Count Basie is a big figure in big band swing & jazz, and his best period appears to be around 1957 when he cut this album as well as April In Paris and Count Basie At Newport, two other highly regarded albums worth listening to. 

Nat King Cole After Midnight   Hugely popular and influential middle of the road pop singer - almost defined the genre. Informed by his jazz background, he gently swung and swayed through the 40s and 50s. 
Chuck Berry - After School Session There has to be a Chuck Berry album, the man is so important. Chuck Berry Is on Top is his third album, and is a contender purely through the choice of songs which at first glance might give it the impression of a greatest hits compilation, except it was genuinely his third album, and was released in 1959. Rolling Stone and Christgau selected The Great Twenty-Eight, a 1981 compilation. My selection is this, his debut album, because it has the significance of being his debut, plus it contains his early, groundbreaking singles, along with some interesting album tracks, so it stands as a proper album.


XX Thelonious Monk – Brilliant Corners  A respected jazz figure, but he didn't really cross over, remaining a musician purely for jazz fans, and even they place him lower than Coltrane and Miles, so I am removing him from this list. 

XX Machito – Kenya  More Afro-Cuban jazz, this time in a big band swing format with a salsa beat. This is a little boring. I much prefer the African rhythms of Sabu Martínez

XX Miles Davis – Birth of the Cool   Jazz was the big sound in the Fifties and early Sixties, and Miles Davis is one of the most respected figures in jazz. This is a well regarded album, and is generally in the lower top 5 of lists of Davis' best albums, and does appear on several best of jazz lists, though generally not high - this survey of 22 lists puts it at 44 overall. Though released in 1957, the album is a collection of tracks originally released in the Forties.  The main claim to notability is the recording's influence on cool jazz, though neither the original singles nor the album were well received at the time, and Davis moved on to other forms of jazz quite quickly, and the development of cool jazz happened around and apart from these recordings, so any claimed significance is retrospective, and possibly due to Davis' later importance. Brubeck's 1959 release Time Out is generally considered a more popular and influential cool jazz album. 

***

1958 

Tito Puente & His Orchestra – Dance Mania  Lively, clean and snappy. Latin music - mambo style.

Jackie Wilson - He's So Fine The debut album by this hugely popular and influential R&B/Soul singer. 

The Kingston Trio The Kingston Trio  Hugely popular acoustic folk trio who paved the way for folk-rock, and who made the long playing album a popular format. This is their debut album. 

XX Billie Holiday – Lady in Satin (See Lady Sings The Blues 1956

XX Jack Elliott – Jack Takes the Floor Swapped for Woody Guthrie 

XX Sarah Vaughan – At Mister Kelly’s   Her 1955 debut with Clifford Brown, Sarah Vaughan, is perhaps more representative and significant, but after consideration, neither of these albums strikes me as significant enough to be albums anyone must hear. 


***

1959

Miles Davis – Kind of Blue (RS) (MC) (NM) (G50) (Q)   A milestone in modern jazz. Hugely respected. It's smoky cool, with just the odd bit of stretched trumpet and sax - mostly it swings in a surprisingly poppy and listenable manner. This was modern jazz rediscovering melody. 
Marty Robbins – Gunfighter Ballads & Trail Songs   I'm not convinced by this, but keeping it on the list for now. It'll be first up against the wall come the revolution, though. 
Dave Brubeck – Time Out (NM)   Wow! I've just come to this from Miles Davis's Birth of the Cool as another example of cool jazzI can hear the cool jazz here, and the reaching into the future. This is so much more advanced than that album.  OK, there are something like 10 years separating the recordings, but it feels so much more than that. The Davis album feels stuck in the past, narrow, lacking style, melody and ambition compared to this. Time Out is so modern - it sounds in places like a Seventies jazz fusion band, like something by Weather Report. There seems a real joy in playing, and an understanding of music as a pleasure, rather than a mathematical exercise. This is fine stuff! 


Cliff Richard (and The Shadows) - Cliff (contains "Move It") Why listen to this? The success and popularity of Elvis Presley influenced young men (and pop Svengalis) to copy him. Cliff Richard was the first and most popular copyist in the UK, and continued to be a pop favourite throughout the 20th century. His backing band, The Shadows, were formed during the making of this album under the name The Drifters, and became the first big guitar band in the UK, creating the first guitar heroes in Jet Harris and Hank Marvin. Their four piece guitar led set up, and their plunky playing style, influenced a generation. The song "Move It" is widely regarded as the first rock and roll song recorded outside the USA. 

Eddie Cochran Eddie Cochran  I'm re-considering this now I have Loud, Fast & Out Of Control.   

Various Loud, Fast & Out Of ControlThe Wild Sounds Of '50s Rock  (1999)  A comprehensive 4 CD  collection of 50s rock n roll, has the best of Jerry Lee Lewis, Gene Vincent, Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly, etc, plus a round-up of lesser known artists who were part of the rockabilly feel of the late 50s. 
The Coasters - Greatest Hits  (2005) Falling between doo-wop and early rock n roll, The Coasters were an outlet for Leiber and Stroller, the prolific and significant rock n roll song-writing and production team.  This compilation was released in 2005, but their main period was the end of the Fifties - some of the songs were released in the Sixties, but it's the Fifties songs that are the most significant. 

XX Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Gershwin Song Book I think it is indisputable that there should be a Ella Fitzgerald album because she is so acclaimed, and there is good argument for the album being one of the Song Book series - each one being a generous study of one of the great early to mid century American songwriters. I'm not entirely sure, though, that the albums are representative of what Fitzgerald is famous for, and so the albums become more about the songs than about the singer, and the size of the albums is daunting. And, anyway, if it was to be one of the Song Books then the first one, Cole Porter, might be more appropriate, as it set the trend, and the songs seem more suited to Fitzgerald's style. Or, if it was to be the Gershwins, then the 1950 Ella Sings Gershwin is more manageable, focused, intimate, feels like a proper album, contains some awesome deliveries (less like someone knocking off songs on a conveyor belt, and more like someone singing like she meant it). Her live albums, particularly Ella In Rome and Ella In Berlin, are where she shows what she was famous for - scatting on a song, using her voice like a jazz instrument.

XX Ray Charles – Genius of Ray Charles (RS)  Charles doing Frank Sinatra, and failing. 



***

The Sixties

1960

Joan Baez – Joan Baez   Baez is an important figure in the American folk revival and the development of folk rock, so some awareness of her I agree is important. This is her debut album, and works well enough to give good idea of her singing and her style. It is also widely regarded as her most significant album. 
Muddy Waters – At Newport (RS) Muddy Waters was one of the originators of the Chicago blues, the hot, beefy, electrified blues. When he toured Britain in 1958 he caused something of a stir, somewhat similar to Dylan's 1966 tour when Dylan went electric. However, he also inspired the members of his support band who went on to form Blues Incorporated, the Rolling Stones, Cream, and Fleetwood Mac. This is a live recording of his appearance at Newport two years later, and catches him at his creative peak. Important and essential. 



Etta James At Last! (RS) (NM)


Ella Fitzgerald Ella In Berlin  After a bit of thought, I have swapped the Gershwin Song Book for In Berlin. This is such an awesome recording and really shows her at her best. Her ad-libbing and scatting is creative and of a very high order, and her voice is superb, relaxed, confident, and very at ease with the songs she is doing.  

