Released at the beginning of February 1972, this music is timeless because, rather than despite, its simplicity. Yes, we get the LSO playing on two of the tracks, but the orchestration is appropriate and effective and there really is nothing on this album that is excessive, superfluous, or gets in the way of the emotional enjoyment.
Every song on the album is a gem, worthy of inclusion on a best hits album of lesser artists. Despite its repeated appearance on FM and AM radio starting in February 1972 and taking the top Billboard spot in March, the most renown track on the album, “Heart of Gold”, never wears out its welcome unlike so many other top hits of early 1972. And equally engaging , and wear-resistant, are “A Man Needs a Maid”, “Old Man”, a track inspired by the groundskeeper of Young’s newly purchased ranch and a live recording of (the best song on the album) “The Needle and the Damage Done.”
We get lots of great acoustic guitar on this album, James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt on “Heart of Gold” and “Old Man”, and appearances by David Crosby, Stephen Stills, Graham Nash. There is nothing here that surpasses “Cinnamon Girl” or “Broken Arrow”, but there is no Neil Young album as indispensable as this one.
Headed up by former Yes guitarist Peter Banks, with formidable bassist Ray Bennett and the assistance of former Yes keyboardist Tony Kaye, Flash released their debut album in February of 1972. It opens strongly, swirling and phosphorescing with the enthusiasm of “Small Beginnings”, which would later, in an abbreviated singles format, climb up to number 29 on the Billboard charts in August, later that year. Aided by that airplay, the album climbed up to spot 33 on the Billboard Top 200 LPs listing, performing much better than the two albums that followed. The music is generally invigorating, with imaginative arpeggio-based guitar work from Banks, complimentary keyboards by Kaye, solid drum work by Mike Hough, solid and creative basswork from Bennett, appropriate vocals from Colin Carter and stimulating progressive-rock time changes and chord changes.
Todd Rundgren: Something/Anything
Todd Rundgren, releases his third album in February 1972, with the first three sides brilliantly conceived and executed — and with a dazzling display of studio equipment mastery by Todd Rundgren — and Todd Rundgren alone, who in additional plays all instruments of each and every track. Following those first three sides, is a more conventional side with an array of other talented musicians, including Moogy Klingman and the Brecker brothers.
Album has aged will these 50 years, and still impressive sounding, particularly on a top-notch audio system, with some real musical keepers including “Hello, It’s Me” and the awesome “The Night the Carousel Burned Down” with its invigorating and seamless interplay between the initial 4/4 theme and the expected 3/4 music of a Carousel.
Jimmy Smith: Root Down, Nick Drake: Pink Moon; The Guess Who: Rockin’; Strawbs: Grave New World
Jimmy Smith’s Root Down captures performances from February 8, 1972 where the emphasis is on funky rock/blues/gospel-influenced jazz. There is some great exchanges between Smith on the Hammond B3, and Arthur Adams on guitar. Though hard to criticize the original LP for any reason, the expanded version, available on CD and digital download or digital streaming is superior for having uncut versions of the three strongest track on the album, “Sagg Shootin’ His Arrow”, the title track, and “Slow Down Sagg.”
For his third, and tragically, last release during his lifetime, Nick Drake dazzles us with his mastery of acoustic guitar, revealing a range of different guitar characteristics appropriate for each individual song. The music, stylistically distinct from contemporaneous singer-songwriters or any other music of the early seventies, is effectively timeless, a contention supported partly by its lack of commercial success and more effectively supported by its influence on later Indie-label artists and its continuing influence on singer songwriters up through today.
The Guess Who’s Rockin’ recorded in January of 1972 and released the very next month in February, is yet another example of the creativity of Burton Cummings who displays a high level of both jazz and rock keyboard and compositional skills. Though not their best album, it is yet another hand raised asking the rhetorical question, why, given both the band’s commercial success and the number of successful singles and albums, is the Guess Who or Burton Cummings not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
With the release of their fourth studio album, Grave New World, and their first since the departure of Rick Wakeman to Yes, The Strawbs effectively combine folk and prog-rock, with an impressively, more-progressive side two with “Tomorrow” being the stand out track. Though ostensibly a concept album, the specifics or overarching theme of the concept is not particularly evident — but in the larger scheme that is relatively unimportant, as there is much to like musically, with the ultimate result being that this the Strawbs best effort.
