Tag: 1967

Big Brother and the Holding Company – Big Brother and the Holding Company Featuring Janis Joplin

ARTIST: Big Brother and the Holding Company   

TITLE: Big Brother and the Holding Company Featuring Janis Joplin


CHART ACTION: #60, #28 R&B

SINGLES: Bye Bye Baby (#118), Down on Me (#43), Blindman (#110), Coo Coo (#84)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Doubtful that you have, really.

LINEUP: Janis Joplin, Peter Albin, Sam Andrew, David Getz, James Gurley

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A rushed debut recorded before they (and Janis Joplin) hit it big at Monterrey. Eh.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Say what you want about Janis Joplin (me, I think she’s overrated, but that’s just me again), she deserved better than this band and this album.

There are flashes on goodness here. “Intruder” is first rate, and “Down on Me” would become a staple for her in her career. But the band here falters in both material (the originals, and even Joplin’s originals are meh), and performance (they really should have just picked songs that highlighted Janis). It’s also very skimpy – 23 minutes on first release.

If she didn’t wow the audiences wherever they played live, and then had a cult build around her, this would be a forgotten footnote.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They recorded two tracks in Chicago, then ten others in three days in LA. It sounds rushed for sure.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Originally 10 tracks on Mainstream – when Columbia picked it up they added two sides of a single and ramped the running time to 28:03! Score!

GRADE C-: For diehards. For the diehards of the diehards.

Cat Stevens – Matthew & Son

ARTIST: Cat Stevens                         220px-Matthew_and_Son_cover

TITLE: Matthew & Son



SINGLES: I Love My Dog (#118 US, #28 UK), Matthew & Son (#115 US, #2 UK)


LINEUP: Cat Stevens, John Paul Jones, Nicky Hopkins, other session players

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A young singer and songwriter releases and album with a surprise hit or two in the UK.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: This is more of a pop oriented album than his more famous work, but that doesn’t mean its  just trifly throwaways.

Cat Stevens was just 18 when he started to record this album with some sessions that became singles and slowly worked on the album as time allowed. When it was released, it was better than you’d expect. The original for “Here Comes My Baby” is surprisingly strong with interesting percussion and the two hits are definitely keepers.

His voice is pretty unmistakable, even in his teenage years. The downfall is some of the tracks are a bit over-orchestrated and Stevens struggles to find his voice in the midst of the orchestrations. Still it’s pretty darn decent as these things go.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: In the US, they cut it from 14 tracks to 12, of course.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes a later single “I’m Gonna Get Me a Gun” (#6 UK)

 GRADE B: A baroque-pop album with little filler but a tad too much orchestration at times.

The Yardbirds – Little Games

ARTIST: The Yardbirds                       220px-Ylittlegames

TITLE:  Little Games



SINGLES: Little Games (#51)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Drinking Muddy Water

LINEUP: Keith Relf, Jimmy Page, Chris Dreja, Jim McCarty with session help.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: They fired Jeff Beck but had Jimmy Page. They hired Mickey Most as producer. The latter was a big mistake and basically ended the band.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Mickey Most was a long-time producer in the UK and created some classic hit singles, but when he was brought together with the Yardbirds it was a mismatch.

The record company wanted hit singles, but the band had moved, on stage, to more of a blues-rock improvisational vibe, utilizing the strengths of Jimmy Page. They lost Paul Samwell-Smith, who was the musical director of the group, and that no doubt hurt them in the studio.

The singles (which only one appeared on the album) were by outside writers and not at all in the style of the band, and the other cuts were rushed through the entire process in just three days since Most thought albums were a waste. There’s not really much to recommend here, which is sad. The title track was OK, and a couple of tracks have good guitar and melodies, but it’s really short and incomplete.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: This wasn’t even released in the UK after the single “Little Games” stiffed.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A couple. There’s one with outtakes, and demos, and one with the last singles appended (“Ha Has Said the Clown” (#45), “Ten Little Indians” (#96), “Goodnight Sweet Josephine” (#127). 

GRADE: C-: Only a couple will escape the exiling. This is just a sad way for the Yardbirds to leave the stage.

Cream – Disraeli Gears

ARTIST: Cream         220px-DisraeliGears

TITLE:  Disraeli Gears



SINGLES: Strange Brew (#17 UK), Sunshine of Your Love (#6 US, #25 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Tales of Brave Ulysees

LINEUP: Ginger Baker, Jack Bruce, Eric Clapton

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The powerful blues-rock trio moves a foot into the psychedelic world, and creates a song that’s an absolute monster to this day.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: The Jack Bruce bass riff, coupled and carried forward by Eric Clapton, propelled “Sunshine of Your Love” and to this day, that simple riff is universally known and loved.