Various The Very Best of Doo-Wop (2015) This album was released in 2015, but the height of doo-wop was 1960. I may select an album by a significant doo-wop artist as representative of the genre, but on the whole they weren't really about albums, and part of the significance is that this was a fairly widespread genre of easy to make, easy to listen to, and easy to copy music that found its way into The Beach Boys, The Beatles, and other early 60s significant groups, including Frank Zappa. This album is very useful in rounding up a bunch of the best known songs and bands. 
Various - The Best of the Girl Groups (1990) (RS) (CCC)  
Karlheinz Stockhausen Kontakte    Serious experimentation in music starts here. Challenging, yes, but rewarding to those willing to listen. 
The Cannonball Adderley Quintet   In San Francisco   Adderley was a hard bop and soul jazz musician.  Hard bop was a development of the bebop or bop style of jazz - technical and insular, blending it with RnB to create a more rhythmic and appealing style of music.  Adderley took hard bop a step further with this album and created soul jazz. Somethin' Else (1958), which uses Miles Davies and Art Blakey as part of his band, is regarded as his best and an essential jazz recording, though In San Francisco is the funkier album and the most significant for those outside of jazz circles as it led to jazz fusion and jazz rock

XX Jimmy Smith – Back at the Chicken Shack We have Dave Brubeck for popular elevator mood jazz, and we have Book T and the MG's for soulful Hammond organ playing, so there's little place for this. 



***


1961


Sun Ra The Futurist Sounds of Sun Ra  1961 was in the middle of the height of jazz, and nearly all the big names come in this period. Sun Ra is not one of the big names, but his approach to jazz is the most modern and most melodic and most inventive. 

Ike & Tina Turner The Soul of Ike and Tina Turner  Tina at her most powerful and soulful at the same time as Ike is still creating tight and soulful rhythms. Ike & Tina would reproduce many of these songs on other albums throughout their carer, including on the messy River Deep - Mountain High (1966) album, but while they could improve the production and recording, they could never again catch the raw primaeval energy of Tina on this album. If you think you've heard Tina Turner, and you've never heard this album, then you've never really heard her. Put on the headphones, turn it up loud, and be prepared to be awed.  
Erik Darling True Religion  Haunting, beautiful, breathtaking versions of various folk songs. The banjo playing is stunning - he makes that instrument sound so profound. I doubt if the banjo has ever been played so well. 


Various West Side Story   Re-recorded in 1998 by Bernstein with top opera singers. 
+ Bobby Bland - Two Steps From The Blues   Yes, you need to hear this. Masterly and important blend of gospel, blues and R&B




***

1962

Booker T. & the M.G.'s – Green Onions  Soul and RnB with a funky groove and a soul jazz swing. There isn't a huge difference between this and what Cannonball Adderley, Art Blakey and Ramsey Lewis were doing, indicating that musicians were sharing and exchanging ideas across genres, which would lead to jazz fusion and jazz rock.
Ray Price – Night Life  I was going to reject this at first because it's just another country singer, but then I read about his achievements, and listened a little closer to his music. Hmmmm. Pondering..... Willie Nelson plays bass and backing vocals on this album, and provides two songs. Yes - this does seem to be a significant album. 
Ray Charles - Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music  (RS) (CCC) I'm struggling with this - it's really quite boring. I mean, really, really boring.  OK, I'm getting it now. It's on the list, but by it's fingertips....

Gene Pitney The Many Sides of Gene Pitney  Debut album of a successful early Sixties pop singer with a soulful voice. A split trousers incident impacted on his reputation. Over half the songs on the album were written by Pitney. 

Ruth Brown Along Comes Ruth  Significant early R&B singer who was so important to the success and development of Atlantic Records that they nicknamed the label "the house that Ruth built", and Brown was the first singer to be called "The Queen of R&B". 
Alexis Korner's Blues Incorporated R&B from the Marquee  Significant in the history and development of R&B and electric blues in the UK. 

The Four Seasons Sherry & 11 Other Hits  Debut album of one of the most successful male vocal groups, and contains "Big Girls Don't Cry".  

XX Stan Getz & Charlie Byrd – Jazz Samba   This is pleasant, but the real cool jazz / bossa nova album is of course Getz/Gilberto in 1963.


***

1963

James Brown – Live at the Apollo (RS) (CCC) (G50) 
Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (RS) (MC) (CCC) (NME) 
Stan Getz & João Gilberto – Getz/Gilberto (RS)   Cool jazz and bossa nova. Beautiful and so very cool and stylish. One of those great albums that both define the music styles they use, and completely transcend them. This is a classic. And it contains the album version of "The Girl From Ipanema". 

The Miracles - The Fabulous Miracles The debut, and contains "You Really Got A Hold On Me".

Sandy Bull - Fantasias for Guitar and Banjo    Instrumental work - just Bull on guitar or banjo and Billy Higgins on drums. They play around with folk, jazz, classical Indian, and Arabian music styles in an improvisational manner that would later be termed psychedelic when used by the Beatles and others. 
Barbra Streisand The Barbra Streisand Album The debut album by one of the best selling and most honoured female singers in history.
The Beatles Please Please Me (RS) (NME) The debut album and a great album in its own right, which still stands up today. 


XX Phil Spector – A Christmas Gift for You (RS)  See Back to Mono (1969), which contains this album, plus all Spector's singles.

XX The Beatles – With the Beatles (RS) One of their weak albums. After the debut, they made a few middling albums, none of which matched the quality of their debut, though getting increasingly better until the revolution that was Rubber Soul

XX Charles Mingus – Black Saint & the Sinner Lady No need for Mingus when we have Duke Ellington who is more melodic. 

XX Sam Cooke – Live at the Harlem Square (RS) (NME) (Released 1985) This has been acclaimed by some reviewers as not only being one of the greatest live albums ever made, but also that it's better than James Browns Live At The Appolo. For fuck's sake. This album wasn't released until 1985 because it sounds dreadful, not because it has too much raw energy. The sound is muddy, its shit, and Cooke's wonderful voice is lost in the murk, occasionally sounding weak and tinny, at other times strained beyond his comfort zone. It's really an appalling violation of Sam Cooke's voice and music; indeed, of music in general. Compare the studio "Chain Gang" with the live "Chain Gang". On the studio his voice is warm, expressive, detailed, quite sublime. On the live version his voice is rough, forced, and he substitutes the genuine elegance and feel of the studio cut with strain and warble so he sounds like a karaoke singer trying too hard. Now listen to "Lost Someone" from James Brown Live At The Apollo. Phew! There is no comparison. The James Brown live recording is the real thing. The Sam Cooke live tape should have been burned so nobody could exploit his name by releasing it. 



***

1964

Jacques Brel – Olympia 64  
Rolling Stones – Rolling Stones (England's Newest Hit Makers)   The band's debut album. 


Davey Graham Folk, Blues and Beyond  Significant British folk guitarist and singer. Proto folk-rock. 

The Yardbirds - Five Live Yardbirds    That opening lick to the first song on this live album, "Too Much Monkey Business", introduces Eric Clapton to the world. His blistering electric guitar through the song is stunning, and demonstrates clearly why he was called God. But this isn't just about Clapton and his inspiring guitar work, it's about the attitude and style of this early example of British R&B. This is 1964, and the world would not be the same again.
The Temptations - Meet The Temptations    The debut album of possibly the most significant Motown vocal group. Collects together three years worth of singles written and produced by a variety of Motown's major figures including Smokey Robinson, Berry Gordy, and Norman Whitfield, with whom the group would later do their most significant work. The quality is variable, but that is part of the interest, and is both reflective of what was happening during the early years of Motown as they developed doo-wop into soul, and of the vocal strengths of The Temptations even at this early stage of their career. 
Leo Ferre Verlaine et Rimbaud   French poet and composer. In this album (one of the first double albums in popular music) he sets poems by Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine to music. 
Phil Ochs - All The News That's Fit to Sing   Protest singer in the style of Bob Dylan. 

XX The Beatles – A Hard Day’s Night (RS) (NME) 

XX Solomon Burke – Rock ‘n’ Soul The Wikipedia article suggests that Burke was a significant transitional figure in the development of soul music. I shall look more into that, but I'm not hearing anything significant on this album given the date. It all sounds a bit behind the times compared to work by Otis Reading, Sam Cooke, and Ray Charles. A lot of the songs, production, and singing style are old fashioned and twee. It's also a bit all over the place, there's little focus. It sounds a bit amateurish in places. Some songs work, but some suck big time! I'm now listening to and considering his debut 1962 album Solomon Burke. Nope, I don't see the importance. An interesting footnote, but not essential. 