Lot’s of great albums released during 1970 and September was one of several notable months. About this time in 1970, I started listening to music with headphones. Our small living room was such that the two stereo speakers were poorly situated for optimal stereo, and so the headphones revealed a common characteristic of many of these albums — this was not the Stereo of the mid 1960s anymore. Stereo was now creating sound stages, some realistic, particularly with classical music recordings, and some surreleastic as with so many rock albums. The pleasure of listening to albums like Black Sabbath’s Paranoid or Jesus Christ Superstar increased measurably when the room was dark: the sense of sound borrowed attention-resources from the sense of sight. To this day, whether it is Bartok’s Night Music, Debussy musical imagery, Billie Holiday’s Verve-era vocals, Charles Mingus’s Mingus Ah Um, the primal combination of Gezzer Butler bass and Toni Iomma’s guitar or a classic angular progressive rock album like Gentle Giant’s Free Hand, I remember the lesson from 1970, turn off the lights, extinguish all extraneous thoughts and make the music your entire and exclusive environment.
Andrew Webber and Tim Lloyd Rice:
Jesus Christ Superstar
Several months after The Who’s Tommy hit the FM radio stations, a more controversial album starting getting attention. It was also a rock opera, though more like a tradtional cast recording than Tommy, with different individuals on each part. My go-to radio station for new albums, KPPC-FM, announced that they would be playing the entire album from start to finish. I recorded the broadcast on reel to reel, with the broadcast’s less than perfect reception, and then repeatedly listened to the resultant recording on headphones through a wall of static. Thankfully, Christmas soon came and on Christmas day I received Superstar, as we colloquially referred to the album, as a Christmas present along with the complete Handel’s Messiah Oratorio, which I had also requested, and which my mom found it much harder to find than Superstar, now present at every record store. (I had also asked for the entire Tchaikovsky 1812, convinced that if there was an 1812 Overture, which I had, there must be a corresponding opera. Of course, no such gift could be purchased.)
I immediately transferred the two LPs of Superstar to tape, so as not to wear out the LPs, as I had done with the 1812 overture and my copy of Richard Strauss’s Don Quixote. The sound, recorded at the fastest speed available on my tape deck, on the highest quaility tape I had, was just indescribable, particuarly on relatively good headphones. I would sit on the floor close to my tape deck, following the lyrics initially, and then later abosorbing the compositional and instrumental richness of the album.
My grandmother, the more religious one, approved of my interest and commented that this was how music sounded back at the time of Christ, though I was old enough to realize this was way before her time. Yet, there seemed to be undeniable truth in this assertion, and part of this was the inclusion and incorporation of dissonance, and the use of the diminished chord, that standby of silent movie soundtracks to represent the bad guys — and hints of older modes and scales. This is Andrew Lloyd Weber’s masterpiece. That the composer of works like the earlier Joseph and the Amazon Technicolor Dreamcoat and the later Starlight Express, rose to this level of musical excellence may be challenging to explain, but it occured and this album was evidence.
Black Sabbath: Paranoid
That this larger than life work, the 20th century rock equivalent of a Wagner opera scene, was purchased for $2.99 at K-mart, took me a while to get over. I remember vividly, the first time I encountered the first Black Sabbath album being listened to on a cheap turntable plugged into a building outlet by some high school freshmen druggie-types, or at least academic poor-achievers (we won’t say failures as they had three more years of high school ahead) — and I remember being intrigued by the poorly reproduced but seemingly substantial music. And I vividly remember purchasing Paranoid at K-mart, taking it home and sitting in front of the stereo on a barstool borrowed from the kitchen counter. But what was most vivid about all encounters with Black Sabbath, even including seeing them up close and live at California Jam, was the first listening to Paranoid and the darkness, obscurity and obliqueness of the music.
