Album Chart of 1967

<1966 1968>

  • This chart features albums released in 1967 and is limited to all of the albums in my collection which have “A-list” status.
  • The Top 30 albums are profiled, and the full chart (Top 102) is summarised, in sortable table form, on the Albums released in 1967 page, which shows the full range of albums in this sites' database, including the “B-list” records.
1967-a-the-velvet-underground-and-nico.jpg

THE VELVET REVOLUTION

Things were wonderful in the 60's, because it was an era of intense experimentation. Everyone was trying to out-hip each other” ~ Paul Rothchild

The Doors producer got that right. 1967 was an explosive year – a potpourri of invention, good and bad. Captain Beefheart, Phil Ochs and The Beatles were the definition of inventiveness, whilst The Velvet Underground (pictured with Nico) delivered a one-band big-bang that was so ‘out there’ the world, caught in a time warp, hardly felt a thing in the actual year of the seismic event.

Aretha Franklin, with not a little help from the Muscle Shoals production team, ascends to the throne as the Queen of Soul, despite Carla Thomas's staking of a titular claim on her collaborative LP with Otis Redding. Alas, the life of her brilliant co-star would be lost in a December plane crash.

Nico, Leonard Cohen, The Dubliners and The Incredible String Band showcase the incredible diversity within the Folk scene; all are bound with unique character in abundance.

There are almost as many Psychedelic albums as there are Pop ones, and The Doors and Love are at the very head of the movement. In September, The Doors appear on The Ed Sullivan Show and perform “Light My Fire”. Ed Sullivan, who had previous by getting Jagger to re-deliver “Let's Spend the Night Together” as “Let's spend some time together” is furious in September when Jim Morrison, singing “Light My Fire”, revolts against the pre-agreed change of “Girl we couldn't get much HIGHER” to “BETTER”, and The Doors are banned from the show. It was fucking worth it. Well done Jim.

In March, Jimi Hendrix sets fire to his guitar on stage in London, and has to be treated for hand burns. Despite this set-back, The Jimi Hendrix Experience deliver a bona-fide album of Rock excellence with “Are You Experienced?” The world has never heard anything like it. Alas, a bleak future is foretold in this new genre by Jefferson Airplane, Clear Light, Cream and Moby Grape, as the jamming age of the crushing-bore virtuoso dawns.

The Jukebox Rebel
19-Jan-2016

TJR says:

9.85 “An elite masterpiece”

The Velvet Underground & Nico nudges as close to perfection as you could ever dare to hope for from an album. The disparate 5 – Lou, John, Sterling, Mo and Nico – contrast, complement and interact so well with each other that you get an album which is, at once, full of diversity yet emerges singularly as a coherent and immaculate masterwork. From the gorgeous opening pop simplicity of “Sunday Morning” to the nihilistic, demonic out there aural assault of “European Son” at the death, you’re taken on one hell of an amazing journey into territories hitherto unknown. Many critics label this as the most important album ever made. I’m with the critical majority and the commercial minority. If ‘66 was pot and light spanking, ’67, whether fantasy or reality, was shooting H and indulging in hardcore bondage sessions. Bob Dylan sang “you shouldn’t let other people get your kicks for you”. I don’t know about that; it doesn’t seem like such a bad idea through the Velvet Underground. As Lou Reed, the chief lyricist, would later remark: “That's the kind of stuff you might read. Why wouldn't you listen to it? You have the fun of reading that, and you get the fun of rock on top of it.” This was a boundary-pushing LP in so many ways; lyrically, musically and artistically. At the time of release, the New York group lined up: Lou Reed (25, vocals, guitar); John Cale (25, electric viola, piano, bass guitar, backing vocals, celesta) Sterling Morrison (24, rhythm guitar, bass guitar) and Maureen Tucker (22, drums, percussion). Although she only sings on 4 of the tracks, Nico (28) gets co-billing status and, quite frankly, merits it unquestionably. You can chop a whole year off those ages for the date of recording. Unbelievably, almost the entirety of the album lay “in the can” for 11 months, the acetate having being rejected for distribution by Columbia, Atlantic and Elektra Records. Perhaps we music fans can be thankful; were it not for their bad decision making we might never have had the delicious opener “Sunday Morning”, an after-thought recording made in November ’66. The keys of John Cale open up the LP by virtue of a randomly-found Celesta in the studio. It’s the prettiest moment in pop since Buddy Holly’s “Everyday”, with a delicate vocal from Lou which belies the paranoia of the lyric: “Watch out, the world's behind you.” This theme is immediately continued in “I’m Waiting For The Man” which re-sets the musical tone as jittery and nervous, with a sense of danger as naïve buyer arranges to meet dealer: “Hey, white boy, what you doin' uptown? Hey, white boy, you chasin' our women around?” Watch out Lou, they’ve got knives. John Cale empathises, with a discordant hammered piano; the instrument has never been used so wildly since Jerry Lee was shakin’ and pumpin’ ten years ago. Calm is restored when Nico steps up for her first lead vocal on “Femme Fatale”, a less than flattering ode to their live show dancer, Edie Sedgwick, who’d die just 3½ years later from a drug overdose. When “Venus In Furs” kicks-in, the emotional depth of the album is accentuated; we’ve had paranoia, fear, bitchiness and now we have a tale of sexual decadence unparalleled in popular music: “Kiss the boot of shiny, shiny leather. Shiny leather in the dark. Tongue of thongs, the belt that does await you. Strike, dear mistress, and cure his heart” The subliminal track is framed perfectly via John Cale’s electric viola which scratches and whips, as well as Lou Reed’s ostrich guitar, which shimmers in a state of unwavering anticipation [steady]. Taking a deep breath to recover, “Run Run Run” reverts back to convention of sorts with a mean and tough Proto-Punk beat which serves as the backdrop for a tale of life on the NYC streets, as seen through the eyes of the drop outs and the misfits. Lou draws on characters, real or imagined, such as Teenage Mary, Margarita Passion, Seasick Sarah, and Beardless Harry; all of whom are detailed using or seeking drugs. Lou’s passion for using colourful characters from his everyday life is to the fore once again on “All Tomorrow’s Parties”, almost like a medieval dirge with a contemporary cast. Here, Lou observes the Warhol clique of ’66. According to him, the song is: “a very apt description of certain people at the Factory at the time. … I watched Andy. I watched Andy watching everybody. I would hear people say the most astonishing things, the craziest things, the funniest things, the saddest things.” In a 2006 interview John Cale stated: “The song was about a girl called Darryl, a beautiful petite blonde with three kids, two of whom were taken away from her.” Nico’s vocal is simply stunning. She sounds like she has lived emotionless since the dawn of time. There is no let up on the challenging material as you flip over to side 2. Lou had written “Heroin” objectively whilst an 18 year-old student of Delmore Schwartz at Syracuse University. What a strange kid. The song is a bona-fide Proto-Prog masterpiece; a glorious and hellish journey, as the user tries to “make the kingdom” and “feel like Jesus son”. With varying tempos designed to reflect the irregular heartbeats of the user, and cacophonic shrieks from Cale’s viola invoking some sort of rush, I feel the need to physically check my arm for track marks at the conclusion. Hardcore drug abuse and blasphemy all in one seven minute onslaught; surely one of the most confrontational songs ever committed to vinyl by 1967? Using the same trick as Side 1 did post-Venus, “There She Goes Again” serves as a breather, as we get back to some sort of recognisable normality, this time in the form of a stupendous folk-rocker existing on the outer fringes of the genre. Nico’s supreme contributions to the LP are underlined in the seminal “I’ll Be Your Mirror”, a title which was rooted in a throwaway comment she had made to Lou a couple of years earlier. Explaining the sheer perfection of this performance, Sterling Morrison later revealed: “She kept singing “I'll Be Your Mirror” in her strident voice. Dissatisfied, we kept making her do it over and over again until she broke down and burst into tears. At that point we said, “Oh, try it just one more time and then fuck it — if it doesn't work this time, we're not going to do the song.” Nico sat down and did it exactly right.” As I’ve said many times before – every moment of blood, sweat and tears in the studio is worth it in the end. The recording stands immortal. Piercing dissonance, loud bursts of feedback and detuned strings are the order of the day in “The Black Angel's Death Song” and “European Son” as the album closes fittingly in fuck off waves of avant-garde abandon. The final track begins in the discipline of Lou’s Berry-esque riffage before succumbing to John’s Cage-ist chaos. No-one knew it at the time, but the disembowelment of Rock n Roll had been a successful operation, and was an artistic revelation. The shock waves would continue to reverberate down throughout the decades. Praise be to the Velvet Underground visionaries for this heroic work of art and, perhaps even more so, to the equally heroic 30,000 first-wave believers of 1967 who took the gospel forward, from the ripples of the Stooges to the waves of Suicide to the psunami of Sonic Youth and the Jesus and Mary Chain. The VU tributaries will weave and twist forever.

