The Remains

 

What was one of the greatest bands to come out of Boston in the middle 1960’s that you never heard of? Give up?  Still thinking it over? If you happen to think of The Remains, give yourself a well deserved pat on the back! You are really into your 60’s music. The Remains are probably one of the most underrated and unheard of bands of the decade of the sixties.

THE REMAINS
THE REMAINS

The Remains formed in Boston in 1964, and though they never received much notice outside of New England at that time, they were good. Really good! Unfortunately, by 1966, The Remains were no more. Short, sweet and powerful! If they could have made a go of it longer than a couple of years, they would have been much bigger, I’m sure. What they did leave behind is their one studio release in 1966, and it was masterful. What success they left on the table back in the middle sixties, would eventually become an international following, as an underground cult band.

Let’s put some things in perspective. At around the time of their 1966 studio release, The Remains, and their quick departure from the music scene at the time, they opened for The Beatles on their final tour. They also were on the music tv show Hullabaloo as well as The Ed Sullivan Show. They were on the way to stardom before their early departure from the music scene.

The Remains were not really part of the psychedelic music scene that would become synonymous at the start of the middle sixties. They were more of a garage rock band, and proto-punk. However, they featured some very psychedelic sounding guitar solos on some of their songs.

Their leader, Barry Tashian, who in my opinion is one of the better vocalists of the era, would have a very interesting career after The Remains. He would eventually become a guitarist and singer for Gram Parsons, Emmylou Harris, and The Flying Burrito Brothers. He currently, and has for quite some time, teams up with his wife Holly to make up the duo Barry and Holly Tashian. They play and record country music, folk and bluegrass.

One of my favorite songs off of The Remains self titled debut is Why Do I Cry, a great garage rock song with elements of punk and r&b and a great guitar riff. Their sound is infectious, danceable, and is one of Boston’s finest!

Don’t Look Back is a cover tune, and another one of my favorites off the record. It features excellent vocals by Barry Tashian, and there are times when he sounds like he is summoning his inner Mick Jagger. A great garage tune, which is in my opinion, a gem that never got the recognition it deserves.

The record as a whole is solid, shows a band that is very talented, and is a pleasure to listen too each time I listen to it. I find it unfortunate that The Remains never got the notoriety that they deserved, and that their career as a unit was so short. Had they stuck around a bit longer, they could have been one of the truly great artists of the sixties and beyond. What we have from The Remains though, is a treasure, and they left their mark, especially in Boston and New England as a whole. One of Boston’s best, regardless of their lack of popularity outside of New England.

Rating: A

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown

Before there was an Alice Cooper, there was an Arthur Brown. Cooper may have made the genre of shock rock popular, but it was Brown who was one of the pioneers. There were others before Brown, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, Screaming Lord Sutch, to name two. But it was Arthur Brown who has been credited by many musicians as the artist that gave them the inspiration.

The CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN
THE CRAZY WORLD OF ARTHUR BROWN-1968

Arthur Brown is an English singer, who performed elaborate and innovative stage performances, and is considered one of the pioneers of the shock rock genre. It was not enough for Brown to sing his songs, he had to perform them visually, giving the audience a feeling of being involved in the music, giving them something to remember, more than just something to hear, but to see and feel.

Arthur Brown did not have much personal commercial success, however there were some interesting connections that he had with some other famous musicians of the day. Brown’s debut album in 1968, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, was produced by The Who’s manager Kit Lambert, and executive-produced by Pete Townshend, The Who’s legendary guitarist and songwriter.

Brown got himself booted from a tour with Jimi Hendrix, due to his preoccupation with fire, which was an important part of both his stage act, and the regularly recurring theme of his debut album. A mainstay of Brown’s stage performances was his burning helmet, which caused him to be perpetually in harm’s way, not only on his person, but also on the stages and venues in which he performed.

The Crazy World of Arthur Brown has a recurring theme of fire and hell, which makes it kind of creepy for me. I remember hearing Brown opening the song Fire by exclaiming “I am the god of hellfire,” and subsequently having the bejesus scared out of me. Of course, as I got older, I recognised this as a means of artistic expression, and a bit of fun, but nonetheless, the theme of darkness and fire and hell permeate throughout parts of the record.

