‘River Man’ is the second song from Nick Drake’s 1969 album Five Leaves Left. Listen, absorb, cry. “Gonna see the river man/Gonna tell him all I can/About the plan/For lilac time.”
Before The Stooges released their self-titled long player and the classic proto punk single ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’, MC5 had been kicking out the jams for almost year. These gents were right on the edge; they lived fast and often died young. Listening to their signature sound is a great way to clear the mind before a busy few days. ‘Kick Out The Jams’ is off their 1969 album of the same name. Have a great week.
I woke up sounding like Isaac Hayes this morning. It’s unclear to me yet if this is something anyone’s been wondering about; but what the hell. I’m smokin’ coz it’s my birthday baby. Hot Buttered Soul is an extraordinary soul album – all the more so that it was released in 1969, before the sizzling 1970s. It opens with the slow, stretched-out version of Burt Bacharach’s ‘Walk on By’. This track is an epic 12-minutes long and is as smooth and sticky as syrup. And all the while, the Bar-Kays are doing their instrumental, rhythmic thing in the background. Feel it and then have a good weekend.
The debut single ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale’ was a confident start, to put it mildly. Two years later and the release of their third long player A Salty Dog, Procol Harum’s confidence had evolved into an exercise in prog rock-turning. With the title single, they unearthed a sound that would define a generation of prog. At under five minutes running time, the lyrics and musicianship would combine to form a sound that would be further explored over the 90 plus minutes of Genesis’s masterpiece The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway, five years later.
Now for something a little less derivative, but certainly more borrowed. Apparently, The Eagles opened for Jethro Tull once. Ian Anderson was kind enough to label the melody and solo in ‘Hotel California’ as a tribute to his band. ‘We Used to Know’ is off the classic 1969 album Stand Up.
Late start this morning – it’s a Monday, so give me a break… ‘Give It Up or Turnit a Loose’ is not only a funk classic recorded by James Brown in 1969, but it’s also the record that probably started the trend for breakdance, b-boys, block parties and hip hop culture. Its rhythmic breaks and classic refrains (“like a sex machine”, “now clap your hands!”, “in the jungle brother” etc.) lent themselves to the Merry-Go-Round (looping) that the pioneering DJs of New York were experimenting with in the late 1970s. And that’s the break.
I begin and start the week with a couple of rippers. Today it’s a classic slice of raw power from The Stooges. Off their self-titled debut, ‘I Wanna Be Your Dog’ sounded like nothing else in 1969. The term proto-punk is often wastefully used, but when you listen to Iggy’s vocals combined with Ron Asheton’s ugly guitar runs, you have to tip your hat. Its three-chord riff played through damaged speakers with the amp cranked up to 11… it was cutting edge, but sawtoothed not straight. Have a great weekend.
“Like a bird on a wire\ like a drunk in a midnight choir\ I have tried in my way to be free.” Leonard Cohen can’t sing, but with lyricism like this, does it matter? ‘Bird on the Wire’ is a signature sound for Cohen, recorded for his 1969 album Songs from a Room. Like the rest of the album, it’s full of depression and wry wit. Midweek blues.
I’ve been watching the series Breaking Bad of late and this number from Tommy James and crew was used as a transparent metaphor for Walter’s business. James was no saint, but he apparently picked up the song title wile thumbing through the Book of Revelation. Mmmm. Have a great week.
Caetano Veloso’s self-titled debut album changed the face of Brazilian music, kickstarted the Tropicália movement and ultimately led to his arrest and forced exile. Originally released in 1969, the LP’s last track ‘Alfomega’ is a suitable highlight. At the time, the people needed a release and his VU-like melodies, confident drums and psychedelic vocals were just the ticket.
Before ‘drum and bossa’ DJ Marky got hold of ‘Carolina Carol Bela’, it lived as a slice of tropicalista cool. Like ‘Right’, ‘Carolina Carol Bela’ was released as a B-side to a more popular track – in this case Jorge Ben Jor & Toquinho’s single ‘Que Maravilha’ (What a Wonder). While Jorge Ben had already established himself as Tropicália star, ‘Que Maravilha’ was Toquinho’s first big hit. For me, ‘Carolina Carol Bela’ had a slower-but-brighter burn.
A focal point on The Velvet Underground’s eponymous third album, the lengthy-but-intricate ‘The Murder Mystery’ features two simultaneous songs delivered by Lou Reed and Sterling Morrison, which are in turn overlaid by choruses from Doug Yule and Maureen Tucker. Apparently, this divide was split cleanly into left and right channels, and you could measure a fan by the amount of time he/she spent in their headphones switching control between ears to follow both nightmarish stories. People just don’t get that kind of time nowadays. Shame.