Some Musical Gems From The Sixties and Seventies Still Available
This list is meant as a sampler, maybe for someone
who missed the LP the first time around or just discovered the artist or group now and is going back through their catalogue
of music. In their time some sold well but not all. This list can suggest a good starting point for someone to
explore a different type of music. More than one genre of music will be represented in this sampler, so here it goes--the
(1) "Surrealistic Pillow"
(1967) The second album by Jefferson Airplane. Even today "Somebody To Love" and "White Rabbit" are still being played on the radio. (In
fact, Gracie Slick is still, decades later, earning quite a bit in royalties from writing "White Rabbit".)
Every time I hear the opening notes of "She Has Funny Cars" starting with the eight second intro of the drummer
and then the lead guitar of Jorma Kaukonen which kicks in, my energy level goes up ten times. The next song is "Somebody
To Love", a dynamic one, two punch on the album. There are other great songs to be found here as well. I
never forgave my parents for misplacing my tickets to see them in 1970 at the Fillmore East in NYC. I finally did see
them that year although it meant being stranded at the New Jersey shore overnight. It was worth it.
"Desperado" (1973) Everyone has heard the title tune of this Eagles LP but the whole album jells well together. It was a concept album that was to be made into a movie. Unlike some
of their subsequent albums, there are no fillers.
(3) "Best Of The Byrds"
(1967) I still remember when I heard this collection for the first time. My friend who turned me on to
it has no memory of this. I fell in love with The Byrds then: every song is great. Of course, every person has heard them doing "Mr. Tambourine Man" and "Turn!Turn!Turn!"
The first rock and roll concert I ever saw was the Byrds and Procol Harum in 1969 at the Fillmore East in NYC and neither
disappointed me although I was there to see the Byrds, who were great and saw them at least two more times more, also, at
the Fillmore East.
(4) "Between The Buttons" (1967) by The Rolling Stones has, at times, a "raw" feel to it. "Let's Spend The Night Together" and "Ruby Tuesday"
are on it. It is one of lesser known but one of their great albums. You would not be disappointed if you like the Stones.
(5) "The Best Of The Association" (1968) As a rule, I
do not like compilations, although I did mention one already. I will make another exception: The Association wrote many beautiful love songs displaying wonderful harmonies of which "Cherish" is the best known.
"Forever Changes" (1967) This is the masterpiece of the group Love, considered by many to be one of the best rock albums of all time. I never have gotten tired of hearing it. Arthur Lee, the leader and vocalist, was a genius who could do anything musically. He spent the rest of his life trying to match
unsuccessfully the brilliance of this album. He made several albums with the group Love on the Electra label in the
late sixties and early seventies that are worth getting. In 2002, he went on tour with another edition of Love performing
the whole album "Forever Changes" to critical acclaim. In 2006 he died from leukemia.
"Liege And Lief" by Fairport Convention (1967)
Sandy Denny, Richard Thompson and Dave Swarbrick were notable members of this British group, who set the standard for folk-rock
in this impeccably made, very traditional sounding, award-winning album.
Of Rogues" (1973) Steeleye Span is another British group who often
reworked English folk tunes in a rock setting. "Parcel Of Rogues" could be the finest example of this,
displaying powerful vocals and music in this well-recorded album. This edition of the group put out a number of other
fine albums worth exploring if you find out you like this one.
Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight" (1973) by Richard And Linda Thompson
This is their first one together (they made six albums). As far as I am concerned this album is their best: Linda
does some of her finest singing here. Richard Thompson has almost no equal when it comes to his guitar playing and songwriting. He won a major lifetime award in England for
songwriting and is on Rolling Stone's top twenty-five list of all time best guitarists. I played this album a lot
when I first got it.
(10) "Led Zeppelin" (1969) Led Zeppelin's first album was a transition one from a blues band to creating some of the most original majestic music (they were
originally called The New Yardbirds). Jimmy Page was a member of the "Yardbirds" when they disbanded. This album
has some of the most incredible electric blues I have ever heard. Robert Plant today still does "Babe I'm Gonna
(11) "Moondance" (1970) by Van Morrison The first side of this album is the strongest side of music he has ever recorded--one great song after another.
In fact, I am not sure I ever listened to the rest of the album. The CD is worth every penny just for the first five
(12) "Damn The Torpedoes" (1979) by Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers I have the same problem with this album as the last one mentioned. The first side starting off with "Refugee"
is so strong I never make it to the second side.
(13) "Crazy Eyes"
(1973) by Poco is one of the best albums they made. The title tune, a beautifully orchestrated song, is the centerpiece of this LP.
"Magnolia" is another fine song on it. They never had the success of the Eagles: their songwriting was
not consistently strong enough, yet they are one of the forerunners of country rock and did put out a number of fine albums.
Two quick examples are "Cantamos" and "A Good Feeling To Know". Some interesting facts about Poco are
that the group arose out of the embers of Buffalo Springfield. (Richard Furay and Jim Messina founded the group in 1968
with Rusty Young, who is a superb pedal steel player.) And Timothy B. Schmit, who joined the group in 1970, left the
group in 1977 to join the Eagles.
(14) "Dire Straits" (1978)
is a fine debut album for Dire Straits, which with almost no advertising was a hit
on the strength of Mark Knopfler's well-known "Sultans of Swing". I know that is why I bought it. I remember going into a record
store in Greenwich Village and searching for the album in the miscellaneous bin because I couldn't remember the name of
the group! This recording pulls you in from the very first note of Mark Knopfler's lean, muscular guitar playing.