Fire was a big hit back in 1968, reaching number one in The United Kingdom and Canada, and eventually reaching number two in The States and charted in many other countries as well. It sold over a million copies and was awarded a gold disc.

The song Fire is considered a psychedelic song, but it did not feature that psychedelic guitar sound and it’s lack of bass made it a bit different than many of the other hits during the psychedelic sixties. There was a strong presences of the organ, which is associated with the psychedelic sound. The Crazy World of Arthur Brown was Brown’s one and only record during the sixties, with Fire being his only hit and most recognisable song.

When discussing and contemplating the career of Arthur Brown, he is most remembered for his one hit song, and the influential stage performances that he made popular. The influence was far reaching, and as mentioned earlier, many musicians claimed Brown as an artist to emulate, including KISS, Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, as well as others. What he lacked in personal success and acclaim, he certainly passed on to others. A good, if not strange record.

Rating: B


The Deviants-Disposable

THE DEVIANTS-DISPOSABLE
THE DEVIANTS-DISPOSABLE(1968)

 

The Deviants, also known as The Social Deviants, was an English psychedelic band founded by Mick Farren in 1967. Farren described the sound of The Deviants as “teeth-grinding, psychedelic rock.” The band formed out of the UK Underground, which was Great Britain’s correlation to the hippie counterculture movement that was developing in the United States at the same time.

The band’s album, Disposable, was released in 1968. Their music is considered to be the British equivalent to The Fugs from New York, and from what I’ve heard so far with Disposable, I like them much better than The Fugs. To me, they really don’t sound that much alike.

I didn’t quite know what to expect from Disposable, but was pleasantly surprised by this well developed, enjoyable record.  The first song, Somewhere To Go, starts of with an infectious bass beat that got me interested right away. After the intro, that seems like they we talking about being young and in The Underground, or British counterculture,  the song takes a garage rock turn, It is a great song with a killer psychedelic guitar solo, and I find myself wondering how I never heard of these guys until just recently. Great opening number.

Sparrows and Wires seems like filler at first, but it grew on me within the context of the record as a whole. It isn’t as much a song as it is a spoken word explanation, short and to the point, then on to the next tune.

Jamie’s Song is a slow moving psychedelic trip, pure psychedelic rock.

You’ve Got To Hold On is a great psychedelic song from start to finish, and is my favorite song on the album. Awesome lyrics, with killer guitar work makes this song so awesome! I find it hard to believe that The Deviants were not  more popular than they were, as I think they have some of the best music of the psychedelic era.

Fire In The City is a song featuring sax, and it’s meaning seems to be about the turbulent times that was the norm in the late sixties, both in the United Kingdom and in the States. The smooth sax solo in the middle of the tune is well done and the song as a whole is mellow but packs a lyrical punch if listened to with the sixties counterculture in mind.

Let’s Loot The Supermarket is a partially incoherent ramble about seemingly nothing but a bunch of acid induced people hanging out on a street corner somewhere to stoned to stand. Ya know, a typical sixties type infusion of fun, drugs and at times, boredom. A funny song not meant to make any serious political statement, just a bit of fluff in the middle of the record. Not one of my favorite songs on the album, but acceptable.

If Pappa Oo Mao Mao sounds familiar, it should, as it is a cover of the 1962 Rivington’s piece Papa Oom Mow Mow, originally an incoherent do wop number.  However, it seems to me that the spelling of the titled was altered from the original, referring to China’s communist leader Mao Tse-tung. The song was made into a statement against the communist Chinese regime, to me it seems pretty apparent. Good way to turn a funny, nonsensical tune into a political one.

Normality Jam is an great psychedelic instrumental piece with a funky drum beat and awesome guitars throughout. One of the best pieces of music on the record.

Guaranteed To Bleed is a slower, more mature song, with great keyboards. Sidney B. Goode is a short instrumental that emulates Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry. It is a good attempt at making the song sound like Berry’s original, but giving it a bit of a psychedelic spin.

