Tag: 1966

The Mamas & The Papas – The Mamas & The Papas

ARTIST: The Mamas & The Papas 220px-MamasPapas

TITLE: The Mamas & The Papas

YEAR RELEASED: 1966

CHART ACTION: #4 US, #24 UK

SINGLES: I Saw Her Again (#5 US, #11 UK), Words of Love (#5 US, #47 UK), Dancing Bear (#51 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Dancing in the Street (#73 US as a B-side)

LINEUP: Denny Doherty, Cass Elliot, John Phillips, Michelle Phillips. Jill Gibson was in for Michelle Phillips for a spell. The Wrecking Crew provided the backing along with Ray Manzarek.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A sunshine-pop smash that masked inter-group turmoil.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Ten of the 12 tracks on the self-titled second album by The Mamas & The Papas were written (or co-written) by John Phillips, as his creativity was hitting full stride.

The group was also hitting full stride, using inventive arrangements and production lead by Lou Adler. The harmonies were spot on, and Denny Doherty’s and Cass Elliot’s leads were sassy and sweet as needed. “I Saw Her Again” and “No Salt on Her Tail” were classics of the 60’s (even if the last wasn’t a single).

The album masked a lot of issues, though. Michelle Phillips had cheated on John with Doherty, upsetting the dynamic, and then when Michelle was caught in an affair with former Byrd Gene Clark, they booted her from the group. Jill Gibson came in, but was let go after three months. Songs were recorded, re-recorded, and re-re-recorded. What Gibson actually sang on was and is unknown. That really doesn’t matter. What matters is the end product.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The false start on “I Saw Her Again” (before the third chorus) was an engineering mistake by Bones Howe (a legend in his own right in Sunshine Pop), but Lou Adler kept it in.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE A-: A classic of Sunshine Pop, deep cuts and hits all working well.

Jefferson Airplane – Jefferson Airplane Takes Off

ARTIST: Jefferson Airplane 220px-Jefferson_airplane_takes_off

TITLE: Jefferson Airplane Takes Off

YEAR RELEASED: 1966

CHART ACTION: #128

SINGLES: It’s No Secret, Come Up the Years, Bringing Me Down

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Blues from an Airplane

LINEUP: Marty Balin, Signe Anderson, Paul Kantner, Jorma Kaukonen, Jack Casady, Skip Spence

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Pre-Grace Slick and pre-hippie Jefferson Airplane release a rote folk rock album with a few highlights.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: This was definitely Marty Balin’s group. He formed it, and shaped the sound of the album with his folk-rock songs. Sometimes co-written by Paul Kantner, and assisted vocally by Signe Anderson, Balin has some good hands helping him, but it’s definitely his show.

Bassist Jack Casady makes his impact felt right away with some melodic and powerful bass lines, while the guitars lack the usual fireworks of later years (though Jorma Kaukonen’s playing is elegant and precise). That musicianship helps elevate the slightly above average songs.

Balin’s material is augmented by three covers, which are the weakest tracks (they just sound off), and “Come Up the Years” is beautiful but skeevy. (It seems very much a Lolita tale). All in all, a record that wouldn’t make a ripple outside of folk-rock zealots, but then they changed Balin’s vocal assistance.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Skip Spence left soon after to form Moby Grape, and Signe Anderson left to form a family. They grabbed this singer named Grace to replace her…

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. B-sides and cuts left off because RCA didn’t like the very mild sexual references.

 GRADE B: An OK folk rock record, but they’d turn into something else soon enough.

Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde

ARTIST: Bob Dylan                          220px-Bob_Dylan_-_Blonde_on_Blonde

TITLE: Blonde on Blonde

YEAR RELEASED: 1966

CHART ACTION: #9 US, #3 UK

SINGLES: One of Us Must Know (Sooner or Later) (#119 US, #33 UK), Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 (#2 US, #7 UK), I Want You (#20 US, #16 UK), Just Like a Woman (#33 US), Leopard-Skin Pill Box Hat (#81)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again, Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands, Visions of Johanna

LINEUP: Bob Dylan, Kenny Buttry, Jerry Kennedy, Al Kooper, Charlie McCoy, Wayne Moss, Pig Robbins, Robbie Robertson, Henry Strzelecki, Joe South, Wayne Butler, Rick Danko, Bobby Gregg, Paul Griffin, Bill Lee.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: One of the first double albums  – it defines what a double album should be.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: If the album had “Visions of Johanna”, “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands”, and a side of backwards Chipmunks songs, it’d be an “A” just for those two songs.

