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~ Established 2011 ~

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.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Eric Burdon & the Animals – Love Is

Year: 1968
Record Rating = 9
Overall Rating = 12

Best Song: AS THE YEARS GO PASSING BY

For their third album in 1968, Eric Burdon decided that they needed a double album with a multitude of styles: it only made perfect sense, released a month after the Beatles' eponymous record, which fit that same definition, although it could be a coincidence, since this album was recorded at least a month before the release of the White Album. Of course, comparisons to the Beatles' two-disc offering don't go much further than that. What the Beatles did was release over two dozen songs exploring a variety of styles, whereas not only do the Animals not write – beyond one track credited to Eric Burdon and Zoot Money and another taken from the latter's previous band, Dantalian's Chariot – any of these songs, six of the nine are covers from generally well-known or highly respected artist. If anything, this is like a bridge to the original Animals' covering days and the sprawling mood of the New Animals, though far closer to their last album than their first two. I mean, normally someone who spreads out nine songs over four sides should be committed, but somehow, here, it works.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

John Lennon

INTRODUCTION:
If you know John Lennon – and even most children, misconstrued as their knowledge is, seem to know him as well, by name anyhow – your thoughts might immediately turn to one of two things, or both: the guy who, alongside Paul McCartney, ran the Beatles, and the guy who wrote "Imagine" later on (although some people confuse the two, calling the tune a "Beatles song"…). The latter seems to paint a pretty good picture of the stereotypical image of John Lennon: a caring, drugs, peace and love-kind of guy, who lived the bohemian lifestyle with his equally eccentric wife Yoko Ono, until he was unjustly shot to death by a crazed, conservative zealot by the name of Chapman. While that last part was indeed a travesty, the rest barely covers the true Lennon, that of an inconsistent, politically inconsistent, sometimes stoned and peaceful, other times drunk or sober and asshole-ish, Lennon was more than "you make think I'm a dreamer", that's for sure.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

George Harrison – Wonderwall Music

Year: 1968
Record Rating = 7
Overall Rating = 10

Best Song: DRILLING A HOME

The first official Beatles solo album (so The Family Way was credited to Paul, but his input was marginal at best) is quite an interesting one overall. It's the soundtrack to some weird hippie movie, which George was asked to write, and given his admiration for Indian music in the late '60s, it shouldn't come as a surprise that so much of this LP consists of his Indian classical-inspired compositions. While some might dismiss this as generic Indian music that any stoned, pseudo-philosophical hippie can take up, it's actually not that generic. Yeah, some of the melodies could have easily been ripped off, but George takes good care of using fairly diverse instrumentation, using instruments beyond what most hippies use from this culture, like sitar, sarod and tambura.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

George Harrison

INTRODUCTION:
Good ol' George Harrison, the quiet, underrated Beatle: even if he was always, the quiet, thoughtful Beatle, even in those early days where he wrote or sang on one or two songs an album, it wasn't always the case that he was the "underrated" one. After all, in the late '60s, the music press saw him as slowly becoming the equal to John and Paul. Yet today, in this world where music knowledge is marginal at best, people may know Ringo because of his distinctive name, and if they haven't been living under a rock they probably know the names of Lennon and McCartney, and Harrison just kind of slipped through the cracks. It doesn't help that Lennon's murder is still talked about 35 years on and McCartney and Starr's constant touring leads to the usual accusations of washed-up hacks, whereas George passed away after 20 years of retirement in this music biz, releasing a final album posthumously.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Captain Beefheart – Strictly Personal

Year: 1968
Record Rating = 8
Overall Rating = 11

As I mentioned in the Cap's intro and in the review of Safe as Milk, his and the Magic Band's follow-up LP was the result of a number of difficulties: the Cap's increased paranoia of having a heart attack like his father brought on by LSD-fuelled incidents, sometimes during live performances and a number of line-up changes changed the dynamic of the band, and the fact that the record company refused to release the finished double-LP in late '67, entitled It Comes to You a Plain Brown Wrapper, resulting in re-recordings in early '68 of six of its 15 numbers and the recording of two new ones, which were then dosed in trendy, psychedelic production from their manager for release on his own label, changed the intended sound of the release.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Jethro Tull

