fogza
fog
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Last Active 07-04-22 9:51 am
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Musings on the Sput 60's chart

Recently, I encountered a comment from a sput user that made me think. The comment was along the lines of "I don't listen to much 60's music, music only got good in the 70's". This made me want to check out the sput 60's charts for some reason. This list will be my random thoughts on random albums as I listen to all the non-jazz records I'm interested in trying out. So far most of the stuff I've listened to seems pretty late 60's - does sput agree with the original hypothesis? Hmmmm....
1The Doors
The Doors


2.5

Credit where credit is due, this has two absolute monster songs as bookends. It's what happens in the middle which bothers me. I've heard this album about 50 times hanging out with friends around a fire, but I can never remember the rest of the album except 'Light my fire' and 'Alabama Song'. I don't really like 'Light my fire', it's got that rhyming fire with fire thing going on. Listening more closely, 'The Crystal Ship' is interesting I suppose. Your appreciation of this will depend on how much you like LOTS of organ, and whether you dig Jim's low energy bluesman vibe. Frankly, I think he's a bonehead.
2Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal


4.0

Speaking of bluesmen, Taj Mahal is a bluesman. This album is crisp, warm, and damn does Taj sounds excited. Sure enough it's a really good blues debut. Makes me want to wear a vest and drink a Coke out of a glass bottle. It makes me want to invest in a rocking chair, a hat with a stripey hatband, and a property which faces a swampy green river. It's that good.
3Bob Dylan
The Times They Are A-Changin'


3.0

To this day I'm not really sure how I feel about Bob Dylan. Everytime I feel like writing him off I remember he wrote 'Like a rolling stone'. His earlier records have an alluring rawness, but they also seem stuck in a pattern. Bob sings it like he means it on this one. Later career Bob sounded like he looked, all hidden behind sunglasses. There's an abstraction and distance I can't get around. Yet he always pulls some great tracks off, amidst all the rote blues, folk and Big Listing Energy songs. This is ok but I wouldn't return to it beyond the opener and the big title track.
4Aretha Franklin
I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You


5.0

This sounds amazing. Aretha Franklin kills 'Respect', no other version comes close. There's something about her voice and the Muscle Shoals band that pretty much sounds as definitive as it gets. Listening to this washes away that spotty 80's career and those oft wasted guest appearances. Even the ever so slightly corny tracks sound perfect. Pure bliss, never oversings, doesn't need to, bow down to Aretha in her prime. Sput got this one so so right.
5Jefferson Airplane
Surrealistic Pillow


2.0

I don't really understand this album. If I was in this band I would have voted to let Grace Slick sing lead on everything. Her songs are also the only ones here that have any personality, dated and of their time as they may be. Her dramatic style is contrasted with lots of janky folk rock that seems redundant when compared to the Byrds. If you must, listen to the original tracklist and spare yourself the watered down yet indulgent blues stuff on the 2003 reissue. I did not realise those songs were not canon, and wasted about 15 minutes.
6Donovan
Mellow Yellow


3.0

Did Right Said Fred rip off the title track? This reminds me a bit of Marc Bolan if he had no appeal. During the third song he does this strange pronunciation thing which doesn't work, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Honestly, how anyone thought this guy was the British answer to Bob Dylan is beyond me (although the closer is a bit like bad Dylan tbf). As a whole this is ok but it sounds dangerously close to comedy music, and Mellow Yellow is a terrible album title. Boxed in by certain parameters, despite probably widening those parameters at the time.
7Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young
Crosby, Stills & Nash


5.0

I've always liked CSN but I had no idea how much I would love this album; I've been overplaying it something awful. They are one of those rare acts in which the blend becomes a completely new voice, but as a group, they have all the nuance and expressiveness of a single vocalist. They're like a hivemind still capable of individual emotions. There's great variety on this; and a density to the instrumentation while still that clear shape I always enjoy (Stills truly is a remarkable player). The record is all the more miraculous for being a debut. This fills my jaded heart with golden light. 'You don't have to cry' is impossibly beautiful.
8Nick Drake
Five Leaves Left


3.0

I hate to admit it because this guy should be my bag, but I don't get much from this. Every now and then I fire up one of his records to see if it will click for me, but it never does. A bit blank affect for me, but beautiful guitar work.
9Janis Joplin
I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama!


