“1969 is the highest Stooges track on the list because I only have the one album and I’ve got to assume everybody’s already heard I Wanna Be Your Dog. Which isn’t to diminish 1969, it’s solid and raw all the way. It was the year of Woodstock, the year we all got back to the garden apparently, but Iggy wasn’t seeing it that way. He just saw war across the USA, and another year with nothing to do, except maybe get the ball rolling on inventing so-called punk rock.” (Philip Random)
Marianne Faithfull’s take on Sister Morphine is probably the best Rolling Stones record ever that most people haven’t heard, even if it’s not Mick singing and it’s not technically the Stones. Because Mick is apparently playing some guitar (along with Ry Cooder) and that’s Charlie on drums. Who knows where Keith is? Probably on the nod. Which drives home the point. Marianne Faithfull gets the credit and she deserves it all the way, but Sister Morphine is very much a 1969 Stone-truth being imparted. It’s not the Summer of Love anymore. The drugs have gotten too heavy. Souls are being crushed. None of this is going to end well.
Wherein Peter Green, main guitar man for the early Fleetwood Mac, lays down a blueprint for a blues rock that aims to move so far beyond the bounds of either blues or rock that a new name will probably be required – something that contains the fierce grit of the Mississippi Delta circa 1930, waters rising, levees about to overflow, and also the majestic sweep of a Ennio Morricone Spaghetti western soundtrack – that scene where the cold eyed killer looks into the mirror and sees something monstrous looking back. Which sadly, is what happened to Peter Green, sort of. He got swallowed by the monster – the Green Manalishi he called it in another song. Some say it was just money, greed. Others that it was the devil himself. Either way, Mr. Green disappeared down his own nasty psychedelic wormhole, went mad for a while, got lost. As for Fleetwood Mac, they did what any proper blues outfit would do. They played on.
“Barabajagal (the album) is not Donovan‘s strongest effort. Call it inconsistent, I guess, a hodge podge of hippie-dippy mucking around that may have nailed the zeitgeist had it been released two years earlier, but come 1969, well let’s just say, something harder, more fierce was required. Like Barabajagal (the song). Truth is molten indeed. It helped that Jeff Beck and band were on hand, not so much backing things up as kicking them forward. Also Madeline Bell, Lesley Duncan and Suzi Quatro! As for who or what a barabajagal is, apparently it’s just a made up word, but it’s a good one.” (Philip Random)
Yeah, you’ve probably heard No Time a million times already on oldies radio, The Guess Who (Canada’s own Beatles) rocking it hard, melody as big as a Manitoba sky, getting it all just right. But you probably haven’t heard the longer, rawer, more psychedelized original version that showed up on 1969’s Canned Wheat. Like the band just didn’t realize what they had, how truly world class they were, being just a bunch of wannabes from the middle of nowhere. And thus, they were at their peak.
“It was a summer party, a backyard thing, 1980 or thereabouts, the evening shifting sweetly into twilight, everybody else having gone inside leaving just me and the stillness, and the music, the stereo having been dragged outside earlier, various mixtapes coming and going, and now, miraculously, as though ordained from on high, the Moody Blues‘ epic and spacious finale to Threshold of a Dream, their third and best album — it suddenly seemed to contain everything, capture all the complexity of the moment in strange apprehension, like a painting, but not looking at it, being inside it. Definitely the threshold of something. The acid was kicking in.” (Philip Random)
The melody’s nice here but it’s more the overall smooth, mournful mood that sets Albatross free. But, of course, the early Fleetwood Mac being a blues band, it’s not really that kind of Albatross, is it? It’s the kind that you carry as a curse, hung around your neck, weighing you down, reminding you and all the world that you blew it, you killed a beautiful thing for no damned reason. Which is sort of what happened to Peter Green, the man who wrote it, his career pretty much over within the year, psychedelic drugs and mental illness finding each other in yet another implosion of tortured genius.
“The raw, reductive simplicity of the Velvet Underground is one of the foundation blocks of everything that has mattered since 1965, musically or otherwise. But their story is not remotely complete without a chapter or seven devoted to their more avant concerns, which Murder Mystery illustrates rather nicely, coming across like premeditated murder of all conventions, expectations, intentions. John Cale was gone by 1969, but you can’t help but feel that when he heard it, he thought, man, I wish I’d had a piece of that. Deadly and mysterious and not entirely unmusical.” (Philip Random)
Los Angeles, 1969, murder, mayhem, earthquakes, rumors of Armageddon, the whole city of angels falling into the Pacific, such that even on the 33rd Floor, beyond the gold plated door, the Lord’s almighty flame would find the wicked, and soon. Meanwhile, country rock was getting invented by a curious crowd of drugged out hippies in cowboy suits calling themselves the Flying Burrito Brothers. Good times.