Paranoid is often credited as the first true heavy metal album, though certainly all the elements in Paranoid are there to some degree in their first album. However, while the first album was basically a recording of a live set, the second album is of higher sonic and musical quality. Though all four band members are given songwriting credit, for the most part the music on this album was written by Tony Iomma, with lyrics provided by Geezer Butler. To classify this music as simply heavy metal ignores the unique musicl style of Iomma — a darkest violet, and yes, satanic-like sound, built on short basic and strongly diatonic phrases that fit together like lego blocks. The sound is readily identifiable, and works effectively at a slow tempo, as in the opening moments of War Pigs that start the ablum, or at a faster tempo as taken in the second track, Paranoid. I have never heard Black Sabbath labelled as a progressive rock band, and some of that may be due to the primal nature of thir muscianship and Iomma’s compositions, but for me, I see no reason why the music itself isn’t classified as progressive rock. It certainly was a progressive sound in 1970 and when I picked it up in 1971 when it hit record stores in the U.S. And today fifty years later, it still holds its own, tarnished slightly in terms of freshness by the subsequent Black Sabbath albums that sometimes recycled the building blocks that made this such a unique sound and the many less-distinctive and creative imitators that followed. There is nothing in the rock catalog that has both the somatic and metabolic magnetic impact as “Iron Man”, and excluding the very best canonical prog rock albums, there are few musical statements that show the boldness, consistency, and durability of “Paranoid.”
Death Walks Behind You
If the William Blake bestial Nebuchadnezzar album cover didn’t entice you to immediately purchase the Atomic Rooster Death Walks Behind You, hearing that dark descending four note chromatic bass line that permeates the title track or the quirky, keyboard-bejewelled “Tomorrow Night” might have. Unfortunately, being on Elektra, there was slight chance of someone in the U.S. seeing this album stocked in most record stores in 1970, and unless you lived in the L.A. or the Bay area, it’s not likely you would have heard any portion of this album on FM radio, until the success of ELP prompted many to check the back catalog of Atomic Roster. Nonetheless, this ablum, with Carl Palmer now replaced with Paul Hammond on drums, and Vincent Crane and John Du Cann raising their level of creative partnership, this is not only the best Atomic Rooster album, but a fine, at times joyful and playful, at times dark and shadowy, heavy metal, progressive hard rock album. Whereas no band ever imitated Black Sabbath effectively, the style of hard rock exemplified in Death Walks Behind You, a style with its roots in earlier hard rock English pre-metal bands such as Cream, was successfully incorporated by a number of bands of the early seventies.
If I Could Do It All Over Again, I’d Do It All Over You
Another high quality progressive album, released in the UK on September 4, 1970, and also difficult to find in the U.S. until later in the seventies, was Caravan’s second album. Providing a diverse range of progressive rock, Canterbury scene rock and English Jazz rock (with its inclusion of saxophonist Jimmy Hastings), this is an album that endears itself upon repeated listenings.
After the Gold Rush
Full of unerringly good music and lyrics that range from near-nonsense and obliquely obscure to shamelessly unaffected and nakedly transparent, Neil Young’s After the Gold Rush, is one the finest if not the very best of his long, productive and meaningful career. Southern Man is a case in point where the music and lyrics are beyond any criticisms, or need for critique, but the rest of the original compositions are each worthy of special attention. Neil Young is a master at combining musical and lyrical simplicty to get through one’s superficial emotional barriers as exemplfied in “Only Love Can Break Your Heart.” It is the Neil Young magic that turns a basically musically and poetically flimsy and somewhat monotonous song into exquisitely simple high art, something also accomplished with the less emotional “When You Dance I Can Really Love” and the entire contents of his subsequent album, “Harvest.” The most memorable song on After the Gold Rush, is the title track with its seemingly deeply profound, but if you believe later Neil Young interviews, somewhat meaningless, lyrics. I prefer to think that Young is being more modest than accurate, for even if there was no particularly deep intent in the lyrics they fit so well with the music that they deserve some praise. But the most incredible feature of this work, at least for me, is that with every listening it always seems to be of epic length, even though it only clocks in at only 3 3/4 minutes.
