Album Chart of 1969

<1968 1970>

  • This chart features albums released in 1969 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 95) is summarised, in sortable table form, on the Albums released in 1969 page, which shows the full range of albums in this sites' database, including the “B-list” records.
1969-a-leonard-cohen.png

REJOICE – WE’RE ON THE MOON!

Leonard Cohen, Nick Drake, The Velvet Underground and The Stooges might have nudged ahead of them in my album chart of this year, but Silver Apples have the greatest Rock n Roll story to tell in 1969.

Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.

Just minutes before Neil Armstrong uttered those immortal words at 8:18pm UCT on 20 July 1969, almost a quarter of a million miles away, Silver Apples were whipping up a musical celebration in Central Park, just gone 3:00pm local time. Speaking to Terrascope magazine in 1996, group leader Simeon Coxe recalled an exceptional moment in history:

“I think it was early Spring in 1969 when New York's Mayor John Lindsay declared a free day in the park for all New Yorkers to watch the Apollo 11 astronauts land on the moon. He arranged for huge television screens to be mounted in Central Park so everyone could watch the moon landing and a bandstand to be constructed so there could be music leading up to the historic event. He declared Silver Apples to be "the New York sound" and commissioned us to write a piece for the event and perform it plus all of our other songs just before touchdown on the moon. We decided that it was an important enough event that we would stick our heads out of our hiding place to do it. I wrote a piece called 'Mune Toon' and Danny and I rehearsed it for days. The rocket launch went off without a hitch but as the spaceship began its approach to the surface of the moon, it began to rain cats and dogs in New York City. I had distinct memories of the shocking experience at the Café Wha? [during a performance there a couple of years earlier, a high voltage surge went through him via a microphone and he dislocated his shoulder] which Danny witnessed, but we felt this was a significant enough event that we had to go through with it. We were at least under the cover of a band shell, more than I can say for the thousands of people under parkas or umbrellas or newspapers all around the park, but there was a noticeable amount of water trickling onto the stage floor and under my bass switches. We decided to forego the build-up portion of our concert - explaining it to the crowd, who applauded our concern for our safety - but when Neil Armstrong began his descent to the moon's surface Danny and I struck up the band, caught up in the emotion of it all, and performed 'Mune Toon'. I was receiving electrical shocks every time I touched the instrument but there was nothing that seemed like it was life-threatening so we kept going. I knew that to touch the microphone was zap city, that was my mistake at the Café Wha?, but there was definitely a connection being made between the bass platform and the top oscillators. I just kept my hands on the oscillators because I found that when I let go and then tried to re-touch them, that was when I got zapped. So all during 'Mune Toon' there was this tingling, sexy, frightening, scary thing coursing through my body and I was singing my heart out and Armstrong was stepping onto the moon and human beings were entering a new era and thousands of people were crying with happiness and soaking wet and singing and hugging each other. Well, just when he thought the most political-mileage-moment was upon him Mayor Lindsay grabbed the microphone to say something profound and I swear I saw his ears light up. He was baptized into the world of electronic music. His hair looked like the bride of Frankenstein. Rolling Stone magazine did a piece on the event and called me the "¼ leading exponent of hippy technology." I have always liked that, but have never figured out how to use it at parties.”

It's a wonderful tale, completely under the radar. How typical of Silver Apples. For one glorious day, the world could forget about its troubles and rejoice - singing and dancing in the rain!

The Jukebox Rebel
07-Feb-2016

TJR says:

9.11 “A masterpiece”

Following on from his classic debut album of 1967, Leonard exceeded expectations with his second set – from start to finish “Songs From A Room” was consistently on a higher plane, stripped back bare the way he wanted it, with confidence oozing from every note plucked, every word committed. Said the man himself: “It's very stark. A lot of my friends who were musical purists had castigated me for the lushness and over-production of my first record and I was determined to do a very simple album.” Straight from the off, “Bird on the Wire” resonates as one of the greatest songs ever written: “Like a bird on the wire, like a drunk in a midnight choir, I have tried in my way to be free” – was that ever bettered for an opening gambit? Speaking of this song in a 1993 interview with Song Talk, Cohen explained: “It was begun in Greece [he lived there for a number of years in the mid-60s] because there were no wires on the island where I was living to a certain moment. There were no telephone wires. There were no telephones. There was no electricity. So at a certain point they put in these telephone poles, and you wouldn't notice them now, but when they first went up, it was about all I did – stare out the window at these telephone wires and think how civilization had caught up with me and I wasn't going to be able to escape after all. I wasn't going to be able to live this 11th-century life that I thought I had found for myself. So that was the beginning. Then, of course, I noticed that birds came to the wires and that was how that song began. 'Like a drunk in a midnight choir,' that's also set on the island; where drinkers, me included, would come up the stairs. There was great tolerance among the people for that because it could be in the middle of the night. You'd see three guys with their arms around each other, stumbling up the stairs and singing these impeccable thirds. So that image came from the island: 'Like a drunk in a midnight choir.'“ Brilliance abounds all over, but “The Partisan” gets closest to the opener’s luminosity on side 1 – it’s the only song from the ten not to have been penned by Leonard. It’s based on “La Complainte du Partisan”, a song about the French Resistance in World War II. The song was written in 1943 in London by Anna Marly (music) and Emmanuel d’Astier de la Vigerie (lyrics). Anna’s recorded version appeared on the LP “Les chants de la Résistance et de la Libération” (L'encyclopédie Sonore 320 E 847, 1963). Leonard’s adaption, with added English lyrics by Hy Zaret, was the first to be renamed “The Partisan”: “When they poured across the border, I was cautioned to surrender, this I could not do; I took my gun and vanished. I have changed my name so often, I've lost my wife and children, but I have many friends, and some of them are with me.” Stripped-back is certainly the way to let these flavours flood out; Leonard’s mesmerizing picking is an added joy. It’s another fast-picker which provides the album’s closer; the stunning “Tonight Will Be Fine”. It’s a positive way to finish the LP – the wrongs of a disappointing day can always be righted in the evening time. Some folks lambast the Cohen for his overcast tone. That’s to do him a dis-service, I feel: “Oh sometimes I see her undressing for me, she's the soft naked lady love meant her to be, and she's moving her body so brave and so free. If I've got to remember that's a fine memory. And I know from her eyes, and I know from her smile that tonight will be fine, will be fine, will be fine, will be fine for a while.” That doesn’t sound too depressing to me ; – )

The Jukebox Rebel
09-Mar-2006


TJR says:

8.96 “A classic”

