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Last updated: January 4th, 2017

NOTE: This page is under construction, so some older reviews might appear different from the newest ones. Some changes may also affect the layout of artist pages, and some links may not work.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Band – Music from Big Pink

Year: 1968
Record Rating = 10
Overall Rating = 14

Best Song: TEARS OF RAGE or THE WEIGHT or CHEST FEVER or I SHALL BE RELEASED

Before the Basement sessions, these four Ontarians and the lone Arkansan were just the Hawks, a rowdy bunch of kids who played a sloppy – and possibly crappy – set of ol' rock 'n' roll tunes for the none-too-impressive Ronnie Hawkins, before being discovered by The Great One, aka Robert "Bob Dylan" Zimmerman, for his own garage-related agenda. After his fateful motorcycle accident allowed him to hide away from the pressures of fame and the heckling from folk purist audiences – the latter having surely rattled the Hawks as well – he hid away in the Basement of Big Pink, a house with pink aluminum siding near Woodstock, New York. It was during this time that, with a new approach to songwriting and arranging, Bob was converting the Hawks into something new as well, becoming their teacher rather than just their boss, and by the end of it all, it was time for them to be set free, where they would be rebaptized as: The Band. During this time, the Band – and yes, for their reviews, I won't be able to refrain from capitalizing that letter "B" – had learned to write quizzical/Biblical allusions à la Dylan, absorb all the rootsy styles and combine them to perfection.

Monday, March 30, 2015

A Saucerful of Secrets (1968)

by Pink Floyd
Overall Rating =
11

Best Song: JUGBAND BLUES

It's pretty difficult when your lead guitarist and main songwriting goes insane, yet that's exactly what happened to Pink Floyd's Syd Barrett, who was so out of it from his LSD consumption (though to be fair, it just triggered his problems, not caused them) that he would stand around on stage doing nothing, would play something completely different than what everyone else was doing, or was detuning his guitar. To make matters worse, although his friend David Gilmour was recruited to cover up for these sorts of mistakes in concert, their continued desire, if not necessity, for him to be the main songwriter showed them that even that ability was fried, where he could never play the song the same way twice, so anytime he presented his music to them, it was a complete mess. And yet, when they fired him and kept Gilmour full time, they lost their financial supporters because they thought a Syd Barrett solo career would be more fruitful. In a nutshell, the Floydsters were in quite a pickle.

Fortunately, they managed to record something amidst all the troubles, enough to make at least semi-coherent album. Since it was never Syd's intention to be the sole songwriter in the group, he would encourage Roger and Rick to write their own material, which is why Roger got a solo credit in on Piper. One of Rick's songs on this LP is an outtake from their debut, and it's one of the few songs with Syd playing on it.

[Read on...]

Friday, March 27, 2015

We're Only In It for the Money (1968)

by the Mothers of Invention
Overall Rating =
13

Best Song: MOM & DAD or TAKE YOUR CLOTHES OFF WHEN YOU DANCE

Hi, boys & girls, I'm Mr. X, and I'm the critic of the group! Today, I'll be reviewing Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention's third LP, the 1968 We're Only In It for the Money, from which I so shamelessly stole the intro to this review. The story behind this album is well known, so I'll keep this historical part short: basically, while Zappa was fond of the psychedelic music scene and proponed the same anti-establishment values as those who would become the hippies, he felt that the masses of people identifying with the hippies as an excuse to lead lives filled with sex, drugs and rock & roll were denigrating his cause, and he put most of the blame on the critical and commercial darlings that were the Beatles for making an album like Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, which is why he thought up of the originally conceived album art that I use (though he couldn't get the rights to it so it was used as the inner sleeve, with a picture of the Mothers in drag made for that secondary purpose used instead) and the title; the Beatles were nothing but the catalyst that turned the hippie movement into a sell-out movement, and Paul McCartney's unwillingness to talk business about the parody cover (he said that wasn't his job) only furthered Zappa's disdain.

The album does more than bash the hippies, though. First, it expropriates some of their music elements, sometimes in sincere tribute, other times mocking sillier aspects – here in the form of the twee quasi-chipmunk vocals – and secondly, since Frank was smart enough to realize that the blame shouldn't be entirely on the hippies themselves, but also on the negligent parents of the late '50s that practically made the movement necessary, he also parodies their attitudes and their music, with hints of classical, music hall, etc. etc. In short, it's one of Zappa's best thought-out concepts, perhaps even more so than Freak Out! Of course, I won't just be praising the record for its originality, since, for the most part, this album is loaded with great melodies. More often than not, they're kind of scrambled and short melodies, but the sheer volume makes it all worthwhile. Song by song, I find it weaker than his debut, but there's a reason it's considered one of his all-time greatest, and definitely one of his best of the '60s.

