Shuffle of the week #22

This is an ode to the shuffle. How better to get a good insight in your digitized album collection than by a classic shuffle? Finally discover the albums you never got into, finally throw the ones away you will never get into and worship those classics that never grow old again. The Shuffle of this week:

1. Pacific Gas & Electric – Mother Why Do You Cry (Are You Ready, 1970) [singlepic id=217 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Surprising start, not being able to immediately identify this from the start. Band that was founded in LA in 1967 and existed only for a few years. Although they never reached a lot of fame, many people will recognize the opening song from the homonymous album where this track stands on. Because of that, there might be a tendency of calling this a one-hit-wonder, but both this album as there 1969 self-titled debut prove to be good blues rock albums, starring the stunning voice of singer Charlie Allen.

2. Guns ’n Roses – Get in the Ring (Use Your Illusion II, 1991) [singlepic id=216 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Power talking from Axl Rose on this track from the bands best album imo, which I really appreciated for a long time and was their only one to survive my collection. The times they are a-changin’ and I’m totally not into this anymore. Contains some good guitar riffs however, but why all the baloney towards the end? I presume I considered that cool once.

3. Wilco – Pot Kettle Black (Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, 2002) [singlepic id=98 w=80 h=50 float=left]

As may be known, one of my favorite bands of today. Only thing that remains for me is completing their oeuvre in my collection and considering whether they served enough years to qualify for a classic review already.

4. Sonic Youth – Cotton Crown (Sister, 1987) [singlepic id=79 w=80 h=50 float=left]

I listened to this album a couple of times following an earlier shuffle, but it didn’t really amaze me. Is the status of this band only due to that one cult album or do I have to dig a little further? Let’s try out 1990’s Goo to find out.

5. Jethro Tull – Cheap Day Return (Aqualung, 1971) [singlepic id=121 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Charming intermezzo by the velvet voice of Ian Anderson from the previously underrated and later worshipped Aqualung. This album really is like an old quality wine, only getting better by the years.

6. TV on the Radio – Staring at the Sun (Desperate Youth, Blood Thirsty Babes, 2004) [singlepic id=218 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Best known song from this Brooklyn band, at least for me, as my knowledge about them is still insufficient at this moment of writing.  However, I’m working on that as this album surprised me in very positive ways after some relistens.

7. Yim Yames – My Sweet Lord (Tribute To, 2009) [singlepic id=99 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Fantastic cover from the well-known Harrison song on this all cover EP, recommended already during an earlier opportunity. My Morning Jacket‘s singer Jim James interpretation of this song is somewhat slower, while adding some strength to the vocals with his characterizing voice. This definitely is one of the best singers in contemporary rock, having released his first full solo album earlier this year: Regions of Light and Sound of God.

8. Cocteau Twins – Aloysius (Treasure, 1984) [singlepic id=215 w=80 h=50 float=left]

First thing popping into my mind when hearing this: ‘Why did I ever get this?’. However, giving this album another try made me somehow adjust this original judgment. It’s the third album by this Scottish band and the first featuring their primary lineup, still including Liz Fraser on ethereal (most of the times non-lyrical) vocals. Even if you might not be a fan of such dreamy sounds in general, this album could possibly charm you.

9. Steely Dan – Reelin’ in the Years (Can’t Buy A Thrill, 1972) [singlepic id=7 w=80 h=50 float=left]

There’s the riff of all riffs again. Great album from the kings of the studio.

 

10. Booker T. & The MG’s – Back Home (Melting Pot, 1971) [singlepic id=82 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Completing this song cycle in an apposite way, as we already started with one of those other rare bands from the sixties-early seventies that were racially integrated. This is the last album to feature both frontman Booker T. as guitarist Steve Cropper, the latter one really shining on this song.

“Somebody got lucky, but it was an accident”: Blonde on Blonde (Bob Dylan)

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Year: 1966

Genre: Rock

Preceded by: Highway 61 Revisited (1965)

Followed by: John Wesley Harding (1967)

Related to: The Band – Music From Big Pink, Van Morrison – Astral Weeks

 

 

1963, Bob Dylan is being proclaimed as the artistic leader of the protest movement that stands up against the establishment. From that moment on, he and his music have showed a tendency of not wanting to be understood any longer. Tired of being launched as the pioneer of a social movement or musical trend every time people thought they had comprehended Dylan and his songs. The faith of an artist who is assigned with visionary powers by his followers.

