~ Established 2011 ~

Last updated: January 4th, 2017

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Saturday, March 12, 2016

Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath

Year: 1970
Record Rating = 8
Overall Rating = 11


It was a cold day in February: a Friday the 13th, no less. It was clear that something sinister was a-brewing, with an unmistakably evil chill in the air. It otherwise seemed like a perfectly normal day too, but above every record store were storm clouds, pounding rain and thunder hammering the ground around them. After every purchase of one particular album, a loud church bell would be heard ringing in the distance, and by the time these shoppers reached their cars to go back home, they met a tall, faceless figure in black, and it was the last anyone would see of them. The only remains police officers found was a copy of the LP they all purchased... an LP titled Black Sabbath.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Black Sabbath

As I've probably mentioned countless times before, heavy metal is a tricky subject for me. I'll never outright say in public that I listen to heavy metal, for fear of people assuming I listen to the kind of growling vocals about violent death/one million notes and drum hits per second metal music, and just in general, my interest in the genre from the '80s onward doesn't go far beyond Van Halen as pioneers of otherwise tasteless hair metal, Iron Maiden as pioneers of otherwise pompous power metal and Metallica and Accept as pioneers of otherwise headache-inducing thrash metal (ok, so these are gross exaggerations, but you get my point). On the other hand, bands that were considered heavy metal before the meaning became extremely vague are the ones I like best: early '70s Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and most importantly Black Sabbath.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Frank Zappa/The Mothers of Invention – Burnt Weeny Sandwich

Year: 1970
Record Rating = 10
Overall Rating = 14


Following the break-up of the original Mothers of Invention and preceding the reformation of the group, with mostly new members and new ideals, Frank needed to fill in a gap, lest the year 1970 go without any albums. The best way for someone as intellectual as Frank to fill such a gap would be with some archival live material; the decision seems pretty much perfect, since the Mothers had a pretty solid live reputation in the late '60s, and there was plenty of material around to use, so you could probably have a dozen or more such releases until Frank was ready to record new, original music. Both fortunately and unfortunately, this only resulted in the release of two archival albums in 1970, but since then there have been other releases, most famously the You Can't Do That On Stage Anymore series in the late-1980s/early-1990s, but many others have surfaced since.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

The Doors – Morrison Hotel

Year: 1970
Record Rating = 9
Overall Rating = 13


In spite of what could be perceived as a decline after the Doors first two albums, they managed to really end their career on nearly just as solid a note (if you ignore the decent, but inessential post-Morrison albums), even if "hardcore" Doors fans might say that these last two albums lack the true Doors spirit. Of course, for people like these, the Doors spirit can only exist if there's a lengthy epic and exclusively that kind of atmosphere that their first two albums displayed, so albums where the Doors suddenly decided they want to become a roots rock band – mostly in the blues rock vein, but there are elements of folk, country, jazz and funk thrown in for good measure, and there's still some of their patented brand of gothic psychedelia as well – are definitely not up there alley.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Deep Purple – Concerto for Group and Orchestra

Year: 1969
Record Rating = 4
Overall Rating = 8

Best Song: WRING THAT NECK, I guess

Well this is rather disappointing. After Deep Mark Mk. I split, with Rod Evans being replaced by Ian Gillan and Nick Simper "accidentally" being replaced by Roger Glover (see the intro if you haven't read it already), Mk. II of the band should have been ready to conquer the heavy metal world. And certainly, with their flop debut single and their honing of their live show, they were working on it, but something interrupted their progress. As far as I understand, the group were on a cruise ship (probably performing) when their manager overheard Lord's idea/dream of getting the group to play with an orchestra, which instantly intrigued their manager, who got Malcolm Arnold, conductor of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, on board and booked the touted Royal Albert Hall, forcing Lord to work straight away on the score for a composition that didn't even exist yet.