Last Man is an eerie sounding spoken word piece that closes out the record. This ends a very entertaining record, with little filler, and a good representation of the British sound from The Uk Underground, the counterculture movement from across the pond. Good stuff!

Rating: A-


 

 

 

 

Presenting…Lothar and the Hand People

 

LOTHAR AND THE HAND PEOPLE
PRESENTING…LOTHAR AND THE HAND PEOPLE(1968)

 

Lothar and the Hand People were a psychedelic rock band that got their start in Denver, Colorado in 1965. They relocated to New York City in 1966. They were arguably one of the first bands to start the genre of space rock and they were an influential band in the sense that they were considered the first band to tour and record with synthesisers, which paved the way for many other musicians to do the same.

Specifically, they pioneered the use of the theremin and the Moog modular synthesizer. These instruments gave Lothar and the Hand People a very different, and at times otherworldly sound that was not heard in rock music up until that time. The most interesting aspect of the theremin, is that it can be played without touching the instrument.

Theremin
Theremin

Lothar and the Hand Hand People have an interesting, if not weird story behind the band. They use a theremin that they called “Lothar” and the people in the band are referred to as the “Hand People.” The band’s music is wild, fun, and interesting, if not a bit strange. However, I found them to be innovative and influential, in a childish, adolescent sort of way.

The band’s first album, of only two that they recorded, is title “Presenting…Lothar and the Hand People.” The record is a bit hard to grasp on a first listen, and I wasn’t overly impressed. However, after subsequent listens, it grew on me, and my sense of an interest in all things strange but enjoyable.

The first song on the record was a funky cover of Manfred Mann’s song “Machines.” It is quirky and rather tough to immediately appreciate, but it becomes catchy after a few listens. It is a futuristic song about how machines will rule over people, put in a silly way that makes it seem as though it is aimed at being childish. Interesting, but weird.

The next song on the record, This Is It, is a smooth song with a nice flow to it, and the guitar solo in the middle has a nice country twangy feel. This is a nice contrast to the clunky, mechanical feel of the first song.

This May Be Goodbye sounds like the beginning of a 1970’s funk song, with the synthesizer intro. It is a good song, not on of the better one’s on the record though.

That’s Another Story is a entertaining song with the synthesizer in the background that sounds a bit like a soundtrack from an old west movie.

Kids Are Little People is just plain weird, but fun. At first listen, I almost skipped over to the next tune, but I gave it a chance. It comes across as playful and nerdy, and one has to wonder if these guys were really just a bunch of  crazy musicians, out to have a bit of fun. I think that is the correct assumption, they were not going to write any deep philosophical pinings here. Just good, psychedelic, trippy fun. A record full of fun fluff, but good fluff, in a world of madness that was representative in late sixties culture.

Ha (Ho) starts off with the theremin, then develops into a well written insightful piece that turns into a chorus of gibberish. Hence the name of the song. There is a nice psychedelic guitar solo in the middle. Strange, but entertaining.

Sex and Violence, a rambling piece about, well, sex and violence. Not a lot of lyrical content here, and the song is not dark and sleazy as the title suggests. Just a trippy psychedelic song with little to add to the world other than some weirdness.

Bye Bye Love is a cover of a 1957 song made famous by The Everly Brothers. A song that has been covered numerous times by many artists, this particular cover version is adequately recorded, if not with a bit of a silly feel to it, as is the way much of the record comes across.

Milkweed Love is trippy, psychedelic, if not a bit slow. Good song to relax in the sun to on the beach in 1968. Woody Woodpecker is hilarious. Sixties music performed for and by, a bunch of stoned out hippies and it is great. I really did come around a bit too late to appreciate this at the time!

It Comes On Anyhow is a trip, literally. Fun, weird, psychedelic. Paul, In Love finishes out the record with the theremin making one last stand on the record. Psychedelic ending to a truly psychedelic musical voyage.