[Read on...]

Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Beach Boys – Friends

Year: 1968
Record Rating = 8
Overall Rating = 12

Best Song: WAKE THE WORLD or BE HERE IN THE MORNING

This is even further from Pet Sounds than the last one. Instead of their newly rediscovered masculinity, this album explores the wonders of pastoral folk, meditation and easy living; the simplicity of "Country Air" has spread, that's for sure. This peaceful approach to music making certainly isn't fake, though. While Mike Love was busy contemplating the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi with the Beatles and Donovan, the rest of the band were writing, and a lot of these melodies are pretty Brian-like. Again, the songs are really short, as if he was humming these melodies to his newborn daughter and then brought them to the band to have them add music to. By the time Mike was back to add vocals and lyrics, he was in such a good mood that he almost didn't screw things up.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Lumpy Gravy (1968)

by Frank Zappa
Overall Rating =
9

Best Song: The TAKE YOUR CLOTHES OFF extract at the end

This is the Lumpy Gravy you're probably familiar with – or you have know idea what a lumpy gravy is and you're calling your local insane asylum to put me in a straightjacket. As I said in the review of the limited release original, MGM/Verve weren't too happy with Zappa's conducting an album for Capitol, but rather than completely getting rid of the tapes once the Capitol release was pulled, Zappa had the "ingenious" plan to take his composition, chop it up into pieces, record some new pieces of music, take some demos he made in the early '60s, and record people discussing weird, surreal things reverberated onto piano strings and stick the odds and ends together; one thing's for sure, the title makes much more sense second time around, as it's quite "lumpy", though if this were gravy would probably not go anywhere near my food.

If you want any indication on the absurdity of the spoken bits on the album – even more absurd than my crappy jokes, the introductory "the way I see it Barry, this should be a very dynamite show" is pretty fitting. I remember reading someone comment that the way the album plays off, with bits of semi-humorous conversation alternating with sound effects and soundtrack-y music, it was like listening to television. While there's definitely some truth to that statement, don't make the mistake of thinking this would be like wearing blindfolds while a talk show is on – especially since those aren't intentionally stupid, just stupid by design – if anything, it would be like listening to an episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus, which is already weird to begin with.

[Read on...]

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Notorious Byrd Brothers (1968)

by the Byrds
Overall Rating =
13

Best Song: GOIN' BACK or DRAFT MORNING (or TRIAD of the bonus tracks)

With this album, or more accurately, its recording sessions, the Byrds as we knew them had effectively come to an end. Tensions were always high in the band, but mid-to-late 1967 saw them at their least tolerant, with a number of arguments and line-up changes. The abbreviated version is that they started as the same quartet as on Younger Than Yesterday (McGuinn/Crosby/Hillman/Clarke), but Crosby was putting down Clarke so much that he quit, replaced by Wrecking Crew session drummers. Crosby's increased hippie-influenced clouded perception of pretty much everything made him too difficult to work with as well, so McGuinn and Hillman sacked him and brought back Gene Clark, who stuck around for three weeks (possibly not even contributing to the vocals, though he co-wrote one song), and Michael Clarke was brought back a little while before for the remainder of the sessions, only to be fired at the very end. In short, they went from a four-piece, to a three-piece, back up to a four-piece, back down to a three-piece, and reduced to a simple duo, and had to make a coherent album out of this.

Yet, for an album recorded the way it was, the flow is extremely smooth, with each song fading perfectly into the next, thanks to Gary Usher's production. Of course, there are people who complain about that too, saying he overdoes it, but unless you have a severe allergy to phasers and flangers and rotary speakers, there's no real reason to dismiss it entirely. One thing that's particularly admirable is how the production allows for the three songwriters' different styles to blend into each other so well, even exploiting two of their styles despite not having those same two songwriters contributing. You get your jangle-pop, you get your country ditties, you get your electronica – a nascent genre that the Byrds pretty much help introduce into the world of pop – and you get your hippie idealism, all in one neat package.

[Read on...]