No matter whether it was his role as protest singer  in the early sixties or his innovative contributions to the so called genre of folk rock a few years later, Dylan always seemed to have the feeling that others wanted to make a stooge of him and started to agitate against this in an almost paranoid way. This side of Dylan  was magnificently illustrated by Cate Blanchett in the film I’m Not There. It was this Dylan that released an enigmatic album in 1966 on which he did everything not to be understood for one time. But even if you don’t try to decipher everything The Singer tries to tell you in mysterious ways, there still remains a lot of beauty on Blonde on Blonde.

Only 54 years after being founded in the state of Minnesota, Hibbing already welcomed its most prominent resident to date: Robert Zimmerman. As the descendant of Jewish immigrants from Ukraine and Lithuania he entertained his local high school by playing rock ‘n roll covers before moving to the states’ capital (Minneapolis) to subscribe to  university. Folk music entered his life, and it must have generated more attention than his classes at that point, as he quit university toward the end of his first year (May 1960) to move to New York. There, in the neighborhood of Greenwich Village, he performs in some local clubs before being picked up by a record label. A self-eponymous debut album (1962) follows, containing mainly folk traditionals and not having a lot of success.

Dylan crosses the Atlantic for the first time to visit London before his second album follows in 1963: The Freewheelin’. Writing his own compositions now and many of his songs being  interpreted as protest songs, it brings him his first success in times of the Cuban missile crisis and the civil rights movement. Especially his performance (with Joan Baez) during the Great March on Washington (with Martin Luther King speaking his famous words) delivered him his status as the guy with the scruffy jeans who kicked against the establishment. This already changes after the murder of John F. Kennedy and his 1964 release The Times They Are a-Changin’ and definitely on his fourth album later that year, with the meaningful title Another Side of Bob Dylan. Dylan’s star rises fast subsequently, when he transforms from a protest songwriter to the absolute folk rock star.

This of course starts with the release of Bringing It All Back Home (1965), on which Dylan goes electric on side 1, and was immediately fortified with his performance that summer at the Newport Folk Festival, backed by the electric sound of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band members. Only one month later Dylan presents the world his next album, the legendary Highway 61 Revisited (1965) , featuring the same ‘electric crew’. Problem for Dylan was that some of those guys preferred to stay with the Blues Band instead of  touring to promote this new album. So Dylan searched for other musicians and ended up with guys from Ronnie Hawkins’ backing band The Hawks. Those guys would later form some kind of genius group called The Band, after some of them contributed to Dylans’ brilliant seventh: Blonde on Blonde, one of the first double albums in rock history.

Recordings for the album started in New York, where Hawks drummer Levon Helm already dropped out as he was tired of playing in a backing group. With Helm replaced by Bobby Gregg (responsible for the opening snare drum on ‘Like A Rolling Stone’) and with amongst others Robbie Robertson and Rick Danko in support, the recordings proceeded but none of the recorded material could count on Dylans’ satisfaction. It was only after moving to a studio in Nashville and adding some local session musicians that the album started to grow towards its ultimate versatility.

When you start playing the album, you may wonder how the faces of music critics must have looked like while listening to the first song, ‘Rainy Day Women #12 & 35’. The former ‘protest songwriter’ states he wouldn’t feel so all alone if everybody would get stoned, supported by a brass band going berserk. The song was avoided by a number of radio stations and you can hear Dylan having a laugh about it on the song itself. The other enigmatic track on side 1 is ‘Visions of Johanna’, which is generally highly praised by those same critics. This song doesn’t really stand out in my opinion, but of course I didn’t spend hours of research to decipher its lyrics. The third song that perfectly fits into this category is the closing song of the album: ‘Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands’. This track entirely fills up side 4 and seems to be about his wife Sara, which was confirmed by Dylan on the Desire song ‘Sara’ 10 years later. What Dylan could not have presumed, is that the track ultimately convinced Roger Waters that it’s possible to fill entire LP sides with only one song.

