Part One. While I would never give up listening to anything on the first list, I still feel like there's something new to discover with stuff that isn't as obvious. One of the joys of music is finding out it loves you in different ways as you change.
Classic rock radio may have tried to dump everyone into a one-size-fits-all box, but not everyone wants to listen to Led Zeppelin at lunchtime for the rest of their lives.
Part Three promises to have a few albums that you probably thought would make Part One. But like all great TV drama, I gotta drag this stuff out! Will Flame-O finally meet his match? Check in at Framed, that other Y! Music Blog that is "all about alternative rock" except when it's not!
Frank Sinatra - Moonlight Sinatra, Strangers in the Night, That's Life: Not to be outdone by a bunch of rock 'n' roll punks, not to mention Brits!, Sinatra released three albums in 1966, including Moonlight Sinatra, a concept album where each song had the word "moon" in its title. From there, Strangers in the Night and That's Life were like his very own Led Zeppelin II and III.
24) The Association - And Then...Along Comes the Association, Renaissance: First album has "Along Comes Mary" and "Cherish." Second album has "Pandora's Golden Heebie Jeebies." The Association were one of the reasons lite-FM wasn't a completely terrible idea!
The Young Rascals - The Young Rascals: While you're within your rights to ask why anyone needs to buy an album of white guys playing "Mustang Sally," "In the Midnight Hour" and "Slow Down," a tune that leads off this album and was previously used by the Beatles as filler, you gotta figure they made "Good Lovin'" into their hit and they would improve over time.
22) James Brown - I Got You (I Feel Good), Mighty Instrumentals, James Brown Plays New Breed (The Boo-Ga-Loo), It's A Man's Man's Man's World, James Brown Sings Christmas Songs, Handful of Soul: Not to be outdone by Frank Sinatra and his puny three 1966 albums, the Godfather of Soul released six, maybe even seven. Or someone did. Funny thing is Brown wasn't even an album artist. He recorded singles and then let the company figure the rest out. Which makes collecting his music a delightfully infuriating adventure. Fans of The Fall eerily relate.
Bobby Hebb - Sunny: Hebb is universally known for the title track, which takes "Weather Pop" into a fascinating direction. Others felt the need to cover this song into submission. I'm happy to report the rest of the album does, in fact, exist.
20) Stevie Wonder - Up-Tight (Everything's Alright), Down to Earth: Finally free of the "Little Stevie Wonder" tag, Wonder began taking steps towards being the mature modern musical genius who could sing anything. Even so, he shouldn't have covered "Blowin' In the Wind" (there should've been a moratorium on the tune by 1964) even if it did convince white people of the time that he was alright.
Neil Diamond - The Feel of Neil Diamond: Diamond really let us know where he was coming from right from the start. The Feel? Not the sound, the feel. Not to sound like a typical music dork, but his first album really is the good one. "Solitary Man," "Red Rubber Ball," "La Bamba," "Cherry, Cherry," he had nowhere to go but down. Amazingly, he never called an album Into the Schmaltz.
18) David Blue - David Blue: A great underrated singer-songwriter, David Blue (aka S. David Cohen) died of a heart attack while jogging in Washington Square Park in 1982. This begs the question, who jogs in Washington Square Park? And it sends a clear message to the rest of us that jogging kills! Someone pass the donuts!
Napoleon XIV - They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!: The single was a great novelty tune and the album served as a concept album for Mental Illness Rock. The album did NOT include the b-side of the hit played backwards, but it did have the awesomely-titled "I'm In Love With My Little Red Tricycle," "Let's Cuddle Up In My Security Blanket" and "I Live in a Split Level Head." Nothing in the entire U2 catalog can boast such greatness.
16) The Blues Project - Live at the Café Au Go Go, Projections: The band name makes them sound like high school kids hanging out in the music room afterschool, but they were actually a formidable bunch of NYC dwellers, who were lucky enough to have Al Kooper in their band to help draw in the Dylan crowd who read liner notes. First album was a live album recorded over four nights in 1965 with the band shortening the songs so the record label could fit more on the record and so potential new fans wouldn't recoil with "Good G-d, this is long!"