The Jukebox Rebel
21-Mar-2007


TJR says:

8.97 “A classic”

After six years recording with Columbia Records, Aretha Franklin made one of the best decisions of her career when she signed with Atlantic Records and set to work with producer Jerry Wexler and the famed musicians at Muscle Shoals studios in Alabama. The chemical reaction was highly potent. In the context of this album, it’s evident from the very start, as the highly charged “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.” explodes into action. Goddam! What a funky break, what a strong woman, what a sax from King Curtis. Otis Redding would jokingly lament about “the little girl who stole my song” but you just know that, secretly, he must have been one proud daddy! The key to this album is the constantly gripping passion from Aretha, and the fantastic accompaniment that she receives from the whole team, including her sisters Carolyn and Erma on backing vocals. Album highlight “I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)” continues the early perfection. This was the first song that Aretha brought to the table in the Atlantic sessions, written for her by Ronnie Shannon. Aretha’s talents are all to the fore – her piano caress lays the foundation, and her extraordinary ability to impact emotionally all the way from breathy whispers to ecstatic screams seals one of the classiest musical performances in all of recorded history. Aretha has a hand in the writing of four pieces, one of which, “Dr. Feelgood”, proves to be another major highlight. Once again, it’s a wholly delicious concoction centred ‘round a late-night slow-swing piano, and a sensuous vocal which is part sung – part spoken – part screamed. The band are crack – and subtle, with sensational organ and horns in particular. No matter what you’re into, this album is a stunner from start to finish. I am awestruck every time I hear it…

The Jukebox Rebel
26-Nov-2006


TJR says:

8.92 “A classic”

After some 12 years as a fashion model and actress, Christa Päffgen was, by now, coming around to the idea that she could have a career in music. Following “I’m Not Sayin’”, a pretty cool one-off folk-rock single produced by Rolling Stones multi-instrumentalist Brian Jones in ’65, she had been further enthused by her involvement in two astounding singles with the Velvet Underground in ’66, her contributions being so striking that she merited co-billing status on the resulting LP. Andy Warhol dubbed her “the pop girl of ‘66”, most likely to her horror. Brilliantly, Nico would later comment: “I’d be ashamed to have an audience like Neil Diamond.” Not yet the Queen of the bad girls, this is Nico, the ultimate Chelsea girl. She had starred as herself in Andy Warhol’s avant-garde film “Chelsea Girls”, released in September ’66. Next up in her artistic development was her very own album. In April ’67, just a month after “The Velvet Underground and Nico” was released, Nico stepped into the studio to begin work on her first solo full-length. This was a treat for the small circle of Velvet Underground devotees. For them, this would be a second ’67 serving, again on Verve Records, with Tom Wilson once again handling production in a studio which included contributions from Lou Reed, John Cale and Sterling Morrison, as well as Jackson Browne, Nico’s current boyfriend. It seems, however, that Nico herself was not in full artistic control. The post-production inclusion of Larry Fallon’s string and flute arrangements were like a dagger-blow to her, shattering her dream of how it should have been: “I still cannot listen to it, because everything I wanted for that record, they took it away. I asked for drums, they said no. I asked for more guitars, they said no. And I asked for simplicity, and they covered it in flutes! They added strings and – I didn't like them, but I could live with them. But the flute! The first time I heard the album, I cried and it was all because of the flute.” I have no idea why she’s so down on this LP – to my ears it’s an astounding set – as beautiful as it is haunting, and amazingly consistent, packed with classics at every turn. These songs may well have belonged to others but Nico takes complete command of proceedings, from the very beginning to the very last. Her presence, in fact, dominates any recording which she’s ever made (bar “Sunday Morning” which buried her backing vocals). Even these lyrics seem to have been penned with the moody chanteuse in mind: “Please don’t confront me with my failures, I have not forgotten them” On the back cover of the LP, she herself says: “I like sad songs, tragic ones… I like to improvise with the notes, with the feeling I have at the time about the song.” Somewhere along the line, Nico became imbued with melancholia. As anyone with any true depth to their soul knows, often there’s a beauty of the purest sort to be found there. And here on “Chelsea Girl”, Nico serves up 45 minutes’ worth of the finest melancholia the world has ever been privileged to hear.

The Jukebox Rebel
22-Jul-2007


TJR says:

8.77 “A classic”

Some 13 years after his first published poetry, and 4 years after his first novel, the 33 year-old Quebecan finally got around to presenting an album of works; “Songs of Leonard Cohen” first seeing the light of day with a small production run in December ’67. The man was a natural-born artist, it was perhaps only a matter of time that his writing would lead to music. He seen music as perhaps the most likely route for his writings to spread to wider audiences, and was thrilled when Judy Collins chose to record two of his songs, “Suzanne” and “Dress Rehearsal Rag”, for her late ’66 LP, “In My Life”. Suitably encouraged, Leonard stepped into Columbia’s New York studios in August ’67 and laid down as masterful a debut set as any artist has ever done. He was, of course, fully formed as a writer by this stage; it was merely a case of getting the musical tone just right. Despite a few artistic differences between Leonard (who wanted “more sparsity”) and the producer John Simon (who wanted to “beef it up a bit”) the end results are stunning. There’s strength in depth to the content, with finely crafted songs and captivating lyrics from start to finish. As well as a first class lyricist, Leonard proves himself as no mean picker, with a Spanish inflection which provides a real fresh sound for the NY folk scene. Together with his earnest delivery, sometimes bordering on the deadpan, he makes quite an impression; addictive and unforgettable.