Released on September 23, 1970, Abraxas is another special album. Despite an initial lack of attention and acceptance from many in the music press, the attention the band garnered from the Woodstock film, the success of the “Evil Ways” single, and the striking cover soon propelled this album to number one on the album charts making the album a staple in many early 1970s record collections. This is another one of those albums you turn down (or off) the lights to listen to. The opening track is dramatic and provides an imposing and remarkable beginning to an amazing, whirlwind musical experience.
Though often labelled as jazz-rock, this first of several albums by If, released in September 1970 is as much British progressive rock as it is jazz-rock. Similar in some respects to early Jethro Tull and Genesis, the musicianship is solid and the music is engaging. I picked this album up when it came out after reading a postive review of it in the L.A Times, expecting that it might be similar to Chicago or Blood, Sweat and Tears, and didn’t fully appreciate if for what it was, mostly listening to it as background while studying or reading. Listening to it again, almost fifty years later, I much better appreciate it’s abundant qualities and strengths.
Jackson Five: Third &
Allman Brothers Band: Idlewild South
There are two other albums released in September of 1970 that require a brief mention. The first is the Jackson Five album, their third album, simply titled Third. As I was starting my sophemore year in school, the biggest slam one could throw (“dis” in modern parlance) at someone was either they were a freshman, or worse, they were a freshman and put on a Jackson Five album when they went home. Nothing was more uncool musically. And yet, when riding on the bus, one couldn’t avoid (and very embarrassing, and something I would never admit until now too old to care about being cool) liking the music. So it was with “I’ll Be There” which I heard over and over again. I never listened to any Jackson Five album until recently — but now listening to them as I go through the timeline of albums that are celebrating their fiftieth year of existence. Of course, it helps that I am married to someone that was a fan of Michael Jackson when growing up.
The other album I must mention is the Allman Brothers Band’s Idlewild South album, released September 23, 1970. Although often pigeonholed as an early Southern Rock album, or even as Southern Blues-Rock, it is so much more. The opening incorporates jazz elements and anticpates groups like Dixie Dregs. Yes, when the vocals start, the music becomes more conventional and less interesting — until the next instrumental excursion. And basically, that is the strength of this album: it’s instrumental passages.
in comparison to a multitude of rock-blues albums and blues-rock albums, and even Mr. Morganfield’s own quasi-psychedelic blues album, Electric Mud, Muddy’s next album After the Rain, released May 12, 1969, stands out for its immediacy, authenticity and natural, honest modern blues sensibilities. This is a treat to listen to and the music has been captured with clarity, presence, and depth.
Neil Young with Crazy Horse: Everybody Knows This is Nowhere
Neil Young releases his second album of the year on May 14, 1969. A sensitive mixture of rock, folk, country and a bit of blues. Gems include “Cinnamon Girl”, “Round & Round”, “Down by the River”, and the brilliant “Cowgirl in the Sand” If this is not Neil Young’s best albums, it’s clearly in the top three as it effectively and efficiently mixes substance and simplicity. Neil Young’s lyrics are neither polished nor refined, and his music is forged from the basics with minimal diversions, but all of it comes together well and there are many magic moments like the punctuated single syllable chord changes on “Cin-na-mon Girl.”
This third Tyrannosaurus Rex album, Unicorn, released May 16, 2019, is also the last for Steve Took. Apparently Marc Bolan found various aspects of Steve’s personality and lifestyle (especially Took’s recreational drug use and reputation for spiking beverages with hallucinogens) less than endearing (particularly when Bolan once imbibed some STP-spiked punch) and their relationship came to its end shortly after Took expressed that his own songs should be included in the group’s recorded material. This record then becomes a document of the duo at their peak, providing hints of Marc Bolan’s future direction.
Though there is much to like on this album, starting with the first track, “Chariots of Silk”, don’t miss the bonus tracks that one finds on the 2 CD deluxe reissue including “Once upon the Seas of Abyssinia” and “Blessed Wild Apple Girl.”