For the few who cottoned on in 1969, Nick Drake, as experienced on “Five Leaves Left”, must have left an indelible mark on the psyche. Within these exquisitely crafted grooves was a dreamy and poetic acoustic folk set, doused in achingly beautiful melancholia. He seemed to have arrived from out of nowhere, fully formed; as cultured as any of your Bob Dylan’s, Phil Och’s or Van Morrison’s. Simply substitute themes of sexual politics with impressions of the moon, stars, sea, rain, trees, sky, mist and seasons and you’re there. If there were to be any words of comfort to Nick in regards to the poor sales figures, they would probably be best framed along the line of “same goes for Astral Weeks”. With regards to making the magic happen, key assistant to the moody singer-guitarist was producer Joe Boyd, owner of the production and management company, Witchseason Productions. He was the man who had discovered Fairport Convention and been responsible for introducing John Martyn and The Incredible String Band to a mainstream audience. Wikipedia tells: “He and Drake formed an immediate bond, and the producer acted as a mentor to Drake throughout his career. A four-track demo, recorded in Drake's college room in the spring of 1968, led Boyd to offer a management, publishing, and production contract to the 20-year-old, and to initiate work on a debut album. According to Boyd: ‘In those days you didn't have cassettes—he brought a reel-to-reel tape to me that he'd done at home. Half way through the first song, I felt this was pretty special. And I called him up, and he came back in, and we talked, and I just said, “I'd like to make a record.” He stammered, “Oh, well, yeah. Okay.” Nick was a man of few words.’” To provide backing, Boyd enlisted various contacts from the London folk rock scene, including Fairport Convention guitarist Richard Thompson and Pentangle bassist Danny Thompson (no relation). He recruited John Wood as engineer, with the gorgeous string arrangements eventually being handled by Harry Robertson (“River Man”) and Nick's college buddy Robert Kirby (“Way to Blue”, “Day Is Done”, “The Thoughts of Mary Jane” and “Fruit Tree”). Robertson’s remit for “River Man”, considered by Nick to be the album’s centrepiece, was to echo the classical tones of Frederick Delius and Maurice Ravel. Artistic ambitions were realised – even if commercial aspirations were not. Same old.

The Jukebox Rebel
24-Apr-2007


TJR says:

8.82 “A classic”

The debut had been an elite-masterpiece, the follow-up a classic. John Cale’s role was absolutely central to both of those seminal releases. That he had been ousted from the group in September ’68 must have given cause for concern for those dedicated followers on the east coast. Not unsurprisingly, all ten of the songs on this third LP were penned by Lou Reed. The logic in his shake-up was perhaps summed up by his thoughts on the record: “I really didn’t think we should make another White Light/White Heat. I thought it would be a terrible mistake, and I really believed that. I thought we had to demonstrate the other side of us. Otherwise, we would become this one-dimensional thing, and that had to be avoided at all costs.” Elaborating on just what the “other side” entailed, Maureen Tucker (drummer) said: “I was pleased with the direction we were going and with the new calmness in the group, and thinking about a good future, hoping people would smarten up and some record company would take us on and do us justice.” New addition to the group, Doug Yule (bass, organ) said the album “was a lot of fun. The sessions were constructive and happy and creative, everybody was working together.” The new boy is introduced straight away on the fragile ballad of self-doubt, “Candy Says”; all about Warholian transsexual Candy Darling on the surface, but with an easily reimagined universal truth. It’s a brave starter and warms slightly, without catching a fire. Springing to life immediately, “What Goes On” foretells the entire indie pop revolution, 14 years ahead of The Smiths. “Some Kinda Love” caresses bluesy licks with an awesome shades-on drawl from Lou, and a group that tease an irresistible loop ‘round and around for the whole 4 minutes. Frankly, they could play it twice as long and I’d still be getting my groove on with no wish to let up. The intimate “Pale Blue Eyes”, one of thee greatest songs of the year, was Lou at his most sensitive – its delicacy is every bit as affecting as any one of his more brutal extremes on the previous albums. It’s a love song with a killer punch line: “the fact that you are married only proves you're my best friend.”. As if reflecting on the fact that this extra-marital skulduggery is truly, truly a sin the next song, “Jesus”, continues the slowcore confessional: “ Jesus, help me find my proper place.” Flipping over, the stupendous indie-jangler “Beginning To See The Light” seems to continue this one-way conversation. By the time of “I’m Set Free” I’m starting to think, hang on, is this some sort of confession-box Rock Opera? If it is, it’s one of the best you’ll ever hear. The album’s one relative disappointment is served with “That’s The Story Of My Life”, a poppy little thing devoid of much in the way of charm. The album’s sole Cale-esque moment occurs second-last in with “The Murder Mystery”, a spectacular psychedelic success, echoing with “The Gift” in terms of sonic adventure and entertainment value. Two sets of story lyrics are delivered simultaneously by Lou Reed and Sterling Morrison, whilst sung choruses by Doug Yule and Maureen Tucker are intertwined and overlaid. Those prepared to listen intently over the course of the nine minute adventure will discover several murders and various alternative death methods including assassinations and downright gory dismemberments. Crazily, and typically Lou, this gory masterwork is followed by the goofy “After Hours”, the song which invented a 1,000 bands and is quite possibly responsible for the entire Sarah records output. It’s delightful, of course. Lou, who seemed intent on getting all group members on vocals for this LP, said that the song was “so innocent and pure” that he could not possibly sing it himself and coaxed a reluctant Moe into the super trouper. I’m glad that he did that – to love VU is to love Moe and the warm glow upon conclusion induces positivity; the general look-back feeling is that the album has pulled-off a great balancing act between art, angst and fun. On paper, this could have been a disaster, but Lou came good with his vision. Right here, it seems like The Velvet Underground, driven by Mr Reed, can do no wrong.

The Jukebox Rebel
20-Jan-2008


TJR says:

8.80 “A classic”

On their debut offering in August ’69 these Michigan proto-punkers were described as: Iggy Stooge (22, vocals); Dave Alexander (22, bass guitar); Ron Asheton (21, guitar, vocals) and Scott Asheton (19, drums). The great John Cale, fast becoming underground rock’s producer of choice, also gets himself involved in the music, playing piano, sleigh bell (on “I Wanna Be Your Dog”) and viola (on “We Will Fall”). The album is packed with all-time classic punk-rock action. Bo-Diddley-aping opener “1969” sets the tone: “Well it's 1969 OK all across the USA, It's another year for me and you, another year with nothing to do” Same rhythm – different attitude. This is the sound of the disengaged youth. This is the sound of the blank generation. “I Wanna Be Your Dog” immediately follows – seems like the Velvet Underground ’67 had a baby and called her The Stooges. We’ve certainly heard that trance-like distortion-laden riffage before. John Cale just loves hammering that piano. He’s possessed. It’s also the best use of sleigh bells since Phil Spector, easy. Continuing the VU theme, the fashionable 10-minute dirge of “We Will Fall” haunts like Dr John’s shaman in the bayou, as Cale’s viola recalls “Venus in Furs”. It’s excellent – even if does lack some extra imaginative sparks to justify the length. Side 1 closes with the magnificent anthem of disaffection, “No Fun”, which, according to Iggy, was borne out of a jam session when the whole band was stoned and playing around with “I Walk The Line” by Johnny Cash. The simple ones are so often the best, are they not? Speaking of which, “Little Doll”, a throwaway quickie designed to appease the label’s insistence for an extra few tracks, emerges as the killer inclusion on side 2, as the album loosely finishes as it begun – on a Bo Diddley tip. Cool bastards. Uh-huh.