XX Buck Owens – I've Got a Tiger by the Tail 

XX Jerry Lee Lewis – Live at the Star Club, Hamburg    For early rock n roll and rockabilly see Various Loud, Fast & Out Of ControlThe Wild Sounds Of '50s Rock  (placed in 1959) 


***

1965

The Beach Boys – Today! (RS)
Bert Jansch – Bert Jansch   

Bob Dylan – Bringing it All Back Home (RS) (CCC) (G50) (NM)

The Beatles – Rubber Soul (RS) (CCC) (NM) (NME) (Q)   
Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited (RS) (CCC) (NM) (Q)  
The Beatles – Revolver (RS) (MC) (C4) (NM) (NME)  (Q)
The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds (RS) (MC) (C4) (NM) (G50) (UC) (NME) (Q)  
John Coltrane – A Love Supreme (RS) (C4) (NM)    One of the, if not the, most acclaimed jazz albums. Jazz as a popular and cool music format was pretty much over by 1965. From the mid Sixties onwards those who played jazz found themselves an audience that was diminishing in size but increasing in loyalty. That loyalty depended on the musicians concentrating more on the mathematics of the music, and less on the swing, melody and soul. Jazz that retained any reasonable popularity was blended with other styles in jazz fusion and jazz rock. This album sort of marks that moment of transition from being cool and popular to being intense and cliquey. 
$ Otis Redding  Otis Blue… Sings Soul (RS) (G50) 


Burt Bacharach Hit Maker  One of the most successful, recognisable and enduring pop composers of the 20th century - his compositions are the background to everyday life in the Sixties, and to a lesser extent the Seventies. He wrote pop songs for Dionne Warwick, Tom Jones, The Carpenters, etc, and his songs have been sung by just about every significant Sixties pop singer. Difficult to get an album to capture all he has done - there have been various compilations issued, and a 6 disc "Art of The Songwriter" collection was released in 2013. His debut album in 1965 consisted of Bacharach singing his own songs with session musicians Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones supporting him. His career is quite astonishing, and I may do an article him in order to get to know him better. 
The Miracles Going to a Go-Go (RS)
John Fahey The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death  Psychedelic and American folk by a stunning though little known acoustic guitarist. See also  The Great San Bernardino Birthday Party & Other Excursions     
Jackson C. Frank Jackson C. Frank  Deserves to be better known. This is his only album, he struggled to make the album, and couldn't handle making another.
The Beau Brummels Introducing The Beau Brummels Damn fine album. The Brummels were an engaging band, following the trends of the day, but never quite cutting edge, and without songs powerful or profound enough to really stand out. However, the first album shows them emerging as energetic Byrds/Beatles/Beach Boys copyists, and doing so very well. 

The Yardbirds - For Your Love  This is an America only compilation which captures the Yardbirds in transition. Most of the tracks had been released as singles in the UK, and back in the early Sixties in the UK  previously released singles weren't put on albums, though they were in the US. There are electric blues and RnB numbers with Clapton, and the psychedelic "For Your Love", which caused Clapton to leave the band because psychedelic music  wasn't electric blues  - but which he later embraced in Cream, and there are the first tracks with Clapton's replacement Jeff Beck. Beck's playing on "I Ain't Done Wrong" shows he was the perfect replacement.  A fascinating document which contains some excellent tracks and some impressive guitar playing from both Clapton and Beck. 
The Beatles Help! (RS) 
Graham Bond Organisation The Sound of 65   Debut album of the short lived GBO, which contain Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker who would go on to form Cream, and Dick Heckstall-Smith who was in Blues Incorporated and would later form Colosseum. This album has a jazzy take on some gritty British RnB and stands between the raw RnB of Blues Incorporated and the sophisticated psychedelic RnB of Cream.  

XX The Byrds - Mr Tambourine Man (RS) Tedious album, badly sung imitations of Dylan and The Beatles. The appeal of The Byrds is lost on me - I think it's an American thing. The UK had Donovan, so our affections tend to go to him. The title track popularised the Rickenbacker 12 string, and created a lasting trend for what is termed jangle pop, but as regards the development of folk rock, I find Fred Neil's Bleeker Street more attractive and imaginative. 

XX The Sonics – Here Are The Sonics  Gosh this is a bit crude. They seem to be jumping on the British Invasion bandwagon with an attempt at British beat and British RnB, but they are very bad. This is not The Angry Young Them, or Kinda Kinks, or anything anywhere near as good at those, but Here Are The Sonics is selected, but not those. How seriously warped is that? 
XX B.B. King – Live at the Regal (RS) (CCC)  See 1956 Singin' The Blues
XX  The Who – My Generation (RS) (G50)  It's the debut album of The Who, and it contains "My Generation" and "The Kids Are Alright", but the rest of the album is not of that standard, and does not stand out from other 1965 debuts such as The Zombies Begin Here, which contains "She's Not There", The Easybeat's Easy, which contains "She's So Fine", The Lovin' Spoonful's Do You Believe In Magic, which contains the title song, and Golden Earring's Just Ear-rings.  For a decent overview of The Who in the Sixties see 1971 Meaty, Beaty, Big And Bouncy.

***


Nico – Chelsea Girl   
Cream – Disraeli Gears (RS)    Introduces some jazz rhythm approaches and ideas to British electric blues, hinting at jazz rock
Simon & Garfunkel – Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme (RS) or Greatest Hits (RS) (1972) 
Astrud Gilberto – Beach Samba   The singer of "The Girl From Ipanema". This album has some of that pleasant Sixties innocence and cool. It's nice. 
The Kinks – Face to Face  Awesome. The Kinks best album, and sadly overlooked. While critics acclaimed Sgt Peppers, Ray Davies' masterpiece has been overlooked. 
Rolling Stones – Aftermath (RS) (CCC)  

Love – Forever Changes (RS) (CCC) (C4) (Q)  
The Beatles – Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (RS) (MC) (C4) (NM) (G50) (NME) (Q)  The most hyped album in the history of music - so yes, you have to listen to it to have an opinion. Its status as the greatest album ever made has diminished over the years, so these days it is not even regarded as the best album the Beatles made, let alone the best album ever. The opening is dramatic with the orchestra warming up, and a sense of anticipation from audience noises, then a McCartney tongue-in-cheek rock number segues in with music hall pieces giving us an idea that something is about to happen, and Lennon's sardonic voice prepares us further for something special, and it builds in excitement and anticipation to deliver us Ringo singing the lumpen "With A Little Help From My Friends" - clearly some sort of in-joke that critics have tolerated over the years, but clearly has now worn thin. The song that should appear after the opening, "Lucy In The Sky" now appears, and pulls us back to the possibility that this will be a great album. And so it goes on - some good tracks, and some weak tracks. For me there are too many weak tracks, and even the good tracks I don't find that worthwhile. "Lucy" is a tight, closed track, with a lumpen rhythm, and predictable progression - as a piece of psychedelia it is rather timid. "Getting Better" sounds like something from Revolver, so it's not a progression.  

Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde (RS) (CCC) (NME) (Q)  

Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention – Freak Out! (RS)  Debut album by a fascinating and always challenging artist. Zappa was an intelligent, knowing, knowledgeable, and interesting artist, but his material is rarely profound or engages the emotion because of a lack of spiritual commitment. He was always a step removed, and sneered too much, or had his tongue too far into his cheek. When he did lay himself on the line and commit seriously, as in Hot Rats, he could produce profound, transcendental music; or when he was genuinely, openly playful, as in the Live Filmore East album, he could be surprisingly entertaining. But mostly he engaged in trite political snaps or musical parodies, as though afraid to commit. This album reminds me a bit of The Barron Knights, who also did music parodies However, for all its flaws, it is an interesting document. 
Fred Neil –  Fred Neil   



Various What's Shakin'  Elektra compilation sampler which has the only recordings of Eric Clapton's Powerhouse, plus the earliest recordings of The Lovin' Spoonful, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and Al Kooper, plus a track by Tom Rush. Aside from the importance and rarity of the recordings, this is a fascinating glimpse into the early development of electric folk and blues on both sides of the Atlantic. 

The Spencer Davis Group - The Second Album     This is good. I might well keep this.
The Seeds - A Web of Sound   A typical garage band, representative of the period. This is their second album, and does the usual things until the second track on side two: "Up In Her Room". It's a clear take on Van Morrison's "Gloria", but adds a neat Bo Diddley beat, moves into a hypnotic psychedelic Doors vamp of "Gloria" with a bit of organ, and then gets noisy and repetitive like the Velvets' "Sister Ray". But this is 1966, a year before the Velvets and the Doors, and two years before "Sister Ray". Yes, you need to hear this! Their debut album, also from 1966, The Seeds (this Spotify album contains both albums), is also interesting. 
Small Faces - Small Faces  This is hot. 
Sam & Dave Hold On, I'm Comin'  Sam & Dave epitomised the sweaty gritty Memphis sound - rhythmic blasting horns, and a drop dead beat. This is their debut, with their biggest hit "Hold On, I'm Coming". The 1969 The Best of Sam & Dave (CCC), is a useful sampler, but this album contains all you need, and was issued at their peak. 
The Fugs - The Fugs First Album    Satirical protest rock band formed by Beat and counter-culture poets Ed Sanders and Tuli Kupferberg. Captures the mood of the mid-Sixties. Contains ideas picked up by The Incredible String Band. 
Cream - Fresh Cream  (RS)   World changer. Debut album of one of the most important bands in rock music. Includes jazz approaches to electric blues that were influential on jazz rock

XX Buffalo Springfield – Again (RS) [see Retrospective 1969]

XX The 13th Floor Elevators – Psychedelic Sounds  See Nuggets 1972 

XX The Mamas & the Papas – If You Can Believe Your Eyes & Ears (RS) They were a singles band. Swapped for Hits of Gold (1969) 

XX The Monkees – Headquarters This is crap. The band were a joke - a bit of fun, with some decent songs written by experienced professional songwriters such as Goffin and King, and they retained a public affection, but nobody takes them seriously. They are no better than other popular bands, like The Bay City Rollers. This is an album in which they write and play their own songs in a weak pastiche of the Beatles, and it exposes their lack of ability. At most a short greatest hits album could sum them up, such as this 1976 Greatest Hits album, but even better would be a couple of representative tracks on a bubblegum music compilation would be enough. See Various Sugar Sugar: The Birth of Bubblegum Pop (2012) (which also includes The Bay City Rollers!) 

XX Paul Revere & the Raiders – Midnight Ride   This is quite likable, but also quite second rate and run of the mill. The band seemed to be quite good at copying other bands, and you can hear the Beach Boys and British Invasion bands in their music, but all their songs are inferior to the bands they are copying, and there's no breaking new ground. I should imagine for Americans of a certain age there is some nostalgia value, for I understand they were quite successful in America in the Sixties, but other than that they are not significant. 
XX Nina Simone – Wild is the Wind   See 1969 - See-Line Woman: The Best of Nina Simone. 
XX The Who – Sell Out (RS)  (CCC)  Songs interspersed with adverts and jingles to give the impression of a pirate radio station. Critics love this one because of the gimmick of the jingles and adverts. They get excited over such gimmicks, and call this a concept album. The adverts irritate after the first listen (much as they tend to irritate on real commercial radio, which is why we prefer music without adverts, so putting in adverts seems a pretty daft idea). Anyway - take away that gimmick, and the album really has to stand or fall by the quality of the songs. They are mostly indifferent. There is only one decent song, "I Can See For Miles", the rest are sub Kinks songs with some humour and an attempt at a narrative which even when they work, such as "Odorono", "Tattoo", and "Mary Anne With The Shaky Hand" are not enough to save the album. 
XX The Monks – Black Monk Time  Bo Diddley rhythms combined with a tongue-in-cheek DIY attitude. What holds me back is that the appeal is limited, and that it seems the band can't make up their mind if they want to be taken seriously. The casual attitude has some appeal, but the resulting tone is amateur local band rather than anything authentic or meaningful. I suspect the band started out tongue-in-cheek, found people liked it, and so retained the amateur humour thinking that was their USP. As it turned out, people beyond their fan base were not impressed, and the band did not have either the ambition or the skills (or perhaps both) to lift themselves into serious music, so they died out. People looking back have found them a fun curiosity (which they are) but there are are also some earnest claims to their musicianship and importance which is as amateur and laughable as the band themselves! 
XX The Yardbirds – The Yardbirds / Roger the Engineer (RS)   The album is called The Yardbirds, but is widely known as Roger The Engineer because of the cover drawing of the album's engineer, Roger Cameron. This is the Jeff Beck version of The Yardbirds, and comes after the band had already made their impact. For better examples of the band's impact and importance See 1965 For Your Love  and 1964  Five Live Yardbirds  
XX Love – Da Capo    Nice parts, and you can hear the promise that would result in Forever Changes, but the band are not quite there yet. This is too scrappy to be a classic, and is of interest only because it's by the band who made Forever Changes. The jury is out on the 14 minute "Revelation", which is the most interesting and ambitious track on the album - though it does fail. 
XX The Byrds – Fifth Dimension   - I'm preferring Younger Than Yesterday (1967) 


***

1967


The Byrds - Younger Than Yesterday (RS) (NME)  
The Kinks – Something Else (RS)   In my blog article on the Kinks I was fairly down on this album, despite it having some of my favourite Kinks songs. Listening again just recently, and I think I was a bit harsh. 
Young Rascals – Groovin’   White soul.    
Traffic – Traffic    Jazz, rock, folk, soul, and fusion.  Intelligent, thoughtful, inventive and pleasant music with one of the great soul voices: Steve Winwood. This was Traffic's debut album. 
Velvet Underground – White Light/White Heat (RS)  Not as groundbreaking, awe-inspiring or beautiful as the debut album, this album is nevertheless a fascinating artefact with some challenging and unique pieces. Well worth listening to. 
Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced (RS) (CCC) (C4) (NM) (G50) (Q)  The debut album of rock's most flamboyant guitarist. It's impact can be detected in the difference between Clapton's guitar on Fresh Cream and Disraeli Gears
Rolling Stones – Beggars Banquet (RS) (CCC) (NM) 

Velvet Underground The Velvet Underground & Nico (RS) (MC) (C4) (G50) (NME) (Q)  One of the great artistic achievements of mankind. 

The Doors – The Doors (RS) (MC) (C4) (NM) (Q)   

The Incredible String Band –  The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion    1968's Hangman's Beautiful Daughter is the band's better known album and is generally the one that critics like, however 5000 Spirits contains the same approach, instruments and ideas, is earlier, and - for me - is much more light-hearted, fun and inventive. I would select 5000 Spirits over Hangman in a heartbeat.

The Red Crayola (or Red Krayola) - The Parable Of Arable Land Fascinating and fun. 

The Moody Blues Days of Future Passed  Why listen to this? Released in November 1967, this is considered a landmark fusion album, combining classical, pop and r 'n' b music styles that would later develop into progressive rock. It is a serious album, further developing some of the ideas explored on The Beatles Sgt. Pepper's album released in May. The album is a song cycle (or "concept") with a theme of a day; it starts with "The Day Begins" and concludes with the breathtaking "Nights In White Satin". The songs don't tell a unified story, but they do share the theme of parts of the day organised in sequence. 