Did folk (rock) disappear on Dylans’ seventh? Not completely, as at least 1,5 of such songs can be found. ‘4th Time Around’ definitely is one. Although the lyrics are again slightly drenched in absurdity, the classic finger-picking guitar sounds familiar. Decide for yourself whether this familiarity stems from Dylans’ earlier works or from The Beatles’ ‘Norwegian Wood’. The other track is ‘One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)’, which was the first song being recorded for the album. It’s a very good one, with recognizable lyrics and a prominent role for the keyboards-guitar combo, leading the great crescendos every time the chorus is about to set in.

The album however never lets itself categorize in some kind of subgenre. This is immediately clear on track two (‘Pledging My Time’), with the pure blues kicking in. The harmonica almost sounds as plaintive as Dylans’ voice here and Robertson does a great job here by adding his bluesy guitar sound. ‘Temporary Like Achilles’ is another great blues song, with typical lyrics about some guy being left behind by his lover. However, it’s the piano here (played by Hargus Robbins) that claims his role as guide of Dylan’s excellent wailing throughout the song. Also on side 3 is ‘Obviously 5 Believers’, an awesome song on which Robertson really shines. It sticks out compared to the two aforementioned songs because of its uptempo style but it finds its match in two other uptempo songs on the album: ‘Absolutely Sweet Marie’ and ‘Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I’ll Go Mine)’.

The first one serves another portion of prosaic lyrics with several sexual references, driven by a repeating keyboard riff. However, this song lasts a little too long in my opinion. The second one certainly does not suffer from this handicap. It was used a lot of times by Dylan as the opening song on live gigs, for example on Before The Flood together with The Band. Problem here: once you’ve heard one of those live versions with a screaming Dylan, the studio version doesn’t suffice anymore.

The remaining four songs are all to be found on the second side of the album, together forming the core of Blonde on Blonde. We might even go one step further and call this one of the best vinyl sides ever made, close to The Beatles’ Abbey Road Side 2. It opens with ‘I Want You’, by far the most poppy song out there. This is due to the fact that the music as well as the lyrics both outshine in simplicity, in deep contrast with the rest of the album. Although Dylan summons an elaborate list of characters during the song, similar to a light version of The Band’s ‘The Weight’, he addresses himself to the simple ‘you-person’ during the chorus, contributing to the songs accessibility. What follows is ‘Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again’, the absolute highlight of the album. This track was rearranged numerous times (musically as well as lyrically) by Dylan during the recordings, till obtaining this optimal result. The chorus becomes a real earwig after hearing it a few times and the flawless guitar playing makes you forget about the tracks’ seven minutes length. Amazing.

The party continues on the next track (‘Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat’), without any doubt the best guitar song on the album. Although Dylan plays the intro, it’s Robertson taking over after that. On top of that the lyrics are kind of hilarious and will pop into your head again whenever you notice another fashion victim on the streets. Side two concludes with one of Dylans’ best known songs: ‘Just Like a Woman’. This track is also closely investigated by a number of music professors and according to their research this song is about Edie Sedgwick. Or Joan Baez. Or maybe another woman. In this way it’s kind of representative for the entire album: unsolvable and inexhaustibly intriguing.

A concert tour to promote the album followed after its release, where Dylan was backed by The Hawks. Deeply exhausted by this tour, Dylan finally found some rest after his motorcycle accident by withdrawing to the basement of Big Pink with The Hawks. This accident was also surrounded by rumours and theories, as it would have been made up to escape from the music scene for a while. Like with so many other things, probably nobody except Dylan can ever confirm this. Let’s keep it that way.

Top Tracks:

1. Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again
2. Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
3. One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later)

Shuffle of the week #21

This is an ode to the shuffle. How better to get a good insight in your digitized album collection than by a classic shuffle? Finally discover the albums you never got into, finally throw the ones away you will never get into and worship those classics that never grow old again. The Shuffle of this week:

1. Arcade Fire – No Cars Go (Neon Bible, 2007) [singlepic id=209 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Exciting start with the fourth single of Arcade Fire’s second studio album. First album still is one of the greatest debuts from the past twenty years and this album met his expectations as a good follow-up. The characterizing full sound shows up again next to the clear vocals, probably due to the fact that it was recorded in a renovated church which served as their studio.

2. Monster Magnet –  Goliath and the Vampires  (Powertrip, 1998) [singlepic id=212 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Talking about  a prevailing instrumental strength. This fourth album from Jersey’s stoner rock band was entirely written by Wyndorf while residing in Las Vegas. I don’t know exactly which role Goliath and the vampires had during that stay, but this instrumental song exactly describes the atmosphere at the moment some Goliath is about to have vampires for breakfast.

3. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Cotton Fields (Willy and the Poor Boys, 1969) [singlepic id=5 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Country rock cover from CCR of Lead Belly’s blues classic. This makes it the only song on this great album that wasn’t written by John Fogerty.

4. Frank Zappa – Mom & Dad (We’re Only in It For the Money, 1968) [singlepic id=111 w=80 h=50 float=left]

An album I really discovered only a few months ago and which perfectly succeeds to let cynicism tango with humor in an isolated room full of strange sounds. This song somehow reminds of Alice Cooper’s ‘Dead Babies’.

5. Van Morrison – Bulbs (Veedon Fleece, 1974) [singlepic id=214 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Single from Morrison’s eight album. One of his best albums and this song is another one of his definite classics, on which he uses his voice once again as full-fledged instrument, making lyrics redundant during the chorus. Time to review one of his works to fill up another artist hiatus.

6. The Move – The Last Thing on My Mind (Shazam, 1970) [singlepic id=205 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Here we are again with one of my all-time favorite albums (and vinyl showpiece) , more specifically with the magnificent final piece this time.  It’s a cover of an original 1964 Tom Paxton song, which is covered by numerous other artists. Although I certainly didn’t hear all of them, this must be one of the best.

7. Death Cab for Cutie – Scientist Studies (We Have the Facts and We’re Voting Yes, 2000) [singlepic id=211 w=80 h=50 float=left]

I have to admit that I got to know this band only after seeing Magical Mystery Tour. Unfortunately the music on this album and 2003’s Transatlanticism didn’t really raise my curiosity.  Maybe it’s time to get rid of it. This song however is not bad at all.

8. Belle & Sebastian – Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying (If You’re Feeling Sinister, 1996) [singlepic id=210 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Another indie band not heard in a long time, being the second album from these Scots. Perhaps I should give this one another try, but the needless long titles are starting to annoy me.

9. Neil Young – Here for You (Prairie Wind, 2005) [singlepic id=213 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Father Neil knows what i mean, although we might say that he wrote better songs during his impressive career. The album to the contrary is hands down one of Young’s better works from the past 15 years. Best served on the Heart of Gold documentary.

10. Guided By Voices – My Son Cool (Alien Lanes, 1995) [singlepic id=172 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Robert Pollard once again comes around to close the door, performing one of the last songs from his best album.

Shuffle of the week #20

This is an ode to the shuffle. How better to get a good insight in your digitized album collection than by a classic shuffle? Finally discover the albums you never got into, finally throw the ones away you will never get into and worship those classics that never grow old again. The Shuffle of this week:

1. Wolfmother – Woman (Wolfmother, 2005) [singlepic id=208 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Led Zeppelin never really returned after John Bonham’s death, so this is probably the best attempt after the disbanding of the group to come close to their legendary sound. As fast as this band reached its peak, as quick they seem to disappear again in the archives of rock history. After this debut album, they were even asked by Led Zeppelin to perform one of their songs (‘Communication Breakdown’) at their induction to the UK Music Hall of Fame. However, the sound of this nice debut might even be closer to Blue Cheer‘s one.

2. The Move – Beautiful Daughter (Shazam, 1970) [singlepic id=205 w=80 h=50 float=left]

One of the shortest songs on one of rock’s greatest albums but nevertheless one of its gems. Strange that this band never became successful in the US, as it started in the early days as a group covering Westcoast songs. This track is one of the side 1 (original) songs, on an album which greatest trump is total variety.

3. Radiohead – I Might Be Wrong (I Might Be Wrong: Live Recordings, 2001) [singlepic id=159 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Thrilling live version of this original Amnesiac song. Talking about attempts, this band must be 21st century’s best one to write rock history.

4. White Stripes – The Union Forever (White Blood Cells, 2001) [singlepic id=207 w=80 h=50 float=left]

From the same year: White Stripes’ third studio album. After digging up Elephant again a few months ago, I further explored the recent past with this one. Although containing some good songs (this one for example), their fourth that would follow two years later still tops the list.

5. Anathema – Fragile Dreams (Alternative 4, 1998) [singlepic id=202 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Band from Liverpool I kinda lost out of sight. Maybe later.