That track anchored this second album from the combustible power trio, which definitely varied their sonic attack and added tinges of psychedelia (“Tales of Brave Ulysses”) into their blues, and allowed for experimental arrangements like “Dance the Night Away”, “Blue Condition”, and “We’re Going Wrong”, and flat out rockers like “SWABLR”. Clapton’s wah-wah guitar is the sound of the record, though Bruce and Baker contribute their prowess as well.

The experimental pieces are hit-and-miss (Ginger Baker’s vocals are, well, an acquired taste), yet this is Cream’s best and most consistent album, and probably Clapton’s best and most consistent aside from Derek and the Dominos.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The titles was a malapropism when a roadie tried to say ‘derailleur gears’.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Outtakes and BBC sessions. 

GRADE: A: It’s one of the best examples of blues melding with psychedelics.

The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

ARTIST: The Beatles   Sgt._Pepper's_Lonely_Hearts_Club_Band

TITLE: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band



SINGLES: None, really, but it didn’t matter

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: A Day in the Life is probably the most famous song here, but you know most of the others.

LINEUP: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr with George Martin and Geoff Emerick putting together the soundscapes.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: At the time, supposedly revolutionary and the kickstarter to the ‘summer of love’, but in reality it was just a more focused version of psychedelic experiments the Beatles and others had been doing.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: There have been books written about this record, and not just fluff pieces. It is probably the most known popular music album in history. Yet, it’s overrated as a whole yet parts of it are woefully underrated and ignored.

There’s fluff and saccharine (“She’s Leaving Home”, “When I’m 64”), and some of the songs aren’t as strong as others since they had constrained themselves to a concept of sorts. The pacing isn’t quite there thanks to those interruptions of treacle. Yet, some tracks are definitely brilliant, and others (“Within You, Without You”, “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite”) deserve more acclaim than they sometimes get.

While other bands had certainly attempted some of these ideas, themes, and sounds before, only the Beatles, with George Martin and Geoff Emerick, put together something as cohesive as they could. It definitely is a landmark in popular music – just not the best album of that year nor of the Beatles’ career.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: It only hit #7 in France…what gives?

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, they have now released a remastered version with some outtakes that are familiar to those who have other Beatles anthology collections. 

GRADE: A: There are a couple songs I loathe, and I think the conceit of the concept doesn’t work as well in terms of flow. Quibbles, I suppose, when all is said and done.

Aretha Franklin – Aretha Arrives

ARTIST: Aretha Franklin         220px-Aretha_Arrives

TITLE: Aretha Arrives



SINGLES: Baby I Love You (#4 US #1 R&B, #39 UK), (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction (#37 UK)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Most all of the album are covers of known songs.

LINEUP: Aretha Franklin and session aces

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A rushed second Atlantic album fails to capitalize on Aretha’s excellent first Atlantic soul album.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Not even allowing her to recover from an injured elbow, Atlantic put Franklin back in the studio to record a followup to her landmark soul record. The magic that was there earlier just wasn’t there.

Aretha’s in good voice, of course, but the material at times seems unsuited, or uninspired. It moved copies, but it’s not memorable. It’s just…there.

She’d rebound, of course, and become the consistent performer that we know today. Still, it Atlantic made a mistake in rushing this.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Because of her injury she couldn’t play the piano except for the slower numbers.


GRADE: C: It’s not streaming by itself, but it’s really not worth the effort.

Merle Haggard – I’m a Lonesome Fugitive

ARTIST: Merle Haggard                                    imalonesomefugitive

TITLE:  I’m a Lonesome Fugitive


CHART ACTION: #165, #3 Country

SINGLES: I’m a Lonesome Fugitive (#3 Country)


LINEUP: Merle Haggard, James Burton, Glen Campbell, Billy Mize, Lewis Talley, Ralph Mooney, Glen D. Hardin, Jerry Ward, James Gordon, Bonnie Owens

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The title cut is a classic, and the rest of the album is quite complementary, making this a great 60’s country album.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Merle Haggard was one of the few country artists not to succumb to the ‘hit plus filler’ country album that many lesser artists churned out in the 60’s.

The title cut is a legendary country song from the husband and wife team of Liz and Casey Anderson, but Hag writes most of the other songs on the record and they’re good quality as well. “Life in Prison” is his self-penned classic here – a tale of woe covered by so many others, including the Byrds.

The band was full of LA hotshots, and included great backing vocals by Bonnie Owens. All in all, a great country album – and a rare one to cross over somewhat to the pop charts.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: When the songwriters played “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive” to Haggard, they were unaware that he actually did time at San Quentin.


GRADE: A-:  Another great country album from Haggard, and the deep cuts are worthy as well.