Presenting…Lothar and the Hand People may have been obscure, and never really found much commercial success, but they sure were innovative. And weird. And trippy. And all sixties! The record is a good attempt at something weird and wonderful. It succeeded on both counts, and though not one of my favorites from the psychedelic era, they sure did make an impression on me. I’m just not sure what the heck it is. Worth a listen, for sure.

Rating: B

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Sonics-Boom

THE SONICS-BOOM
THE SONICS-BOOM(1966)

 

The Sonics were a garage rock band from Tacoma, Washington. They got their start in 1960, and were very influential in the garage rock genre, and also influenced punk rock bands with their hard driving, aggressive sound. They are considered by many to be the the very first punk/grunge group, long before punk and grunge we a “thing.” The grunge connection seems to be significant, due to the fact that most of popular grunge bands originated in the State of Washington, where The Sonics got their start.

The Sonics
The Sonics

Much of the Sonics sound is taken from the music of the 1950’s, but with a more brash and aggressive style. Some of the songs on their 1966 release, Boom, are cover versions of some very famous and recognisable songs performed by other groups.

One of the covers, titled “Skinny Minnie”, was a song made famous by Bill Haley and his group The Comets in 1958. One of the endearing qualities of The Sonics, in my opinion, is the way they take some of these older tunes and rev them up a bit. The beginnings of a harder version of music, later to become punk and hard rock.

Another cover on the record is a good rendition of “Let The Good Times Roll” from Shirley and Lee in 1956. This song was covered by numerous bands and artists over the years, and this cover by The Sonics is a good representation.

Another cover on the record is “Jenny, Jenny” written by Little Richard in 1957. Other covers of famous songs on the record include “Louie Louie”,”Since I Fell For You”, “Hitch Hike.” and “Don’t You Just Know It.” More than half of the songs on the record are covers, and all are given a good reworking in The Sonics style.

The Sonics original songs on the record are worthy of attention also. The first song on the album, Cinderella, starts out with hard driving guitars, and screaming vocals, a classic garage rock offering. The Sonics music, though sometimes raw and hard, is also very danceable, giving it an interesting dynamic.

The next song, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, is a Sonics original that starts out slow, but picks up a bit, and is definitely influenced by the music of the 1950’s. As will virtually all the songs on this record, these are fun songs to dance to, and work well in the sixties, and would fit in very nicely ten years earlier.

He’s Waitin’ is another  Sonics song that is pure garage rock, with hints of punk, is extremely entertaining ear candy, and is one of my favorite songs on the record. The song has a great, simple guitar riff that is infectious.

It’s Alright is a song that has a great guitar solo in the middle, and is one of the few times on the record that i can hear a bit of early psychedelia slip through, although The Sonics are not considered a psychedelic band. The beginnings of the psychedelic musical style can be heard briefly in the middle of this song.

The last song on the record, Shot Down, is a great song with a excellent, hard driving  guitar solo. You can hear the formation of what would later be considered hard rock, and the Sonics influenced that genre just as much as punk or grunge.

The Sonics were fun and danceable, very influential, and a band that is well worth checking out. Some of the best music in the beginning to middle sixties!

Rating: A

 

 

 

John Mayall-Blues From Laurel Canyon

JOHN MAYALL-BLUES FROM LAUREL CANYON
JOHN MAYALL-BLUES FROM LAUREL CANYON(1968)

 

John Mayall is a British blues guitarist, organist, songwriter and singer. His career has lasted over fifty years, and he was the originator of the band John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. Although Mayall may not be a recognisable, household name, he was very influential in the early British blues scene in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

Many of the musicians who played with Mayall in the Bluesbreakers would go on to become very famous, such as Eric Clapton of Cream, and Mick Taylor of The Rolling Stones among many others.

John Mayall in 1970
John Mayall in 1970

Though not technically considered a pioneer of psychedelic music himself, he was present in the time when the psychedelic movement was prevalent. He lived in Laurel Canyon, Los Angeles, California, that was a hotbed of the psychedelic movement in the late sixties and early seventies. Famous musicians, most notably Jim Morrison of the Doors, and many others lived in Laurel Canyon in the psychedelic era.