Monday, March 23, 2015

Live at Kelvin Hall (1968)

by the Kinks
Overall Rating =
11

Best Song: MILK COW BLUES/BATMAN THEME/TIRED OF WAITING FOR YOU

You're probably wondering why the Kinks felt the need to release a live album at this juncture of their career. For starters, this wasn't the first release of this particular live set; it was originally released in the States under the name The Live Kinks (omitting that it was performed at a Scottish theatre to hide their British-ness, I see) in the summer of '67, in an effort to remind the group's American audiences of their live sound at a time where the group was banned from performing on that side of the Atlantic due to supposedly extreme behavior such as on-stage fights between band members. If it were me, I'd love to see that kind of live show, but I guess Americans in the '60s were as prudish about stage attitude as I am about jokes made on television.

Don't let these late dates fool you though. This isn't the probably recorded live document like Cream's Wheels of Fire or The Who's Live at Leeds. This is practically inaudible, screaming girl-infested, hit singles run-through with occasional surprise mid-'60s live stuff à la Got Live If You Want It! If it's possible, I might even say the production is even worse off; every once in a while, one of the speakers goes dead in the LP's stereo mix (I haven't heard the mono, but I'm assuming on headphones it would produce the same result), and with some extra screaming overdubbed, it becomes quite annoying to sit through at times. It's actually quite a shame, because the performance seems pretty good. Despite the Dickens-flavored Face to Face – the gig was performed in April '67, several months before Something Else was released – the band's live show was still energetic rock 'n' roll, and its position next to the album it was touring is no different from the Who's Leeds show to the rock opera it showcased.

[Read on...]

Friday, March 20, 2015

Bob Dylan – John Wesley Harding

Year: 1967
Record Rating = 10
Overall Rating = 15

Best Song: ALL ALONG THE WATCHTOWER

When Bob Dylan was recovering from his motorcycle accident, the whole psychedelic movement was no longer just a-brewing (partly thanks to Dylan himself), but was a full-blown cultural and musical storm. The only sanctuary, aside from the home of one Raymond Douglas Davies – whose metaphorical window would occasionally break in the form of tunes like "Fancy" and "Lazy Old Sun" – was in a small house called Big Pink, in which Bob was in the process of converting and later (re-)baptizing the Hawks into the Band. The word of the day here was the roots, and not just Bob's humble beginnings in barebones acoustic folk, or the mostly Canadian-bred Hawks as Ronnie Hawkins' rock & roll backing combo, but as a musical unit fully immersed in America's musical past, especially the XIXth and early XXth centuries. These sessions in the Big Pink basement would be copyrighted, but Bob did not want to see them as an album, not yet at least.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

The Who Sell Out (1967)

by the Who
Overall Rating =
15

Best Song: I CAN SEE FOR MILES (or MELANCHOLIA among the bonus tracks)

Have you heard pirate radio? The Who must have, because for their third album, they generally move as far away as possible from their heavy-R&B roots, already less prevalent on A Quick One, and focus on the kind of pop you might hear on such a radio station. This album, with the clever title of The Who Sell Out – a self-ironic jab considering their weaker album sales – is a conceptual one, where the band insert these pop songs in between a bunch of jingles, either self-written or taken from an actual pirate station, Radio London, that like other off-shore stations had been shut down in early 1967. This led to the BBC taking over rock and pop radio, but the Who considered their programming lackluster compared to the pirates, so their solution was to make their album imitate the lost radio stations that actually gave them airplay.

As a concept album, this is probably one of the most thought out. There are the jingles of course, some brief – less than a minute sometimes – and some of a fuller song length, and the title alludes to it as well, but you can't forget the album sleeve, which shows the band using the products "advertised" on the LP, with Pete applying Odorono deodorant and Roger bathing in a tub of Heinz baked beans (which gave him pneumonia because they were frozen!) on the front cover and Keith applying Medac pimple cream and John squeezing a blonde and holding a teddy bear while wearing a caveman outfit – to advertise the Charles Atlas call, and exercise regime at the time meant to turn you into a hulk – on the back cover. And all of the products are oversized on the cover, to amplify the comedic effect of a band promoting products for money at a time that the Beatles and the Stones were singing about yellow submarines and men in the year 2000.

[Read on...]