The Jukebox Rebel
22-May-2007


TJR says:

8.63 “A classic”

After a false-start with an album rejected by various record companies, this Köln-based quintet wasted no time in getting their first long-player out there when the chance finally came, recorded in July 1969 and in the shops just a month later. Aiding their cause greatly was the fact that they had been able to build up their own small studio at Schloss Nörvenich, a local 12th century castle, thanks to the support of Irmin Schmidt’s art-collector friend, Christoph Vohwinkel. At the time of release in August ’69 they were: Irmin Schmidt (32, keyboards); Holger Czukay (31, bass); Michael Karoli (21, guitar, violin); Jaki Liebezeit (31, drums) and Malcolm Mooney (20s, vocals). 3 of the key members were coming from the world of the avant-garde classical; Schmidt was a composer and conductor, Czukay was a music teacher and Karoli was a pupil of Czukay. Drummer Jaki Liebezeit was a disenchanted free-jazz drummer and out front was Malcolm Mooney, an African-American sculptor from New York with a menacing stage presence and an unorthodox range of vocalizations. All five were slaves to rhythm and repetition – together they were a mighty proposition. In Karoli’s words they were “a geometry of people”. A trip to New York in 1966 had “corrupted” Schmidt – his mind wandered to the possibilities within the rock world; the imitation of primitive sounds with ethnological influences was the cornerstone of the masterplan. Karoli was on the same page, finding much to be inspired about in the work of the Velvet Underground in particular. That key early influence is apparent on the primitive and aggressive opener “Father Cannot Yell” which must have been a major buzz for the would-be-punks of ’69. Every single group member plays a blinder – Mooney’s vocal is very much part of the rhythmic whole, memorably using the key-phrase “hasn’t been born yet” over and over. Bassist Holger Czukay revealed that this was the first piece to be recorded, adding: “We thought more of a collapsing building in slow motion pictures than becoming heroes on our instruments. Everything was spontaneously recorded by “instant composition”.” As a statement of intent, this blazing-hot mighty-mantra was a helluva starter. By some way of contrast, “Mary, Mary So Contrary” takes a slowcore breather, and surreally reimagines the Jimi Hendrix Experience as the world’s leading exponents of nursery-rhyme rock. They sure are different. “Outside My Door” is a bit of a harmonica-fuelled garage-blues rocker, with some great mod-riffage and one of the punkiest vocals ever laid down in Europe thus far. Taking up the entirety of side 2, “Yoo Doo Right” provides something completely different to close the album, as Holger Czukay explained: “It was an unusual long piece of music at that time with a rhythm which did not belong to the world of Rock 'n Roll. It seemed more to be played by an electric tribe band with adequate instruments of that time.” The whole piece is absolutely mesmeric and there’s never a dull second in the whole twenty minutes – a testament to the engaging brilliance of these restless adventurers. Mooney’s fragmented lyrics are directly sourced from a letter from his girlfriend in the States who is missing him. His boys are with him all the way on some sort of progressive dub-tip – the Can tribe feel this angst as one. Together, they are incredible. This is an awesome debut.

The Jukebox Rebel
12-May-2016


TJR says:

8.57 “A classic”

Never since Köln’s Monks in ’66 has an album sounded so wonderfully wrong. Chiming with the aforementioned “Black Monk Time”, Simeon Coxe adds the banjo to his wonky toolset of pulsing oscillators. The term “thinking out of the box” was designed for groups such as these. The whole set is completely wonderful – even better than last year’s debut – and now comes with a more cohesive set of lyrics, almost as if offering a branch of hope for Kapp’s commercial aspirations. This, the second wig-out on the label from the pioneering electro-wizards, should have seen them enjoying some degree of success – they had a bit of a following and a U.S. tour was going well. In actuality, the album proved to be disastrous for the label and for the group, due to the cover and inner artwork, which generated a lawsuit from Pan Am Airlines. The cover features the Silver Apples in a plane cockpit with drug paraphernalia, and the inner artwork showed the band amongst plane wreckage playing banjos. The photo-message of the album was interpreted as two freaks somehow managing to pilot one of these passenger jets with all their dope, who end up crashing the thing, killing all the passengers, but somehow survive unharmed themselves, flippant and oblivious to the carnage. When Pan Am saw the finished album they sued for $100,000! “That was just a prank that kinda went astray” said Simeon, speaking to Sound on Sound in 2010. “If I think about it now, it's really kind of dumb. We didn't mean any harm by it, but a lot of people were really pissed off about that. Pan Am wanted their logo on the airplane up front because they thought it would be free publicity for the airline. But on the back it was a picture of a European airplane crash and Pan Am of course felt like we were saying that their airplane had crashed. The whole thing was just misunderstood and misread by everybody. They sued us, big‑time. They sued Kapp Records, they sued us as a band, they sued us personally, they sued our management, they got some judge in New York to issue a cease‑and‑desist on us performing. All the records had to be taken off the shelves in all of the record stores. They put some sort of a lien on our equipment and they actually came to a club where we were playing and confiscated Danny's drums. Fortunately, my stuff wasn't there. That photograph led to the lawsuit that broke the band up. No record label would touch us from that point on. That was the end of Silver Apples.” What a complete tragedy. For once, I can see where the corporate angst is justified. Plane crashes are a sensitive business. As a result of this tomfoolery, the repercussions for music fans were severe. The follow-up album, recorded in 1970, ended up being shelved for some 20 years. Drummer Danny Taylor took a job at a telephone company, while Simeon Coxe returned to his first love as a visual artist, funding himself by working as a graphic designer for an advertising agency. What a waste. Meanwhile, the majestic artistry of “Contact” lives on in perpetuity. In the end, such great work can never be truly suppressed.

The Jukebox Rebel
29-Dec-2007


TJR says:

8.33 “Excellent”

Leading lights of the late 60s counter-culture movement, The Doors could do no wrong in my eyes. Album after album was consistently terrific, and 1969’s episode was right up there – although there aren’t too many who agree with that sentiment. The general consensus seems to be that fame brought flabbiness – a criticism which is usually levelled at front man Jim Morrison, and his general dis-interest from mid-1968 onwards, exacerbated by his alcoholism. Paul Rothchild explained: “Jim was not really interested after about the third album. It became very difficult to get him involved in the records. When we made The Soft Parade, it was like pulling teeth to get Jim into it”. For the first time, writing credits were appointed individually rather than as a group whole – another sign that all was not as it should be within the camp. But they had a job to do – The Doors were big business. Producer Paul Rothfield brought in Paul Harris to handle the arrangements and horn overdubs, while various session musicians were hired to play bass guitar, fiddle, mandolin and such-like. Total cost of the nine-month exercise amounted to $80,000 – an incredible sum in 1960s terms. Jim Morrison later reflected on the drawn-out sessions, saying in 1970: “It kinda got out of control, and took too long in the making. It spread over nine months. An album should be like a book of stories strung together, some kind of unified feeling and style about it, and that's what The Soft Parade lacks.” Compare and contrast with the debut – done and dusted within a week. Still, for all the gnashing, wailing and grinding of teeth, the results are mighty fine, mighty often – even those from the reluctant front man. Guitarist Robby Krieger’s “Tell All The People” sets the opening tone. Straight from the off we get the impression it’s to be a brighter, breezier affair than the previous works. It’s sharp. Apparently, this is the one that caused the song writing stooshie; Jim didn’t want anyone to think that he had written the lyrics urging “all the people” to “…get your guns.” He’s so responsible. This is followed by the sensational “Touch Me”, atypical of Rothfield’s methodical striving for perfection on this album. The single mix (which omits Jim’s sarcastic anti-commercialism Ajax-advert mocking dig “Stran-ger-than-dirt” heard at the very end of the album version) gave the group their third and final Top 10 hit on the Pop Charts. The masterwork is dismissed by Doors purists as a sell-out – such a notion is baffling to my ears. Notably, this is the only song on the LP to be harmoniously co-credited to all 4 members; just like the good old days. Best on side 2 is another Robby Krieger composition, “Runnin’ Blue”, a tribute to Otis ‘Blue’ Redding who had died back in December ’67, just a couple of weeks before a scheduled concert date with the Doors. It’s the strangest song, veering between the album’s brass-led dancefloor-Pop and a strange square-dance chorus sung by Robby doing his best Bob Dylan imitation. They’re having fun and, no doubt, irking those purists again. Ultimately, this is an excellent album, high on quality, despite the well-documented shortcomings of the centre-stage prima-donna.