If the album had “Just Like a Woman”, “Stuck Inside of Mobile…”, “One of Us Must Know”, and “Absolutely Sweet Marie”, and the other side was Slim Whitman yodeling the Beatles, it’d be an “A’ for the first side.

Add to that “Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine” and the other singles, and side three’s hidden gems, you got an A+. Any questions?

NOTES & MINUTIAE: One of the best songs during these sessions (in either NYC or Nashville) was “She’s Your Lover Now”, but it broke down after 21 takes and was never finished.

As important of an artist that Dylan was, the sessions sheets and release dates have been in doubt for years, even among those who research Dylan every day. It’s like he showed up and played and people who were supposed to write stuff down weren’t doing that.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

 GRADE A+: A contender for a Top 5 album of all time.

The Yardbirds – Yardbirds (a/k/a Roger the Engineer) (UK); Over Under Sideways Down (US)

ARTIST: The Yardbirds

TITLE:  Yardbirds (a/k/a Roger the Engineer) (UK); Over Under Sideways Down (US)

YEAR RELEASED: 1966                                         220px-Yardbirds-RogerTheEngineer

CHART ACTION: #52 US, #20 UK

SINGLES: Over Under Sideways Down (#13 US, #10 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Lost Woman, Jeff’s Boogie

LINEUP: Keith Relf, Jeff Beck, Chris Dreja, Paul Samwell-Smith, Jim McCarty

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Only full album with Jeff Beck is a masterpiece of British blues rock, with explorations abounding and not much filler. Overundersidewaysdown

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The blues is the basis of this, the 1966 classic album does have some almost straight blues cuts. Yet the guitar work of Jeff Beck, and the experimentation by the entire group, moves the band away from a straight blues band to one of the first acts outside the Beatles to mix the East and West.

Even the straight blues songs have a raga tint to them. Beck’s guitar also is punishing the songs, as you hear how overdriven the sound is on many tracks. A track like “Hot House of Omargarashid” may sound like psychedelic gibberish, but as the song builds the chants become a mantra, and Beck just shines over it.

The star of the album, and the star of the Yardbirds as a band, is the US title cut. “Over Under Sideways Down” sinewy guitar lines inspired countless other riffs, and the dramatic breaks of the song add to the tension. It was a shame that by the end of the next year the Yardbirds were disintegrating.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The US version cut two tracks – seemingly at random. Also, in the UK it was a self titled album, officially, but known as Roger the Engineer after Chris Dreja’s cover drawing of the records engineer, Roger Cameron.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, and the key track is “Happenings Ten Years Times Ago” (#30 US, #43 UK), a single almost on par with “Over Under Sideways Down” – the only track with both Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page on guitar for the Yardbirds.

GRADE: A+: The creativity on this album is staggering. The Yardbirds weren’t afraid to try anything.

The Rolling Stones – Aftermath

ARTIST: The Rolling Stones                           220px-RSAftermathUK

TITLE:  Aftermath

YEAR RELEASED: 1966

CHART ACTION: #2 US, #1 UK

SINGLES: Paint It Black (#1 US, #1 UK) (US Version), Mother’s Little Helper (#24 US) (UK Version), Lady Jane (#24 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Under My Thumb, Stupid Girl

LINEUP: Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Bill Wyman, Charlie Watts with Jack Nitzsche and Ian Steart

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: No longer a strict blues band, and with no covers, the Stones explore some musical territory, but its marred with misogyny.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Brian Jones comes to fore in many tracks here (“Mother’s Little Helper”, “Paint It Black”, “Lady Jane”, “Under My Thumb”, playing many instruments that added a great color to the Stones tracks. (The marimba on “Under My Thumb” is one of the hookiest hooks, ever). 220px-Aftermath.rollingstones.usalbum.cover

Recording with a longer lead time than normal, and away from the UK, the Stones had time to work out the arrangements in the studio and perfect them. It’s quite noticeable and a great leap forward. Many of the album tracks are rooted in the blues – so they didn’t abandon the blues entirely. However, it’s not the predominant musical idiom.