Some albums showcase great songs or excellent compositions, some great arrangements and some showcase great talent. The title is misleading, as this is more of a jazz and blues album than a soul album, and a much more appropriate title would have been “Aretha 1969.”
This excellent album, released January 17, 1969, showcases one of the great vocal instrumentalists of the last hundred years at her best. In general, the arrangements set up Aretha Franlin to effectively display her incredible musicality. On this album, Aretha is not song-interpreter in the manner of Billie Holiday, Mildred Bailey, Johnny Hartman, or Chet Baker, but is an expressive instrumentalist like John Coltrane, Charlie Parker, or Eric Dolphy. For anyone wishing to explore what made Aretha so great, this is a perfect album to start with.
We also get a myriad of skilled jazz musicians backing her up.
I’m a pushover for early Neil Young, whether it’s his simple, uncomplicated songs (uncomplicated harmonically and lyrically) like “The Loner” or his repetitive, extended songs with unfathomable lyrics like “The Last Trip to Tulsa.” Nothing here on this album to get a Pulitzer Prize for music or a Nobel Prize for poetry, but how can you not love how Neil cuts to the core of what the singer songwriter experience is all about and provides the equivalent warmth and informalness of those Saturday lunches at a friend’s house? It’s always a pleasure to take this timeless debut album, released January 22, 1969, for a spin — a classic album which winningly captures and represents Neil Young being Neil Young.
The Beatles: Yellow Submarine
And of course, I have to mention the Yellow Submarine “soundtrack” album, released January 13, 1969, which importantly contains one masterpiece, John Lennon’s 1968 blues-based “Hey Bulldog” with its opening, addictive riff emphasizing the melodic dissonance of the tritone and McCartney’s solid and sometimes improvisitory bass work, and one other very strong composition, George Harrison’s 1967 “Only a Northern Song.” Also included is the 1967 early psychedelic, “It’s All Too Much.”
With their second album, released July 26, 1968, the Moody Blues solidly establish their own style and identity with recognizable, reverberation-enhanced vocals, use of cross-fade between tracks, and a complex, polished production style as realized by Tony Clarke. In the previous album, Days of Future Past, The Moody Blues were backed up by Decca’s house orchestra, The London Festival Orchestra; in this album, the orchestra is replaced by almost three dozen instruments all played by the band members. Mellotron and sitar fans will enjoy the use of those instruments here, part of achieving an effective album. If you don’t have this on LP, consider the CD version with its bonus tracks, two of which provide a glimpse at how good Moody Blues sounded in live performances in 1968.
Track Listing [From Wikipedia]
1. Departure (0:44)
2. Ride My See-Saw (3:38)
3. Dr. Livingstone, I Presume? (2:58)
4. House of Four Doors (4:12)
5. Legend of a Mind (6:36)
6. House of Four Doors, pt.2 (1:47)
7. Voices in the Sky (3:25)
8. The Best Way to Travel (3:14)
9. Visions of Paradise (4:15)
10. The Actor (4:39)
11. The Word (0:48)
12. Om (5:44)
Total Time: 42:03
– Justin Hayward / acoustic & electric guitars, mandolin, lead vocals (1,4,6,8)
– Michael Pinder / piano, Mellotron, Moog, acoustic guitar, maracas, lead vocals (2,4,9,10)
– Ray Thomas / flute, tambourine, lead vocals (3,4)
– John Lodge / bass guitar, lead vocals (4,7)
– Graeme Edge / drums, percussion, whispered vocal (4)
Buffalo Springfield: Last Time Around
Tinged with folk and country elements, Buffalo Springfield’s final studio album, released on July 30, brings to a close an early chapter in folk/country rock. Though the weakest of their three albums, there is much to like here, particularly the even number tracks on side one and the first three tracks on side two.
Track listing [from Wikipedia]
“On the Way Home” (Young) – 2:25
Recorded November 15-December 13, 1967, Sunset Sound, Los Angeles, California. Vocals: Richie Furay, Neil Young; bass: Bruce Palmer; piano: Neil Young.
“It’s So Hard to Wait” (Furay, Young) – 2:03
Recorded March 9, 1968, Sunset Sound, Los Angeles, California. Lead vocals: Richie Furay.