The Nice The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack  Psychedelic and prog-rock. This serves as a useful companion piece to Days of Future Passed, especially in terms of the hard and excessive instrumentation that was (still is?) such a negative component of prog-rock. Keyboard player Emerson would go on to form ELP, who did the same stuff. It's all here. Emerson didn't advance beyond this. 

Arlo Guthrie Alice's Restaurant   This article may give some clue as to why this should be included. 

The Hollies Greatest Hits Released just after Graham Nash left the band. The Hollies were essentially a singles band, and during their early career almost all their singtles were released separelty from the albums - this was the first album to collect them together. There are also later greatest hits compilations which include Air That I Breathe and He Aint Heavy He's My Brother, which would give a more rounded experience, but I haven't yet found the right one. 
Mississippi John Hurt -  The Immortal   Delicate, beautiful finger picking blues. He was recorded in 1928, but his records didn't sell, so he continued working as a share-cropper. He was sought out in 1963, when he was in his Seventies, and he recorded some material before he died in 1966. This is an excellent example of his work - more folk than blues, and surprisingly modern. 
Procol Harum -  Procol Harum   Procul Harem are important in moving music on from RnB and British blues (which is evident on their first album) and into psychedelic and progressive music with their use of classical music ideas. Critics tend to like the 1969 album  A Salty Dog but in addition to capturing that moment of transition from British RnB into progressive music, the debut contains "Conquistador", and the US release also contains "A Whiter Shade of Pale" which makes it pretty essential. 
Gary Burton - Duster   Ambient fusion/jazz-rock.  Two years earlier than Miles Davis' In a Silent Way, Burton's album explores similar territory. As Burton was not as well known, this didn't have the impact, but is worth listening to as part of the history of the development of fusion. 
Bob Dylan - John Wesley Harding (RS) (CCC) (NME)  
The Doors  - Strange Days (RS)   


XX Shivkumar Sharma / Brij Bushan Kabra / Hariprasad Chaurasia – Call of the Valley Classical Indian music that apparently had something of an impact at the time in America. Ravi Shankar had a more significant global impact. 

XX Electric Prunes – I Had too Much to Dream (Last Night)  Replaced by Nuggets 

XX Merle Haggard – I’m a Lonesome Fugitive Placed on this list, along with Buck Owens, because of the association with the Bakersfield Sound, a minor Country music variation. You need to be a real fan of Country music to appreciate this stuff. 

XX Frank Sinatra - Frank Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim    This bossa-nova stuff is sounding dated in 1967, especially as sung by Sinatra, and had been done better - as in Getz/Gilberto in 1963. This is not cool - it's rather old. 
XX Loretta Lynn – Don’t Come Home a Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ on Your Mind)   Plinky plonky red neck country music. The title says it all. 
XX Moby Grape – Moby Grape (RS)   Sounding like the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, and Big Brother & The Holding Company, but much more blues and rock focused, and lacking the psychedelic touches that made those bands famous, this points more toward the Band than their San Francisco compatriots. Worthy and competent, this is widely acknowledged as the band's best album. I have my doubts, though, as Big Brother & The Holding Company's 1967 debut album has more of interest, so I might be inclined to include that instead, so will exclude it for now. 
XX Jimi Hendrix – Axis: Bold as Love (RS)   
XX Donovan – Sunshine Superman  - See 1969  Greatest Hits 
XX Beau Brummels – Triangle  The band were engaging in the styles of the day, and this is their psychedelic/baroque album. Nicely done, but limited in comparison to other such albums of the day.  See 1965 Introducing The Beau Brummels 
XX Jefferson Airplane – Surrealistic Pillow (RS)  This is often cited as one of the early albums of psychedelic rock . The band's second album, but the first with Grace Slick, the tracks "White Rabbit" and "Somebody To Love", which Slick brought over from her previous band, are awesome. The rest of the album I struggle with, as I do with other Airplane material. I've never quite got them. They do have a muscular yet rhythmic sound, which would be heard in a lot of bands going into the Seventies, with robust singing by Slick, and they have psychedelic flourishes on the lead guitar, with some funky soulful strumming on the rhythm guitar, but it often doesn't amount to much. I think the sound they had was good, but - other than the two tracks mentioned, they lacked good songs. See the 2013 compilation album Pure... Psychedelic Rock   And the two good songs I will put in 1001 songs article. 
XX Tim Buckley – Goodbye & Hello   Buckley wasn't commercially or critically successful in his lifetime, but there's been a growing cult interest in his work over the past few years. After working through Buckley's albums, I'm not seeing anything of worth when compared to his contemporaries working in the same area.


***

1968

The Beatles – The White Album (RS) (C4) (NM) (NME) (Q)   This is the Beatles' supermarket trolley album - it wobbles all over the place. It's widely seen as a self-indulgent mess with flashes of brilliance. The argument has long been that it would have been better as a single album rather than a double, but there are those who feel that the album's diversity gives it a synergy that makes the whole greater than the sum of its parts - and I see that. And there's also the consideration that it does reflect the selfish ego that popular bands can develop where they'll sling together any old trash, and it'll work because people love them so much, and the band believe they are creative geniuses so anything they do it worth listening to. It's also worth noting that every Beatles album had a crap track sung by Ringo, an odd song that didn't quite work by Harrison, some granny songs by McCartney, and a piece of egoistic self-indulgence by Lennon, so this was no exception to that rule - except that there were a lot more of all those things so it becomes an album about all the worse aspects of the Beatles. Is it worth listening to for that? I don't know. Is it worth listening to for the good songs only? The agreed excellent songs are "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (Harrison), "Happiness Is A Warm Gun" (Lennon), and "Helter Skelter" (McCartney), to which can be added as decent enough songs "Back In The U.S.S.R" (McCartney), "Birthday" (Lennon-McCartney), and "Revolution 1" (Lennon) - though the single version is better. There is no satisfactory compilation which contains only the best songs. The Blue Album has "Guitar" and "Happiness" but no "Helter Skelter", oddly using the granny song "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da" instead. 
Scott Walker – Scott 2   Scott Walker is interesting. But I'm not sure which album to select. 
Os Mutantes – Os Mutantes  Curious Sixties Brazilian psychedelic band. Actually not bad.... 
Johnny Cash – At Folsom Prison (RS) (NM)   
The Byrds – Sweetheart of the Rodeo (RS) (MC) (CCC) (G50) (NME) 
Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention – We’re Only in it for the Money (RS) (NME) Zappa's music is difficult to define as he takes musical ideas from rock, jazz, doo-wop, psychedelia, etc to create his own idiosyncratic style. He is admired and respected and has sold well over the years, but his music is not hugely commercial. This is one of his better selling albums, reaching the lower end of the Top 30 in both America and Britain, largely on its association as a parody of Sgt. Peppers. 
Jeff Beck – Truth  Not quite Led Zeppelin, but getting there. Rod Stewart on vocals. 