The Jukebox Rebel
28-Apr-2007


TJR says:

8.62 “A classic”

1967 dawned with The Doors debut LP in January. At the time of release they were: Jim Morrison (24, lead vocals); Ray Manzarek (27, keyboards); Robby Krieger (20, guitar) and John Densmore (22, drums). The Angelinos had formed in mid ’65 and had perfectly honed these songs in their live sets prior to stepping into the studio in August ’66. One week was all it took to lay down this epic set – a typically 60s time scale which shames many groups of later era’s. There are nine group compositions on board as well as two covers; “Alabama Song (Whisky Bar)”, a show-tune which had originally been done by Lotte Lenya & Irene Eden in the musical “Mahagonny Songspiel” in July 1927, and “Back Door Man” which had previously been done by Howlin’ Wolf in 1960. The Doors, however, are one of those rare groups who just turn everything into their very own; this is mainly down to the complete uniqueness of Jim Morrison’s vocals and Ray Manzarek’s dazzling organ play; he is to Rock n Roll what Bach was to Classical. This was a sheer adventure playground – a highly skilled set with great songs at every turn, from raunchy sexiness to playful cabaret to the darkest theatre. Producer Paul Rothchild revealed some fascinating insight about “The End”, undoubtedly one of the most intense masterpieces ever to be committed to tape: “When The End was first performed in the studio, we took almost a whole day to set it up, because it was a very complex piece to record. When we finally got the tape rolling, it was THE most awe-inspiring thing I'd ever witnessed in the studio. It's still one of the top musical events of my LIFE, and I've made over 160 records. We were about 6 minutes into it when I turned to Bruce (Botnick, the Doors' engineer on every album) and said ‘Do you understand what's happening here? This is one of the most important moments in recorded rock 'n' roll’. Bruce was a just a kid then, and he said, ‘Really?’ I said, ‘Stop listening to the sound – it's fine – and listen to THE SONG.’ When it was done, I had goose-bumps from head to toe. It was MAGIC. I went into the studio, and I told them exactly what I just told you, and then, I asked them to do it again. ‘Let's make sure we've got it.’ So they did it again, and it was equally brilliant. Afterwards, Ray said ‘Whew, I don't think we can do that any better.’ I said, ‘You don't have to. Between the two takes, we have one of the best masters ever cut.’ It turns out we used the front half of take one, and the back half of take two. We did the same thing with Light My Fire.” All over the States, many artsy types had similarly ambitious psychedelia projects at this time – but, like all the top thrillers, the crème de la crème was made in Hollywood.

The Jukebox Rebel
12-Apr-2006


TJR says:

8.33 “Excellent”

Well, I thought “Star Time” was kinda neat in 1964 but, boy oh boy, Volume 3 blows it out the water. The exquisite 4-part harmonies remain but this time around these Johannesburg girls, including here Joyce Mogatusi and Grace Moeketsi, are fully immersed in their own culture, with terrific backing in the mbaqanga style provided by Alexandria Black Mambazo. “Star Time Volume 3” (the 3rd in their 4 part series) is a must for a sunny day – it’s simply joyous and glorious, and it’s an album which just keeps on pleasure giving. “Hole Thabe” is my absolute favourite – it’s a masterwork from every angle; a phenomenal track. It was first issued as a single in 1966, before settling down to live here on their excellent third LP. The liner notes, written for the benefit of a western audience, don’t reveal too much: “Because of the popular demand for the Dark City Sisters, we have great pleasure in presenting another LP by this well-known group. This is a collection of some of their most popular songs, including their latest hit “Mmamokgwantiti” (JP-1082). We’re sure that this album will give you great pleasure, whether at parties or just listening at home.” I’ll say one thing for the copy writer – no lies were told!

The Jukebox Rebel
23-May-2012


TJR says:

8.30 “Excellent”

The third Love LP arrived in November ’67 and was co-produced by the group’s leader, Arthur Lee. Ever the perfectionist, the septet had been trimmed back to a quintet during the year, and he even felt it necessary to draft in session substitutes, keeping existing group member’s on their toes. Guitarist Bryan MacLean steps up with the album’s major highlight, “Alone Again Or”, a truly enduring masterpiece. However Arthur’s psychology works, the results are terrific on “Forever Changes”, an LP which is even classier than last year’s “Da Capo”, which is no mean feat. Less psychedelic than its’ predecessor, this set instead relies on a purer, more contemporary pop template, with a massive strings and horns section beautifully orchestrated by David Angel, acting upon Arthur’s hummed, whistled and sung directives! Pete Johnson of the Los Angeles Times astutely commented that the album “can survive endless listening with no diminishing either of power or of freshness”, while noting “parts of the album are beautiful; others are disturbingly ugly, reflections of the pop movement towards realism”. On “Red Telephone”, when Arthur sings “They’re locking him up today, they’re throwing away the key, I wonder who it’ll be tomorrow – you or me?” you know exactly what Pete means. “Oh the snot has caked against my pants, it has turned into crystal” (the opening lyric on “Live And Let Die”) cements the deal. As revealed lyrically underneath these bright and breezy horns, the summer of love wasn’t all sweetness and light.

The Jukebox Rebel
17-Jun-2007


TJR says:

8.09 “Excellent”

The band’s second studio album on Major Minor Records, their second of 1967, and the second to allude to the hard liquor in the title (and the song’s therein!) You know where you stand with the Dubliners – raucous raconteurs who are second to no folk band in all of recorded history. These tales of drinking, courting, hard life in the country and Irish history are told over an impeccable bed of ancient auld playing styles, delivered with both a poised precision and a rousing passion in appropriate measure. With Barney’s mandolin set to Ronnie’s doleful vocal, who couldn’t shed a tear for “The Croppy Boy” and his confession box tale of woe? This wonderful formula is repeated on “The Auld Triangle” and we feel with the prisoner on death row – despite the fact that we know fine well he’s probably a good for nothing rogue. Ciarán Bourke’s mournful harmonica pleads for your mercy! “A Nation Once Again” dreams of a time when Ireland will be, as the title suggests, a free land, with “our fetters rent in twain”. The lyrics exhort Irishmen to unite as one: “And Ireland long a province be a nation once again”. Thomas Davis wrote it in the 1840s noting that “a song is worth a thousand harangues”. He was a wise man… and no’ a bad song-writer to boot…

The Jukebox Rebel
11-Mar-2011


TJR says:

8.06 “Excellent”

The boisterous beardies have now signed with Major Minor Records, and this is their first album on the new label. After three live LP’s, someone clearly thought it time to take the band into the studio – whoever he was he was a very wise man. These results are thoroughly wonderful – the depth of talent on display is clearly heard on this crisp production. There are 13 traditionals in the set, plus a cover of Ewan MacColl’s “The Travelling People”. One of the great things about The Dubliners is that they seem to take undisputed ownership over any traditional song which they care to handle. Such is the overwhelming strength of the individual characters within the ensemble. There’s a peculiar twist to their interpretations that appeal to your everyman – to the worker, to the man on the dole, to the winners and the losers, to the liars and the fighters. I won’t lie to you – I have bias for my favourites within the group. Ronnie’s low vocal rumble just affects me – he’s a rough and ready diamond with a twinkle in his eye and a great sense of mischief. His readings of “Seven Drunken Nights” and “The Old Alarm Clock” are works of indisputable legend. Having said that, it’s Luke Kelly who ultimately steals the show on the album’s highlight – his plaintive balladeering is simply sensational on the perfectly pitched “Black Velvet Band”. Here’s a health to The Dubliners. “To me whack-fa-the-do-fa the diddle-iddle-a…”

The Jukebox Rebel
21-Feb-2010


TJR says:

8.03 “Excellent”

After struggling throughout the 60s to make a decent living as a sideman, Jimi Hendrix emerged in late ’66 with his own group, made in London, his new home. They were a hit from the start, with “Hey Joe” and “Purple Haze” both finding a place in the UK Top 10. At the time of their debut LP, issued in May ’67, they were: Jimi Hendrix (24, guitar, vocals); Noel Redding (21, bass, guitar, backing vocals) and Mitch Mitchell (19, drums). Hendrix, the clear leader, commented: “We don't want to be classed in any category… If it must have a tag, I'd like it to be called ‘Free Feeling’. It's a mixture of rock, freak-out, rave and blues”. His schtick was simple: drive it up to eleven, revel in that feedback, turn on those wah-wah pedals, twist those rhythms and beats and sneer all the while. With “Are You Experienced?”, Jimi’s at the forefront of the rock revolution – in his hands, the whole genre is a thrill rather than a bore. Virtuoso play was never so inventive and exciting as it was right here. The album was a big success in Britain; readers of Melody Maker voted Jimi as the Pop Musician of the Year. Only “Sgt Pepper” prevented the LP from hitting the No.1 spot in the charts. There were no hard feelings on Jimi’s part – he played “Sgt Pepper” in the JHE live sets, a gesture which Paul McCartney described as “one of the greatest honours of my career.” The album rocked all over the world, hitting the Top 10 Stateside. James the sideman was a thing of the past. “Move over Rover, and let Jimi take over…”