Blues From Laurel Canyon was released in November 1968. The album is about the experiences that Mayell encountered, and people that he met, when he visited Laurel Canyon around a year before making the United Sates his more permanent home. The songs on the record is sort of a diary of his time during the visit. He must have had some good experiences while on the visit, as he ended up living there from 1969 to 1979.

The album was quite influential for a blues record. It opens up with Vacation, which starts off with the sound of an airplane flying, supposedly into Los Angeles on the beginning of Mayall’s vacation. After the plane intro, the song goes into some hard driving drumming along with organ and guitar. It is a blues record, but starts off with a psychedelic feel. Mick Taylor, later from The Rolling Stones, had an impact on the record.

The next song on the album, Walking On Sunset, is a straightforward blues number, with great harmonica, which Mayall features on many of his songs.

Laurel Canyon Home is a slow blues tune with great piano throughout. Lyrically, it is easy to understand what Mayall is conveying, he is impressed and awed by the beauty of the canyon, and is genuinely happy to be there.

2401 is a hard driving blues guitar masterpiece, in my opinion, joined in by some nice harmonica. This song is more blues rock, with a great slide guitar middle performed by by Mick Taylor. The song is about Frank Zappa’s home in Laurel Canyon.

Ready To Ride is another great blues song with more harmonica, and that distinct voice of Mayall, which to be honest, is not one of my favorite vocalists. His great guitarwork and songwriting ability more than make up for his voice. Not to mention the star power that Mayall helped develop in the Bluesbreakers.

Medicine Man is a slow blues tune with basically Mayall’s vocals and harmonica. A good tune, but may bore someone who is not inclined to like blues. It shows the ability to slow the blues down, as opposed to rocking out the blues in other parts of the record. The harmonica work is a plus also.

Somebody’s Acting Like a Child starts with a smooth jazzy drum intro , followed up by nice organ work, and a great Mick Taylor guitar solo. Great tune, that is both bluesy and jazzy.

The Bear is a song about Bob “The Bear” Hite from the group Canned Heat. It is a good tune, with great blues guitar, and piano. It is one of my favorite songs on the album.

Miss James is a song about a woman who Mayall heard about, then finally met, then realised she was a hooker that people were talking about. The song has wonderful organ throughout, and is very entertaining.

For true blues aficionados, First Time Alone is a great song. For others not so inclined to be into the blues, they are likely to skip to the next song. There is some good guitar work in the song, with mostly Mayall vocals. It is enjoyable, but slow, an acquired taste.

Long Gone Midnight is a song filled with organ, a nice guitar solo and a slow drum beat. Not a bad song, but not one of the better one’s on the record.

Fly Tomorrow is the last, and longest song on the record, and is about Mayall’s flight back to Britain after his vacation at Laurel Canyon. It is a great, guitar driven song, and ends the record on a high note. Mayall would be back to Laurel Canyon soon enough.

This is a really good offering from one of the premier British blues artists during the psychedelic era. To me it is basically a concept album about a time and place that is truly indicative of what the psychedelic era was all about, except that it is a blues record. Good stuff!

Rating: A-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ten Years After-Their First Album

TEN YEARS AFTER-THEIR FIRST ALBUM
TEN YEARS AFTER-THEIR FIRST ALBUM(1967)

 

Ten Years After was a jazz, blues and hard rock band that formed in England, and the height of their popularity was in the late sixties and early seventies. Although considered primarily jazz and blues rock, their music consisted of some psychedelic rock also.

The original members consisted of Alvin Lee, Chick Churchill, Lep Lyons and Ric Lee. The band’s popularity took off after their famous rendition of their song I’m Going Home during the original Woodstock festival in 1969. Alvin Lee performed the song powerfully and with passion, and was one of the more memorable performances of the festival.

Ten Years After in 1970
Ten Years After in 1970

Ten Years After debut record was titled Ten Years After, or more appropriately, Their First Album, and was released on October 27th, 1967. More than half the songs on the record were covers. The album, as a whole, was a mixture of jazz, blues and rock, and it was one of the first records to incorporate jazz,blues, and rock together by an English band.

