Tag: 1969

Judy Henske & Jerry Yester – Farewell Aldebaran

ARTIST: Judy Henske & Jerry Yester

TITLE: Farewell Aldebaran

YEAR RELEASED: 1969

CHART ACTION:  None

SINGLES: Snowblind

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Oh…no. Not at all

LINEUP: Judy Henske and Jerry Yester with help from Zal Yanovsky and a bunch of studio players.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Married couple fuse their talents together to make a fascinating album that was lost to the public.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Judy Henske was a rising star in folk before she made some poor decisions about material (cabaret?) and Jerry Yester was a long-time producer, writer, and former member of the Lovin’ Spoonful. They had been married for a few years but never really collaborated until a suggestion from her manager that they combine forces to record an album.

Henske wrote lyrics and Yester put them to music and arranged the songs. And the result was an album that explored genres and instruments. From baroque pop to shanties to hard rock and space rock explorations, this album has it all. Yester adds in harmonium, an early Moog synthesizer, mellotron, and instruments such as the marxophone, a hammered dulcimer, a Chamberlain keyboard (on the choral setting), and a toy zither to the mix.

Henske’s voice was adroit enough to handle all of the changes. She can belt out a rock song, yet has a gentle quality that fits with the sunshine pop aspects of the tracks.

The eclectic nature of the album probably prevented it from being a hit, but this really should have found a home with sophisticated listeners. Alas, as sunshine pop and baroque psychedelia was on the way out, it didn’t find traction. It’s definitely something to explore in detail.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Yester and Henske then formed a band called Rosebud, which released one album that was conventional soft-country rock, then they split as a couple.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No.

GRADE: A+: It probably could only be recorded in 1969 or so, but it sounds timeless and really sucks you in with the arrangements and production. The more you listen, the more it opens up to you.

The Who – Tommy

ARTIST: The Who 

TITLE: Tommy

YEAR RELEASED: 1969

CHART ACTION:  #4 US, #2 UK

SINGLES: Pinball Wizard (#19 US, #4 UK), I’m Free (#37 US), See Me Feel Me (#12 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: We’re Not Gonna Take It (which also includes See Me Feel Me), The Acid Queen

LINEUP: Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, Keith Moon

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Not the first rock opera, but the first one people really noticed.

 

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: For better or worse, the Who’s Tommy popularized the concept album and ‘rock opera’. Lauded by the press and fans, performed in whole (well…not exactly whole), staged, and filmed, Tommy mostly succeeds in long form storytelling. Even the cover of “Eyesight to the Blind” and two sinister John Entwistle tunes fold in seamlessly to the narrative.

The performances on the studio album are tight and among the Who’s best. The only real embellishment to the core quartet was Entwistle’s work on French horn, Datlrey’s harmonica, and some keyboards played by Townshend. The four of them collaborated and pulled this off, and then pulled it off on stage.

There are many classic songs on this, of course, and the climactic cut presages the anthems the Who would put forward in the early 70’s.

However…it’s not perfect. A few songs seem forced for length or shoehorned in to move the story, and “Underture” is probably filler to make up the sides. It’s long, unnecessary, and I exiled it. The drawback to many concept albums are making a cohesive narrative with no filler or padding and this is no different.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: For live performances, four tracks (“Cousin Kevin”, “Underture”, “Sensation”, and “Welcome”) were excluded. The more contemporary performances reinstate “Cousin Kevin” and “Sensation”.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes a couple of outtake tracks are on a couple of editions.

 GRADE: A-: Worthy of praise, worthy of its historical significance, but it has flaws.

Blond – The Lilac Years

ARTIST: Blond

TITLE: The Lilac Years

YEAR RELEASED: 1969

CHART ACTION:  None

SINGLES: I Wake Up and Call, Deep Inside My Heart, The Lilac Years

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Sailing Across the Ocean was on a few comps

LINEUP: Goran Lagerberg, Lasse Svenson, Anders Topel, Danne Larsson. Anders Nord and Bjorn Linder replaced Topel and Larsson and Mats Landahl joined after this was recorded, but before release. They’re on the bonus tracks.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Four of the Tages form their own band after the lead singer of that Swedish band quit. It’s obscure, sure, but good all the same.

 SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Tages were a Swedish pop and rock band that were big in Scandanavia, but nowhere else. They had some interesting tracks but never made an inroad in the rest of Europe. The lead singer of Tages left in 1968, so the leftover musicians formed Blond.

What came out was a pretty solid psychedelic pop / rock record that features some interesting tempo changes (Tages had a few tracks like that) and some hooks and melodies. Goran Lagerberg was the main songwriter for Tages, so he carried forward to this project.

There are some standout tracks here that could have made an impact if they were promoted somewhat in the UK or US. (They were signed to Fontana, which wasn’t much of a label in the US). Though a few tracks fall into some overly twee psychedelia – it is 1969 after all – some tracks remind me of good old fashioned power pop.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: After this was recorded, two of the members left, and were replaced by two others that were then on the US album cover.Then they added another singer (Lagerberg was the main singer for the album) but petered out soon after a single.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: On CD, their last single, and a Swedish song broken into two parts.

 GRADE B+: If you’re into the psychedelic power pop thing, you’ll dig this. I did.

The Moody Blues – On the Threshold of a Dream

ARTIST: The Moody Blues 220px-Thresholdofadream

TITLE: On the Threshold of a Dream

YEAR RELEASED: 1969

CHART ACTION: #20 US, #1 UK

SINGLES: Never Comes the Day (#91)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Lovely to See You

LINEUP: Justin Hayward, John Lodge, Mike Pinder, Ray Thomas, Graeme Edge

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Hoo boy. A muddled album that seems to have a theme, but doesn’t except for the most part the Moody Blues are thirsty.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: There’s some real good 60’s hippie hokum in the poems and lyrics here (“In the Beginning” is a ‘poem’ of sorts that has awful sound effects and puerile scare mongering), and that’s not the worst of it. Ray Thomas’ songs seem to be flown in from another concept album, and Mike Pinder’s “Have You Heard” and its nonsense is broken up by “The Voyage” which is an excuse for him to use his mellotron and other effects.

But most of the tracks in the middle, are, frankly, about the Moody Blues wanting to bed down some hippie chicks from London. “To Share Our Love”, “So Deep Within You”, and “Never Comes the Day” are almost embarrassing in their brazen codes for “get naked with me”, using most of the clichés of the business.

Lyrics aside (and they were supposed to be a deep group, too), the tunes themselves are memorable, with nice hooks and arrangements, and they even make the ‘love’ songs tolerable. The label also messed up and didn’t release the best pop song (and least embarrassing love song) “Lovely to See You” as a single.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: The electronic sounds at the beginning also were in the run-out groove of the second side, so you couldn’t escape them.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, alternate takes and BBC sessions.

 GRADE C+: I really like some parts of this record, but some of this is just too embarrassing.

Blue Cheer – New! Improved!

ARTIST: Blue Cheer 220px-Blue_cheer_new_improved

TITLE: New! Improved!

YEAR RELEASED: 1969

CHART ACTION: #84

SINGLES: West Coast Child of Sunshine

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: They cover a Dylan song

LINEUP: Dickie Peterson, Paul Whaley. Bruce Stephens and Ralph Burns Kellogg are on side one. Randy Holden is on side two.

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: A move away from proto-metal after lineup shifts does nothing for the band, and many fans jump ship after this.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Dropping the needle on side one, track one, and you get “When It All Gets Old”, a song written by now full-time member Ralph Burns Kellogg. It’s not heavy, not at all. The second track, the single, has some of the old feel, but the record shows the band to have devolved into a semi-folky hippie band, complete with a bad Dylan cover.

Then, there’s side two. The way the band was supposed to sound. Randy Holden (famous for being an unknown guitarist of the 60’s and 70’s – seriously) led the band through two out-of-this-world psychedelic rock tracks in “Peace of Mind” and “Fruit and Icebergs” (go-to songs for mixes for those in the know – especially the latter). Blue Cheer as a power trio with guitars at the fore – that’s the band we know and love.