Van Morrison – Astral Weeks (RS) (NME) (Q)   

Laura Nyro – Eli & the Thirteenth Confession   I love Laura Nyro, and it surprises me that she is not better known. This is generally regarded as her best album, and it captures her spirited singing, and her ambitious and glorious songwriting. 
The Incredible String Band – The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter    Though 1967's 5000 Spirits album is earlier, more fun, and contains the same ideas and instruments, this is the album that was the band's breakthrough in America, so is noteworthy for that. For me, everything that happens here has already happened on 5000 Spirits (and better), but opinions will differ on that. It may depend on which album you hear first. Anyway, keeping this - though may drop it later. 
Aretha Franklin – Lady Soul (RS)  
The United States of America – United States of America  Early electronic music 
Jimi Hendrix – Electric Ladyland (RS) (CCC) (Q)   This is rather a messy, sprawling album with more that doesn't work as does, and the sound is very muddy. Hendrix was clearly interested in new studio technology and fully embraced the ideas offered by psychedelic rock and soul to add interesting layers to the UK blues rock he clearly loved, but he needed a good producer to turn those ideas into something workable. The album was seen as messy and muddy on release, but critics have over the years viewed the album more favourably, placing emphasis on what Hendrix achieved rather than what he didn't, and many see this as not only his best album , but an outstanding album in its own right. The top songs on the album - universally acknowledged as "Voodoo Child" and "All Along The Watchtower", are awesome. And there are other decent tracks on the album - such as "Crosstown Traffic" and "Have You Ever Been (to Electric Ladyland)" with its obvious Curtis Mayfield influence. But even amongst those who regard this as a great album, the jury is still out on how complete and effective the other stuff actually is, though supporters feel that it represents Hendrix rich with ideas and excitement, pushing the boundaries. Hmmm. 
Dr. John – Gris Gris (RS) [also consider 1972 Dr. John's Gumbo (RS)] 
Simon & Garfunkel – Bookends (RS)  
The Band – Music from Big Pink (RS) (MC)  This roots music/Americana/country-rock sound is what Dylan developed with The Band on The Basement Tapes - however, The Basement Tapes wouldn't be officially published for another seven years, so this is what most people got to hear - this or The Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo, which is close (though not as good). It had an impact - big enough to get Clapton to break up Cream, and for The Beatles to do things differently from then on. That's fairly significant. And that this was an off-shoot of something Dylan was doing in private is another confirmation of the importance of Dylan. 


Various Artists The Rock Machine Turns You On The first sampler album, and probably the best. This sparked a number of other sampler albums during the late 60s to early 70s. Aside from the historical importance, the selections are interesting.

Various Hair The musical was culturally and historically significant - the music was part of the psyche of the Woodstock generation, and the song "Let the Sunshine In" was famously sung at Woodstock. 

Cream - Wheels of Fire (RS)    Incorporates jazz ideas which became influential, though is not usually considered to be a part of jazz rock

Captain Beefheart - Strictly Personal   The Cap'n complained about the post-production on this one, so the received opinion is that it is therefore a lesser album than his others, but I don't hear that - this has many of the strengths of Safe as Milk, and is a musical and interesting album. 
Tyrannosaurus Rex - My People Were Fair...   Gosh, I'd almost forgotten how charming this is.  
Soft Machine - The Soft Machine    Hugely influential band - this is their debut album which combines psychedelic rock, prog-rock, and jazz-rock (with the emphasis on rock) styles in a unique and fascinating whole. They were the heart of the Canterbury scene in the UK, which emphasised serious musicianship in experimental styles while remaining playful and light-hearted - comparable to Frank Zappa in America.  They were formed by Robert Wyatt(drums, vocals), Kevin Ayers (bass, guitar, vocals), Daevid Allen (guitar) and Mike Ratledge (organ); by the time of the debut album Allen had left, though his influence can be 
Joni Mitchell - Song To a Seagull   Joni Mitchell's debut album sets up many of her distinctive features - her cool and reflective voice with the soft yodelling that others such as Kate Bush would pick up, her intelligent and poetic confessional lyrics, the beautiful sound she creates, and the solid structure of her songs. There's nothing especially cutting edge, but it's extremely well done, and has a shimmering icy beauty. Later Mitchell would add other musicians and explore jazz elements as part of the trendy jazz-fusion of the Seventies (though she would came to it later than most), but everything that is essential about her is here, and this is possibly her purest, freshest, most honest, and most beautiful album. Possibly her best, and sadly over-looked for the better selling and more talked about albums in the Seventies. 

XX Blue Cheer – Vincebus Eruptum   This is genuinely a poor album. The guys struggle to play effectively, and the recording is shit.  It's claim to fame is an an early example of what becomes Heavy Metal. But there's some doubt about that. 

XX Pretty Things – S.F. Sorrow  Claims of being the first "rock opera" aside, this is a crap album that bombed at the time, and critical reappraisals focus with curiosity on the "first rock opera" claim, but still don't like the music. The music is derivative and backward looking, and the lyrics don't make sense. They can make all the claims they like in order to generate interest (after all Robert Dimery and his team bought it), but it doesn't shine this turd any better. 

XX Big Brother & the Holding Company / Janis Joplin – Cheap Thrills (RS) (NME)  Joplin's albums never quite lived up to the promise of her live performances. This album was rush-released after Joplin's stunning performance of Ball & Chain at Monterey, and it shows. Pearl is her best official album, but the 1973 Greatest Hits is the most complete example of her work, and is the album to listen to.  
XX Iron Butterfly – In a Gadda da Vida    The interest in this album is the 17 minute track on side two, "In a Gadda da Vida" - the rest of the songs on the album - indeed, the rest of the band's entire career, is otherwise unremarkable. There is also a three minute version (somewhat more tolerable to listen to) which was released as a single. The song with its moody feel, repetitive nature, simplistic structure, and menacing distorted main riff is seen as containing essential elements of the heavy metal genre, and so is a link between hard rock / psychedelic rock and heavy metal. It is not a respected piece of music, and you don't need the full album or even the album version of the song to have an insight into the debate (the single is enough) - so I feel that including the album on this list is a bit unnecessary. See The Psychedelic Years (1966-69) - a compilation album. 
XX Ravi Shankar – Sounds of India     See Three Ragas (1956)
XX The Zombies – Odessey & Oracle (RS) 



***

1969

The Stooges – The Stooges (RS)  Powerful debut.  Melodic menace. This is a good tight band playing strong songs such as  "I Wanna Be Your Dog"  with more psychedelic mood pieces. Elements of The Doors, Velvet Underground, and The Who. Often compared with MC5 as they emerged at the same time in the same place and were signed to the same label (for less money), but 

Miles Davis – In a Silent Way    Ambient fusion/jazz-rock. Not the first fusion album - rock musicians, particularly in the UK, had been incorporating jazz ideas and styles into their music since the early Sixties, and the full fusion style was fully developed via bands such as Soft Machine by 1969; and jazz musicians had also been exploring fusion ideas, such as Gary Burton with Duster in 1967; however, this was the first fusion by a major jazz artist. It got the attention of jazz critics, who were not pleased, and the attention of rock critics, who were pleased that a highly respected musician of the "senior" music style was exploring the modes of the young upstart rock. Though Bitches Brew would have the greater impact on the general, this is the one that caught the attention of those in the music business - critics, record companies, and musicians. It is surprisingly modern and listenable - partly due to its quiet ambient and melodic nature. 
Frank Zappa – Hot Rats   As Abbey Road is the most musical of the Beatles' albums, so Hot Rats is the most musical, melodic, and adventurous of Frank Zappa's albums. This is more about creating music than playing around with ideas, so the result is very attractive, surprisingly easy to listen to, and very satisfying on several levels. There is no hiding behind an attitude here - Zappa plays it for real, exposing himself as he stretches out on his guitar - never throwing it away on a gimmick or laugh, but playing it as seriously well as he could all the way through - and boy does he play it well!, and that artistic honesty and authenticity is a huge part of the appeal of this album which blends in jazz ideas to create a form of melodic jazz fusion.
King Crimson – In the Court of the Crimson King   Debut album of Robert's Fripp's eclectic band which is generally classed as either heavy rock or progressive rock or both, but, particularly on this album, also incorporated jazz rock
Fairport Convention – Liege & Lief (MC) (G50)  British folk rock

The Who – Tommy (RS) (C4) The album is over-long, overblown, and the music is too often rather tedious and uninspired, but for both ambition and status it is a must listen album.

Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin (RS) (NM) From the first note of the first song you know this band is special. The musical ability is staggeringly high, and - unlike Cream - the band work together - they are tight, creative, imaginative, taking the best from what has gone before, and creating something a little different and a little daring, and thus pushing the music into the future. While there is still the feel of the Sixties about some of the music on this album, and the band have not yet fully incorporated other musical styles, the tightness of the band, the huge vocals of Plant, the powerful, inventive, and expressive drumming of Bonham, the fluid, crafted, and adventurous guitar playing of Page, along with the sheer professionalism of Jones on bass and keyboards, is undeniably breath-taking. A band like Zeppelin only comes along once in a lifetime. They stand there with Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry, James Brown, and The Rolling Stones as groundbreaking and massively influential. And this album is where it all started.

Pentangle – Basket of Light  British folk rock

Rolling Stones – Let it Bleed (RS) (CCC) (C4) (NM) (NME) (Q)  

Grateful Dead – Live/Dead (RS) The Dead have such a cultural and musical importance that at least one of their albums should be on this list, and as they had a profound reputation for their live performances,. and in particular the song "Dark Star", which takes up all of side one of this double album, this album has to be chosen. It's a curious blend of country-rock and soft jazz. A little goes a long way - for guitar weaving and extended live sets I prefer the Allman Brothers, and for rock-jazz improvisation I prefer Cream and Man. But this band are popular, and have a a legendary reputation. 
Dusty Springfield – Dusty in Memphis (RS) (CCC) (C4) (NME)

Johnny Cash – At San Quentin 

Quicksilver Messenger Service – Happy Trails (RS)  The exploration of Bo Diddley's Who Do You Love in front of an appreciative and responsive audience is something special. 
Chicago - Chicago Transit Authority  A similar band to Blood, Sweat & Tears, though considered more progressive and musical in their less commercially successful early days until they discovered the financial rewards of playing MOR ballads.  This album is bold and exciting, and nothing like the Chicago of later years. Great stuff. 
The Beatles – Abbey Road (RS) (NM) (NME) (Q)  It's a patchy, dubious album, but the good bits are awesome. The band are at their peak musically, and the production is crisp and unfussy, so there is a proper, quite serious muso feel to the whole thing. No larking about, no mess, just well played music. And music is key to this album. It's a rare moment to actually hear the band play. Here, and the live on the roof section of Let It Be, are the best bits of music The Beatles ever did. Lennon's contributions are the best - he's at his peak during this period, and "I Want You / She's So Heavy" is a fascinating piece of genuine music - intelligently constructed like a work of art. The most ambitious and musical of all the pieces they ever did. This is heavy blues, and progressive music, and heavy metal, and doom metal, and funk metal. This is Black Sabbath, King Crimson, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Ride, Blur and Radiohead. It is sonic, it is extra-ordinary. Probably the best thing they have ever done. It is the end of the Sixties, and the start of the future of rock and roll. I remember when I first heard this at a friend's house. I didn't know it was the Beatles - I could hear it was accomplished, so, as a self-conscious young teenager, I just went over the record player to turn over the LP, so I could have a look at the label. That it was the Beatles stunned me almost as much as the music itself. This is as far from "She Loves You Yeah Yeah" as it's possible to get! 
Led Zeppelin – II (RS) (NM)  I'm of the opinion that the first four albums by Zeppelin are, singly and as a body, outstanding works of human achievement. IV is generally regarded as the pinnacle of that achievement, but it is highly debatable which takes second place - though this is probably it. The album was written, recorded and edited in various studios while the band were touring England and America during 1969, and it is notorious for taking ideas, riffs, lines, and entire songs from other musicians, mostly early blues players, without acknowledgement. Out of that mess unexpectedly  comes some raw, exciting, inventive and imaginative music. Yes, the sound is muddy in places, but the power and energy is stunning, and the playful inventiveness of the production during "Whole Lotta Love" is staggering. Heavy, sexual, powerful, raw, and shockingly inventive. This is the definitive Led Zeppelin song.
Neil Young – Everybody Knows This is Nowhere (RS) (MC)   Awesome album. 
Alexander ‘Skip’ Spence – Oar   There is something compulsively odd about this album. Spence was a minor figure in the late Sixties San Francisco psychedelic music scene. He was a founder member of Moby Grape, but had mental health issues. After attacking the rest of the band with an axe he was placed in a mental hospital for six months, where he wrote the songs recorded on this album. On release he made this album by himself. Considering it's oddity and the almost perverse slurring of words and guitar playing, and the general miserable tone, it's not surprising that the album didn't sell and so was deleted within 12 months. There has of late been a renewal of interest and comparisons with Syd Barrett. It's not a great work of art as it copies sometimes too obviously (there is a strong John Wesley Harding feel about Oar, and "Broken Heart" is a mumbled yet compulsively interesting take of Dylan's "St Augustine"), yet it presents as a creative picture of a decaying mind, and is too interesting to ignore, even if difficult to take at times. 
The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground (RS) (CCC)  Not on the same level as the debut album, and more about Lou Reed than anything else, this is reminiscent of Reed's 1974 album Sally Can't Ride - it's a bunch of fairly straightforward commercial pop songs, nicely done, and with that added twist that Reed can bring to his lyrics. So, not a brilliant album, but it has enough good songs to be worth listening to. 
The Temptations / Norman Whitfield  – Cloud Nine   Norman Whitfield takes ideas from Sly & The Family Stone and psychedelic music and develops Psychedelic Soul
Nick Drake – Five Leaves Left (RS) (MC) (C4) (NME)  Drake's debut.  Firmly part of the UK folk singer-songwriter scene that also produced John Martyn and Bert Jansch, both of whom Drake strongly resembles. This is delicate and lovely. Deserving of the cult reputation he acquired after his suicide.  
The Kinks – Arthur: Or the Decline & Fall of the British Empire (RS)  I have my doubts about this, but including it for now.  
Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – Trout Mask Replica (RS) (MC) I have never quite shared the enthusiasm for this album, preferring his earlier albums, particularly the sorely disregarded Strictly Personal, but including it here as there is a distinct argument that this is an album one must hear.  
Scott Walker – Scott 4    A Scott Walker album should be included, and it might as well be this one. 
Fairport Convention – Unhalfbricking   Decent album, but still wondering if earlier albums are less interesting.  


Amon Düül II Phallus Dei   Amon Duul were a significant part of the Krautrock movement, though as they moved away from their roots and became more commercially successful so their music became more mainstream rock and less interesting. I had Wolf City in my collection, which was a big seller at the time, but always felt that it wasn't quite "there" compared to other German bands I was listening to. At that stage they were nothing like Can, Tangerine Dream, or Faust. Their second album, Yeti, is largely seen as their breakthrough album, standing as it does between the more commercial and mainstream Wolf City, and the musical freedom of Pallus Dei. But if Amon Duul have a place in music history, then it is this, their 1969 debut album. It is fluid and expressive - more muscular and free than UK progressive rock, and is (possibly) the first Krautrock album released (Can's Monster Movies was released Aug 1969). 

Grand Funk Railroad On Time Picking up on the amplified power trio ideas of Cream, Grand Funk were at the forefront of hard rockstadium rock, and heavy metal. Undemanding melodic power pop-rock for big audiences. Dismissed by critics, but loved by the masses, this sort of music has proved to be very popular, and Grand Funk inspired many other bands to follow their example. Grand Funk are the easy listening version of more musically demanding bands like Cream and Led Zeppelin. I saw Grand Funk in the early Seventies at Hyde Park. They were entertaining live, but I wasn't impressed enough to buy any of their albums - even though I am on the cover of one of them as part of the Hyde Park crowd! 


Buffalo Springfield Retrospective Buffalo Springfield had one great single, "For What It's Worth", and at least one other great song, "Mr Soul". These songs are different albums. 1001 Albums selects Again, which contains "Mr Soul", while Christgau selects the debut album Buffalo Springfield which contains "For What It's Worth". Difficult to make that choice, so I have decided to go with the 1969 compilation Retrospective, which contains both those songs. 