The Jukebox Rebel
16-Apr-2007


TJR says:

7.77 “Brilliant”

World weary and filled with the blues, this debut set was a real experience for the privileged few who were hip to its’ release. Depression would eventually beat her to a pulp, but this supremely talented Earth Mama was in her artistic prime in 1969. Music was in her bones – her grandmother sang and fiddled – Karen listened to, and learned much from, her. The fiddle was, in fact, her first learned instrument. Like Lead Belly some twenty years before, Karen’s instrument of choice was the 12-string guitar – her blues-inclined picking together with THAT voice [brilliantly described in the reissue liner notes as “a weird ethnic-American mix of cowgirl, mountain lady and urban chick”], truly gave her the firmest of trademarks. The young woman had fled her rural Oklahoma home by the early 1960s; by this time, the half-Cherokee half-Irish beauty had become a mother and a divorcee twice over. She positioned herself in New York; a magnet for hicks intent on developing musical careers. There, she often took the stage at the famous Cafe Wha? on MacDougal Street. A certain Bob Dylan was one of many who fell under her spell at this time. He would later recall: “My favourite singer in the place was Karen Dalton. She had a voice like Billie Holiday’s and played the guitar like Jimmy Reed.” Much of her time was spent in the 60s raising her daughter, Abralyn, and this, together with an in-built lack of motivation and self-belief were probably the biggest factors in the fact that this LP was several years later in the making than it might otherwise have been. Thankfully, there were others around who realised that she had this album in her. She may never have written any of these songs – but, boy oh boy, she sure interpreted them. This LP proves you don’t need slick. You don’t need high production values. You just need raw, natural talents like Karen Dalton.

The Jukebox Rebel
16-Mar-2014


TJR says:

7.66 “Brilliant”

The fanciful notion of running a record label, free from the constraints of the “straights”, had been burning with John Peel for a considerable period of time; Bridget St. John was the catalyst which spurred the idea on from fantasy to reality. Her 1968 session for his Night Ride Radio Show (her first public exposure) was simply too good not to be realised on record – but no-one else was showing an interest. In the launch ad for Dandelion Records (the International Times, 18 July 1969), Peel explained: “The half-witted, idealistic notion behind Dandelion and our other violent, capitalist enterprise, Biscuit Music, is that any profits, if such there be, should go to the artists, not to Clive nor myself. We want to record people whose songs and poems we like and whom we like as people. At the moment this means Bridget St. John, Beau, Principal Edwards Magic Theatre and the Occasional Word Ensemble. If people like their records, and I honestly can't think of any reason why they shouldn't, then we'll be able to record a host of other people you've probably never heard of either.” His manager and label partner, Clive Selwood, had some previous music-biz know-how with Elektra, and he too shared Peel’s passion. The base was ideal – and the 22 year-old Bridget St. John was the first beneficiary. Her debut album “Ask Me No Questions”, featuring 5 of the songs which had so enchanted Peel in her ’68 session, was released in the summer of 1969 on Dandelion S-63750 in a fetching gatefold sleeve, and was distributed by CBS at the time. Although it received many favourable music press reviews, it sold poorly. Well, I mean, if Nick Drake couldn’t sell then what chance did Bridget have? The comparisons with Nick Drake run deeper than that superficial point though; that is to say she doesn’t know the meaning of a bad song and makes heavenly, lovely pieces through use of her everyday poeticism, appealing character and considerable ability on the guitar. Vocally, Bridget is deeper and darker than Sandy Denny, whilst often sharing similarly plaintive traits. She herself would cite her real-life mentor John Martyn, and in particular his picking, as a key-influence and, indeed, he plays second guitar on two of the tracks; “Curl Your Toes” and the stunning title-track itself. “It’s all about the artists” was a key-phrase that Peel would use in regards to Dandelion and, already, a tightly-knit circle seems to be forming, with Ric Sanders, of the aforementioned The Occasional Word Ensemble, also lending second guitar contribution to “Lizard-Long-Tongue Boy” and the magnificent “Many Happy Returns”, on which he also delivers some slick and neat blues licks on bottleneck guitar. Bustling commuters and British people in wet weather get the short-shrift on the album’s memorable and clever opener, “To B Without A Hitch”, which also served as the album’s lead single. The pace of the song accelerates and slows as the frantic hoi-polloi are compared with the chilled hitch hiker. Of the many fabulous lines in the song my favourite has to be “Water does no more than get you soaking, but people act as if they’re going to drown.” As she herself later commented: “I’m not a narrative songwriter, I don’t sit down to write stories, I just write feelings out… I get high off people, ideas and things”. Another first half highlight is the gorgeous “Barefeet And Hot Pavements”, which introduces lightly slapped bongos by Simon Stable into the mix. It seems to extoll the virtues of the carefree, hippy generation, but could just as easily be interpreted universally as a message to simply “be yourself and pay no mind to the judgemental ones”. The very best is saved ‘til last with the near eight-minute title-track, “Ask Me No Questions”, which has a gentle beauty which could melt even the most battle-hardened of soldiers. The track screams (subtly) “make love not war”. After a heavenly 4 minutes, you think it might be all over. But producer John Peel had other ideas. As he later recalled: “I was allowed my head on this one, so there’s an unparalleled number of birdsong on there. Because we weren’t quite sure about the copyright on the original recordings, we just stacked loads and loads on top of each other … so you probably hear things like corncrakes existing in an environment along with meadow pippets – are there such things as meadow pippets? And someone will tell you that they can’t coexist and don’t live in the same part of the world… but on this record they do. There are also church bells and kind of wind effects, and two guitars, the second of them played by John Martyn. And a bit of a masterwork, I see it as being. I am almost entirely certain that I am unique in this.” Peelie is certainly not unique in that anymore – as many from the reissue generation will testify. St. John and Martyn emerge from the other side of the “meadow pippets”, seemingly still engaged with their sublime refrains from a minute or two earlier. It’s really quite the most stunning finale. My initial thoughts were that this album was a bit samey on fist listen, but the subtle variations are soon apparent for those still listening intently by the third spin. Several times around, the brilliance absolutely shines; this is a sparkling debut from a beguiling new talent. That John Peel feller knew talent when he heard it ; – )

The Jukebox Rebel
03-Mar-2016


TJR says:

7.61 “Brilliant”

Released on London’s Pama Records, “Scandal In A Brixton market” was the first truly brilliant Laurel Aitken album. The set was delivered by a great band; framed by cool basslines and characterful performances. Girlie plays the nagging wife whilst Rico Rodriguez plays the trombone lament. Every track’s a winner, bar the inexplicable “Teddy Bear” cover which is completely out of place.