2.5

I've never enjoyed Janis Joplin. This started off better than I expected, but as it progressed, I got that same oversinging hangover I always get from JJ. That version of 'To Love Somebody' sums up why I don't dig this, it's like smothering a lavender macaron in hot sauce. The band sounds good though. Another awful album title (yes I know the album title doesn't really matter).
10Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band
Safe As Milk


3.5

Probably not what someone would expect from the Captain if you've read all the stories but not listened to anything by him. This feels like a pretty straight up blues record, but there are touches of his weirdness everywhere. It definitely crops up in that playing with the lyrics to find certain word shapes which gel together. More unconventional than it appears at first, and a whole lot of fun.
11Sly and The Family Stone
Stand!


3.5

Never really been too into funk, but I get the appeal and this also throws in two tracks with a bit more of a straight soul leaning to soften the landing - the opener switches from uplifting to sweaty workout lickety-split, and it's great. Did not know 'Everyday People' popularised the expression 'different strokes for different folks'. Album is very warm sounding, it's a piledriver but also has this reassuring softer element that gives it more dimension. Genuine anger mixed with hope. I got a little bored with the indulgent 'Sex Machine' and it makes up a fourth of the record, but some interesting stuff does happen around the 8 minute mark. Wrestling a bit with the score, probably a 4, but anyway, it's good.
12Townes Van Zandt
Townes Van Zandt


4.0

I think my 90's attuned tastes are looking for more to happen in the songs, but if I relax, this does remind of when I was a kid and my folks would take us for hikes in places like Skeleton Gorge after it rained. The rocks would become slick and almost soft to the touch, and the dormant streams reawakened by the downpour were as cold as glass covered in veins of morning ice. When you cupped your hands to drink from them, the water was just pure sensation and clarity, but there was always a faint aftertaste of silt. That's what this sounds like to me.
13Muddy Waters
Folk Singer


4.0

If you like the sound of handling and the mechanics of playing an acoustic instrument, but you want an exceptional, clear studio level performance, then I guess you'd struggle to complain about this this. If you conceptualise the vocal on this like a hollow chrome pipe, then you somehow get the smooth shiny exterior AND all the rough or worn patches hidden inside the tube in one go. Muddy croaks with menace, slinks in fear, hums with hymnal grace, and bellows like a man in abject pain.
14Small Faces
There Are But Four Small Faces


3.5

I was dreading this as I hate 'Ogden's Nut Gone Flake'. Suprisingly, this is just a pleasant bunch of pop rockers with that slight druggy vibe. 'Itchycoo Park' is apparently a bit of a trailblazer being one of the first songs to use flanging. Not sure if it really adds anything, but it's a good tune. Marriott is one of the those singers who can sound pleasant and raspy at will, and the band bounces along merrily. I can't say I find it a classic, but I never really feel the need to skip anything. Fun fun fun!
15The Velvet Underground
White Light/White Heat


3.5

A record I'm more familiar with. I feel like this is something made by a bunch of smart guys to see how far they can push things in 1968. It's certainly amusing the first time round, 'The Gift' being a good example. When your main goal is subversion and experimentation, you're accepting that it's not always going to land with everyone (you probably want that), so I don't feel bad about not loving all of this. I'll be honest, it's a record I'm glad exists, but not one I return to - it's a bit like a bad joke in places. Also, I hate Cale's vocals, and while I'm not against some rough, "happy accident" production, some of the tracks are a little too shabby.
16Sam Cooke
Night Beat


5.0

I feel conflicted about Sam Cooke's legacy - what can I really say about the sordid and confusing details of his death? Some artists are easy to write off, Sam Cooke's work is not. Taken only on the merits of the songs and performances, Night Beat is a triumph. Sam would make my top 10 greatest vocalists in popular music, and this is his best. No sugary strings or dud songs, just pure talent. If only life and history were this simple.
17Phil Ochs
Pleasures of the Harbor