James Carr – You Got My Mind Messed Up

ARTIST: James Carr                                          220px-jamrescarryougotmymind

TITLE:  You Got My Mind Messed Up



SINGLES: You Got My Mind Messed Up (#63, #7 R&B), Love Attack (#99, #21 R&B), Pouring Water on a Drowning Man (#85, #23 R&B), The Dark End of the Street (#77, #10 R&B)


LINEUP: James Carr and Memphis session musicians.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: One of the great hidden soul albums of the 60’s, Carr’s emotive singing is on par with the greats, and there are two bonafide classics here that should be in everyone’s catalog.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Unlike Motown, the southern soul scene around Memphis and Muscle Shoals didn’t just churn out hits+filler albums for the most part – they laid into every track and nailed every performance like it was going to be a hit single.

James Carr’s debut album has 12 tracks, four singles, and no filler. Each song could have been a potential radio hit, and every performance is top notch. Carr reminds one of Otis Redding, with a little bit of Joe Simon and Wilson Pickett thrown in there for good measure.

“Pouring Water on a Drowning Man” and “The Dark End of the Street” are absolute stone-cold classics, but really, every song here is good to great, and one that should be heard – especially if you love 60’s soul.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The songs were culled from a great collection of soul songwriters – such as Dan Penn and Chips Moman, Roosevelt Jamison, and OV McClinton.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: There are 12 bonus cuts that could have been their own album

GRADE: A:  More folks should know about James Carr. A fantastic singer whose career was way too short.

Aretha Franklin – I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You

ARTIST: Aretha Franklin

TITLE:  I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You aretha_franklin_-_i_never_loved_a_man_the_way_i_love_you


CHART ACTION: #2 US, #1 R&B, #36 UK

SINGLES: I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You) (#9 US, #1 R&B), Do Right Woman – Do Right Man (#37 R&B), Respect (#1 US, #1 R&B, #10 UK)


LINEUP: Aretha Franklin, King Curtis, Willie Bridges, Charles Chalmers, Tommy Cogbill, Jimmy Johnson, Melvin Lastie, Chips Moman, Dewey Oldham, Erma Franklin, Carolyn Franklin, Cissy Houston

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: One of the best soul albums, a landmark that established Franklin and the Atlantic soul sound.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Eleven albums into her career, onto her third record company, and third (maybe fourth) distinct style, Aretha Franklin finally has the songs, the arrangements, and the direction to harness her powers.

It’s amazing that it took this long to get her in this position, but Jerry Wexler and Tom Dowd created the canvas that Franklin could paint her masterpiece. The band, led by King Curtis, is absolutely fantastic, with many Muscle Shoals musicians helping out (the story of the recording of this album is a fantastical, wild tale that is worth seeking out). Aretha’s sisters and Cissy Houston’s backups are tremendous.

Franklin also showed that she was a songwriter, co-writing four cuts. Her interpretation of Otis Redding’s “Respect” put her on the map, but cuts like “Drown in My Own Tears”, two Sam Cooke songs and Dan Penn’s and Chips Moman’s “Do Right Woman – Do Right Man” are just as exquisite. This is soul.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Ted White, her manager and husband, also got co-writing credit on two songs.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. Just a few stereo mixes.

GRADE: A+: You don’t have this album? What? Get it now!

The Doors – Strange Days

ARTIST: The Doors                     220px-albumstrangedays

TITLE:  Strange Days



SINGLES: People Are Strange (#12), Love Me Two Times (#25)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Strange Days, Moonlight Drive, When the Music’s Ovder

LINEUP: Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Robby Kreiger, John Densmore, Doug Lubahn

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT:  After a smash hit, the Doors release an album closer to their true vision with fewer songs geared for the radio.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: “Light My Fire” was a huge hit, of course, so radio folks may have been a little taken aback by some of the cuts on their second album.

Robby Kreiger had two somewhat traditional pop-rock songs (though “Love Me Two Times” was even more risqué than his “Light My Fire”), but “People Are Strange” (a Morrison / Kreiger collaboration) was a little more out there than the normal Top 20 hit, and “Strange Days” and “Moonlight Drive” showed Morrison’s combination of art-poetry and rock-star vibe. Plus “When the Music’s Over” is another grand opus that’s better than “The End”.

The hidden star here is bassist-for-hire Doug Lubahn, who is mixed higher this time and adds a lot to the eight tracks he’s on, especially the title track. But ee also get the first load of Jim Morrison’s horeshit in “Horse Latitudes”, which is unbearable for everyone but the most stoned.

The Doors were a good band in a fertile time for rock experimentation, but there’s nothing magical about them except their aura.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Lubahn was asked to join the band, but declined, since he was in Clear Light and didn’t want to leave that band. That may have been a mistake on his part.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, outtakes of released cuts, and just a couple.

GRADE: B+: “Horse Latitudes” is a warning for palaver to come, but most of this record is pretty solid.