INTRODUCTION:
There are plenty of days where Jethro Tull are my favorite prog band (and for those of you wondering, those other days it's Genesis that take first place, unless you start to include the bands I consider art rock, but then by that point my whole system in separating different musical sub-genres crumbles to pieces). The strange thing about this is Jethro Tull never meant to be a progressive rock band; although technically few bands before King Crimson's debut really meant it, since they picked it up along the way, it's the Tullsters that almost seemed against the idea of being referred to as performers in this style.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Sly & the Family Stone – Life

Year: 1968
Record Rating = 9
Overall Rating = 13

Best Song: INTO MY OWN THING

Sly & the Family Stone albums' titles, in their original run, anyhow, are always so accurate. This album indeed is lively, with loud drums – Greg Errico's drumming on here is some of his heaviest, bashing the shit out of his kit at every opportunity yet with plenty of funky finesse and flair – bright, exuberant horns and irresistible grooves set in Larry's busy bass and the traded vocals. For some reason, this didn't sell nearly as well as its predecessor, perhaps because of the lack of a hit akin to "Dance to the Music", but that's the general public's loss. While Dance to the Music was a great album in its own right, this one's even better, with a consistent set of short songs that manage to cross most, if not all, of the group's favorite styles in less than three minutes each, with pop, rock, psychedelia, blues, R&B, funk and even bits of jazz.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Procol Harum – Shine On Brightly

Year: 1968
Record Rating = 9
Overall Rating = 12

Best Song: SHINE ON BRIGHTLY

For Procol Harum fans, their second LP is their real first LP. Technically, they're not wrong; after all, their debut wasn't conceived as a coherent LP, necessarily. It was quickly recorded to house (in the States) and/or capitalize on (in the UK) "A Whiter Shade of Pale" when it became a hit, whereas this LP was made as such. Though perhaps the real reason this album is so highly regarded by the group's fans is the presence of their first lengthy epic – technically a sidelong, going over 17 minutes, but the presence of another track on the record prevents it from officially being one – and the only one made during their prime. I certainly understand all that, and I definitely agree with them that this is an excellent record in many ways, but I certainly don't see it as a reason to dismiss their first album.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Jefferson Airplane – Crown of Creation

Year: 1968
Record Rating = 9
Overall Rating = 12

Best Song: LATHER

This is one record that really sets itself apart from whatever else was going on at the time. While the rest of San Francisco's musicians were busy living the bohemian lifestyle and singing about holding each other's hands while making love in the rainbows and whatever other excessive free-love nonsense they were concocting, the Airplane got wise to the problem: that any of this idealism is impossible because of The Man®. And how do you let the world know you're against The Man®? You make an at least partially conceptual album about it, with apocalyptic overtones and dark-sounding music. And that's exactly what the Airplane did. While I still think Surrealistic Pillow has this one beat, you can still make a pretty strong case for this being their masterpiece, since it was clearly their intention to make this their most cohesive LP.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Eric Burdon & the Animals – Every One of Us

Year: 1968
Record Rating = 8
Overall Rating = 11

Best Song: YEAR OF THE GURU

Bye bye psychedelia, hello again blues and folk, and welcome late '60s R&B. Normally musicians would become disenchanted by the psychedelic and hippie movements after Woodstock, but maybe Eric Burdon really was a visionary, because his post-Woodstock disillusionment was a year too early. With the new Animals' third LP, he decided to focus on the plight of the working man, and to do so with psychedelic soundscapes would be considered either hypocritical or just plain foolish, so they decided to strip things down and return to their roots. There were others that did this return to roots at around the same time, of course, from Bob Dylan to the Rolling Stones, but in a way, this sort of puts Eric Burdon & the Animals at the forefront of this movement.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Fleetwood Mac – Mr. Wonderful

Year: 1968
Record Rating = 6
Overall Rating = 9

Best Song: LOVE THAT BURNS

More blues and nothing but more blues… This album isn't exactly a carbon copy of their debut, what with the addition of piano – mostly courtesy of Christine Perfect, the future Mrs. McVie, who at the time was member of another blues revival band of notable reputation, Chicken Shack – and horns on a number of tracks, attempting the slick, jazzy blues sound of B.B. King and the like. Unfortunately, the production is way too muddy to even come close to it, and unlike with its predecessor, the recent reissue makes little effort to clean things up, so half of the time the horns sound like they were tacked on using tapes from a sound library, even if that doesn't seem to be the case.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Janis Joplin – Cheap Thrills