3.0

Literate, with various backing styles, including some light jazzy piano, dixieland, and folk. I wouldn't say this is bad, but I found parts of it very repetitive unless you can block out the vocal. Not exactly that 60's listing energy, but in the same ballpark. Just a personal preference, but I found the humour and satire less appealing than someone like, say, Randy Newman. Did bump it on my third listen as there's definitely quality here and I get why it occupies a sweet spot in many hearts.
18The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Axis: Bold as Love


3.5

One would think that this would be the Jimi record that appeals most to me - shorter tracks that stick more to structure. Jimi was focusing on being a songwriter here and I would normally welcome that, but somehow it doesn't catch fire. However, the classics on here are still excellent - 'Little wing', 'Spanish Castle Magic' and 'Castles Made Of Sand' are essential cuts. I might be underselling this, as it's still an enjoyable record that showcases the range of the band.
19Love
Forever Changes


3.5

The lyrical content can be very rhyme-y, and some of it does sound a little like typical 60's nonsense. But the album flows well and has some great passages. I like the little stabs of lead guitar at times, the trumpets, etc. - it has a tastefulness mixed with a relaxed joie de vivre. No showboating here, it's all about cohesion.
20The Beach Boys
Pet Sounds


3.0

Ok, so this was one I was dreading to write about. I know this album means an awful lot to people, but I've never connected with it. I will concede that 'Wouldn't It Be Nice' and 'God Only Knows' are superb tracks. The rest of the songs always feel somewhat... unfinished and alien? Which is crazy as I'm sure every inch of this records has been examined by its maker. I'll be honest, I enjoy some of the Beach Boy's commercial hits more than these songs - I don't know if Brian's sources of inspiration and the way they manifest makes me unable to approach this album, although I have enjoyed plenty of music that stems from a different world view. When I listen to Pet Sounds, I get the impression that there's some heartfelt soul searching being mixed with some weird competitive drive that isn't symbiotic with the themes. Anyway, it deserves respect, but I don't love it.
21Chuck Berry
St. Louis to Liverpool


3.5

Bouncy, energetic and designed to capitalise on prevailing conditions. It's not profound but you can tell, that this was a fun record for the monsieur and mademoiselle. I find it hard to imagine anyone who digs rock and roll not at least liking this record to some degree, unless you take into account the more unsavoury aspects of Chuck's life.
22Simon and Garfunkel
Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme


3.5

I have a soft spot for S&G, as they're one of my dad's favourites, and they are one of the acts he likes that I could appreciate (unlike say, Uriah Heep). The classics are classics - 'Homeward Bound', 'For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her', 'Scarborough Fair' and 'Feeling Groovy'. I feel Paul got better at translating his poetic notions into effortless songs, some of this feels laboured ('The Dangling Conversation' springs to mind). This is a borderline album, with some of the tracks feeling weak. 'Flowers Never Bend With The Rainfall' and 'A Poem On The Underground Wall' just push it over the line.
23The Byrds
Younger Than Yesterday


4.5

Biggest problem with this is getting past the first song, I just want to put it on endless repeat (picture fogza awkwardly snapping his fingers and striding around with the opener in his mind). This has one or two things I don't love (the "alien" voices at the end of 'CTA - 102', 'Mind Gardens'), but really that's quibbling, it's just a superb pop rock album. Inventive, accessible, fun, beautiful, varied. Such a shame the Byrds were relegated to underground obscurity 😜 (that one is for Eg).
24Otis Redding
Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul


4.0

Otis Redding is incredible. The reason for the score is essentially that, as with many artists of the day, he's covering tracks that I've heard other versions of, and some of those I see as definitive. Also, maybe the horns are a little more florid than I prefer (still great). Otis shreds though, I'm glad we also have his take on some of these, 'Down In The Valley' in particular. Opener is a gem amongst his compositions. It's still marvelous, I mean it is Otis Redding.
25Marvin Gaye
In the Groove


4.0

I feel a pang of sadness when I listen to this. The rise of Motown was obviously important for soul; a developing slick sophistication and more pop appeal would eventually grow into new branches of the genre. But it did signal a shift away from the slightly more raw early soul sound which I love so much. Can't stop progress I guess, so why fight it. Marvin sounds fantastic and this record is a joyous, well-crafted set of tunes, including the classic 'Heard It Through The Grapevine'.
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