 

6. Beasty Boys – Shambala (Ill Communication, 1994) [singlepic id=203 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Another lost album, as I eventually didn’t even recognize these bizarre sounds, which are described best by Gregorian chants through a didgeridoo. So better pick this one to give another try (update: masterpiece).

7.  King Crimson – Epitaph (In the Court Of the Crimson King, 1969) [singlepic id=204 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Flying back 25 years in time to sit back and enjoy this prog rock gem (probably the albums best track). How can this éver be a debut album?! I mean, can you ever imagine a band debuting tomorrow with such an album? Yes I fear tomorrow I’ll be crying.

8. The Smiths – Never Had No One Ever (The Queen is Dead, 1986) [singlepic id=206 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Without any doubt one of the best albums that the eighties delivered us. Would He meanwhile has found somebody?

9. Led Zeppelin – Over the Hills and Far Away (How the West was Won, 1972) [singlepic id=195 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Is the shuffle starting its own tradition? Second time in a row that we get the opportunity to enjoy some live music brought by Led Zeppelin during the ninth track. Just like last time, this one (Plant searching for Acapulco Gold) is from their 1972 live gigs, the original song would later appear on their 1973 album Houses of the Holy.

10. 16 Horsepower – Horse Head Fiddle (Folklore, 2002) [singlepic id=201 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Album I played a lot when I was totally into watching Deadwood. There might be a connection, it  certainly succeeds to create a special kind of atmosphere. Beautiful album, time to cheat on time and discover their debut.

“It’s a wild time, I see people all around me changing faces”: After Bathing at Baxter’s (Jefferson Airplane)

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Year: 1967

Genre: Psychedelic Rock, Acid Rock

Preceded by: Surrealistic Pillow (1967)

Followed by: Crown of Creation (1968)

Related to: not available yet

 

 

A wild time it sure must have been, those final years of the sixties. In mainstream culture those wild times are mostly associated with Woodstock, but this event in fact took place two years after the one and only year that can fully identify itself with the declared ideals of peace, love and music. 1967, a year that has meanwhile acquired a glorious reputation in pop music’s historiography. A year about which, when you didn’t witness it yourself, you can only fantasize and presume. It helps of course to actually read this history to give shape to these thoughts, but a picture, or in this case ‘a sound’ is worth a thousand words. No other band succeeds better to offer you this sound than the one described here, so hop on the Jefferson Airplane one more time and lets fly to 1967.

It’s a wild time, I’m doing things that haven’t got a name yet. Another lyric from ‘Wild Tyme (H)’, fifth track on Airplane’s third studio album: After Bathing at Baxter’s. It’s January14th 1967 (ten days after The Doors opened pop music’s bumper year with their debut album) and people around San Francisco are gathering in the Golden Gate Park. To change faces, to question everything about their environment (especially authority) and to do new things. To raise consciousness in the first place, encouraged by performing poets, psychology professors and bestselling novelists and supported by underground chemists. The music is provided by local bands like Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service and the Grateful Dead. We’re flying a first time over the crowd with this track from Paul Kantner. Together with Grace Slick and Marty Balin he fills in the fantastic vocal harmonies here, all three chased by Jorma Kaukonen’s (soloing) guitar. It all builds up to this great apotheosis: And it’s new, and it’s new, and it’s oh, so new! I see changes, changes, all around me are changes!

February 1967, the Airplane releases its second studio album: Surrealistic Pillow . Although it were the two songs that female vocalist Grace Slick brought along to her new band that launched this album to great success, Marty Balin was the principal songwriter on this breaktrough album. He founded the band two years before by gathering some talented fellow folk musicians around him, but here on Baxter’s there’s only one song of his signature left: the beautiful ‘Young Girl Sunday Blues’. Echoes of Pillow still can be heard on this song, as it might remind of ‘3/5 of a Mile in 10 Seconds’. Interesting about this track is the combination of the totally laid-back lyrics (‘I walk beside you laughing and I’m high, don’t try to touch me with words’) with another great uptempo guitar performance by Kaukonen. Balin is vocally backed by Kantner here, while Slick is left out. Again, this song builds up to a liberating conclusion: Ah! Come into my mind, let yourself wander free and easy.