The Jukebox Rebel
17-Sep-2010


TJR says:

7.58 “Brilliant”

Best of British what, what? An undoubted high point in the Kinks story – yet, as with many episodes, the back-ground events were enough to drive them mad. The set was recorded in the summertime of ’69 and issued in October of that year. It was conceptual; conceived as the soundtrack to a Granada Television play that fell apart due to withdrawn financial backing. Novelist Julian Mitchell and Ray Davies had worked closely together on the storyline; losing the performance platform was a real kick in the teeth after a lot of hard work. Still, at least an album lasts for generations yet unborn; their labours were far from wasted. As Wikipedia tells, the liner notes reveal some of the plot: “Arthur Morgan … lives in a London suburb in a house called Shangri-La, with a garden and a car and a wife called Rose and a son called Derek who's married to Liz, and they have these two very nice kids, Terry and Marilyn. Derek and Liz and Terry and Marilyn are emigrating to Australia. Arthur did have another son, called Eddie. He was named for Arthur's brother, who was killed in the battle of the Somme. Arthur's Eddie was killed, too—in Korea.” With an underlying theme of nostalgia, the songs describe the England that Arthur once knew (“Victoria”, “Young and Innocent Days”), the promise of life in Australia for one of his sons (“Australia”), the emptiness of his superficially comfortable life in his home (“Shangri-La”), the resolve of the British people during the Second World War (“Mr. Churchill Says”), the privations that marked the austerity period after the war (“She's Bought a Hat Like Princess Marina”), and the death of his brother in World War I (“Yes Sir, No Sir”, “Some Mother's Son”). Who knew tales of suburban disenchantment could be responsible for such greatness? I say, well played. Cup of tea Mrs? Best china, mind.

The Jukebox Rebel
05-Aug-2008


TJR says:

7.42 “Really good”

Formed by Byrds dropouts Chris Hillman (24, electric and acoustic guitar, harmony, lead and backing vocals, mandolin) and Gram Parsons (22, lead and harmony vocals, acoustic guitar, piano, organ), the Flying Burrito Brothers line up was completed by Pete Kleinow (34, pedal steel guitar) and Chris Ethridge (22, bass guitar, backing vocals, piano). Of their debut, the Rolling Stone at the time said: “Together, the mercurial Gram Parsons and the level-headed Chris Hillman have concocted a crazily coherent statement of irony-fuelled hillbilly anthems, inventive covers and achingly beautiful two-part harmonies, all underscored by Sneaky Pete Kleinow’s radical pedal-steel guitar.” They’re certainly on the right side of the country track, with soulful and bluesy inflections that create a whole lot of genuine warmth. The best tracks are all killer, including the sensational “Sin City”, where the Everly Brothers meet Hank Williams downtown. In it, there’s a mention for The Byrds’s manager Larry Spector (“a gold plated door”) and Robert F. Kennedy (“tried to clean up this town”). It’s an ode to L.A. on one level – but hits out at the fat cats who would dance with the devil. Speaking of his former manager, Chris Hillman said: “Spector was a thief, it was as simple as that. And his condo – he lived on the 31st floor behind this awful, garish gold door.” Ooft. Is there any better place than the worldwide stage of an LP to wreak you revenge? The cryptic, hard-hitting dis may not have hit so hard at the time – the album was critically acclaimed, but a commercial flop – but it continues to charm new fans decades down the line. A familiar story for my kinda music…

The Jukebox Rebel
11-May-2006


TJR says:

7.30 “Really good”

With the contract at Major Minor expired, Tommy Scott introduced his Dubliners boys to his pal Bill Martin, who, together with his song-writing partner Phil Coulter, were put at the helm on production duties for the group’s next four LP’s at EMI-Columbia. Not that they had much to do here – these free spirits are best left to get on with it, and simply play in their own style. Why change a winning formula? Those responsible for the album cover seemed to agree – it has The Dubliners sitting in front of the fireplace of the back room (known as the Tap Room) of The Wren’s Nest Public House in Dublin. Thankfully, some things just never change. The album opens with the unofficial national anthem “God Save Ireland” and we’re relieved to hear there’s to be no dilution of the group’s sense of national pride. Intriguingly, Bill Martin / Phil Coulter get a song-writing credit for the album’s highlight track – “The Molly Maguires”, which shines a light on the mid-19th century story of the secret organization of rebel coal miners in Pennsylvania. The album has a fair few unusual moments – James Joyce’s “Humpty Dumpty” is sung by Ronnie, a capella. It’s a fascinating insight into Joyce’s dream-speak, and yer man Ronnie brings the rhythm out loud. The genius / nonsense debate rages on. It’s neither – just thought provoking entertainment that doesn’t forget to laugh. Oliver Cromwell becomes Oliver Crumble! What’s not to love? :-) The album’s fantastic closer, “Saxon Shilling”, is sung by a breathless Luke – it’s excellence lies in its strangeness, not to mention an incredible set of lyrics. The music, very different for The Dubliners, is very much in an English folk vibe, and is set to a poem written by K.T. Buggy in the 1840s. And so The Dubliners finish the 1960s – with their ninth album the quintet show no signs of letting up as genre leaders and entertainers extraordinaire…

The Jukebox Rebel
14-Mar-2011


TJR says:

7.18 “Really good”

By the time of their fifth album, the Increbible String Band were living communally at a farmhouse near Newport, in Pembrokeshire, Wales, where ideas could be explored on a daily basis. Previously casual participants, the two girlfriends were “promoted” to fully-fledged group members, and their presence is more to the fore, most especially with their backing vocals. The new quartet line up: Robin Williamson (lead / backing vocals, guitar, washboard, piano, flute, sarang, Chinese banjo, percussion, electric guitar, organ, gimbri, violin); Mike Heron (lead / backing vocals, electric guitar, piano, guitar, vibraphone, percussion, sitar, mandolin); Licorice McKechnie (guitar, organ, kazoo, percussion, backing vocals) and Rose Simpson (bass guitar, percussion, backing vocals). There are six tracks to digest, with varying levels of enjoyment. “Big Ted” is ok, if not the greatest starter – perhaps just a tad too cabaret for my tastes. “White Bird” is next, and clocks in at almost 15 minutes in length. Again, it’s not too bad – but excitement levels remain muted. Side one’s closer turns out to be best; the fantastic “Dust Be Diamonds” breaks new ground for ISB, given that Mike and Robin share writing credits for the first time. It also finds the group being more tuned in than ever before with contemporary influences, with a wicked line in kazoo riffage that can only have been influenced by Zappa’s Mothers of Invention. Flipping over, “Sleepers Awake” showcases the new quartet as unique voices, delivered a capella. “Mr and Mrs” proves to be a grower. One of the things I really like about ISB is that, at any given moment, they can seamlessly embrace today’s pop culture with ye olde folk style, and make it sound all so natural. I swear I can sense Thems’ organ warmth with the VUs coolest of guitar melody lines running through this, most especially at the end. The best is saved for last, and Robin emerges as the winner in this year’s (friendly) song contest between the two writers. It begins as the “fashionable” mega-dirge, 16 minutes in length, following in the footsteps of “Venus in Furs” (the VU), “The End” (The Doors) “The Black Plague” (Eric Burdon) and “We Will Fall” (Stooges), occasionally breaking away into some sort of weird medieval hoedown, before finishing in a Bonzo Doo Dah style with their familiar old sentiment of “sleep tight”, bless 'em. It’s quite the journey – and typical of this most untypical ensemble.