The first song on the record, I Want To Know, is a cover song that starts out with shredding blues guitar, that transitions into a great vocal. This is arguably the first blues song recorded by a British rock band, and they did an outstanding job.

Although not one of the most well known early rock guitarists, Alvin Lee is one of the best in my opinion, with a wide range of playing styles. He could pull off blues, jazz, rock and hard rock guitar styles, as is apparent on his many records with Ten Years After, and on his own. This first song on the record shows the musical ability of the band, and is a good preview of what is to come.

The next song on the record, I Can’t Keep From Crying, Sometimes is a wonderful slow blues song, that starts out sounding like The Doors. The tune is mellow, relaxing, and a great listen.

The next song, Adventures Of A Young Organ, is a great tune with a jazzy drum sound, and the use of the organ, that reminds me of being at a sporting event in between the action. Great, early jazz from a rock band!

Spoonful is an old Willie Dixon cover. It is the second longest song on the album, and features great blues guitar work by Alvin Lee. The cover is exquisite, and is a great representation of the original. Well worth listening to over and over if you like good blues.

Losing The Dogs is bluesy, but with more of a faster paced rock feel. Great vocals, great guitars work and a nice piece of whistling at the beginning of the tune that gives it a lighthearted feel. An Alvin Lee original.

Feel It For Me is another great Alvin Lee original, heavy with guitars and a great blues guitar middle, and jazzy drums. A worthy tune, featuring jazz, blues and some rock guitar mixed in as well.

Love Until I Die is another original with a nice harmonica break, giving it that old time blues feel. Don’t Want You Woman has awesome blues guitar work throughout, and shows Lee’s range as both a musician and a vocalist.

The last song on the record, Help Me, is a cover of Willie Dixon and great harmonica player Sonny Boy Williamson. It is the longest song on the record at over 10 minutes, and ends the record with a classic tune, and shows again the musical ability of the band. If you want great blues guitar, this has it all. A wonderful ending to highly intricate, well performed record. An awesome debut!

Rating: A


 

Nick Drake-Five Leaves Left

NICK DRAKE-FIVE LEAVES LEFT
NICK DRAKE-FIVE LEAVES LEFT(1969)

 

Nick Drake was an acoustic guitar player and songwriter. He had a brief career, with three studio albums released between 1969 and 1972.

Drake was considered a tragic figure in music, do to the fact that his career was brief and he died in 1974 at the age of 26. He dealt with major depression throughout his life, which is at times reflected in his music.

Drake was not part of the psychedelic movement at the end of the sixties and early seventies, but was a folk singer and guitarist. His music is beautiful, haunting, elegant and emotional.

Nick Drake
Nick Drake

He found virtually no success during his lifetime, but after his death, his music was revisited, and as the years moved on he was considered to be very talented, and his music moving. He is an acquired taste, but if given a chance, his music is meaningful and mellow, and is a joy to listen to.

Nick Drake’s debut album, Five Leaves Left, was recorded between July 1968 and June 1969 in London. I would say that Drake was minimalist in his approach to music on this record, with mainly his acoustic guitar and a few others helping out. Much instrumentation was not needed to get his point across, and what instruments were on the record, other than the guitar, piano, bass and congas, fit in perfectly.

The record starts out with a beautiful, haunting song, Time Has Told Me. The guitarwork is exquisite, the lyrics emotional and meaningful, and sets the mood for what is to come on the rest of the record. The instrumentation is not enough with Nick Drake, you have to concentrate on the lyrics, which are full of autobiographical explanations, and with a feel that he is reaching out for love and support.

The next song on the record, River Man, is exquisite and filled with background noise which takes away some of the beauty of the guitarwork and vocals, but in the end it works out fine. An absolutely wonderful song.