But that’s all we got from Holden, and Peterson and Whaley had to scramble to finish the record after Holden left. So that’s why the first half is the way it is, and why Blue Cheer moved away from their best selves.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Holden joined after Leigh Stephens left due to deafness or in protest of Peterson’s drug use. Holden left suddenly when he found he had no money as the money went to Peterson’s habit. Oh, this isn’t streaming, but the good Holden tracks are on a Blue Cheer comp that’s still around.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: A couple of extra tracks.

 GRADE C-: An A for Side Two, with Holden. You can tell what I think about the other side, and Blue Cheer going forward.

The Allman Brothers Band – The Allman Brothers Band

ARTIST: The Allman Brothers Band TheAllmanBrothersBandTheAllmanBrothersBand

TITLE: The Allman Brothers Band

YEAR RELEASED: 1969

CHART ACTION: #188

SINGLES: Black Hearted Woman

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Dreams, Whipping Post

LINEUP: Duane Allman, Dickey Betts, Gregg Allman, Berry Oakley, Jai Johanny Johanson, Butch Trucks

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Southern blues rock band releases debut to a mild reception.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Coming together quickly in 1969, The Allman Brothers Band emerged as the lead band for a southern rock label distributed by Atlantic. Moving quickly, the band played live and practiced constantly, and recorded and released a record about eight months after first getting together.

The powerhouse band that would emerge isn’t fully formed here. Of the seven tracks, just “Dreams” and “Whipping Post” were better than okay, and they closed the album. However, those two tracks were absolutely vital, and let people know that the Allman Brothers were a band to watch – especially when Gregg Allman’s songwriting improved.

Duane Allman is the star as his solo in “Dreams” is magical, and his studio experience in Muscle Shoals is apparent. It’s not their best record, but it’s a decent first look at what would become, by 1971, a legend.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Gregg Allman wasn’t the first vocalist / organist of the group when it formed in March of 1969, but he joined soon after.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, with two mixes, the first mix that the band disliked, and a new mix done in 1973.

 GRADE B: “Dreams” and “Whipping Post” are touchstones of blues rock and Southern rock.

Steppenwolf – At Your Birthday Party

ARTIST: Steppenwolf  220px-SteppenwolfAtYourBirthdayParty

TITLE: At Your Birthday Party

YEAR RELEASED: 1969

CHART ACTION: #7

SINGLES: Rock Me (#10), It’s Never Too Late (#51)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Jupiter’s Child

LINEUP: John Kay, Michael Monarch, Goldy McJohn, Nick St. Nicholas, Jerry Edmonton

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The gas had run out of the Steppenwolf engine at this time.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: “Rock Me”, an all-time classic, was released on the Candy soundtrack, and became a big hit with a great B-side in “Jupiter’s Child”. But when it came time to create a new album, John Kay was almost tapped out of tunes. Kay only wrote or co-wrote two other tracks (which are the best of the rest) and the others came from producer Gabriel Mekler and other band members.

Kay didn’t even sing on some of the tracks. Bassist Nick St. Nicholas and guitarist Michael Monarch had their turns at the mic, and, well, Kay was much missed. There were a couple of throw away short trackss, a country spoof, a couple of horrible ballads, and basic tomfoolery in the studio.

The band regrouped a bit the next year, with a great single and a good protest record, but this killed the momentum of the band for the most part. It was half-crap and the fans knew it.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Monarch left the band a few months after this came out.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE C-: Had “Rock Me” and “Jupiter’s Child” not been here, it definitely would have been a “D”…

Coven – Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls

ARTIST: Coven                                                                                                                                                                                                     

TITLE: Witchcraft Destroys Minds & Reaps Souls           

YEAR RELEASED: 1969

CHART ACTION: Nope

SINGLES: Wicked Woman

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: Black Sabbath (oh, wait, this is a different one)

LINEUP: Jinx Dawson, Greg ‘Oz’ Osbourne, Jim Donelson, Rick Durrett, Steve Ross

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The first really Satanic-themed record.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Forever known as the purveyors of “One Tin Soldier”, and known by some as the band that threw up the “Devil Horns” first, Coven was, well, a band composing of followers of the occult.