The Jukebox Rebel
26-Sep-2009


TJR says:

7.17 “Really good”

Nina finished the 60s with her greatest LP yet. Ironically for such an accomplished songwriter, it was predominantly an all-covers album. The fact that she steers well clear of her beloved jazz roots probably has much to do with my view, and musicologists can breathe easy as to the integrity of the brilliant technical dexterities of previous works. She Simone-ifies all before her, although her selection process lent itself well; incorporating her lately favoured themes of love, politics and social justice. “Suzanne” (Judy Collins, 1968) is re-invented with a wonderfully restless arrangement, peppy and soulful. Just the way a cover should be; radically different. “Turn Turn Turn” (The Limeliters, 1962) is another great re-invention of sorts, digging on some of that “Blonde on Blonde” warmth of ’66. Nina answered John Lennon’s “Revolution”, impressing the writer himself, with her own view. It’s not as simple as freeing your mind, as she later opined: “It's about a revolution, man: not just colour, but everything! It's about barriers being broken down, and they sure as hell need getting rid of. We need a revolution to sort it all out and get back to God. You know how lost we are, man – it's sad.” Love the talk, though I’m not entirely taken by the unexciting R n B bed. And splitting it into a two-parter with an apocalyptic crescendo which comes over as a bit silly. “To Love Somebody” (Bee Gees, 1967) turns out to be a groovy pop treat; it’s nice, sometimes, to hear Nina in a non-sceptical mood. The second side of the LP is dominated by three of Dylan’s. “I Shall Be Released” (The Band, 1968) is presented as a soul ballad, complete with wailing soul-sister backing; it’s terrific, with a solid back-beat aiding the impact. “Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues” (Bob Dylan, 1965), the lament of a man let down by everyone from the government to friends to police, proves to be the abiding highlight. Nina feels that song; we can feel that she feels it. It’s a stone-classic and it leaves me quietly howling at the moon. After the assassination of Martin Luther King in ‘68, “The Times They Are A-Changin’” (Bob Dylan, 1964) almost picked itself as the album’s closer. Nina brews up a storm, and her anger is palpable. It was a powerful finale to her strongest set yet.

The Jukebox Rebel
22-Sep-2009


TJR says:

7.10 “Really good”

Very much like Led Zepp in this era, Neil Young was completely palatable to non-Rockheads like me. He veers from the wistful country rockers to the riff-laden rocky crunchers with an easy-going cool-as-you-like, head-nodding, rock groove. It’s the perfect soundtrack for a long drive with the window down on a sunny day.

The Jukebox Rebel
17-Feb-2008


TJR says:

7.08 “Really good”

It would’ve been a great night out going to sing-a-long with The Crofters; they’re really strong players. “Killie Crankie” is rough and tough – just the way I like it. They deliver a wonderfully spirited version of “Drunken Sailor” which, looking back, immediately prompted me to write in my song notes: “this is a great wee troupe”. On the second side, “I Never Will Marry”, a beautiful traditional / Carter Family song from 1939, emerges as another memorable highlight. The first version I heard was Kristin Hersh’s actually. On the musical journey we all tread the same path eventually. Also on side 2, a contemporary cover of Adam McNaughton’s “Tear Down The Buildings” undoubtedly strikes a chord with those 60s urban dwellers who were forced out into unknown green belt territories. It’s another corker. The album’s liner notes shed some background on the trio: “Take two boys and a girl, add three guitars, one harmonica, one violin, and a boundless enthusiasm for folk music from all over the world – and you have “The Crofters”. They had been playing and singing the music they love for over a year, when they decided to enter a local talent contest at an Aberdeen Motel. They did not win, but they did well enough to impress well known Aberdeen band leader and agent Jack Sinclair, who immediately offered them a contract through his agency. Television and stage work followed, and now comes their big moment – the release of their first LP. Bill and Eileen Christie have been married for 8 years and have a family of 3. With student friend Frank Robb (who is also incidentally a promising composer) they complete this exciting new folk group. They will be entertaining holiday makers at the wonderful Aviemore Centre this summer, and the songs they sing so well on stage and in hotel cabaret have been included on this record. They have a tremendous following in the Aberdeen area, and they sing regularly in a lounge where they play to packed houses. Although singing songs from all over the world, their treatment of their native songs is as Scottish as the Highland crofter himself. We hope you enjoy listening to this record as much as The Crofters enjoyed making it, for they are never happier than were they are singing.”

The Jukebox Rebel
20-Feb-2010


TJR says:

6.99 “Good”

Arriving in December, “Liege and Lief” was the third of three albums from Fairport Convention in 1969. Following on from the successful experiment of “The Sailor’s Life” on the preceding LP, it’s the first of their albums to be fully immersed in the folk form, looking to the English and Celtic traditionals for root inspiration. Now a sextet, the group lined up: Sandy Denny (vocals); Dave Swarbrick (fiddle, viola); Richard Thompson (electric & acoustic guitars, backing vocals); Simon Nicol (electric, 6-string & 12-string acoustic guitars, backing vocals); Ashley Hutchings (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Dave Mattacks (drums, percussion). Kicking-off the set is “Come All Ye”, penned by Sandy Denny and Ashley Hutchings, which serves well as an invitational opener for roving minstrels everywhere. Swarbrick’s fiddle wavers approvingly. There are many treats to be heard here, most especially with the traditionals “Reynardine”, “The Deserter” and “Tam Line”. The aforementioned Dave Swarbrick's arrival as a fulltime member is a masterstroke; his interplay with Richard Thompson's leads are a key feature, alongside Sandy Denny’s ever-agreeable earnest vocals. Alas, this would prove to be her final statement with the group, as she moved on to explore ventures new.

The Jukebox Rebel
07-Dec-2015


TJR says:

6.95 “Good”

Miles goes electric! It’s a Jazz World stooshie to rival Dylan. From time to time these mega-talented giants of Jazz come up with something interesting that chimes with Rebel sensibilities. In 1969, Miles Davis delivered one such body of work. Creating the dish in this Michelin Star kitchen were: Miles Davis (trumpet); Wayne Shorter (soprano saxophone); John McLaughlin (electric guitar); Chick Corea (electric piano); Herbie Hancock (electric piano); Joe Zawinul (organ); Dave Holland (double bass) and Tony Williams (drums). “Shhh / Peaceful” accounts for the entirety of side 1, and shakes and shimmers for eighteen whole minutes, as if on the verge of a lunar landing which is eventually aborted. It’s an enjoyable starter, albeit leaving a hunger unsatisfied. More fulfilling is “In A Silent Way / It’s About That Time / In A Silent Way”, a 20-minute 3-part suite which runs for the duration of side 2, although I completely fail to grasp why these pieces are framed in this way. “In A Silent Way” is glorious; a transcendental meditation with gorgeous melody. The sandwich filler “It’s About That Time” flirts coolly with funky motifs, although these seem to have nothing at all in common with their sleeping partners who lie either side, thus demoting the piece from a potential “excellent” to merely “great” in my fussy ratings system. The linkage between them is completely clumsy – like the worst DJ mix ever. Why can’t these hounds just content themselves with 6 or 7 proper tracks like their rock n roll superiors?

