Saturday, December 7, 2019


What? You’ve Never Heard These?
1969 saw the last recording by The Beatles and the first by Led Zeppelin, Neil Young, Crosby, Stills and Nash and The Allman Bros. 50 years later we still talk about ‘69 as one of the banner years in rock music. On the AM network, we’ve talked enough about Abbey Road and Led Zeppelin and LZ2 (yes, both released in the same year}. Here are some of the greats that don’t get as much attention:
Neil Young kicked off the year with his eponymous debut after leaving Buffalo Springfield. It was, indeed, the birth of Americana. Even better was his second offering that year, Everyone Knows This is Nowhere, even better than the first, less than four months later. The LP included “Down By the River” and “Cinnamon Girl.” On my turntable all the time.

Inspired by the moon landing earlier in the year, The Moody Blues’ To Our Children’s Children’s Children was the 4th of the seven canon Moodies’ LPs that began in 1967 with Days of Future Passed. It was one of the first AOR LPs (Album Oriented Rock) and contained no hit singles; an LP meant to be listened to in its entirety. If the title serves any truth, we’re almost there. The Moodies’ children were born in the late 60s, their grandchildren in the 80s, and the “Children’s Children’s Children have already been born.
Greatly overlooked is Quicksilver Messenger Service’s Happy Trails. Quicksilver was one of the essential San Francisco psychedelic bands, but had a uniquely country folk flavor. Side one is one of live music’s classics, a side filling rendition of Bo Diddley's “Who Do You Love” with its samplings of genres including jazz, country, folk, and blues. It too is one of the great AOR LPs and contained no popular singles.
One of my all-time favorite singles is Isaac Hayes’ theme from Shaft. It’s kitschy and fun and a great singalong, but Hayes’ masterpiece is so cruelly overlooked, Hot Buttered Soul. Its production values, instrumentation and soul make for one of the romantic LPs of 60s.
Let’s round it out with the Latin Beats and incredible musicianship of Santana’s self-titled debut. After one of Woodstock’s iconic performance, Columbia pressed hard for the success of the LP and found it based on the single, “Evil Ways.” After 50 years as a band, the debut may still be its greatest achievement.
It was the year of Tommy, The Stooges, King Crimson, Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” Let It Bleed and Zappa’s Hot Rats, and that’s just a taste. Wow.

When all was said and done, here was the top ten for the decade:
1 The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band - 1967
2 The Beatles - Abbey Road - 1969
3 The Beatles - Revolver - 1966
4 The Beatles - The Beatles (The White Album) - 1968
5 Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin 2 - 1969
6 The Beatles - Rubber Soul - 1965
7 The Beatles - A Hard Day's Night - 1964
8 Leonard Bernstein - West Side Story - 1962
9 The Doors - The Doors - 1967
10 The Rolling Stones - Let It Bleed – 1969

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