The Jukebox Rebel
13-Jul-2007


TJR says:

7.99 “Brilliant”

1967 was a big year for the good Captain and his band – it saw the release of the debut LP “Safe As Milk” in September, the home for the phenomenal “Electricity”. His astonishing held and screamed vocals amidst the ghostly, sliding guitars and jagged rhythms were a new sensation that was simply not appreciated by unaccustomed ears of the time. The blues-rockers had signed to A&M Records, where the regional success of the single “Diddy Wah Diddy” had earned them the opportunity to record a full-length album. Despite the presence of classic Van Vliet compositions such as “Sure 'Nuff 'n Yes I Do”, “Drop Out Boogie” and “Electricity”, label president Jerry Moss rejected the completed record as “too negative” and a crushed Beefheart was forced to take his first step down Outsider Avenue. After replacing guitarist Doug Moon with Jeff Cotton and drummer Paul Blakely with John French, the group (fleshed out by guitarist Ry Cooder) recut the songs in 1967 as “Safe as Milk”. It was down to the smaller indie, Buddah Records, to give the album its release. Despite the great improvement in the playing and the production the album was released to an indifferent world and failed to reach even the Top 100 in either the States or Britain. “No commercial potential” said the industry, and they were probably right. That’s public taste for you. Meanwhile, “More of The Monkees” was the best-selling LP of the year in the states. You have to laugh really…

The Jukebox Rebel
23-Mar-2007


TJR says:

7.91 “Brilliant”

It had generally been thought that The Incredible String Band’s album of 1966 was a one-off but when Robin Williamson returned from his North African sojourn after running out of money, laden with Moroccan instruments, he and Mike Heron reformed the band as a duo, with original member Clive Palmer still on his Far Eastern adventure. At Elektra, the door was always open and they wasted little time on getting to work on a second LP. Accompanying the duo are Robin's girlfriend Licorice McKechnie (vocals, percussion); Pentangle's Danny Thompson (double bass); John Hopkins (piano) and Nazir Jairazbhoy (sitar). Ever competitive, the two once more composed alone, with 7 tracks created here by Robin and 6 by Mike. The group’s manager, Joe Boyd, later revealed: “Fortunately, the quality and quantity of their song-writing was roughly equal. Neither would agree to the inclusion of a new song by the other unless he could impose himself on it by arranging the instruments and working out all the harmonies.” This competitive spirit seems to work well for the group – the quality is, indeed, extremely high. For the second album in a row, however, it’s Mike’s compositions which do it best for me, his winning daft irreverence once more coming to the fore on “The Hedgehog’s Song”, “Chinese White”, “Little Cloud” and “Painting Box”. The fantasy of his lyric is fantastic – where else would you get an album full of talking clouds and hedgehogs? Somewhat more earnest is Robin, who provides “No Sleep Blues” and “First Girl I Loved”, both of which are thoroughly excellent. Both men, in fact, prove themselves to me, and to each other, as great players, captivating lyricists, and first-class arrangers. There’s no doubting the brilliance of this work – absolutely their finest hour in my eyes. It’s classic psychedelic folk – with just a hint of India – and those exotic trips, real or imagined, have served them well.

The Jukebox Rebel
12-Aug-2007


TJR says:

7.78 “Brilliant”

As with many creative groups of the mid 60s, the Doors were bursting at the seams with so much high quality material that one album per year was not enough. “Strange Days” was issued in September ’67, whilst sales of their debut LP from January showed no signs of slowing down. They prove to be well worthy of the fans’ emotional and financial investment, although producer Paul Rothchild, who had fantastical visons of a world leading phenomenon, considered it a commercial failure as it only peaked at #3: “We all thought it was the best album. Significantly, it was also the one with the weakest sales. We were confident it was going to be bigger than anything The Beatles had done. But there was no single. The record died on us.” Despite his disappointment, the album did yield two top 30 hit singles; “People Are Strange”, an excellent track which continues the group’s penchant for contemporary cabaret and “Love Me Two Times”, another gritty classic which coolly melds a blues rock template with ye olde harpsichord. Before we get to those, the woozy “Strange Days” sets the album’s tone musically and lyrically from the start. It’s them vs us: “Strange days have found us, strange days have tracked us down, they're going to destroy our casual joys, we shall go on playing or find a new town, YEAH.” A relationship is being built here; it’s little wonder the gigs were so intensely intimate. On the challenging “Horse Latitudes”, Morrison takes his listeners on a wild fantasy trip, screaming the tale of a ship at sea, forced to jettison the on-board horses to lighten their load. All the while, the group re-enact the hellish scene with a suitably terrifying sonic assault. The weird fantasies continue on the rather more sedate “Moonlight Drive”, as we are invited to “swim to the moon.” He’s got some imagination that boy…

The Jukebox Rebel
16-Apr-2007


TJR says:

7.74 “Brilliant”

The unclean anti-pop of “Winds Of Change” was, thankfully, a million miles from the preceding cabaret pop of “Eric Is Here” from earlier in the year. The “change” is quite astonishing actually. And, for the first time, it’s an album of original material (the Stones “Paint It Black” is the only cover), with 10 of the 11 songs having been collectively penned by the new five-piece group. Two members survive from Animals mkI – Eric Burdon and drummer Barry Jenkins, who had joined Animals mkI when John Steel left in February 1966. The new line up also features guitarist Vic Briggs, bassist Danny McCulloch and electric violinist John Weider. “Winds Of Change” is a very literal title; the album has the sound of waves washing over the title-track as Burdon’s new group embraces the new era of psychedelia. Monks moan en masse on the sensational “Black Plague”. Check this out: “The yet clean peasant pounds upon the castle door, for it is safer inside the walls. Their knocking pounds a dull tone across the quiet, deserted courtyard. The bodies of unfortunates bloat in the hot sun, outside the castle walls. And ones ignorant of all facts plunder the diseased corpses for remaining riches.” Another highlight is served with “Yes, I Am Experienced”, an answer song to Hendrix’s “Are You Experienced”, which was still unreleased at the time the “answer” was recorded. It’s little wonder that this album was shipped out “hot off the press”, and “Winds Of Change” stands as The Animals finest hour…

The Jukebox Rebel
05-Oct-2009


TJR says:

7.68 “Brilliant”

The stunning lead single, “The First Cut Is The Deepest”, was written by Cat Stevens early in 1967, and he was using it to promote his songs to other artists – he saw himself as more of a songwriter than performer at this time. In the early springtime, he sold it for £30 to P.P. Arnold! Things were starting to get interesting for Patricia Arnold at this time – she had left the Ikettes behind and was looking to find her own identity. She had just signed with Andrew Oldham’s “Immediate” label, and she was surrounded by people who had the vision to aide her in realising her talent. Released as a 45 on 21st April 1967 – “The First Cut Is The Deepest” was the making of the girl! She was recognized as the “phenomenal voice of the age” and this track, lavishly orchestrated with the help of talented producer Mike Hurst, became the signature tune for the African-American. Her interpretation was up-tempo, with a soulful vocal set against harpsichord, horns, and strings. The band that was backing her at that time would later become The Nice, and featured Keith Emerson on organ and piano, David O'List on guitar, Lee Jackson on bass and Ian Hague on drums. Cat Stevens did record it later in the year on his second album “New Masters”, released in December. Of course, he and the whole world knew that the definitive version would forever lie with P.P. Arnold! The resulting album, “The First Lady Of Immediate” was a top-notch debut – those who loved the single and bought the LP would not be disappointed.