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Beach Boys – Wild Honey

Year: 1967
Record Rating = 8
Overall Rating = 12

Best Song: WILD HONEY or DARLIN'

While Pet Sounds and the unreleased SMiLE, and perhaps the best couple of albums preceding them, form the bulk of the Beach Boys' reputation as great artists, and as much as I adore their 1965-1967 peak years, there's something about post-breakdown 1967-1973 that keeps drawing me in. The most rational way to put it is that the Beach Boys, for the first time since 1963, if not 1962, is that they're acting like a real band again. Now formally, all but one of the 10 originals are credited to the age-old Brian Wilson/Mike Love credit, but due to lack of funds, the Wilson brothers and Jardine had to haul out their instruments again, the melodies Brian's writing fit Mike's pop desires (and Mike complies with simpler lyrics), and most important of all, Carl Wilson makes a name for himself as de facto band leader by producing the record, singing solo lead on four tracks and singing co-lead on a further five. But this isn't the soft crooning Carl of "God Only Knows"; this is a harsh, howling, improvisational Carl, leading many to call this the Beach Boys' R&B album.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Their Satanic Majesties' Request (1967)

by the Rolling Stones
Overall Rating =
14

Best Song: SHE'S A RAINBOW or 2000 LIGHT YEARS FROM HOME

A psychedelic Rolling Stones album… does that phrase send a little chill down your spine? If so, I really would suggest you leave quietly, since we're about to discuss their second 1967 album, Their Satanic Majesties' Request. Probably the first thought of many when they saw this colorful album art in which the group sit meditatively in psychedelic uniform with a surreal childlike background was "Oh God no, the Stones have gone and ripped off Sgt. Pepper!". A quick peak at the tracklisting, where one song is reprised and one alludes to a concert-like concept, probably only amplified these feelings. For some, the impression stops there; declarations of this album's enormous debt to the Beatles were definitely not reputationally helpful, and this plagiaristic mythology about the Stones was pretty contagious, since it spread back to their 1966 albums and forward through 1969. But dammit, once you actually give the record a spin, you'll hear the truth: that this is as far from a real Sgt. Pepper rip-off as possible.

Now, what was the Beatles' mid-'67 masterpiece but a collection of simple, yet genius collection of pop tunes, with the occasional tinge of psychedelia? This one, you'll hear, has more than just a hint of psychedelic influence, with wilder experimentation, loose jams and diverse instrumentation – now Keith and Mick have joined Brian Jones in his then-insatiable hunger for new instruments and sounds – that recall early, Syd Barrett-led Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa and the Mothers, even the Moody Blues on the softer songs, but the Beatles not too often. Perhaps, if you insist on a Beatles comparison, Magical Mystery Tour would be a more suitable counterpart, but the astral side of the psychedelia pioneered by Floyd is far more present than the surreal word-games, the ironic anti-drug mantras and the delightful invitations of the Beatles soundtrack. What this album proves for me is that, no matter what style they would tackle, the Stones could prove to be masters at it with minimal studying, but plenty of feeling, willingness and energy.

[Read on...]

Monday, March 16, 2015

Axis: Bold as Love (1967)

by the Jimi Hendrix Experience
Overall Rating =
13

Best Song: LITTLE WING

Every guitar hero feels cursed by his talent. Jimi Hendrix certainly was no exception, and his sophomore effort with the Experience – already his second LP in the year 1967, a time where the norm was gradually becoming one album per year rather than two – certainly proves that. I'm not saying that the record is totally devoid of his guitar playing antics. The opening "EXP", a minute-long fake radio show where Mitch Mitchell in a quasi-chipmunk voice interviews Paul Caruso (aka, Jimi Hendrix in a slowly deepening voice) on the subject of aliens, quickly becomes an exercise in otherworldly guitar-noise, and most definitely recalls Jimi's similar extraterrestrial glories like "Third Stone from the Sun", or even just general feedback-laden aural destruction. Yet as a whole, the focus shifts from Hendrix's lead playing – though this is far from the "anti-guitar hero" attitude that plagued Eric Clapton's solo career – to actual songwriting.

True, Are You Experienced? was not at all devoid of some sort of compositional skill, which the aforementioned sci-fi epic "Third Stone from the Sun" and the more progressive tracks like "Manic Depression" and "Love and Confusion" most certainly prove. Still, for the most part the songs were a sort of platform for Hendrix's playing, though this time, they're going for shorter, pop-radio length tunes: if you're in need of any proof, perhaps the fact that only three songs surpass the three-minute barrier length (the same number of songs are under that length on the UK debut album, and one less on the US version), and one aside from "EXP" is under two minutes long. For some, this is a reason to dismiss the record. "Hendrix writing pop songs?" But see, at the base of those wild RUX numbers were perfectly acceptable little pop, rock, soul, folk or blues-influenced songs. The same basis applies here, only this time the effects aren't solely taken care of by the guitar.