The Seeds - The Seeds, A Web of Sound: One of the earliest garage bands, The Seeds were blessed with a great and crazy lead singer in Sky Saxon. The nearly 15-minute "Up In Her Room" deserves every second. (Note to music search engines: when I type in the words The Seeds, it does NOT mean I automatically want to be redirected to Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, as much as I like them.)
14) Paul Butterfield Blues Band - East-West: They could have just as easily been called the Mike Bloomfield Blues Band or the Elvin Bishop-Mike Bloomfield Project. Butterfield was the leader, but how much leading do you have to do when you have two great guitar players doing the hard work? Singers get too much credit when they write a bunch of goofy words. Why should they get top billing if the band's doing a lot of old blues songs? The title track, however, is what professional critics refer to as "a mother."
John Mayall - Blues Breakers With Eric Clapton: John Mayall recorded a crapload of albums over the years but this is the one everyone knows because Eric Clapton plays on it. For some reason, music fans in the 1960s were either fascinated with bands doing old blues songs or were too lazy to buy the originals. But then kids in the 1980s bought Tiffany singing Tommy James and the Beatles, so I guess it's typical.
12) Bert Jansch - Jack Orion: At least Bert Jansch picked songs so old you weren't likely to find them on albums in the used bins by the original performers, Traditional being long dead and all. Or maybe doing old Celtic-folk tunes feels more legitimate since Jansch was Scottish. Throw in John Renbourn and you've got an idea of what Pentangle would sound like.
Blues Magoos - Psychedelic Lollipop: One of the great psychedelic rock albums. Why? Because it's one of the first I ever owned. Summer of 1983! My friend finds Jesus and gives me this album because he says Jesus wouldn't approve. I don't know and I don't care. I collect records. So, that Hawkwind collection you're sitting on? Yeah, you're going to hell unless you fork it over to me.
10) The Remains - The Remains: Here's another potentially great band who didn't bother to stick around to see what could've happened if they stuck it out. They've could've been the second best band to come out of Boston. After Aerosmith.
Sam & Dave - Hold On, I'm Comin': With voices that could do things that defy the laws of the throat, Sam and Dave had a hit with a song that had its origin in the toilet where Dave took so long that Isaac Hayes told him to hurry up and Dave replied with this album's title. Too bad they didn't follow this one up with Shut Up and Leave Me the *%#$ Alone!
8) The Troggs - From Nowhere: Another great band who had their record albums botched by record labels who insisted different countries deserved different songs. Known the world over for their tune "Wild Thing," the Troggs have a bunch of tunes that are every bit as good. So good even a caveman can play them!
Them - Them Again: True to the great American tradition, the second Them album featured 12 cuts in the U.S. instead of the ridiculously too generous 16-track album released in the U.K.
6) Merle Haggard - Swinging Doors: Haggard wasn't exactly what a lot of rock 'n' roll kids were looking for in 1966, but before the decade was out, guys like Gram Parsons would be singing his songs to their people to prove good music is good music even if your dad listens to it.
5) Love - Love: Arthur Lee would go on to make one of the most incredible albums of any era with Forever Changes. Here, the band sounds like it hasn't quite gotten their drug regimen down. Too speedy, not quite lysergic enough, though "Signed D.C." is perfect.
4) Cream - Fresh Cream: Cream were one of the first "heavy" bands to hit the scene. If you like the blues played by British white guys (note: the Rolling Stones are neither British nor white), you'll love "Rollin' and Tumblin'." And if you love drum solos, you'll dig "Toad."
Phil Ochs - Phil Ochs in Concert: Just like his Greatest Hits album that wasn't a collection of hits, but new studio recordings, In Concert isn't entirely live. But it does feature stage patter and applause and much of it was played in front of people. Ochs was considered a leftist folk singer. File next to Bernie Sanders.
2) The Who - A Quick One: Long before the Who became the band that does not know the meaning of the word "Farewell," they made music that wasn't actually featured in TV commercials. Their second album and Townshend's already getting twitchy for rock operas. Album would come out in the U.S. as "Happy Jack" because the U.K. title might lead us to unwanted teen pregnancies.
The Small Faces - Small Faces: America blew it with these guys. First album by one of rock's most underrated (US)/ suitably appreciated (UK) bands features the UK hits "Whatcha Gonna Do About It" and "Sha-La-La-La-Lee." Has the band been discriminated against because they were small?