Year: 1968
Record Rating = 10
Overall Rating = 13

Best Song: SUMMERTIME or BALL 'N' CHAIN

For me, this is undoubtedly the peak of both Janis Joplin and Big Brother & the Holding Company (not that many people, if any people, have bothered with their career after Janis, especially considering since they kind of only reformed after her death). The thing that made Janis and the group popular in the first place was their live sound, and while this isn't a complete live record (although portions of it were recorded live), it sounds close enough to their live sound and includes songs that were already tested by them on the road to completely beat the chitlins out of their debut, even if it had its own insecure charm (and after all, it's the insecurities of being the plain girl back in Texas that turned Janis into such an emotional and powerful vocalist).

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Deep Purple

INTRODUCTION:
I don't know why, but I've always had a strong affection for bands that have had major stylistic changes partly because of significant line-up changes. It happened to Fleetwood Mac, who went from blues to folk to prog to pop, and there's always something interesting going on in each of their line-ups. It happened to King Crimson, who were always progressive rock at the core, but progressive rock has a far more diverse meaning than "generic prog" groups seem to imply, and no group pointed that out better than the Crimmers. Yet of all these bands, I think the one I like the most is none other than Deep Purple.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Grateful Dead – Anthem of the Sun

Year: 1968
Record Rating = 8
Overall Rating = 10

Best Song: ALLIGATOR

It seems that, for Deadheads, this is where the Dead really begin. Being somewhat disappointed with their debut, these guys set out to make something more complicated, a bit more in tune with the times – I mean, yeah, their debut was modern, but the garage rock influence must have been too strong for their tastes when they looked back on it, I guess – and that could translate elements of their by that point cult-worthy live sound. Of course, their ambitions didn't sit well with their producer, who was somewhat annoyed by their desire to experiment with techniques that seemed pretty illogical (like Bob Weir suggesting they imitate "thick air" by recording sound in the desert and the city), but eventually they got their touring soundman to help them out instead, resulting in an album that literally combined their studio side and live side; within every given track, there are portions of the tune recorded in the studio (a number of studios, rather) and other portions recorded in concert from shows to "road test" the new material.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Creedence Clearwater Revival

INTRODUCTION:
Has anyone else noticed that rock bands with two or more family members have notorious levels of animosity between the members, even more so than groups made up of friends or complete strangers? I mean, just three of the biggest names in '60s pop/rock with relatives in a band are pretty good examples: there's the Beach Boys, with brother Brian Wilson dominating, cousin Mike Love harboring jealousy and brothers Carl and Dennis Wilson struggling to get their contributions in due to personal issues once Brian went cuckoo. There's the Kinks, with Ray and Dave Davies' infamous squabbles, leading to an inconsolable tear in the group that prevents any potential reunion, twenty-something years on (despite their cowardly answers in interviews dismissing questions with "yeah, yeah, one day"). Yet the band that suffered the most from this is probably none other than Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Friday, October 09, 2015

The Band

INTRODUCTION:
I can honestly say that the Band are the only band I can say make me proud to be a Canadian (no offense to any Rush fans; I like them too, of course, but their "geeky" reputation is not exactly something to attach oneself to), not that you can tell they're Canadian, given their inseparable association to Americana. In fact, not only do I consider them to be my favorite Canadian band, but they're also my favorite roots-rock band, bar none. It's one thing to "just" be one of the genre's pioneers (and the list is fairly well-stocked, from Bob Dylan to the Rolling Stones to Creedence Clearwater Revival to Van Morrison, etc. etc.), it's another thing entirely to be the peak of ambition with a genre whose very purpose is to return to one's past. One name they definitely could have taken on without a hitch would be The Academy, because the scope of roots explored – folk, country, bluegrass, gospel, blues, jazz – and the ambitious approach definitely give the impression they are the genre's greatest intellectuals as well.

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Eric Burdon & the Animals – The Twain Shall Meet

Year: 1968
Record Rating = 7
Overall Rating = 10

Best Song: SKY PILOT

You know, it's strange. For a lot of people, this is a major improvement over Winds of Change. Yet, if you exclude the point I gave that one specifically for its excellent bonus tracks, I give them both the same grade. And somehow, the pretentiousness of their 1967 record seems far more… not justified, exactly, but… something. Perhaps because their "debut" had one side of pretentious, statement-like stuff and another of accessible psycho-folk-pop and psycho-hard-rock, it seemed like both sides of the band were even, quality-wise as well as quantity-wise. Yet on this one, even the songs that go for a simple psycho-folk-pop sound have that all-knowing, pseudo-philosophical vibe of the previous album's excesses. And in the former's case, even some of the overly political or social material could be considered highlights in the musical sense, whereas this album seems to be lacking somewhat.

