Saturday, September 05, 2009

According to standard retellings of the history of pop music, 1967 is a pivotal year. To my ears it is pivotal more for the years that spin around it, than for its music. The two years before and three years that follow are the truly great years of modern rock and jazz. It seems too obvious to say out loud that the other great period of rock redemption is 1977 through ‘82. More on that topic will follow. None of which is to say that ‘67 did not produce some of the greatest music of any era. It was the year of Sgt Peppers, an important record that changed the way others thought about music more than any other rock record. Yet Sgt Peppers changed music in many ways that were not good, and the vast majority of its imitators were awful. In retrospect Sgt Peppers sounds like one of the weakest of the Beatles’ remarkable catalogue. On a very different hand, ’67 was the year of another trendsetter: The Velvet Underground & Nico, a record that sounds contemporary and forward reaching 40 plus years after its release. And it is a record that continues to produce stylish imitators. My favorite records of 2009 include several VU sound-a-likes. No one with ears should describe as “dated” the 21st century sound of Brian Jonestown Massacre; yet B.J.M. is drenched in the sounds of the Velvet Underground. Full disclosure: the music of Brian Jonestown Massacre is likewise influenced by Sgt Peppers and more particularly by the Rolling Stones response: Their Satanic Majesties Request. And I can hear keys clicking from those aching to post a comments describing B.J.M. as “dated” and worse. I said you had to have ears.

Best Lps of 1967

1. The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground & Nico (Verve)
2. AMM: Ammmusic (Elektra)
3. Love: Forever Changes (Elektra)
4. The Kinks: Something Else (Reprise)
5. The Beach Boys: Smiley Smile (Capitol)
6. Buffalo Springfield: Again (Atco)
7. Miles Davis: Miles Smiles (CBS)
8. Jimi Hendrix: Axis Bold As Love (Reprise)
9. Roland Kirk: The Inflated Tear (Atlantic)
10. Buffalo Springfield: Buffalo Springfield (Atco)
11. Jimi Hendrix: Are You Experienced (Reprise)
12. John Fahey: The Transformation of Blind Joe Death (Takoma)
13. Captain Beefheart: Safe As Milk (Buddah)
14. Nico: Chelsea Girls (MGM, UK)
15. The Doors: The Doors (Elektra)
16. Tim Buckley: Tim Buckley (Elektra)
17. James Brown: Cold Sweat (King)
18. Pink Floyd: Pipers At the Gates of Dawn (Tower)
19. Sun Ra: Atlantis (Saturn)
20. James Brown: Sings Raw Soul (King)
21. Tim Buckley: Goodbye & Hello (Elektra)
22. The Rolling Stones: Between the Buttons (London)
23. The Who: Sell Out (Decca)
24. The Byrds: Younger than Yesterday (CBS)
25. Miles Davis: Sorcerer (CBS)
26. Jackie McLean: New and Old Gospel (Blue Note)
27. Jackie McLean: Demon’s Dance (Blue Note)
28. Holy Modal Rounders: Indian War Hoop (ESP)
29. The Rolling Stones: Their Satanic Majesties Request (London)
30. Pearls Before Swine: One Nation Underground (ESP)
31. Love: Da Capo (Elektra)
32. Phil Ochs: Pleasure of the Harbour (A&M)
33. The Godz: 2 (ESP)
34. Booker T. & the MG’s: Back To Back (Stax)
35. The Amboy Dukes: Amboy Dukes (Repertoire)
36. John Fahey: Requia & Other Compositions for Solo Guitar (Vanguard)
37. The Beatles: Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (Capitol)
38. Small Faces: Odgens Nut Gone Flake (Immediate)
39. Traffic: Mr Fantasy (United Artists)
40. Bonzo Dog Band: Gorilla (Liberty, UK)
41. Ten Years After: Ten Years After (Deram)
42. Red Crayola: Parable of Arable Lands (International Artists)
43. Shadows of Knight: Back Door Man (Dunwich)


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