The Mamas & the Papas - Hits of Gold They were a singles band so a greatest hits collection is more appropriate than one of their regular albums. The one I favour, and the one I had, is Hits of Gold (not available on YouTube, so I found the nearest equivilant). Other album lists select different compilation albums. I don't think there is a perfect one. 
Roy Harper - Folkjokeopus Influential and important British folk artist and guitar player, widely admired by fellow musicians for his songwriting and his approach to guitar playing, but mostly over looked by the public and the critics. (consider Stormcock)

Phil Spector - Back To Mono (1958-1969)  (1991)  (RS) Released 1991, this is all the singles Spector produced  from 1958 to 1969, with the exception of a handful that didn't chart - plus his Christmas album. With this album, the Christmas album can be dropped from the list. 
Nina Simone  - See-Line Woman: The Best of Nina Simone  (2014)   There has to be a Nina Simone album, but there doesn't seem to be general consensus on her best album. Some say it's her debut Little Girl Blue (1958), others say it's the 1959 live album Simone At Town Hall, others the 1965 live album Pastel Blues, or the 1965 album I Put A Spell On You, or the 1967 High Priestess of Soul, her last for Phillips, or the 1967 Sings The Blues, her first for RCA.  Some people lay a lot of importance on her live albums. But, no particular album seems to reflect what she's about - the Fifties albums are popular among those who like jazz, the Sixties albums are a mix of rock, soul, and blues. People like her attitude. She has style, and can put authenticity, style, and cool on the songs she sings. There's a bit of rock, a bit of jazz, a bit of blues, and a bit of soul in pretty much everything she does. I think a compilation album which covers her best period, and is a judicious mix of live and studio, is the most appropriate, and after looking at pretty much most of them, I feel See-Line Woman: The Best of Nina Simone is the one to go for. Placed in the Sixties as that was her main period.
White Noise - An Electric Storm  An experimental, exploratory electronic noise/music group comprised of members of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop (Dr Who) and an American classical musician with an interest in electronics. The album is edgy, psychedelic pop, incomplete, mostly unsuccessful, but totally fascinating, and while commercially unsuccessful has consistently provoked interest.  
Donovan – Greatest Hits (CCC)  Marketed as Britain's Bob Dylan because they were both young folk singers, but not an appropriate comparison because Donovan was writing a different sort of material entirely. Dylan was profound, Donovan was fey. There is a certain attraction in his psychedelic whimsy, but - to be fair - it is limited, especially as we are no longer in the hippy trippy Swinging Sixties. This collects Donovan's best material from his peak period - the Sixties. Also worth hearing is 1968's In Concert  which captures Donovan live in concert in 1967 at his peak of popularity and creativity. The concert is very charming, and has an authentic Sixties feel to it.  The album was released on double CD containing the full concert - but that feels a little stretched compared to the original. 
Various - The Psychedelic Years (1966-69)  Useful guide to the main psychedelic tracks of the late Sixties as well as the related hard rock tracks. Contains  Iron Butterfly's "In a Gadda da Vida", so no need to listen to the In a Gadda da Vida album. 
Dr Strangely Strange Kip of The Serenes  Irish folk band influenced by The Incredible String Band. (Rethinking this - perhaps the band are too close to The ISB....)
Cromagnon - Orgasm   Experimental music that doesn't always work, but is always fascinating, and that some see as foregrounding later genres such as industrial and noise rock
The Meters - The Very Best Of   (1997)  The Meters (their 1969 debut) and their 1974 album, Rejuvenation, are hot albums containing some important funk, but for a more significant overview of their career, this compilation, released in 1997, is essential. Not a commercially successful or well known band, but they cut the groove, and were influential on the development of funk. 
Various - Sugar Sugar: The Birth of Bubblegum Pop  (2012) I've been looking for a comprehensive Bubblegum music compilation, one that held music by The Monkees and The Archies as well as the Kasenetz and Katz productions, such as the 1910 Fruitgum Company, and this one does that and more, continuing into the Seventies and the instant pop of bands such as Sweet, The Mixtures, and The Fortunes, as well as some less obvious but appropriate choices such as The Bay City Rollers, Abba and Elton John. A sweeping and delightful contentious selection which delivers everything anyone could want in terms of understanding Bubblegum music, and a little bit more. It's placed here in 2012 when the collection was released, but I may move it to a more appropriate year slot because this music was alive in the Sixties and Seventies. 


XX Creedence Clearwater Revival – Bayou Country  Grief - I can't take much more of this.....




XX The Youngbloods – Elephant Mountain  It's a pleasant enough album of gentle folk rock and jazz-tinged pop/rock. But the band made no impact at the time, and while they are competent enough, there's nothing especially interesting here. 
XX Blood, Sweat & Tears - Blood, Sweat & Tears   Jazz-pop-rock-psychedelic band with brassy horns. They were popular at the turn of the Sixties/Seventies, and this was their most popular album. It's competent but fairy empty, like theatre music.
XX The Band – The Band (RS) (CCC)   I have been ambivalent about the Band for many years. They are quite sombre - almost maudlin. This album is like a funeral dirge. They are respected partly because they backed Bob Dylan, but also because of their contribution to country rock. They appear on the live Before The Flood album, and on The Basement Tapes album, and Music From Big Pink is listed, so they are already present on this list with their best contributions. I'm not entirely sure what this album adds to that, as, other than "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and "Up On Cripple Creek", the tracks on this album are very weak compared to Big Pink
XX Flying Burrito Brothers – Gilded Palace of Sin (RS) (CCC)  This is country music, and is not much of a development from the Louvin Brothers 1956 album Tragic Songs of Life  
XX Bee Gees – Odessa   There is nothing new here - this is a tedious double album of sub-Beatles, sub-Byrds, sub-Moody Blues, sub-psychedelic pop,  that was popular at the time. While the songs are attractive enough by themselves, a double album is heavy going. And there is not a single track that stands by itself as worthy or memorable or affecting. There is, essentially, nothing here worth bringing to people's attention. However, fans of baroque psychedelic pop will find it attractive and interesting, and general listeners will on the whole find it as listenable as the majority of the Bees Gees output. Essentially harmless. 
XX Tim Buckley – Happy Sad  (NME)  There is growing retrospective cult respect for this guy. After working through his albums, I don't share that respect. This sounds a bit like Fred Neil , which I like, but I prefer the Fred Neil album - it has better songs, a more varied sound, and was four years earlier. Also consider Bert Jansch, Roy Harper and John Martyn. 
XX MC5 – Kick Out the Jams (RS) (MC) (NME)  The music is hard rock and is substandard  even for that period, the playing is limited and rough, with repetitive riffs sometimes off-key, with distortion, feedback, lots of "ooh"s, "yeah"s, "uhh"s, etc. It's messy. But people like the energy, the roughness, the distortion, the clumsiness, the lack of ideas and imagination - this is basic music for people who may be challenged by or tired of music that is more progressive or involved. There is no pretension here, no aiming for anything better - this is a band laying down what they can do with conviction and a little bit of attitude (not much, as there are plenty of "thank you"s). In a sense there is nothing remarkable here, nothing that hasn't been done before and better - such as The Kingsmen doing "Louie Louie", The Kinks doing "You Really Got Me", the Doors, the Who006, etc. But the title song in itself is worth keeping as an example of rough garage energy as played by hundreds of wannabe rock bands then and since, and the opening shout of "Kick out the jams mother-fuckers" is legendary. But it's just the song we need. I'll hunt down a compilation that includes "Kick Out The James" and "Louie Louie".  The rest of the album is in the spirit of "Kick", but not quite as effective, and some of the songs and the playing are just a little bit too limited for prolonged or repeated listening. Even if you're having a party and simply want some loud, high energy music, a compilation of the best of such music is going to be way better than this. In short: seek out the song, avoid the album. 


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