Saturday, March 05, 2016

The Rolling Stones – Let It Bleed

Year: 1969
Record Rating = 10
Overall Rating = 15

Best Song: I haven't the slightest idea on how to just pick one

1969 was a very eventful year for the Rolling Stones (well for rock music in general, actually). First there was the firing of Brian Jones, whose drug problems made him unable to fully contribute to the recording process the way he was doing 3 years prior, and made him a liability when touring, as he couldn't get a visa to perform in the US. Then as Mick and Keith tried to work without a second guitarist for a while, they hear about Brian drowning in his own pool, resulting in them picking up ex-John Mayall stringbender Mick Taylor as new lead guitarist full time and for a previously planned show that was transformed into a Brian Jones tribute concert, and only a day after the release of the album recorded during this tumultuous time, the band's infamous Altamont Freeway Concert took place, where the Hell's Angels as security knocked out Jefferson Airplane vocalist Marty Balin cold and killed audience member Meredith Hunter in a moment of extreme confusion, and if memory serves, the pre-planning of the band's attempt at a US West Coast Woodstock was a difficult one too.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Fleetwood Mac – Blues Jam in Chicago, Vol. II

Year: 1969
Record Rating = 8
Overall Rating = 11


The main advantage of this second volume of recordings made by Fleetwood Mac at Chess Studios with blues and R&B musicians that backed their biggest idols and blues, R&B and early rock 'n' roll's greatest visionaries is how much more diverse it is: and I don't just mean in terms of tempos or styles of blues that are available (although this one does improve on that aspect a bit), but in the amount of vocal numbers, who takes lead – not just one Peter Green vocal, a handful of Jeremy Spencer vocals and a few Walter Horton vocals, but some Danny Kirwan tunes and vocals from piano player Otis Spann and sax player J.T. Brown, all three of which contribute in songwriting too – and the increased prominence of certain instruments, especially Spann's piano and Willie Dixon on standup bass occasionally substituting for John McVie.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Fleetwood Mac – Blues Jam in Chicago, Vol. I

Year: 1969
Record Rating = 7
Overall Rating = 10

Best Song: WATCH OUT

Whatever progress was made between Mr. Wonderful and Then Play On, not to mention the singles following the latter, are pretty much gone with these final two LPs featuring Green released while he was still a member; to be fair, though, one of the aforementioned follow-up singles to Then Play On was released in 1970, and the recording sessions that resulted in this first volume and its follow-up were recorded a few months before the earliest sessions of the "official" final Green-era album. You can't really fault these two volumes – here called Blues Jam in Chicago, but also known under the names Blues Jam at Chess or Fleetwood Mac in Chicago – for any sort of regression, because a) the "jamming" implies that there's no seriousness in this, it's just a bunch of musicians playing some of their favourites or riffing around their own ideas and b) the fact that this was recorded at Chess Studios in Chicago with a number of blues musicians who often backed Spencer and Green's biggest heroes makes this nothing more than a tribute/collaborative album. If you wouldn't fault Bo Diddley for recording an album with Muddy Waters and Little Walter for that purpose (and I don't), why should Fleetwood Mac get all the blame?

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Jefferson Airplane – Volunteers

Year: 1969
Record Rating = 8
Overall Rating = 11


Of all of Jefferson Airplane's albums, this one is probably the most dated of all; no one every throws accusations of datedness to their debut, and while Pillow and Creation are easily identifiable for their time period, the former is mostly apolitical and managed to be the quintessence of its year of release despite having been recorded the previous year, and the latter's political ambitions aren't particularly specific, or at least are subtle when it comes to political orientation. Yeah, Baxter's is pretty dated, but it spends most of its time being stoned out and playful, which kind of fits with the re-emergence of drug culture. This one, though, is heavily influenced by fear of the Vietnam War, and the band's own political leanings of some sort of ecological/farming-based/anarcho-communist ideology is one that could only make sense in the '60s, and there are plenty of people who simply can't get into the music of the album because of the lyrics and ideas.