Of course, there are different US and UK versions. The US version cuts four songs and adds “Paint It Black”, saving the fantastic “Mother’s Little Helper” for later use. They didn’t cut the 10 minute jam “Goin’ Home”, unfortunately.

Listening to this now, “Under My Thumb” and “Stupid Girl” makes one cringe with the misogyny. It gives one pause now.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: It’s unfortunate “Stupid Girl” is lyrically cringy, since that’s one of the best tracks musically. Also, the original  version of the single “Paint It Black” added a comma after “IT”

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No. 

GRADE: A-: A downgrade for the lyrics, and for why they didn’t cut “Goin’ Home” and add “Paint It Black” in the UK, and a couple other tracks in the US.

Love – Love

ARTIST: Love                    220px-Love_Album_Cover

TITLE: Love

YEAR RELEASED: 2011

CHART ACTION: #57

SINGLES: My Little Red Book (#52)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Not really, no.

LINEUP: Arthur Lee, Johnny Echols, Bryan MacLean, Ken Forssi, Snoopy Pfisterer. Maybe John Fleckenstein and Don Conka instead of Forssi and Pfisterer.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Sunset Strip stars’ first album creates some buzz, but doesn’t resonate with the general public despite its quality.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Maybe it was the fact that they were too LA, didn’t like to tour, too oblique at times, too complicated at times, or even the fact they were a mixed-race band, but for whatever reason Arthur Lee and Love never clicked in the general marketplace.

Psychedelic sounds were slowly becoming mainstream, but Love’s combination of psychedelia, sunshine pop, and garage sound was an elevation of style over what was the mainstream. The Sunset Strip crowd loved them, and bands covered them, but those cats didn’t drive sales.

Still, it’s a fascinating album of a band straddling several musical camps. Lee and Bryan MacLean’s songs are strong, and the eclecticism is a positive.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: John Fleckenstein and Don Conka left the band (Conka was sadly let go due to drugs, and Lee’s “Signed DC” is a tribute to his friend) before recording this, and two songs may have them on it.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. A B-side and mono mixes. 

GRADE: A-: A great debut of the time that could have been a big hit in different circumstances.

The Beatles – Revolver

ARTIST: The Beatles                       220px-Revolver

TITLE: Revolver

YEAR RELEASED: 1966

CHART ACTION: #1 US, #1 UK

SINGLES: Yellow Submarine (#2 US, #1 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Oh…Taxman, Eleanor Rigby, Good Day Sunshine, heck, you know almost all of it…

LINEUP: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr. Plenty of people sang and helped out.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A stunning, eclectic masterpiece of studio craft and songwriting.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Beatles had been moving in a more eclectic direction, but even Rubber Soul was still mostly a guitar-band album. Not so Revolver.

Sure, there are rockers (“Taxman”, “And Your Bird Can Sing”, etc.) But there’s a song that’s fully string section, a song fully using sitar and table, a novelty, weird psychedelic rock songs, jubilant vaudeville numbers, low key love songs, low key breakup songs, and whatever the heck “Tomorrow Never Knows” is classified. They stretched out and everything worked. Everything.

Even the weakest songs, showcase the band and their musicianship to the fullest, and the ‘weakest’ song here would probably be a smash for any other band.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They took about eight weeks to record this, an eternity in 1966.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Well, the US version yanked out three songs for a compilation album that was released earlier in 1966 than Revolver, and the tracks destined for this album in the UK stood out from the other tracks.

GRADE: A+:  This is in contention for the best album of all time.

