The first volume of my lists for 1967 consists of the well-known, the tried and the true. Nothing leaps out at me as being particularly obscure, which says a lot about how interesting music was in 1967 and how the business part of the music business was at the mercy of the music end. Music this diverse and groundbreaking for its day doesn't make the charts anymore -- or not with any regularity. Sure, there's always the odd woman out who captures an audience, but most interesting bands today have a small box of fans, who often don't even share the same tastes as their friends. But a nine-CD box on the making of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida? Who wouldn't come up with $270 to buy that one! (It's a 1968 album for those wondering.)
So, what do you say we all stand out in front of our office building and breathe the second-hand smoke for an extra high!
24) Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention -- Absolutely Free: Zappa would go on to record enough guitar solos to confuse anyone who wasn't already onboard. Then again, Zappa's music divided the red sea of hipsters and dilettantes. Freak Out made such an impact and was so idiosyncratic that the follow-up could never equal its freshness. But who doesn't love an album with "Status Back Baby" and "America Drinks and Goes Home." He never stopped me from loving brown shoes.
22) Timothy Leary -- Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out: It isn't 1967 unless you follow the mantra of the day. Having never actually heard this album, I can only imagine what it sounds like. (New This Week columns have survived on less.) It's said to feature "narrated meditation mixed with freeform psychedelic rock music," according to the semi-reliable Wikipedia. It might be better to break out your own guitar, a wah-wah pedal and some Alan Watts tapes for a more personal experience.
20) Scott Walker -- Scott: The Walker Brothers' third album, Images, was released in March, 1967 and Scott Walker's first solo album was issued in the U.K., where people liked this sort of thing, in September. It came out a year later in the U.S. where we ignored him for decades, since he was covering Jacques Brel and we've always had a difficult relationship with anything French. Would you like Freedom Fries with that, punk?
18) Otis Redding -- Live In Europe: Once again, Booker T. and the M.G.'s find time to get over to Europe and back up Otis Redding before he died. Playing lots of modern hits, Redding proved there didn't need to be divisions in music and you didn't need to sing whaling songs to be legit. Though he updated "Try A Little Tenderness" so no one cared about the old versions. It was now an Otis Redding tune.
16) Wilson Pickett -- The Wicked Pickett, The Sound of Wilson Pickett: Like most soul artists of the day, Pickett was a singles artist who featured a crack studio band behind him. That he could sing anything and make it stick meant that even the casual covers were worth hearing. Compared to how serious musicians are these days and how carefully orchestrated the product often is, it's nice that someone had more to do than issue a remix album, which back then would've seemed really weird coming out of your transistor radio.
14) The Who -- Sell Out: Interesting that Mr. Townshend would imagine a Who album with commercials, since it now seems to be his goal to sell any Who song you held dear to the highest bidder. Like they say, trust and love the art, hate the artist! (I'm originally from Jersey. Our "hate" is equal to most people's cheery indifference.)
12) Aretha Franklin -- I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You: Aretha connects. All her talent needed was the right platform to launch. The title track is one of those moments you can't plan for. The way the band cruises into the finale, the way her voice lets out an ecstatic whoop, the sound of the room all add up beyond the parts. Remember the way you won at Name That Tune? You guessed it in the fewest notes.
10) Donovan -- Mellow Yellow, A Gift From A Flower To A Garden: Though his hippy-trippy worldview and love for kooky outerwear makes him an anachronism, Donovan recorded music that was adventurous and fun and that had no debts to particular genres. The boxset, Flower to Garden, featured the Wear Your Love Like Heaven album and the For The Little Ones collection that was kiddie music before it became an industry. Hard rockers won't get this stuff, but for those ears that haven't been flattened by Marshall stacks, you'll want to light some incense and find that inner child you stuffed away for safe keeping.
8) The Rolling Stones -- Their Satanic Majesties Request, Between The Buttons, Flowers: Granted, Flowers was one of those weird knock-offs that were common in the 1960s where you grabbed a few singles, obscurities and whatever and called it an album. I probably like it a little more than Between the Buttons, if I think about it long enough. Satanic Majesties is their response to Sgt. Pepper's and while the consensus for years has been that it's not Stones-like and therefore of lesser importance than the storm that brewed with the next four or five, I believe it to be a part of the A-game. I might not be able to hum "Gomper," even after a million plays, but "Citadel" makes my head spin.
6) The Beatles -- Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Magical Mystery Tour: Even John Lennon had his moments where he admitted he preferred other Beatles albums to Sgt. Pepper's. It's become a near consensus that Rubber Soul, Revolver and "The White Album" were more interesting, track for track. That said, it defined an era like few records could. I'd still take Magical Mystery Tour before Pepper. Singles and random tracks sometimes make a grander statement, especially if it's "Strawberry Fields Forever."
4) The Jimi Hendrix Experience -- Are You Experienced?, Axis: Bold As Love: Jimi could play guitar. Anybody with eyes and ears could tell that. But he could also layer those guitars in ways that turned them into complex puzzles. Are You Experienced? has a guitar tone so severe that you're forgiven if you initially thought there was something wrong with your system. The album went for the jugular, while Axis: Bold As Love is subtler and reveals itself over time. Noel Redding says it's his favorite of the three Experience albums, but he might be fond of the royalties from his tune "She's So Fine." I would be.
2) The Doors -- The Doors, Strange Days: Other groups soaked up the L.A. sunshine, but the Doors drove by night. The Brecht-Weill chestnut, "Alabama Song," made perfect sense up against the Oedipal drama of "The End" and the up-all-night hallucinations of "Soul Kitchen." The group had only scratched the surface of their clubland repertoire and sent out "When The Music's Over" for the underrated follow-up.
- Otis Redding
- Otis Redding
- Otis Redding