“Pretty Girl Why” (Stills) – 2:24
Recorded February 26 & May 1967, Sound Recorders, Hollywood and Atlantic Studios, New York City. Lead vocals: Stephen Stills; bass: Jim Fielder.
“Four Days Gone” (Stills) – 2:53
Recorded late 1967-early 1968. Lead vocals and piano: Stephen Stills, lead guitar solo: Neil Young
“Carefree Country Day” (Messina) – 2:35
Recorded late 1967-early 1968. Lead vocals: Jim Messina.
“Special Care” (Stills) – 3:30
Recorded January 3–20, 1968. Sunset Sound, Hollywood. Lead vocals, pianos, B3, guitars, bass: Stephen Stills; drums: Buddy Miles.
“The Hour of Not Quite Rain” (Callen, Furay) – 3:45
Recorded late 1967-February 1968. Lead vocals: Richie Furay.
“Questions” (Stills) – 2:52
Recorded February 16, 1968, Sunset Sound, Los Angeles, California. Vocals, guitars, bass guitar, Hohner clavinet: Stephen Stills; drums: Jimmy Karstein.
“I Am a Child” (Young) – 2:15
Recorded February 5, 1968, Sunset Sound, Los Angeles, California. Lead vocals: Neil Young; bass: Gary Marker.
“Merry-Go-Round” (Furay) – 2:02
Recorded February 16-March 1968, Sunset Sound, Los Angeles, California. Lead vocals: Richie Furay; bass: drums: Jimmy Karstein. Harpsichord, calliope, bells: Jeremy Stuart.
“Uno Mundo” (Stills) – 2:00
Recorded February–March 1968, Sunset Sound, Los Angeles, California. Lead vocals: Stephen Stills.
“Kind Woman” (Furay) – 4:10
Recorded February–March 6, 1968, Atlantic Studios, New York City & Sunset Sound, Los Angeles, California. Lead vocals: Richie Furay; pedal steel guitar: Rusty Young; bass: Richard Davis.(not Dickie Davis)
Released sometime in July 1969, Aerial Ballet, provides another set of cleverly crafted pop tunes, very much influenced by Paul McCartney songwriting and the production approach on Beatles and Beach Boys albums. With his third album, Nilsson provides all original songs with one exception: a song called “Everybody’s Talkin'” written by Fred Neil, who would later drop out of music to focus on an organization he founded, The Dolphin Research Project, dedicated to stopping the mistreatment and exploitation of dolphins around the world. When Nilsson’s version was released as a single in July 1968, it failed to break into the top 100, but after its inclusion as the theme song in the film Midnight Cowboy in 1969, the song was re-released as a single and became a hit, peaking at No. 6 on the Billboard pop chart and No. 2 on the Easy Listening chart.
The gem of this album is “One”, a song that sounds as unassuming and catchy today as it did in 1968. Many will be familiar with the Three Dog Night’s version, but it is this original version that is the definitive, and by far the best, one.
Formed in 1964, in Los Angeles California, the Byrds are generally, with the advantage of retrospect, considered one of the more essential and influential bands of the mid-sixties, primarily due to their blending the rock style of the British Invasion with elements of country and western music, folk, west coast rock and psychedelia.
The fourth album, opens robustly with the semi-ironic, partly humorous, “So You Want to Be a Rock ‘n’ Roll Star” Other strong songs include the jingly-jangly arranged Chris Hillman composition “Have You Seen Her Face”, Hillman’s “The Girl with No Name” (apparently inspired by a young lady with then real name of “Girl Freiberg”, one of the better known covers of Bob Dylan’s “My Back Pages”, and the David Crosby tracks “”Renaissance Fair” , “Everybody’s Been Burned”, “Mind Gardens” and “Why.” Psychedelia and Indian musical influences are present on several tracks with an electronic oscillator providing suitable effects and McGuinn’s guitar providing a suitable substitute for the sitar on “Why.”