The Jukebox Rebel
16-Sep-2008


TJR says:

7.64 “Brilliant”

Another truly brilliant album from the ever-consistent Beatles. John Lennon agrees with me, how cool is he? “… Magical Mystery Tour, which is one of my favourite albums because it was so weird. I Am The Walrus is one of my favourite tracks because I did it of course but also cos it's one of those that has enough little bitties going to keep you interested even a hundred years later.” Well, here I am nearly 50 years later, still enjoying those little bitties, so he’s proven half-right already. As they did with “A Hard Days Night” back in ’64, America got the scoop on the “Magical Mystery Tour” soundtrack, with the LP being issued at the tail end of November ‘67, a full month ahead of the official airing of the movie on Boxing Day via BBC TV. All six songs on side 1 were seeing the light of day for the first time, all having been included in the film itself. The movie has loads of laughs to offer, and is full of b-movie kooky charms. Weird critics seem to want to judge it aesthetically and intellectually – I see it as a great fun way of introducing your new songs to the world. If you’re the Beatles you can afford it, so why the heck not? The title-track kicks things of, best of British style: “roll up, roll up for the mystery tour”. I normally wouldn’t trust that sort of satisfaction-guaranteed patter, but for the Beatles I’m prepared to make an exception! It’s not too long before my faith is being repaid with “Flying”, instrumental bar the la-la-las, a mellotron-driven psychedelic blues which is just heavenly, despite being described by McCartney as a “non-song”. The side closes triumphantly with the movie’s highlight track, “I Am The Walrus” a tripbeat dream for the psueds. Said John: “ I was writing obscurely, a la Dylan, in those days. It's from 'The Walrus and the Carpenter.' 'Alice in Wonderland.' To me, it was a beautiful poem. It never dawned on me that Lewis Carroll was commenting on the capitalist and social system. I never went into that bit about what he really meant, like people are doing with the Beatles' work. Later, I went back and looked at it and realized that the walrus was the bad guy in the story and the carpenter was the good guy. I thought, Oh, shit, I picked the wrong guy. I should have said, 'I am the carpenter.' But that wouldn't have been the same, would it? (singing) 'I am the carpenter…'“ There were only six tracks in the movie, and it was decided in the UK that a double EP with a story booklet would suffice as the best way to present the songs. This seems like a bit of a shame. For me, the album is always the primary statement, and these songs deserve to have that status. Thankfully, American execs thought the same (or rather saw dollar signs) and decided to present the LP by rounding up 5 single sides of the year which had not yet been included on any albums. Jolly good show America. They had luxurious pickings galore of course. “Hello Goodbye”, “Strawberry Fields Forever”, “Penny Lane”, “Baby You’re A Rich Man” and “All You Need Is Love” was quite possibly the finest filler-side in all of recorded history! “Strawberry Fields” just shades it as the top track for me. Musically and lyrically it’s completely magnificent. No-ones in John’s tree: “Surrealism to me is reality. Psychic vision to me is reality. Even as a child. When I looked at myself in the mirror or when I was 12, 13, I used to literally trance out into alpha. I didn't know what it was called then. I found out years later there is a name for those conditions. But I would find myself seeing hallucinatory images of my face changing and becoming cosmic and complete. It caused me to always be a rebel. This thing gave me a chip on the shoulder; but, on the other hand, I wanted to be loved and accepted. Part of me would like to be accepted by all facets of society and not be this loudmouthed lunatic musician. But I cannot be what I am not.” Right up there in the stimulation stakes is “Baby, You’re A Rich Man”, another tripbeat stunner which has a vaguely Indian feel courtesy of a very strange keyboard-based instrument called a clavioline. The Beatles were blessed with a restless, adventurous spirit. This latest stop on the tour was another magical chapter.

The Jukebox Rebel
14-Dec-2005


TJR says:

7.53 “Brilliant”

Eschewing his one man with acoustic guitar approach evidenced hitherto on his 3 albums for Elektra, the 26 year-old topical singer opted for a radical change in 1967, facilitated by a switch to a new label, A&M Records, and a move away from New York to Los Angeles. In Phil’s mind, he was lagging behind in his friendly rivalry with Bob Dylan, which had been ongoing since the early 60s. From that viewpoint alone, “Pleasures of the Harbor” was a complete success – not only was it every bit the equal of Dylan’s “John Wesley Harding” from this year, it was a leader’s album which sounded wholly unique. The sardonic wit and social commentary remains in place, but paired with the arrangements of Ian Freebairn-Smith and the input of classically-trained pianist Lincoln Mayorga, there’s a freshness which runs the gamut all the way from the perkiness of Dixieland Jazz to the stately elegance of the traditional band’s funereal march. No matter your taste, it’s impossible not to be impressed by the vision and the high quality that prevails throughout. Early album highlight “Flower Lady” warns that to be self-absorbed is not sexy – lovers, poets, painters, students, soldiers, the elderly, the drunks – none are safe from Phil’s subtle wrath on this most beautiful of songs. Don’t let that poor lady hobble away, ignored – little actions can make a huge difference around about you. Equally beautiful is “I’ve Had Her” which is borderline contemporary classical and seems to play out some kind of drama which warns a man not to lose his mind over the latest long-legged lovely walking by; beauty’s only skin deep. The egotistical emptiness of the middle-class party provides some great chuckles on “The Party” on side 2, with the cheapest line “The party must be over, even the Losers are leaving” reminding us of Phil’s winning black humour. The title track appears second-last. For centuries, sailors have been finding pleasure in the harbours of the world. Brel’s “Amsterdam brutes” of ’64 have been replaced here by Och’s sensitive types of ’67: “In the room dark and dim, touch of skin. He asks her of her name, she answers with no shame, and not a sense of sin. ‘Til the fingers draw the blinds, sip of wine. The cigarette of doubt, the candle is blown out, the darkness is so kind.” It’s a full-on cinema-production in one song – and an old black n white weepy at that. Up and coming West Coast experimentalist Joseph Byrd was invited by Ochs and producer Larry Marks to arrange “The Crucifixion”, the album’s parting statement. Byrd recalled: “Phil asked me to arrange the song. I really didn't think it should be arranged, because its power is in the simplicity of the lyric. But he wanted the kitchen sink: Schoenberg, Stravinsky, Cage, electronic sound.” The resulting arrangement included brass instruments, flutes, strings, organ, electric harpsichord, percussion, backward tapes, and electronic oscillations. I agree with Joseph; such is the strength of the song itself that it could have worked with or without such radical treatment, but it’s excellent in any event, and is the album’s highlight. The song, regarded by Ochs as his finest, is about the rise and fall of a hero, and the public's role in creating, destroying, and deifying its heroes. Classlessness and crass hypocrisies are called-out on my favourite verse: “They say they can't believe it, it's a sacreligious shame, now, who would want to hurt such a hero of the game? But you know I predicted it; I knew he had to fall. How did it happen? I hope his suffering was small. Tell me every detail, I've got to know it all. And do you have a picture of the pain?” Society was cut down to size right there. In this most experimental of years, no-one outdid Phil Ochs for ambition and imagination. This was yet another LP that was criminally overlooked at the time. Time outs them all in the end though, and “Pleasures of the Harbor” has proudly and resolutely stood the test.