He has a strong voice, demonstrates great songwriting, and is backed by a fine band.
(15) "Then Play On" (1969) by Fleetwood Mac was Peter Green's last album with them and said to be his best with the group. Some people are only familiar with
the popular edition of the group which had Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham in it and put out the monster LP "Rumours".
Fleetwood Mac was originally a blues band: Richard Thompson once said that Peter Green was the best blues guitarist
from England. Peter Green had replaced Eric Clapton when he had left John Mayall's legendary group "The Bluesbreakers".
Both John McVie and Mick Fleetwood had been also part of "The Bluesbreakers" and later joined forces with Peter
Green to form Fleetwood Mac.
(16) "In The Skies" (1979)
Peter Green's first solo album, a hit for him, is definitely worth getting. It features some incisive, razor-sharp guitar playing
by him. "The Apostle", the final cut on the album, is one of the most beautiful guitar instrumentals I've
(17) "The Who Sell Out" (1967) One of
the lesser known albums of The Who, their fourth. Everyone familiar with The Who has heard its "I Can See For Miles". Some of the
musical ideas of "Tommy" can be heard on "Rael(1and 2)". "Tattoo" is unlike much of Peter
Townshend's material: it tells a complete story in one song. This is a fine cohesive album worth getting if
you missed it the first time around and can deal with the phony commercials which punctuate it.
(18) "Rough Mix" (1977) is a duet album between Peter
Townshend and Ronnie Lane (from Small Faces), an absolutely delightfully laid back album which is definitely worth
exploring. According to one review I read, Peter Townshend has never been so relaxed making an album as he was with
this one. If you missed it the first time, it is worth buying. Now you know where the charm of Small Faces came
(19) "The Band" (1969) by The Band was their second release, maybe even better than their superb debut, "Music From Big Pink". They were a slice
of Americana--a real American treasure. I had the pleasure of seeing them back then at The Academy Of Music in Brooklyn
along with the poet Allen Ginsberg and the group Joy of Cooking. The Band did not disappoint me. Before those
two albums, they had recorded "The Basement Tapes" with Dylan, although it would be years before that album came
out officially. They made the front page of Time magazine in January 1970, after they released "The Band".
Every song on the album is excellent: just about everyone has heard "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down".
(20) "Squeezing Out Sparks" (1979) by Graham Parker and The Rumour This was the first Graham Parker album I ever heard and nothing ever matched the fury, anger, and frenetic energy he exposed in these songs. ("The
Great Macaw", a solo album he made in 1983, was another fine piece of music, displaying a melodic edge his earlier recording
did not.) "Discovering Japan", his opening cut, is a disturbing yet riveting song I never get tired of hearing.
Every song is good; his band's playing is inspired. The title of this LP is a reference to his song about abortion,
"You can't Be Too Strong",--one of the most unsettling songs regarding the subject I have ever heard anyone
write. I always felt he dealt with adult issues in a way most artists did not. It is an absolutely great album.
(21) "Sweet Baby James" (1970) This album by James Taylor made him a star and a household name. There is not a weak song on it, and "Fire and Rain" is one of the best
songs he ever wrote. It was produced by Peter Asher (from Peter and Gordon fame), who also produced some of the best
Linda Ronstadt albums. If you are just discovering James Taylor now, this would be a great one to buy.
"Best of The Hollies" (1973) (Epic) Graham Nash was with the original
Hollies. There are many collections of "The Hollies". If you were to get one, this would be it. This is a solid single anthology with all their greatest hits--not
a weak song in this collection of wonderful pop with their gorgeous harmonies.
(23) "Cardiff Rose" (1976) solo album by Roger McGuinn is the best album I have heard from him since The Byrds disbanded. Pairing with Mick Ronson, who produced it and played
guitar on it, seemed strange (he was the lead guitarist for David Bowie's Spiders From Mars), yet the result bears fruit:
it is the strongest solo album I have ever heard from McGuinn. My favorite tunes on it are "Up To You" (a
Dylan song) and "Dreamland", which Joni Mitchell wrote for him. If you ever get a chance to see him solo,
don't pass it up. My wife and I saw him recently and he was great: he absolutely exuded joy in his solo performance.
(24) "Judy Collins In Concert in 1964" (available as a reissue with
Judy Collins 3) (1964) This is my favorite recording of Judy Collins. She varies her delivery and the music in a way I have not heard since from her, and the song selection in the sixty
minute concert is excellent. I preferred early Judy Collins when she was strictly folk.
(25) "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" (1972) by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band introduced the public to old time country, folk and bluegrass at a time when it was a risky experiment. In 1989
and 2002 they released Volume 2 and 3 and in 2003 it became available as a trilogy with one DVD included. Doc Watson,
Vassar Clemons, Earl Scruggs and Maybelline Carter are some of the legendary performers they enlisted on the first "project"
and the subsequent ones in Volume 2 and 3 were equally well known in their musical circles, although not always to the mainstream
public. All three volumes were well put together and a pleasure to listen to.
*** *** ***
Some passing comments: To me one of the greatest things in the world is introduce someone to a great piece of music.
These CD's have all held up well to repeated play. If you find a CD from this list you had not been aware of and
it gives you much pleasure, the time I have spent compiling this list has been worth it. In a sense every piece of music
is fusion: it has had its origin somewhere else. Maybe I will open you up to a whole new world you were not aware
of. Maybe, it is just something you missed. Listening to music is always like going on a journey. You never
know where it will take you. Just about every writer I have known (or artist for that matter) loves music. Siggy
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