The dwindling role of Balin within the group indicates a new trail the band started to follow after Pillow, with Paul Kantner impersonating this definite conversion from the bands folk roots to harder and pure psychedelic rock. Of course this evolution was caused by some developments in the music scene, as Hendrix turned the world upside down with his blasting debut album in May while a growing number of people were travelling to San Francisco to plunge themselves into the psychedelic subculture and the proclaimed ‘Summer of Love’. This summer reaches its peak at June 16th(two weeks after The Beatles introduce Sgt. Pepper’s to the world from over the ocean), when the three day Monterey Pop Festival kicks off.

Airplane performs as headliner on the second day, and closes its set with ‘The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil’, one of Kantner songs and the opener of Baxter’s. The title refers to two sources of inspiration for Kantner, that is A.A. Milne’s books of Winnie the Pooh and folk artist Fred Neil. Some of the lyrics are borrowed from Milne’s poetry, whose childhood images are mixed with delicate questions like ‘Will the moon still hang in the sky when I’m high, when I die?’. This results in an anthem where the fabulous harmonies (from Paul, Marty, Grace and Jorma) are once more combined with a catchy guitar riff, even adding a bass solo here. It directly flows over (the album is classified into five suites but is in fact one big psychedelic medley) to  ‘A Small Package of Value Will Come to You, Shortly’, a track from drummer Spencer Dryden. It’s some kind of audio collage that reminds of Frank Zappa’s work and it shows that it’s possible to limit such collections of sounds to exactly 100 seconds, contrary to what John Lennon would do one year later.

Three more songs from Kantner are to be found on this album. First there’s ‘Martha’, which is definitely  my personal favorite. It’s a ballad with combined acoustic and electric guitars, on which Kantner himself takes the lead vocals. The soothing way in which he does this, makes this song being the closest to the bands original folk roots. The song was written about a girl named Martha Wax, who must have been a teenage runaway/groupie of the band in those days. The instrumentals are less pronounced than other tracks, moving the spotlight to Kantner’s poetic excesses like: ‘Martha she keeps her heart in a broken clock and it’s waiting there for me’, supported by Slick on backing vocals. Second there’s ‘Watch Her Ride’, perhaps his least on this album. The lyrics never reach the level of ‘Martha’ and also musically this song is not that great, despite the, again, nice harmonies. So it’s kind of strange that this track was chosen as the first single of the album (without much success), although it shows at the same time that the group had turned into an album band now.

So what about Grace Slick’s songs, couldn’t she deliver another hit single like she did with ‘White Rabbit’ earlier? Not really, although ‘Two Heads’ will stick in your ears the  longest when listening the album the first couple of times. Her voice reaches the same level as on those earlier hit singles, while some kind of mystical atmosphere is added this time by eastern sounds. The lyrics make use of stream of consciousness image-forming, just like her other song here. This one’s her best on the album and is called ‘rejoyce’. Did she honour Lewis Caroll earlier, now it’s time for an ode to James Joyce’s Ulysses, making use of her strong and enchanting voice again. While Jack Casady outshines here with a fast moving bass line (also noticed by Hendrix, asking him to play bass on ‘Voodoo Chile’ the following year), Slick questions societal norms in her typical prosaic way.

Unfortunately, those songs might be considered the endpoint of this trend within the band, that continued to search for louder songs on latter albums. This direction is already announced on Baxter’s with ‘The Last Wall of the Castle’, a Kaukonen song on which he takes the lead vocals for the first time. Although the lyrics are not that elevated, this is a real showcase for Kaukonen on the electric guitar. We ended up in August meanwhile, and the influence of Cream (playing at San Francisco’s Fillmore West at that time, releasing Disraeli Gears later that year) clearly can be heard on this track. Kaukonen also co-wrote ‘Spare Chaynge’ with Cassady and Dryden, a long instrumental that somehow was heralding what was going to happen with this tremendous band as Kantner, Balin and Slick are totally absent here.

It’s November 1967. The Summer of Love is officially declared over one month earlier with the ‘Death of the Hippie’ ceremony in Haight-Ashbury. After Bathing at Baxter’s is now released by Jefferson Airplane as the musical chronicle of this memorable year. Just like the peace and love-generation, the band started to disintegrate slowly after 1967. Kaukonen and Casady proceeded with their blues rock project Hot Tuna, Balin became dissatisfied with the direction the band was evolving and Dryden ended up burned out by acid and disillusioned by the events of Altamont. The band would however deliver two more good albums, Crown of Creation and Volunteers, before totally disintegrating in many dubious spin-offs.