The Jukebox Rebel
12-Mar-2011


TJR says:

7.50 “Brilliant”

As terrific as it is, the come-down LP from the preceding epics had an air of inevitability about it. 12 tunes recorded in 12 hours (3 sessions) with sparse arrangements, a subdued Bob and a lyrical turn towards religion. What’s going on? After recovering from the worst of the results of his motorcycle accident in the summer of ’66, Dylan went to work on “John Wesley Harding” in the fall of 1967, some 18 months since the completion of “Blonde on Blonde”. The artist used the crash to escape from the public eye. He noted: “I had been in a motorcycle accident and I’d been hurt, but I recovered. Truth was that I wanted to get out of the rat race.” For this one, it was back to Nashville again, under the production watch of Bob Johnston for the third album in a row. Apart from Pete Drake’s steel guitar parts on “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight” and “Down Along the Cove”, the rhythm section of drummer Kenneth A. Buttrey and bassist Charlie McCoy was the only support for Dylan, who handled all harmonica, guitar, piano, and vocal parts. “I didn’t intentionally come out with some kind of mellow sound”, Dylan said in 1971… “I would have liked … more steel guitar, more piano, more music… I didn’t sit down and plan that sound.” It’s said that this is the record which opened the floodgates for Country Rock. Which, let’s face it, is not the most exciting thing that could’ve happened in music’s timeline. Still, there was much to enjoy – the pensive ballad “I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine” comes across as a contemporary cousin of Lead Belly’s brand of spiritual Folk. The lyrics convey a deeply felt sense of guilt, as well as a vision of faith, righteousness, fear and betrayal. It’s heavy stuff. “The Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest” is laced with Dylan’s amazing drawl, and he finds a right bit of irresistible form – 5 and a half minutes of demi-talk-rock without a chorus in sight. It’s a story with a moral message: “Well, the moral of the story, the moral of this song, is simply that one should never be, where ones does not belong. So when you see your neighbor carrying something, help him with his load, and don’t go mistaking Paradise, for that home across the road”. Simplistic brilliance. Elsewhere, the nagging refrain hooks well on “Drifter’s Escape”, the story of an outsider who’s oppressed by society, but not defeated – in a court-appearance, lightning strikes the court and he escapes. “John Wesley Harding” is a brilliant LP, yes, but, to analogise with the themes herein, he’s down from the clouds of the gods and back in amongst the mortals…

The Jukebox Rebel
10-Jun-2007


TJR says:

7.50 “Brilliant”

It was inevitable that the shining star of Them would branch out as a solo artist, but “Blowin’ Your Mind!” was not how it was meant to be, as Wikipedia tells: “Bert Berns, Them’s producer and composer of their 1965 hit, “Here Comes the Night”, persuaded Morrison to return to New York to record solo for his new label, Bang Records. Morrison flew over and signed a contract he had not fully studied. Then, during a two-day recording session at A & R Studios starting 28 March 1967, eight songs were recorded, originally intended to be used as four singles. Instead, these songs were released as the album “Blowin' Your Mind!” without Morrison being consulted. He said he only became aware of the album's release when a friend mentioned on a phone call that he had just bought a copy of it.” Van later commented in a 1973 interview: “I wasn't really happy with it. He picked the bands and tunes. I had a different concept of it.” Adding insult to injury, the album title cover alluded to psychedelic excesses, an abhorrence to Van. His then-wife, Janet Planet, said: “He never has been, never will be anything approaching a psychedelic user – wants nothing to do with it, wants nothing to do with any drug of any kind.” As he himself recalls: “I got a call saying it was an album coming out and this is the cover. And I saw the cover and I almost threw up, you know.” Against that backdrop, it almost feels like a betrayal of the artist to label this LP as “brilliant”. But brilliant it is! What do I care about covers and titles? Opener “Brown Eyed Girl” gets all the attention as the pop-smash, but is dwarfed by the might of the two tracks which immediately follow. “He Ain’t Give You None” and “T.B. Sheets” stand together as one of the strongest 15 minute spells on any LP this year, as warm as they are caustic, candid and heartfelt, dripping with the utmost soul that the blues can stand. Man, that organ works like a snake charm on Van, the man’s confessin’. Sex and death, loyalty and betrayal, it’s all in there, it’s the name of the game. Whilst nothing else on the album reaches those highs, “**Who Drove The Red Sports Car?*8” on side 2 has a good go, and, once again, it finds Van as a conversational talk-rocker on a bluesy bed. In that mode, he’s just a dude.

The Jukebox Rebel
21-Nov-2015


TJR says:

7.38 “Really good”

“Travel with your mind” was Sky Saxon’s message here, on an album which was as mad as a hatter bounding between castles, forests and clouds. Which, as those of you who've ever witnessed such a thing will testify, is pretty freakin' mad. On their third and final LP, The Seeds delved headlong into the psychedelic sound of the age, and emerged, for me, having cemented their place as never having been anything less than terrific on albums at all times. They were certainly not wanting for ambition, and this set was the most sophisticated by their standards – although I am quietly pleased that their trademark ramshackle charms remain present throughout. With more care being taken over every track in the studio, overdubs were now the norm as tubas, harps, pianos, flutes, trumpets and all sorts were wheeled in and out, in amongst the standard guitars and organs upon which they have built their fame. It’s quite the potpourri, and has never sounded dull or uninteresting after many repeated plays down throughout the years. You don't have to be bonkers to make great albums – but it often seems to help. Drugs and fast living would soon put an end to The Seeds – but with “Future” they went out on an under-appreciated high.

The Jukebox Rebel
26-Dec-2007


TJR says:

7.37 “Really good”

Emerging from the London underground scene, Pink Floyd signed to EMI early in 1967, and by summertime had placed two single in the UK Top 20, “Arnold Layne” and “See Emily Play”, despite the former having been subjected to a radio ban on account of references to cross-dressing. Dear oh dear. Their rising profile culminated in a full-length LP, “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn”, which was issued in August ’67 and featured 10 brand new songs as well as “The Scarecrow”, recycled from the b-side of “See Emily Play”. At the time of release, the 4-piece were: Syd Barrett (21, lead guitar, vocals); Roger Waters (23, bass guitar, vocals); Richard Wright (24, organ, piano, celeste, vocals) and Nick Mason (23, drums, percussion). Very much in keeping with the hip new sound of the age, “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” was a spaced-out psychedelic swirler, with pseudo-proggish, alt-folkish undercurrents bubbling under the surface, as well as a few straight-ahead rockers. Aside from scarecrows, the album is flavoured with whimsical lyrics about space, gnomes, bicycles and fairy tales. Syd, who’d become a heavy LSD user since the start of the year, was suffering badly by this time with the debilitating effects of depression. Luckily, he was able to lay down several of his own songs (he wrote or co-wrote 10 of the 11) whilst on the crest of a creative wave. That said, the word is, many of the original fans were disappointed with the album; that the intensity of the live onslaughts had been diluted some. Truth is, intensity comes in many shapes and forms and it doesn’t always have to be fast and bulbous. To my ears, “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” is a trippy delight and a real credit to the group as a whole, and to their fragile leader in particular. Long live Grimble Gromble!