The Jukebox Rebel
06-Dec-2015


TJR says:

6.90 “Good”

After several years as a session singer with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Jackie Wilson, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jerry Butler and Nina Simone to name but a few, the potential of Doris Curry was noted by Jerry Williams Jr. who signed her to his RRG label. With Jerry’s business know-how, “I’m A Loser” was on the streets in a matter of months – there was no messin’ around with that boy. He done her proud with this platform – the Capricorn Studios musicians are ace soulsters, and Jerry had a decent set of songs ready for her, together with two covers from Clarence Carter’s “Testifyin’” LP from earlier in the year. The shrewd producer even chipped in with a name change – Doris Duke seemed like quite a good choice since the name was already in the public consciousness via the gossip column’s favourite tobacco heiress! Album opener “He’s Gone” is a great soul ballad for starters – everything about it oozes cool… the unusual rhythm, the soul in the vocal, the atmosphere of the band. The completely fantastic Clarence Carter cover follows, “I Can’t Do Without You”, and right away you just know you’re going to be in for a good one. “Feet Start Walking” is next – it’s first class soul fare – a stone-classic. The album is flyin’ high by this stage. On “Your Best Friend”, she’s got the coolest groove going on, and with “I Don’t Care Anymore”, her gritty delivery simply slays: “I found out his sweet talkin’ led to my street walkin’”. Damn. What a girl. What a debut…

The Jukebox Rebel
10-Jan-2010


TJR says:

6.79 “Good”

Brian Jones was 5 months dead by the time “Let It Bleed” was released in Dec ’69. He takes his final bow on side 2 by playing congas on the great blues-rocker “Midnight Rambler” (although he’s barely audible) and autoharp on a decent blues-drag, “You Got The Silver”. He was out of the group in any event; on 8 June 1969, Jones was visited by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Charlie Watts and was told that the group he had formed would continue without him. A month later he was mysteriously found dead in his swimming pool, aged just 27. His replacement was 20-year-old guitarist Mick Taylor from John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. Groan. Did a future in RAWK beckon? The new boy features on 2 of the tracks – the fantastic countrified version of “Honky Tonk Woman” and the not so great rocker “Live With Me” which emphasises fears as previously noted. As the 60s end, it’s good to hear that the Stones are still in touch with their blues roots – an early album version of “Love In Vain” (Robert Johnson, 1939) is mighty fine, heavy on the slide and with a neat mandolin. The album’s crowning glory is delivered at the end with the epic soul-rocker “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”. For this one, the extra magical ingredients are provided by the 60-strong London Bach Choir (with choral arrangements by Jack Nitzsche); Al Kooper (piano, organ, French horn) and Rocky Dijon (congas, maracas, tambourine) with terrific soul-sister gospel backing from Madeline Bell, Nanette Workman and Doris Troy of “Just One Look” fame. Al Kooper’s presence is another stark reminder that Brian’s time was up – it was recorded back in November ’68 and he should’ve been there. Rolling Stones albums in the 1960s have all been good uns. Last couple of years aside, Brian Jones excellent musicianship is stamped all over them. It’s not a bad legacy.

The Jukebox Rebel
22-Dec-2007


TJR says:

6.77 “Good”

Here, the five points of The Pentagle are: Bert Jansch (25, lead and backing vocals, guitar, banjo); Jacqui McShee (25, lead and backing vocals); John Renbourn (25, lead and backing vocals, guitar, sitar); Danny Thompson (30, double bass) and Terry Cox (32, drums, glockenspiel, hand drum, lead and backing vocals). “Basket of Light” gave the group their biggest hit album, a #5 placing on the British chart. It’s an all-acoustic affair, although so richly textured that you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. They’re a terrific unit – the interplay between each and every member contributes to a wonderful whole, and they effortlessly breeze between the medieval and the contemporary folk motifs, enhanced with alt-jazz flourishes adding extra spice. The “ghostly” vocals of Jacqui McShee are the perfect front for their timeless sound.

The Jukebox Rebel
10-Dec-2015


TJR says:

6.73 “Good”

Recorded at Sound Technique Studios, London in 1968, and engineered by John Wood and Ron Fender. Notably, their 3rd and 4th LPs “Give A Damn” (TRA-184) and “The Barley Corn” (TRA-185) were released on the same day. This deliberate act was intended to showcase the range of the Johnstons folk music, with “Give A Damn” focused on the contemporary and “The Barley Corn” featuring traditionals. Producer Nathan Joseph’s sleeve notes read: “I met The Johnstons less than a year ago. Much has happened since. I have encouraged them to widen their repertoire and they now perform much contemporary material with the same flair and excellence they bring to Irish traditional music. They have had a single in the American Top 100 and simultaneously with the release of this LP an LP of contemporary material is also released. Their records are now out in America, Canada, Japan, France, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Germany. They are, in short, an internationally established group. Nonetheless, Irish music remains their first love and they have not neglected it nor turned their backs on their musical heritage. This LP is not just a polite glance back at their musical roots. It shows a development in their handling of traditional Irish music that comes from a serious and continuing devotion to the material. Appear they may in the big TV pop shows but “the mighty musicians of Co. Clare” are never far from their musical consciousness.”

The Jukebox Rebel
26-Jul-2010


TJR says:

6.70 “Good”

Arriving in July, “Unhalfbricking”, so named on account of one of Sandy Denny's contributions to an inexplicable on-the-road word game, was the second of three albums from Fairport Convention in 1969. The sleeve was shot at the suburban home of Denny's parents, who stand awkwardly in the fore ground while the group themselves are half hidden behind a trellis fence. It’s clear this group are not quite normal. I like this. For this release they were: Sandy Denny (22, vocals, harpsichord); Richard Thompson (20, electric and acoustic guitars, electric dulcimer, piano accordion, organ, backing vocals); Ashley Hutchings (24, bass, backing vocals); Simon Nicol (18, electric and acoustic guitars, electric dulcimer, backing vocals) and Martin Lamble (19, drums). Although enthusiastically received, it was a bittersweet release for the group. Recorded between January–April 1969, the work was soon overshadowed by a tragedy on 11th May 1969. Just two months before the album was released, drummer Martin Lamble and guitarist Richard Thompson's girlfriend, Jeannie Franklyn, were killed in a car crash as the band were returning from a concert in Birmingham. Simon Nicol later said: “That was a big watershed, I think. In the aftermath, we thought a lot about what to do, whether to call it a day. It had been fun while it lasted but it took a definite effort of will to continue. It had given us a lot but now it had taken away a lot: was it worth it if it was going to cost people their lives? Martin was only 18 or 19 years old. He would have gone on to have been so much more than just another drummer, another musician: there was something very special about him.” There is much to admire here, most especially with the opening one-two. “Genesis Hall”, written by Richard Thompson, is delivered as a plaintive waltz and tackles some gritty business as the writer explains: “Genesis Hall was the name of a building in London that was occupied by squatters. The police went in and were far too brutal in evicting the people. My father was a policeman at the time, and although he was not involved in this operation, I could see the situation from both the squatters’ and police’s points of view. This was conflicting for me, and I tried to express that.”Si Tu Dois Partir”, a French language version of Bob Dylan’s “If You Gotta Go, Go Now”, immediately follows and serves as a great fun way to lighten the mood. It shows hearty imagination and does the song a great service. “A Sailor’s Life” closes side 1; here the group demonstrate a fine sensibility for the old traditional, and are completely uninhibited in reframing it in a moody, late 60s environment. During the course of the 11 minute epic drag, we learn that a young woman is fretting about the non-return of her sailor lover, sweet William. She sets off in a boat to find him, eventually finding out that he has drowned. In her grief, she herself re-enacts the drowning in an attempt to rejoin him in spirit. It was Sandy Denny who learned it in her solo career and brought it to the table. The group are wholly terrific around Sandy’s vocal, and with Dave Swarbrick guesting on violin, the eerie mood is perfectly represented. Every member contributes excellently. The album loses its way slightly here and there; the ramblers “Autopsy” and “Million Dollar Bash” are a bit too close to AOR convention for my liking, but, still, there is much to take from this set and my grumbles are relatively minor. Martin Lamble was gone too soon but no-one can take “Unhalfbricking” from him.