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Sly & the Family Stone – Dance to the Music

Year: 1968
Record Rating = 8
Overall Rating = 12

Best Song: DANCE TO THE MEDLEY

While this album didn't exactly initiate the band's string of successful releases, its title track sure did. Of course, in retrospect, it would seem that the LP, sharing the title with the big hit, could be nothing more than a cash-in of the single's name, with the rest being quickly written rehashes of it, as many albums from the late '50s to the late '60s (and in the mid-'70s too, with the resurgence of single-oriented acts at that time), could be accused of. And yet, when you actually give the record a chance, it actually goes beyond "Variations on a Theme Called Dance to the Music"; sure, a number of tunes borrow from that formula just a little bit, but that's really the only reason it doesn't get a higher grade than the preceding LP. I miss the diversity of their debut, sure, but what made the band important is pretty much set in stone here.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

The Zombies – Odessey and Oracle

Year: 1968
Record Rating = 10
Overall Rating = 14

Best Song: BRIEF CANDLES? TIME OF THE SEASON? Who can tell...?

They're back! Actually, the Zombies never really went anywhere; they continued to record singles after the success of "Tell Her No", with each subsequent one becoming less successful than the last, until they ultimately lost any semblance of chart showings in the US and the UK (where, aside from "She's Not There", they seemed to be a lot less successful to begin with). If that wasn't bad enough, venues had less interest in hosting them, which led them to playing in the small, minimally paying clubs they frequented before their career really took off. By 1967, the band had had enough, and decided they should record one final album, possibly the first planned farewell album. While even this one was plagued with certain difficulties – tension between the members almost saw Colin quit the band before recordings were finished, and the budget was spent by the time the stereo mixing was to commence, forcing Argent and White to pay for it with their own money – the end result would be worthy enough for Al Kooper to promote it as a masterpiece.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Fleetwood Mac – Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac

Year: 1968
Record Rating = 8
Overall Rating = 11

Best Song: I LOVED ANOTHER WOMAN

The blues and nothing but the blues: this album is probably a nightmare for those who can only handle about 4 minutes of blues at a time, but what the hell would they be doing here, listening to an early Fleetwood Mac album? I should note that the actual title of their 1968 debut is simply Fleetwood Mac, but to not confuse it with their 1975 debut with Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, I've added Peter Green to the title… Besides, on the album cover, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac is written on the bottom and Fleetwood Mac painted on a wall, so you can count one as the artist name and the other as the album name, even if the size of the two implies which should be which.

Friday, October 02, 2015

Fleetwood Mac

INTRODUCTION:
Fleetwood Mac are one of the bands that best shows that you don't need a consistent line-up to be considered one of the prominent groups of one's generation, with the only other major example that comes to mind being King Crimson. Unlike King Crimson, Fleetwood Mac were never on the cutting edge in terms of innovation, but they certainly mattered in overall popularity, be it as a live unit (their '60s line-ups) or as a chart act (their mid-'70s to late '80s line-ups), and in the beginning, they were certainly considered one of the up-and-coming bands, and befitting their overall social importance, their constant line-up changes made them seem even more significant than they really were.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

The Velvet Underground – White Light/White Heat

Year: 1968
Record Rating = 8
Overall Rating = 11

Best Song: WHITE LIGHT/WHITE HEAT

If ever it makes you uneasy to read these guys share the same proto-punk tag as the likes of the Stooges, MC5 and New York Dolls, then this LP will get rid of any such feelings. Okay, maybe not all of those feelings. But this is anything from the folksy/drony/sleepy mood that dominated on their debut; with Nico and Warhol out of the picture, Cale's viola also mysteriously disappeared, sticking to bass and organ (and a lot more vocals, too), leaving Reed and Morrison take hold of the musical direction, with lots of squealing, squawking, loud, brash, feedback-laden noise-guitar. Of course, this isn't music that's meant to express anger or social unrest like "real" punk, but it's meant to break down boundaries, experiment and appear intellectual… and contradictorily Neanderthal-like at the same time.