The Jukebox Rebel
22-Nov-2015


TJR says:

7.34 “Really good”

I adore The Grehan Sisters, the pride of Boyle in County Roscommon. Pure and true naturals of the folk genre, they were able to convey moods various as the song demands. At the time of this LP they were: Marie (23, lead vocals, spoons), Francie (22, mandolin, ukelele banjo, vocals) and Bernie (18, guitar, spoons, vocals). The album’s liner notes reveal some background: “Their parents own a pub ’Grehans Bar’ in Boyle and the sisters started their folk singing career by entertaining the customers in the bar. Francie is the main instrumentalist and what an instrumentalist! At the age of 15 she came second in the miscellaneous instruments section of the All Ireland Fleadh, beaten by the winner by one mark and after that she was placed first or second in four other All Ireland Fleadhs. Bernie plays guitar and is also a phenomenal spoons player. Marie also plays the spoons and is the main vocal strength of the group. For about two years The Grehans established a reputation singing and playing professionally around the Dublin area. Early in 1967 they came to stay in England and are now based in Manchester where they are building up a tremendous following, appearing at folk clubs and concerts and also on radio and television. In both their material and their presentation, The Grehan Sisters are one hundred percent genuine. There is none of the false slickness of the city performer who adopts folk music second-hand. The Grehans have lived and grown up with their material and they have too much respect for it to try and gloss it over with surplus trappings. They are natural singers, natural performers and natural musicians and their feeling and enthusiasm for their music is infectious. Under the circumstances we’ll go so far as to say that they are also likely to be naturally successful – and we think that you’ll agree when you’ve heard this record.” There are many heart-stirring moments on side 1 of the LP. The title-track gets dewy-eyed over The Galtymore Mountains which stand just south of Tipperary in County Tipperary and County Limerick. The song is a beautiful ballad expressing a young girl's deep love for her country and her willingness to die for it. The young caulin, whose age was sixteen, hangs on to her flag of white, orange and green, fending off an English bobby who tries to take it from her. Having won her small victory, she’s not long in being crushed: “That very same day in sweet Tipperary town, that gallant young girl from the Galtees come-down. Her poor heart was torn with anguish and pain, for that very same day Mick Keane died for Sinn Fein. Now you young men and maidens from Erin’s green shore, raise a cheer for the maid from the proud Galtee Mor, and please keep on fighting the cause of Sinn Fein, till we make dear old Ireland a Republic again.”The Lake of Coolfin” is a traditional ballad also known as “The Ballad of Willie Leonard”, the victim of a tragic drowning. It is a song which The Grehans had been singing since they were knee-high, and the liner-notes reveal that they had only ever heard it sung in the West of Ireland: “Oh, to see Willie's funeral, it was a grand sight, there were four-and-twenty young men, they were all dressed in white. There were four-and-twenty young maids, they were all dressed in green. Just to show that he was drowned in the Lake of Coolfin.” Both the Dubliners and The Grehan Sisters served up versions of “The Black Velvet Band” on their albums this year. The Grehans had learned this song about three years earlier when they got the words from Fergus Cahill, a friend of theirs. The story is about a young man who is beguiled by the beauty and charm of a girl who plants a theft on him for which he is transported to Van Diemen’s Land. In those days people were transported for very trivial reasons. Bad cess to that black velvet band! The album’s highlight track appears on side 2. On “Tommy McDonagh” the grief of a war widow is palpable. This ballad was written by a man called Patrick McGrath who lives just outside the town of Boyle, County Roscommon. The story is of a young lad named Tommy McDonagh, who was shot by the Tans on 1st September 1920 during an attempted raid designed to relieve well-armed Royal Irish Constabulary of their weapons. McDonagh's mother and his fiancee were forced to drag his corpse through the streets of Castlerea as a warning to the rest of the Irish. McDonagh, who was only twenty one years old, came from a place called Cloonlo which is about six miles from the sister's hometown of Boyle. To hear the Grehans is to love them. What a pity there was only one long player!

The Jukebox Rebel
23-Jul-2010


TJR says:

7.20 “Really good”

Six years had passed since Desmond’s successful audition for Leslie Kong’s Beverley’s record label when he sang “Honour Your Mother And Father”. But, at last, following a long string of hit singles, the 26 year-old had an LP in his very own name. Strange that it should have been a UK label led by an Australian that would take the initiative, but that’s what happened when Graeme Goodall’s Doctor Bird Records seized the opportunity, following the incredible UK Top 20 success of the “007 (Shanty Town)” single. The song, recorded late in 1966 and released as a single in January 1967, established Dekker as a rude boy icon in both Jamaica and the UK. Jamaican rude boy culture may have been reflecting the violence and social problems associated with ghetto life in Kingston, but Britain’s mods and skins sensed a working-class connection, and although Dekker’s own songs weren’t as extreme as others on the island, he wasn’t shy in courting a trend, as the inclusion here of “Rude Boy Train”, “Rudy Got Soul” and “Keep A Cool Head” testifies. The real secret of Desmond’s early success lay with his easily recognisable falsetto, and his ability to find melody lines and socially conscious lyrics that could keep the dancehall sweet at the same time, with songs such as “Unity”, “Wise Man”, “Shing A Ling” and “Mother’s Young Gal” all holding up well here. This Rocksteady business was working wonders for the dancehalls. And Desmond’s debut LP proved it had great characters with stories to tell…

The Jukebox Rebel
05-Oct-2010


TJR says:

7.13 “Really good”

On the tightly-knit music-loving island of Jamaica, the latest singles can grip the nation like a soap opera – as I have discovered from first-hand experience. It has been that way for more than half a century – and the big story of 1967 was Buster’s dramatic turning on Rude Boy culture. Light entertainment it may be – but there was a real social statement here to boot. Buster felt that the glorification of the rude boy had gone too far – these petty criminals and hard-line gangsters were a genuine menace to society and nobody in music was speaking out. Derrick Morgan had released “Tougher Than Tough” featuring the line “Rudie’s Don’t Fear”. The bad lads in the dance would smash beer bottles against the wall when it played, flexing like peacocks. Buster tipped over the edge after an incident in West Kingston where a rude boy broke into a school, raped a school girl, and battered and assaulted her teacher. It was time, Buster felt, to portray these characters in a more appropriate negative light. It was a brave decision. Literally, he put his very life on the line with real-life gun men. The Prince was notoriously a tough guy himself – but no man can fight a gun. Buster kicks off the LP magnificently with the title-track: “First, allow me to introduce myself, my name is Judge Hundred Years. Some people call me Judge Dread. Now, I am from Ethiopia, to try all you rudeboys for shooting black people. In my court only we talk, cause I am vex, and I am the rudeboy today.” The connection with Ethiopia is significant here – the Jamaican love for Ethiopianism was generally entrenched in society, not least with the Island’s Rastafarians. Rudeboy Hess, Rudeboy Adolfus James, Rudeboy Emmanuel Zechariah ‘Zaki’ Palm and George Grabandflee are brought before the court, with minimum sentences of 400 years, and extra dollops of 500 lashes for any courtroom disorder. When Zechariah ‘Zaki’ Palm speaks back after being sentenced to 400 years for shooting charges Judge Dread barks: “Hush-up what you try to do, shoot me too? 400 more years for you.” This has me on the floor every time! Judge Dread is the people’s hero right there. The rest of side 1 can’t compete, but “Rock With A Feeling” is a truly great instrumental. The full potential of the riddim would be realised when The Slickers took the baton with “Johnny Too Bad”, their festival winning song in 1971. With the Judge Dread single having caused a furore – artists and kids on the street leaped to defend the rudies – the onus was on the Prince to consider revising his stance. Three months after the “Judge Dread” single, “The Barrister (The Appeal)”, which kicks off side 2, was issued. Judge Dread opens up the hearing ominously: “All of a sudden ya hear Rude Boys say they not rough, they not tough, they weren’t saying that 3 months ago.” Straight away it doesn’t look good for the appeal. Barrister Dreadlock, reportedly a big shot from Europe, fails to set the rudies free. In fact, he himself is charged with racial injustice and slave trading. A nice side-dig at imperialists there won’t have harmed Judge Dread's rep with the Jamaican public. “LIFE IMPRISONMENT FOR YOU BARRISTER DREADLOCK” proclaims Buster. “I am Judge Dread and I am saving the black nation.” It’s hilarious. Furthermore, sentences were increased to SIX THOUSAND YEARS for those rudies who had the impertinence to appeal. “Judge Dread Dance (The Pardon)” completed the singles trilogy, again working the original riddim. The first two had been a shock to the general public – the third confounded yet again. Unbelievably, the Judge has a complete change of heart thanks to several hundred letters from the public, and offers pardons to Emmanuel Zechariah ‘Zaki’ Palm and George Grabandflee, on the condition that they report daily to their probation officers and are seen to behave themselves in the next 5 years. A celebratory mood is played out in court as the Judge announces that he has brought along a freedom man by the name of Brother Rico (Rodriguez) whose irresistible trombone invokes an impromptu courtroom dance featuring even Judge Dread himself. It seems the Judge had made his point, and this seemed to appease a volatile situation out on the streets. This whole bonkers sketch could only happen in Jamaica – and it was extremely well played by the Prince.