[Read on...]

Friday, March 06, 2015

Magical Mystery Tour (1967)

by the Beatles
Overall Rating =
15

Best Song: I AM THE WALRUS or STRAWBERRY FIELDS FOREVER or ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE

Technically speaking, the Beatles' second 1967 album should not have existed, not as an LP at least. The idea of the oft-maligned Magical Mystery Tour film was to once again keep the spirit of the touring Beatles alive; similar the pseudo-live show of Sgt. Pepper, the film would follow this bizarre, drug-influenced surreal version of the Beatles on a tour across what appears to be rural England, with a bunch of other people on this colorful, psychedelic bus, to the soundtrack of some newer tunes and orchestral versions of their older material. That last bit might recall their A Hard Day's Night and Help! films, where half an album's worth of material was written and recorded for the soundtrack, and later a second side of recordings was made specifically for a full album, but that was never the Beatles' intent, working on the soundtrack to the cartoon film Yellow Submarine at the same time, so a double-EP – since a regular EP, with the three-minute song-length average of these tunes, would not suffice – was released instead.

The EP format, let alone as a double, was never that big in the States, so how were they to get these six little ditties on a record? Well, considering that three singles were released that year –the double a-side pre-Sgt. Pepper "Strawberry Fields Forever"/"Penny Lane" pairing, the a-side to one of the soundtrack numbers (which is also briefly played in the fade-out of the film) and the single that contains the band's love anthem for the live TV airing of the international Our World performance art event – it was easy to fake a second LP side with these tracks and pass the collection off as a real record. As history would have, this configuration would make its way into the Beatles' official, canonical discography, which, with the opening pseudo-band anthem and the love statement at the close, makes it seem like a little brother to Sgt. Pepper rather than a real, standalone album.

[Read on...]

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Stevie Wonder – Someday at Christmas

Year: 1967
Record Rating = 6
Overall Rating = 10

Best Song: WHAT CHRISTMAS MEANS TO ME

"As a rule, I'm not the biggest fan of Christmas albums. In 90% of cases, they rely way to heavily on tunes we've all heard a million times, all sung the same way, with the same intonations and same chords."

That is a quote from my earlier review of the Beach Boys' 1964 Christmas album. The rule still applies here, on Stevie Wonder's 1967 Holiday release. To be fair, I like this one a little bit more. One thing's for sure, if an LP like this came out when he was still Little Stevie Wonder, there might have been a chance I'd completely lambast it, with a hint of pity because of the boy-ish charm. Then again, most of the songs selected here are not the childish Christmas tunes, focusing on the religious ("Ave Maria", "Little Drummer Boy") or the sensual, jazzy-warmth goodness ("The Christmas Song" aka "Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire"), so if this selection of Christmas songs was recorded by Stevie in 1963 I'd most probably give it a grade as low as With a Song in My Heart.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Days of Future Passed (1967)

by the Moody Blues
Overall Rating =
14

Best Song: TUESDAY AFTERNOON or NIGHTS IN WHITE SATIN

Don't you think I've forgotten our friends the Moody Blues. It's just that they nearly disappeared after The Magnificent Moodies. In mid-1966, bassist Clint Warwick quit the music biz, with a certain Rodney Clark taking his place; before this line-up could record anything, Denny Laine left to pursue a solo career that never took off, with the "Boulevard de la Madeleine" single being released a couple a week later, as the band feared their career was screeching to a halt. Still, music magazines touted that November that they had been working on an album, with songs written by Laine, and vocals by Thomas, Pinder and new bassist Clark. At the same time, a new line-up was being formed, with John Lodge – a member of Pinder's pre-Moodies band El Riot & the Rebels – joining on bass and Justin Hayward, young guitarist/vocalist who went for an audition for Eric Burdon and the Animals after the lead guitarist slot was already filled, was recommended to them as well.

And yet, this line-up almost failed as well, continuing on the R&B route of the Laine days, until financial difficulties and a deprecating comment from an audience member showed them the error of their ways. They would record a couple of originals early in 1967; these would still flop as singles, but at least they showed promise, in terms of attempts at moving forward, that is. In the mean time, their live focus wasn't their latest originals or the covers, though they did make up the first half of their sets. No, the real focus was a song cycle about the day of an everyman, whose songs present the progress from day to night as something synonymous to the periods of such an everyman's full life, from birth to death.