Let’s end like the album does, as there’s still one song undiscussed here: ‘Won’t You Try/Saturday Afternoon’. During this closing duo track, Paul Kantner looks back at the day when it all started, with the Human Be-In in January. Being a serene song, the stage is offered to the enchanting harmonies one last time. We enter the plane and return to the Golden Gate Park to conclude our flight:

Saturday afternoon,
Yellow clouds rising in the lune; acid incense and balloons
Saturday afternoon
People dancing everywhere; love is shouting I don’t care

Top Tracks:

1. Martha
2. Young Girl Sunday Blues
3. Wild Tyme (H)

Shuffle of the week #19

This is an ode to the shuffle. How better to get a good insight in your digitized album collection than by a classic shuffle? Finally discover the albums you never got into, finally throw the ones away you will never get into and worship those classics that never grow old again. The Shuffle of this week:

1. …And You Will Know Us By Thee Trail Of Dead – How Near How Far (Source Tags & Codes, 2002) [singlepic id=199 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Track from the third album of Austin’s alternative rock band, led by Jason Reece and Conrad Keely.  Got the album after seeing them perform on a festival, during which the stage suffered a rough time. The album dated from some years before and was widely praised. Couldn’t convince me as a whole, although there are some good tracks on it.

2. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Cross-Tie Walker (Green River, 1969) [singlepic id=14 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Over to California then, where some loner is following the railroad tracks to nowhere. One of the least tracks on probably the best CCR album. It was released just before their performance on Woodstock which, unfortunately, never made the official record or movie.

3. Nirvana – The Man Who Sold the World (Unplugged in New York, 1994) [singlepic id=197 w=80 h=50 float=left]

One of rock’s most famous live performances, with Nirvana performing this David Bowie song. The original Bowie song was on his third album with the same name and was covered by many other bands during the nineties rock revival (e.g. Meat Puppets and Nine Inch Nails). Cobain’s version made Bowie conscious of his musical importance not only in the UK, but also in the States.

4. Tool – Schism (Lateralus, 2001) [singlepic id=200 w=80 h=50 float=left]

One of my favorite bands of today (?) then, with perhaps one of their best known songs. Played the life out of all their albums some years ago and since that moment I’m still waiting for that long-expected new album.  Before  that (early 2014?), I’m going to enjoy Lateralus once more.

5. Lemonheads – It’s a Shame About Ray (It’s a Shame About Ray, 1992) [singlepic id=105 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Already ran into this one when shuffling the digital record cabinet at an earlier occasion. Listened it for a couple of weeks, but the same goes in fact for this one as for Source Tags and Codes.

6. Pearl Jam – Aye Davanita (Vitalogy, 1994) [singlepic id=198 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Staying in the nineties this week and Pearl Jam can’t of course be absent in the anthology of bands from that era. Strange track  on this considerably strong third album.

7. Love – The Red Telephone (Forever Changes, 1967) [singlepic id=196 w=80 h=50 float=left]

To the magical year then, with one of the highlights of the summer of love. I had been waiting a long time already for  this one to come by in the shuffle and its timing was perfect: this album (initially intended to be produced by Neil Young) has really coloured my summer. I feel real phony when my name is… Phil!

8. The Beatles – Blackbird (White Album, 1968) [singlepic id=137 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Moving up one year with The Beatles’ double album. One of McCartney’s most praised songs of course, although I guess I can name 40 better songs of his signature.

9. Led Zeppelin – Heartbreaker  (How the West was Won, 1972) [singlepic id=195 w=80 h=50 float=left]

Ooooooh Yeah! Pounding live version of this riff dominated classic by Led Zep. This triple live album was only released in 2003 (!), although the gig was already recorded in 1972. As Jimmy Page said himself: pretty much a testament of how good they were. Page has a great improvisational moment in the middle of the song where he plays a part from Bachs’s ‘Bouree’, which was already  brought to the rock scene by Jethro Tull earlier, a band Led Zep used to tour with.

10. Tortoise – Benway (Standards, 2001) [singlepic id=40 w=80 h=50 float=left]

A little nostalgia to close with, as this album also featured the first shuffle of the week. Not many other things to say about it since.