The Jukebox Rebel
18-Nov-2008


TJR says:

7.13 “Really good”

Another solid Beatles album with a couple of real killers on-board – George Martin’s orchestrated approach to “She’s Leaving Home” is utterly magnificent, whilst George Harrison’s atmospheric “Within You” sends a shiver down my spine every time. The production tricks all over the record keep things interesting, whilst the genres lunge strangely between music hall, classical, pop and world music. The songs themselves could generally be stronger for my tastes; “With A Little Help From My Friends”, “Fixing A Hole” and “Lovely Rita” are all a bit sub-par. Notably, some of the best songs from the Sgt Pepper sessions weren’t included, with “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “Penny Lane” having been lost to early label pressure for a single, and “Only a Northern Song” being overlooked, finally appearing on the later “Yellow Submarine” LP. All in all however, the album’s eclectic approach merits the plaudits, and the group continues to drive forward artistically, seemingly with more purpose than ever before…

The Jukebox Rebel
14-Dec-2005


TJR says:

7.04 “Really good”

Released stateside in March 1967, but not released in Britain due to the continuing contractual dispute that also prevented Sunshine Superman [1966] from a UK release. This is another strong set from the 20 year-old Glaswegian, whose immersion in groovy London’s bohemian culture has resulted in a wonderful brand of folk music that’s laced with pop, psychedelia and jazzy licks and tricks. He’s a wonderful songwriter, and his arrangements here are both musically vibrant and lyrically vivid. In short, this album is alive and joyous – dispelling the theory that you need to smile like a loon or hand clap like a goon to be a pop star. The album is solid throughout and is bookended in terrific fashion by the two sides of his late ’66 U.S. smash, “Mellow Yellow” and “Sunny South Kensington”. I dig this cat…

The Jukebox Rebel
15-Jun-2007


TJR says:

6.89 “Good”

Essentially, this was the Seeds 4th LP; all group members played and were supplemented by Muddy Waters' band members George Smith (harmonica), James Wells Gordon (sax), Luther Johnson (guitar) and Mark Arnold (guitar), helping to authenticate that great blues sound. It was all too much of a shock for a fickle crowd and landed in no-man’s land. Fine album though, and they took it seriously – there were 16 takes on “Plain Spoken” to get it just so. Muddy Waters, a champion of Sky’s vision, wrote that song especially for the group. How cool is that? The legendary bluesman also penned a glowing tribute on the album’s back sleeve: “As I didn’t get words at school I don’t like to speak too much, but what I say I feel is the truth. Seeing, hearing and observing many group’s over the last few years, I sincerely believe that, at last, America has produced a group to be another Rolling Stones. As a blues band there will be no stopping these four young men from going all the way in the record business. When you hear this new album you, the listener, will understand why I am so strong in my belief in the future success of these artists. Enthusiasm, desire, understanding and, above all, ability, made this session for me, one of the greatest ever. They’re great boys; they present a great sound. Blues belongs to the soul, and they’ve got it!”

The Jukebox Rebel
26-Dec-2007


TJR says:

6.81 “Good”

The first “new” Prince Buster LP in quite some time was a bit of a hodge-podge affair. The first half pools single sides from 1965-1966 (not on previous LPs), whilst the second half is virtually all brand new tunes. The odd-one-out curveball is “Ten Commandments” which had been a single way back in 1963. In all, there are nine Buster originals and three covers: “The Prophet” (Chuck Jackson, 1962); “My Girl” (The Temptations, 1964) and “Sad Song” (Otis Redding, 1966).

The Jukebox Rebel
21-Jan-2012


TJR says:

6.81 “Good”

Just like the great Sam Cooke and Solomon Burke before him, James Carr’s gospel roots served him well for his foray into the gritty world of southern soul pop. His debut album for Quinton Claunch and Doc Russell’s Memphis-based Goldwax label, rounds up several sides from 1965-1966, including some terrific Redding-esque ballads such as “Forgetting You”, “Love Attack” and “You’ve Got My Mind Messed Up”. The album noticeably spawned “The Dark End Of The Street”, a new song which became Carr’s most popular, reaching number 10 on Billboard Magazine’s Black Singles Chart, and even crossing over to number 77 on the Pop chart. Muscle Shoals goodness abounds…

The Jukebox Rebel
08-Jan-2010


TJR says:

6.78 “Good”

Immodestly titled perhaps, but “King and Queen” was a potent collaboration all the same. Producer Jim Stewart’s idea was a good one; the two voices blend well and there seems to a nice rapport between them. Upon meeting, Redding reportedly remarked: “Well, hey, you from Memphis, you from Tennessee, you can hang.” Carla was joining a tightly-knit gang, but she sounds right at home, even if her stay was merely less than a week in the recording sessions of January ’67. Once again, the supporting cast features house-band Booker T. & the M.G.'s, pianist Isaac Hayes, with the brass section provided by The Memphis Horns. The album was issued in March ’67 and featured 10 cover versions as well as a piece especially written for the LP, the fine closing track, “Ooh Carla, Ooh Otis”, a dancefloor romp which winds around the Peter Gunn motif, and seems to underline the loose-caboose sense of cool fun which has gone before. Opener “Knock On Wood” (Eddie Floyd, 1966) kicks the album off with an upbeat stomp, and is soon followed by “Tramp” (Lowell Fulson, 1966) which is reinvented here as a lover’s spat; she the nag, he the laid-back sufferer. I declare a draw in one of the greatest battles of the sexes in history! Ace horns too. Best on side 2 is “Bring It On Home To Me” (Sam Cooke, 1962) – no one can ever touch Sam’s original but their duet version offers a fabulous alternative slant, and the group are ace, injecting some neat chops into their stylish reading of the classic. The album goes down in history as the last to be released in Otis’s lifetime. Tragically, his 26 year-old life would be lost several months later, when his own small plane crashed in between gigging engagements. Aretha Franklin stated “I heard it on the TV. My sister Caroline and I stopped everything and stayed glued to the TV and radio. It was a tragedy. Shocking.” More than 4,500 people came to the funeral on 18th December 1967. “Everybody was walking around staring at their feet for two months after that” said Stax musician Marvell Thomas. “There was true sadness at that place. Stax was usually a happy, peppy place, there was conversations in the hallways and songwriters over here and a demo going – that all stopped.” The label would never be the same without their main man.

The Jukebox Rebel
13-Jan-2010

chart first published 19 Jan 2016; last edited 04 Jun 2016

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