The Hollies, released two albums in 1967, “Evolution” and “Butterfly”
Both albums have their annoying, overly-commercial, teeny-bop elements (think of what you dislike about Herman’s Hermits) but this is compensated by the inclusion of several excellent tracks. Lot of the credit for what is really good here goes to Graham Nash.
The best track on “Evolution” is the simply arranged and perfectly conceived “Stop Right There.” Other worthwhile tracks include the hyper-vibrato-infused “”Lullaby to Tim”, the catchy, if outdated-sounding for 1967, “Have You Ever Loved Somebody?”, the wistful, and melancholic “Rain on the Window”, the early Beatles-era “Heading for a Fall”, and the AM radio hit “Carrie Anne.”
US/Canada track listing of “Evolution” [from Wikipedia]
“Carrie Anne” (Clarke-Hicks-Nash) lead vocal: Clarke, Hicks and Nash
“Butterfly” (retitled “Dear Eloise / King Midas in Reverse” in the US) has its moments also such as the introduction to “Eloise”, the upbeat, yet also partly annoyingly cloying “Wishyouawish” and “Away Away Away”, Nash’s simple and direct “Butterfly” (similar to “Stop Right There” on “Evolution”), and “Leave Me”, which was on the original twelve track UK “Evolution” album but not on the US ten track release of “Evolution.” Another notable track, not on the UK version, but only on the US version of the “Butterfly” LP, is the quirky, “King Midas with a Curse.”
US/Canada track listing of “Butterfly” released as “Dear Eloise / King Midas in Reverse” [from Wikipedia]
At this point the reader probably sees where I am going with this post — covering the Byrds, which had David Crosby writing some of their best songs, the Hollies, with Graham Nash writing some of their best tunes, and next, Buffalo Springfield, with Neil Young and Stephen Stills — these four guitarists/singers/composers forming Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.
Buffalo Springfield’s first album. simply titled after the band, was released in December 1966, but it qualifies as one of the first solidly 1967-sounding albums. In January 1967, the most impressive song of the first half of 1967 hit the airwaves, a rare objective view of the widening political divide in the U.S.. “For What It’s Worth”. I was eleven when I heard this, and it was, for me, clearly the coolest song on AM radio of all time. It is worth re-examaning the lyrics so relevant to 1967, but also applicable to today:
What it is ain’t exactly clear: There’s a man with a gun over there Telling me I got to beware.
I think it’s time we stop, children, what’s that sound? Everybody look what’s going down.
There’s battle lines being drawn: Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong. Young people speaking their minds — Getting so much resistance from behind.
It’s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound? Everybody look what’s going down.
What a field-day for the heat: A thousand people in the street Singing songs and carrying signs Mostly say hooray for our side!
It’s s time we stop, hey, what’s that sound? Everybody look what’s going down.
Paranoia strikes deep: Into your life it will creep. It starts when you’re always afraid: You step out of line, the man come and take you away.
We better stop, hey, what’s that sound? Everybody look what’s going down. Stop, hey, what’s that sound? Everybody look what’s going down. Stop, now, what’s that sound? Everybody look what’s going down. Stop, children, what’s that sound? Everybody look what’s going down.
This is clearly Stephen Still’s masterpiece of his career and was of such impact that ATCO, the album’s label, re-released this first Buffalo Springfield album in March 1967, including this track. For this reason, its fair game to consider this album belonging to 1967.
Track listing of “Buffalo Springfield” [from Wikipedia]
As distinct and noteworthy as the first Buffalo Springfield album was, the second one is even better. Neil Young’s driving, anthem-like “Mr. Soul” opens the album and Young’s surreal “Broken Arrow” closes it. In between are additional songs by Young and Stephen Stills with three pretty good tracks authored by Richie Furay — one of these, “Good Time Boy”, arranged to include excellent horn-work by the Louisiana group, “the American Soul Train” This album is distinctly American, or more accurately, Canadian-American (Dewey Martin, Bruce Palmer and Neil Young being Canadian-born musicians), combining rock, folk, country and psychedelic-rock elements. One should also note David Crosby’s involvement in the Stephen Stills song, “Rock and Roll Woman”, which is predictive of Still’s later “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes.”