Three Hours is musical bliss, slow, haunting, grabs your soul and won’t let go. It amazes me how that I really don’t even like low, slow music. I am much more into drums, and faster music, whether it be from the psychedelic era, or metal, or music in general. Drake grabs me and beckons me to listen. Truly a timeless artist.

Way To Blue is just Nick’s low, silky voice, nothing else needed to say here. Brilliant!

Day is Done starts out with beautiful, intricate acoustic guitarwork, followed by meaningful, soulful vocals. I would encourage anyone to check out Drake’s lyrics, they are beautifully written and performed by an artistic genius, in my opinion. This particular song has lyrics full of regret and sadness, which is autobiographical of Nick’s short life. I can feel the tragedy in his voice, very powerful.

‘Cello Song has beautiful guitarwork, not to mention, challenging to execute, but Nick gets it done in detailed artistic fashion. And that voice and those lyrics are just simply brilliant.

The song, Fruit Tree, seems to me to be Darke’s story of his life, as if he is full of regret and reaching out for help. The lyrics, vocals, and guitar work are mesmerizing.

I can not tell you how happy I am to have found Nick’s music. He was under appreciated in his own time, but he has found appreciation since, and he will forever remain as a reminder of the fragility of life, and what beautiful but tragic music can be left for us to listen and enjoy. A bit of a departure from the psychedelic norm of this website, but nonetheless, a beautiful diversion.

 

 

 

 

 

Jefferson Airplane-Takes Off

JEFFERSON AIRPLANE-TAKES OFF
JEFFERSON AIRPLANE-TAKES OFF(1966)

 

The Jefferson Airplane is a psychedelic rock band that formed in San Francisco, California in 1965. They are considered the seminal band that helped shape the San Francisco Sound in the psychedelic era in the mid to late 1960’s. The band is considered one of the most influential groups of the era from San Francisco, rivaled only by The Grateful Dead.

Early Jefferson Airplane with Signe Toly Anderson.

The original, “classic” members of the group were Grace Slick, Jack Casady, Jorma Kaukonen, Marty Balin, Paul Kantner, and Spencer Dryden. However, their debut record was recorded before Grace Slick joined the band. Signe Toly Anderson was on the first record, but left shortly after it’s release in 1966, and was replaced by Slick.

The Jefferson Airplane’s debut record, Takes Off, was released in August 1966. As stated before, Grace Slick was not on the album.

Takes Off is considered to be the beginnings of a genre of music that was to define the counterculture movement of the middle to late sixties and into the early seventies. It is an important work, with a fresh, new sound that would become known as the San Francisco Sound. It was not, in my opinion, a record that broke new ground musically, there was no great surprises here, just a well executed debut record that was very listenable and enjoyable. What was to become by the next record would be monumental in the history of rock music. But the debut was something new, but unextraordinary.

There are two notable cover songs on the record, Tobacco Road, and Let’s Get Together. Both songs are covered by other bands also, and are very popular in American culture. The Youngbloods had a big hit with their version of Let’s Get Together, titled Get Together in 1967. The Jefferson Airplane did a good job of covering both songs.

The song that kicks off  Jefferson Airplane’s recording career, and arguably the psychedelic movement in general, is Blues From An Airplane, the first song on Takes Off. It is a worthy track, and shows the musical proficiency of the band, and the formation of a new sound.

The second song on the record, Let Me In, was considered highly sexual for the times, and there are two versions, one censored, and one uncensored. By today’s standards, it wouldn’t be an issue. It is a great song, with some excellent guitar work in the middle of the track. Great early psychedelia.

Bringing Me Down is a classic psychedelic song with that psychedelic guitar style that would become so prevalent and recognisable in the genre.

It’s No Secret is my favorite song on the record, with Marty Balin’s spectacular vocals which make the song work so well. The guitar work in the middle of the track is classic psychedelia, a preview of what was to come.

Another one of the best songs on the debut is Come Up The Years, a track that starts out slow, with beautiful vocals and lyrics. It is a song about a man who is interested in a younger woman, and lamenting that she is not older. When I listen to this song, I get that feeling, as I so often do, that I wish I was a bit older, so I could experience that it was like to be around in the psychedelic era. The best music, from the greatest era, in my opinion.