The boost they really needed was to be able to record this brilliant concept of theirs. As fate would have it, opportunity struck when their record label, Deram, was commissioned by their distributor Decca to have a rock group record an adaption of composer Antonín Dvořák's Symphony No. 9, to show just how advanced Decca's new stereo recording equipment was. The Moody Blues, available and indebted to their label, were selected for the job, and while they went along with it, I strongly suspect they never really cared for Decca's project, considering attempts at recording it supposedly failed miserably, yet the band used conductor/arranger Peter Knight to create interludes between parts of the Moodies' song cycle, which left the label skeptical, but they acquiesced and released it, since everything was paid for anyways; they figured "fuck it, someone might buy it". The gamble clearly paid off.

[Read on...]

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Disraeli Gears (1967)

by Cream
Overall Rating =
14

Best Song: SUNSHINE OF YOUR LOVE

If Fresh Cream was a disappointment to blues purists, than the supergroup power trio's second LP must have been a complete nightmare to them. The blues are still here, but they're only one ingredient among many. Rather than keeping their styles, i.e. blues, rock, pop and psychedelia, separate, Cream must have decided it was best to try and combine them into one supreme style, much as they as a group combined three ultra-talented players into one combo. Of course, what with the year being 1967, the necessity of having that extra dose of psychedelia was high, and unless you were Bob Dylan, who could do whatever he wanted, you couldn't completely ignore the acid-drenched trends, lest you have a deathwish akin to that of one Mr. Raymond Douglas Davies. Fortunately for us, the guys in Cream were talented, with Bruce and Clapton fine riff-makers at this stage and all who contribute might bring in a decent melodic idea too.

As you can see – not just by the high grade I give the album but the acclaim bestowed upon the best known numbers contained within – the gamble paid off, and Cream managed to create one of the premier psychedelic records, no mean feat considering other artists' releases in 1967. But as I said, this is a multiple-ingredient stew that Clapton, Bruce and Baker cooked up: psychedelia is the external coat, expressed quite nicely by the trippy, polychrome record sleeve, but the blues are the blood, pop melodicism is the brain and crunchy hard rock is the muscle. Some of these riffs are absolutely fantastic, combining fuzz with wah-wah in the right places that, along with Hendrix's concurrent albums and some of The Who's material (and especially their live sound), helped pioneer hard rock, which Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple and Black Sabbath would help turn into heavy metal.

[Read on...]

Monday, March 02, 2015

Strange Days (1967)

by the Doors
Overall Rating =
14

Best Song: WHEN THE MUSIC'S OVER (or MOONLIGHT DRIVE)

1967 truly was the year of the Doors. Now, technically, there are roughly two schools of thought regarding the two albums released in the group's first year. One is that the first one is amazing and highly innovative but the second is basically an outtakes album digging out songs from before their debut and a lousy attempt at a sequel to "The End". The second is that both are revolutionary, proto-gothic masterpieces, which leads to two sub-schools: one says that their debut is at a slight advantage, the other says it's the second. Even I'm not too sure, but the lack of generic pop filler like "I Looked at You" and "Take It As It Comes" and the mindblowing consistency of the second album win me over. And if there's any all-knowing indication, how about the fact that… my freakin' site is named after one of its tracks?!?

In all seriousness, that an album like this could come out at a time when the world were praising peace and love whilst holding hands and dancing around to the tune of "Happy Together" (still a great song, mind you) is nothing short of a miracle. Hell, even the Beatles were into that lovey-dovey stuff, the Stones were busy trying to compete with Pink Floyd's space rock schtick, the Kinks couldn't care less about psychedelia, the Who, probably the best bet for making something totally anti-hippie, were instead making unique concept albums about radio stations, and Bob Dylan was jamming with the yet-to-be re-baptized Band, so it took the Doors, their commanding frontman Jim Morrison, their ever-improving keyboard player (especially in diversity of tone) Ray Manzarek, their now slide-enamored guitarist Robbie Krieger and complex jazz fill-loving drummer John Densmore to show us a dark, scary contrast to all the flower power, and manage to make something twice as frightening as any heavy metal group, and all in the context of pop/rock.

[Read on...]