Singer Jinx Dawson is the star. She can belt out these devilish tunes with great fervor. But there’s some cringe-worthy moments (the chanting in some songs is almost funny, really) and when Jim Donelson sings (a hired gun by Dunhill Records) he’s so wimpy compared to Dawson, especially when he sings “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge”.

Dawson herself saves a lot of the material, which is rather much warmed-over organ-driven psychedelic rock instead of proto-metal (though there’s some tasty guitar here and there, especially on “Choke, Thirst, Die”). But thanks to bad press due to Manson, Mercury pulled this record before the publicity could help sales.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: Despite them being actual members of a coven, the core group (Dawson, Osbourne, Ross) didn’t write much of their first album.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: No

GRADE C: I exiled some of this, and it’s really more of a curio than anything.

Michael Chapman – Rainmaker

ARTIST: Michael Chapman            mi0003306936

TITLE: Rainmaker

YEAR RELEASED: 1969

CHART ACTION: None

SINGLES: It Didn’t Work Out

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: No, sadly, no.

LINEUP: Michael Chapman, Clem Clempson, Richie Dharma, Alex Dmochowski, Aynsley Dunbar, Rick Kemp, Norman Hayes, Barry Morgan, Danny Thompson

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: An album that found a home in the UK folk revival and with the progressive movement, but straddling those two idioms left it and him a cult artist.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: Many tracks on this debut from Michael Chapman are acoustic guitar solos, but don’t let that fool you into thinking those are mellow or this is a record for acoustic guitar junkies. Chapman lets out a fury on his acoustic 6-and-12 strings where they’re not just mellow asides; they’re full on statements.

He’s also at home creating electric songs as well. The opener “It Didn’t Work Out” definitely could have been an FM radio hit had it been released here in the US, and his straddling of both electric and acoustic worlds helped him book shows in both the folk and progressive scenes. His voice, a moody baritone, fits his material, and his lyrics show inventiveness as well.

Chapman, and this album, are one reason I started this project. I had no idea this gentleman existed, and now, this is on one of my lists as an almost essential album.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: He was an art photography teacher before his recording career.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes, some single mixes and alternates.

 GRADE A+: One of the gems I’ve found doing this project.

Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin II

ARTIST: Led Zeppelin              220px-Led_Zeppelin_-_Led_Zeppelin_II (1)

TITLE:  Led Zeppelin II

YEAR RELEASED: 1969

CHART ACTION: #1 US, #1 UK

SINGLES: Whole Lotta Love (#4 US), Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman (#65 US)

OTHER SONGS YOU MAY KNOW: The whole damn thing, unless you’ve been in the Marianas Trench.

LINEUP: Jimmy Page, Robert Plant, John Paul Jones, John Bonham

WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: The album that made Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin.

SOME WORDS, PHRASES AND CLAUSES ABOUT THIS RECORD: A simple three note riff concocted by Jimmy Page for a song directly stolen from Willie Dixon created the beast known as Led Zeppelin. Had “Whole Lotta Love” been absent from this Earth, what would classic rock stations build their playlists around?

This album had the blues (another one was stolen – from Leadbelly in “The Lemon Song”), ROCK (see above, along with “Living Loving Maid”), Robert Plant being all lovey dovey, and space form Jimmy Page and John Bonham to jizz all over the control board. Rock and roll man. Rock and roll.

As a teenager, this was the record by them I played the most. (My girlfriend at the time cringed when I sang along to “The Lemon Song”.Blame her?) Now, it’s one I play the least. It’s the most predictable, the most cliché ridden, and some tracks are skipped with regularity. I mean, it’s GOOD, but not great except for a couple tracks, and they stole one of them.

NOTES & MINUTIAE: They got nabbed for plagiarism, and now the credits for “Whole Lotta Love” and “The Lemon Song” have put right that thievery.

IS THERE A DELUXE VERSION: Yes. A bonus disc with backing tracks and rough mixes, with one unheard intro/outro that is very unique.

GRADE: B+: A couple tracks are boring, a couple tracks are just exercises in overplaying, and there are a few gems. But it’s the Zep I turn to the least, despite the highlights.