Simon & Garfunkel – Sounds of Silence

ARTIST: Simon & Garfunkel        soundssilence

TITLE:  Sounds of Silence

YEAR RELEASED: 1966

CHART ACTION: #21 US, #13 UK

SINGLES: Sounds of Silence (#1 US, #9 UK), I Am a Rock (#3 US, #17 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Richard Cory, April Come She Will, Kathy’s Song

LINEUP: Paul Simon, Art Garfunkel, Fred Carter Jr., Glen Campbell, Larry Knechtel, Joe South, Joe Osborn, Hal Blaine

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: After a surprise hit when “The Sound of Silence” was electrified by Tom Wilson, the duo re-unites and assembles an album from Simon’s notebooks.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: They made their album and they parted friends. Paul Simon was in the UK, even. Then “The Sound of Silence” was electrified and became a big hit. Well, now they had a reason to continue, re-formed, and recorded this album.

Most everything was already recorded by Simon on his solo UK album, A couple were from earlier sessions, and there was an instrumental even. While there was some pretty great tunes here, and Simon and Garfunkel sing great, the material seems rushed a bit, and the album seems a bit slight.

Still, with some classics here, it’s worth a listen just to hear the evolution of the electric Simon & Garfunkel, and to compare where they went later.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The only true original that hadn’t been recorded or adapted before is “Blessed”. Everything else had been recorded by Simon or adapted from others.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, extra tracks, not all from this era.

GRADE: B:  There are some great songs, and they’re great to hear sing together no matter the material.

The Seeds – The Seeds

ARTIST: The Seeds                                    220px-theseedscover

TITLE:  The Seeds

YEAR RELEASED: 1966

CHART ACTION: #136

SINGLES: Can’t Seem to Make You Mine (#41), Pushin’ Too Hard (#36)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: If you’re a fan, yeah, you ate this up.

LINEUP: Sky Saxon, Rick Andridge, Daryl Hooper, Jan Savage. (Harvey Sharpe really played bass, but Saxon was credited).

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: First album for legendary garage / punk band probably scared parents everywhere. Too bad.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Seeds music wasn’t brain surgery. Simple riffs played by Daryl Hooper on the organ (usually alternating octaves over the course of the song, but keeping the same riff), with some fuzz guitar and simple drumming. Then there’s Sky Saxon sounding beguiling, asking you to join his trip. Outta site.

While this is a record built around the singles, “Girl I Want You” and “Evil Hoodoo” are songs of purpose, where Saxon sounds a bit demented. The simple sounds highlight Saxon’s vocals, which probably did make parents squirm a bit, though in LA they found a sympathetic audience.

Surprisingly, there aren’t covers on here, which is out of character for a debut by an unknown band. But the Seeds didn’t need covers. While side two diminishes the impact, it’s still a decently solid 60’s album highlighted by a few garage classics.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Saxon didn’t really play bass in concert, either, as Hooper did the bass parts on his organ pedals. Also, the CD version is missing a cut, but it’s nothing special.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, some bonus tracks and it’s also part of a two-part CD with their second album.

GRADE: B:  There are few 60’s garage bands that could make a semi-cohesive all-original albums like the Seeds.

Los Bravos – Black Is Black

ARTIST: Los Bravos                                bravos

TITLE:  Black Is Black

YEAR RELEASED: 1966

CHART ACTION: #93 US, #29 UK

SINGLES: Black Is Black (#4 US, #2 UK), I Don’t Care (#16 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No

LINEUP: Mike Kennedy, Antonio Martinez, Manuel Fernandez, Miguel Danus, Pablo Gomez

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT:  Spanish rock group fronted by a German singer that sang in English hit it big, and unlike many 60’s debut records isn’t bad at all.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Albums by 60’s bands with very few hits always give me pause, since normally it’s ‘hits + filler’ and the filler is usually bad cover versions recorded in one take in 10 minutes. That’s not the case here.

Los Bravos scored big with “Black Is Black” and the follow up “I Don’t Care” but the 12 tracks on the album aren’t bad, really. Most all of the tracks can stand on their own, and they have nice horn charts accompanying the group as well.

Kennedy (born Michael Kogel) has an interesting voice, which he uses to great effect – especially on the title cut. Overall, it’s not bad, decent enough to keep around.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Organist Manuel Fernandez committed suicide in 1967 after his girlfriend was killed in a car accident. Also, they have a few other albums running around, one has their great single “Going Nowhere” (#91 US)

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No, but the track list in the UK is different.

GRADE: B-: You really could do worse. If you liked “Black Is Black” this is OK.