Run Around is another song that was considered controversial, and has a censored and an uncensored version. It starts off with a twangy guitar intro, and great vocals. This is another highly enjoyable tune, classic sixties feel.

Don’t Slip Away is a good track, one of the weaker songs on the record, in my opinion, but nevertheless quite enjoyable. There are no bad songs on the record, and even the weaker one’s are very musically  sound, and all have great vocals.

Chauffeur Blues is a song that is lead by Signe Toly Anderson singing lead vocals, and is a straightforward blues piece. It is a good song, but I consider it to be one of the weaker songs on the record, considering that the majority of the rest of the album is excellent.

The last song on the record, And I Like It, is a bluesy piece that starts of with some jazzy drums, and is sung beautifully by Marty Balin. A good tune made great with the Balin vocals.

When listening to this record, there is some important musical history taking place. It is a great debut for one of the most influential bands in rock history. The Jefferson Airplane help launch a revolution, both musically and culturally, and are considered the cream of the crop in the world of psychedelic music.

Rating: A-

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Stooges

The Stooges
THE STOOGES

 

The Stooges were a rock band that got their start in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1967. They were sometimes referred to as Iggy and the Stooges, and the original band members consisted of Iggy Pop, David Alexander, Ron Asheton and Scott Asheton. They are widely considered to be influencers of hard rock, and heavy metal, and they are a major influence in establishing the punk rock genre.

The Stooges self titled debut album was released on August 5th, 1969 and was originally produced by John Cale of The Velvet Underground. It was rejected by Elektra Records, the same record company that had the Doors as their main act, but was redone by Iggy Pop and Jac Holzman, president of Elektra. It is widely considered a seminal proto-punk record.

The first song on the record, 1969, starts out with some great sounds from a wah wah pedal, and then turns into a classic guitar riff that sounds like the earliest incarnations of punk. With Iggy Pop’s vocals I get the feel of what punk was about to become. A classic opening tune.

The next song on the record is I Wanna Be Your Dog. This song consists of an iconic and very recognisable guitar riff which is played over and over throughout, and there are sleigh bells chiming through the piece as well. This is my favorite song on the record, and one of The Stooges classic, proto-punk songs. It is considered in Rolling Stone magazine’s top 500 songs of all time, coming in at number 438.

We Will Fall is a ten minute track that departs from the rest of the record, and it can be a bit hard to ingest for those who don’t like long, drawn out, droning pieces of music, which is exactly what it is. It is also a great song if the lights are low, the lava lamp is fired up, and the mood is right. It is an obscure song, but it works if you’re in the right frame of mind. The song definitely breaks up the consistency of an otherwise great rock album. I would consider We Will Fall the records one psychedelic song, dropped in with the rest being rockers and proto-punk gems.

The next song is No Fun, and it has some great fuzz guitar riffs, along with Iggy’s vocals, it is a great, early punk tune. I can see the influence that the band had on future punk and hard rock bands while listening to this track.

The next song, Real Cool Time, starts out with that wah wah sound and heavy guitars. The early workings of heavy metal by The Stooges gave a lot of bands their influence, a group that was somewhat ahead of their time.

Ann is a slow song, that reminds me a bit of The Doors. Actually, there are parts of this record as a whole that reminds me of The Doors. Although I can hear the similarities between both bands, they each have their own distinct style. The Doors a bit more psychedelic, while The Stooges are more harder.

Not Right is a classic garage rock song all the way, very entertaining, but not one of The Stooges more recognisable tunes.

Little Doll is the last song on the record, and it rocks the album out nicely, with a quick funky bass beginning, which follows with some heavy guitars. A great song, and Iggy has a great punk voice. The beginnings of a genre for sure.

The only low point in the record for me is We Will Fall, not because I don’t like the song, but it doesn’t really seem to follow the blueprint for the rest of the record, and seems out of place. But the record as a whole is excellent, and the future is being laid out before us. THE GODFATHERS OF PUNK, indeed!

Rating: A-