The Jukebox Rebel
07-Dec-2015


TJR says:

6.67 “Good”

A highly stylish debut album from the soulful Californian rockers, fronted by Lydia Pense whose impassioned vocal style fairly drew many comparisons with Janis Joplin. A prominent horn section competes strongly for attention with the standard guitar, drum and bass. An organist and TWO saxophonists help complete the highly musical picture. This was a big band, funky on the bass, sharp on the horns with a lead singer that could belt ‘em out with a fair degree of panache. Highlights include the stirring opener “I Wish I Knew (How It Would Feel To Be Free)” (Billy Taylor Trio, 1963), the Joplin-esque take of “Let Me Down Easy” (Betty Lavette, 1965) and the sultry “If You Will”, which is the album’s sole original, written by keyboard player Raul Mote. Good job…

The Jukebox Rebel
07-Dec-2008


TJR says:

6.65 “Good”

Famed producer Willie Mitchell was at the helm for Overton Vertis’s second new music album on Backbeat. As O.V. put it: “Willie's been knowing me since I was a baby, and he would produce me, 'cause we had a friendship thing.” O.V.’s gospel roots shine on this one, augmented by an evocative church-like organ on many of the numbers, although the first two tracks are somewhat unrepresentative. Album opener is “Blowin’ In The Wind”, a rather weak country cover of Dylan’s standard. Everyone’s feeling Martin Luther at this time, but there’s no need for such trite servings. “I’m Gonna Forget About You” and “You’re So Good To Me” sharpen things up over the next few tracks; both are Stax-esque dancefloor driven productions, with some neat brass backing. Apart from these, the album is dominated by the yearning southern soul ballads as the liner notes tell: “In this particular album you will hear the true O.V. Wright performing with all the brilliance, feeling and love all the songs he just loves to sing… this is why we call this album NUCLEUS OF SOUL” I’ll give them that for at least 3 of these numbers. “Why Not Give Me A Chance” (Jackie Verdell, 1963) closes side 1 in fine style, just as “Pledging My Love” (Johnny Ace, 1954) does the same at the opening of side 2. It’s the second side which has all the strength in depth; “I’ll Take Care Of You” (Bobby Bland, 1959) burns deepest. All in all, a fine offering; all is forgiven for the cheesy opener.

The Jukebox Rebel
12-Jun-2012


TJR says:

6.63 “Good”

Following the virtual dissolution of The Yardbirds in August ‘68, guitarist Jimmy Page wasted no time in re-recruiting. In this regard, his hand was forced as The Yardbirds were still contractually obliged to fulfil touring obligations. As soon as that had been achieved, the new quartet took the decision to start afresh as Led Zeppelin. The forced speed at which this chain of events unfolded was perhaps a blessing in disguise; this new group literally shaped their album in a month or two on tour, stepped off a plane, laid it down in a few studio weeks and had an LP in the stores within 4 months of first playing together. At the time of release in January ’69, the dynamic four were: Robert Plant (20, lead vocals, harmonica); Jimmy Page (25, acoustic, electric and pedal steel guitars, backing vocals); John Bonham (20, drums, timpani, backing vocals) and John Paul Jones (23, bass guitar, Hammond organ, backing vocals). Said Jimmy: “For material, we obviously went right down to our blues roots. I still had plenty of Yardbirds riffs left over. By the time Jeff [Beck] did go, it was up to me to come up with a lot of new stuff. It was this thing where [Eric] Clapton set a heavy precedent in the Yardbirds which Beck had to follow and then it was even harder for me, in a way, because the second lead guitarist had suddenly become the first. And I was under pressure to come up with my own riffs. On the first LP I was still heavily influenced by the earlier days. I think it tells a bit, too…” It’s hard to put my finger on why Led Zepp succeed where so many RAWK groups fail. They’re heavy but cool, not too flashy and seem to have some sort of secret magical powers which are hard to nail down in ink. I feel Led Zeppelin…

The Jukebox Rebel
09-Aug-2008


TJR says:

6.62 “Good”

Nederbeat from the Hague seems to translate as a meaty brand of pop rock – if Shocking Blue’s “At Home” is anything to go by, it’s a good sound. Fate intervened for this group when previous vocalist, Fred de Wilde, who, as far as my cursory skip through on You Tube can tell, was exceptionally bland and boring on their dull debut of 1968, was called up for National Service. Group leader and songwriter, Robbie van Leeuwen, wasted no time in replacing he with a she; namely Mariska Veres, a 21 year-old painted doll with a teutonic presence that dared you to mess, and seemed to infuse the whole group with a confident, sexy dynamism. In van Leeuwen’s eyes, she would be the Grace Slick to his Jefferson Airplane. The new quartet lined up: Mariska Veres (lead vocals); Robbie van Leeuwen (guitar, sitar, backing vocals); Klaasje van der Wal (bass) and Cor van der Beek (drums). For all the excitement of the new lead singer, it’s an instrumental which grabs the attention on side 1 – “Acka Raga”, which also happens to be the only cover on the LP. The piece, a version of the 1967 BBC1 quiz show theme, “Ask the Family”, is framed by a groovy sitar that makes like “Ticket To Ride”’s long-lost cousin from Mumbai. It’s entertaining, if not entirely thrilling. The two powerhouse tracks lie on the second side. Wonderfully oblivious to current trends, “California Here I Come”, seems to want to join the nuggets party which peaked at least 2 years earlier. But who cares about fashion? Excellence is excellence – and the riffage on this one is just glorious. They don’t force it, they just let it coolly wander over to you in its own time, with engaging little troughs and peaks all over the place. Equally excellent is “Love Buzz”, which similarly comes packed with inventive sonics, loads of sitar abuse and a super-cool vocal. Its nagging riffs are insanely addictive and continue to swirl around the membrane long after they’re gone. “The Butterfly and I” closes side 2 – it’s Schlagertastic and makes me laugh. The Shocking Blue experience is not a high-brow affair but that shouldn’t put you off one bit. This is a personality-packed treat and delivers some great highs.

The Jukebox Rebel
10-Feb-2012


TJR says:

6.59 “Good”

I dig this madness, occasionally genius, sometimes wacky, but rarely dull. I’m a Pepperland resident myself. I’ll give those blue meanies what for if they try and take away my music. Criminal Justice Bill 1994 (Section 58) anyone?

The Jukebox Rebel
01-Dec-2011


TJR says:

6.59 “Good”

It must have been a beautiful thing for Otis Redding fans in the years which followed his tragic plane crash death in December ’67. For three years in-a-row it was as if he was still there with them, as the wealth of unreleased material was slowly and surely mastered and assembled by the studio producers at Atco. The “Love Man” LP stands as one of the most upbeat releases in the Redding catalogue; only “I’ll Let Nothing Separate Us” and “Free Me” represented his trademark soul balladeering. Both are really good additions. There are pleasing moments all over; “Direct Me” is mildly funky and gets me groovin’, “Love Man” is a party stomper and “Look at that Girl” offers pure pop joy on a “Hang on Sloopy” tip. He’s still got me going out of my head. It’s almost like a miracle.

The Jukebox Rebel
13-Jan-2010

chart first published 07 Feb 2016; last edited 05 Jun 2016

Album Charts

by year…

1939 1940 1941 1942 1943 1944 1945 1946 1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965 1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016