1969 ended badly for the Rolling Stones at a free concert in Northern California, a place called Altamont — a man murdered directly in front of the stage. But that was only after Brian Jones got booted from the band he’d founded, then drowned in his swimming pool, or was he murdered, too? And meanwhile, Keith Richard just kept slipping deeper and deeper into the fool’s kingdom known as heroin. And yet the Stones also found the time to record Let It Bleed that year, maybe their single greatest slab of vinyl, with Monkey Man a track that managed to not get played to death on commercial radio. Too bad, too ugly, too good.
Call Volunteers (the song) Jefferson Airplane‘s punk rock moment, a short, sharp revved up call for genuine revolution at a time when such actually seemed possible. That is, if your hair was long and your soul experienced, and you were one of maybe four hundred thousand standing out in a muddy field one August morning in 1969 between downpours. Volunteers (the album) isn’t half band either.
Taste, straight outa Cork, are one of those bands that genuinely should’ve conquered the world way back when. They had the songs, the presence, the power, even the likes of John Lennon and Eric Clapton singing their praises. But for whatever reason, it didn’t happen. We got two albums of taught, tough blues based r’n’r and then it was breakup time. Main man Rory Gallagher took off on a prolonged and committed solo career that only really stopped when his liver finally failed. And of the other two, not much more was ever heard.
“Second of two in a row from Gilded Palace of Sin, the Flying Burrito Brothers’ debut masterpiece of countrified rock. Because you can’t really hear one Burrito without the other, both apparently concerning the same girl, the same tormented relationship, which of course only makes the country stylings more relevant. Or as Motron puts it, ‘the country stuff set the drugged out hippie rock stars free to mix whiskey and heroin and broken hearts – a terrible way to live, but it sure made for some kickass and essential music.” (Philip Random)
“It must’ve felt very weird when the Flying Burrito Brothers first hit in 1969. Out of all the psychedelicized weirdness and envelope smashing wildness of the previous years comes … country rock!?!? My friend Motron’s theory is that it was all tied to the assassination of Martin Luther King – that up until springtime 1968, the big dream of All You Need Is Love was alive and well and thus the white man’s pilfering of the black man’s music was all just part of the shiny happy game. But after that – it just didn’t feel right anymore. And thus Nudie suits and pedal steel and so-lonesome-I-could-die ballads suddenly felt somehow relevant – the white man’s soul music, as it were. Bob Dylan, of course, was ahead of the game as usual, but it took Gram Parsons and crew (by way of the Byrds) to really make it a fact. And it’s all there on Gilded Palace of Sin – one of those albums that truly does not have a weak moment.” (Philip Random)
Apparently this is the first time Marc Bolan really rocked out on record. The band was still called Tyrannosaurus Rex at the time, and despite the name, a comparatively lightweight outfit – too much flowers and fine herbs, not enough thunder and rumbling. But that had to change. The 1970s were looming, the acid was wearing off, the hippie dream was much further away than it had previously seemed. Maybe it had never been there at all. Just another storybook fantasy.
To clarify. King Crimson first performed as a unit in early 1969, quickly knocked the world onto its head by more or less inventing so-called progressive rock, then proceeded to do just that for the next five years. They progressed. The line-up was ever mutating, as were the sounds. Only one thing remained unchanged. Robert Fripp remained seated as he played his mellotron and planet fracturing guitar. Asbury Park is a live improv from a show at the Asbury Park Casino on June 28, 1974, one of the last shows from the last King Crimson tour of the 1970s after which Mr. Fripp would shut the whole outfit down because he’d come to despise the industry he was in, and what it was doing to him. Not that he and King Crimson brand wouldn’t return half a decade later. But that is a whole other discipline.
“A big part of the genius of the post-Syd-Barrett-pre-Dark-Side-of-the-Moon Pink Floyd is just how scattered, unformed, incomplete so much of it is – the various albums and soundtracks and loose pieces arriving more like strange and fabulous reports on an ongoing indefinable work in progress than anything remotely complete. Case in point, the numerous versions of Careful With That Axe Eugene floating around (at least one going by a different title altogether). If I had to choose only one though, it would be the live version found on side one of Ummagumma, simply because it scared the hell out of me the first time I heard it. Grade Seven sometime, a friend’s older brother having some good clean bloodcurdling fun with us on a dark winter’s night.” (Philip Random)
From an album where everything else is lyrically (and musically) full-on Dada to the point of absolute confusion, Captain Beefheart leaves not even a trace of ambiguity as to what this one‘s about, those Final Solution Blues being the heaviest ever known.