Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Retro Favorite Albums: 1968

1968 was a decent year, although compared to '67 and many subsequent years, it was somewhat thin. A year with a lot of debut and sophomore albums from bands who went on to great things in later years.

Electric Ladyland stands out though as probably the 1 landmark record for me from '68 as it's always been a favorite of mine, and Hendrix at his peak in my mind.

Tomorrow - Tomorrow
rel February 1968

Steve Howe's 1st? band lone record. Truth is, i picked it up on Record Store Day back in April, but have not gotten around to it.

The Nice - The Thoughts of Emerlist Davjack
rel March 1969

Keith Emerson's of ELP's 1st band debut record. I'll fully admit to having slept on The Nice for years.

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Simon and Garfunkel - Bookends
rel April 3, 1968

Another one of their LPs I recall enjoying many years ago before that Bridge Over Troubled Water tribute my friend John and I saw. The 2 hits on this being "Mrs. Robinson" and "America" which Yes went on later to cover.

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The Zombies - Odyssey & Oracle
rel April 19, 1968

This to many is a classic, favorite, etc. My take: I recall checking it out like 4 years ago and enjoying a lot of it. Biggest problem though, I heard their singer constantly swallow into the mic.

I probably should check it out again, as I can at least claim to find the songwriting rather good. Psych/Pop.

"Time of the Season" of course is the big hit from this, and I probably 1st heard that song when I was about 9 on the Oldies station 630AM. But I suppose if there is an album I may someday love a lot more from this year, this is it.

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The Monkees - The Bird, The Bees and The Monkees
rel April 22, 1968

This record of course includes arguably The Monkees biggest hit, "Daydream Believer" which even as much as my fiancee is sick of it, I still find a well written pop tune. Others like "Tapioca Tundra" "Valleri" and "Zor and Zam" are some of the other notable tracks on this one.

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Quicksilver Messenger Service - Quicksilver Messenger Service
rel May 1968

Another classic Psych band's debut album.

Ravi Shankar - Live at Monterrey Pop Festival
rel June 18, 1968

One of Ravi Shankar's most well known/regarded albums. And a live one of course. I'll admit, some live albums are great, but even the best one's I don't listen to ahead of a studio record.

But Ravi's music is best experienced live, and this is a great example of that. 3 mystical jams that clock-in for a little under an hour.

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Pink Floyd - A Saucerful of Secrets
rel June 29, 1968

Floyd's 2nd record. While I can't say it compares all that favorably to most of their other LPs, but it does have one of my favorites in "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun."

Fairport Convention - Fairport Convention
rel June 1968

Debut album from one of the most highly regarded folk-rock bands.

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The Moody Blues - In Search of the Lost Chord
rel July 26, 1968

The Moodies 2nd album, and another concept album at that. "Ride My See-Saw" is the song that got on the radio, but others like "Legend of a Mind" and "Om" also stand out.

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Deep Purple - Shades
rel July 1968

Deep Purple's debut record that features the Billy Joe Royal cover "Hush" and "Hey Joe" which was best known from the Jimi Hendrix version.

Giles, Giles and Fripp - The Cheerful Insanity of Giles Giles and Fripp
rel September 1968

Member's of the early King Crimson (minus Greg Lake of course) 1st album, before they went by the name.

Cream - Wheels of Fire
rel August 9, 1968

Cream's final album which features 'White Room" and various versions included "Crossroads" which became a staple for Eric Clapton live.

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The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland
rel October 16, 1968

I consider this my favorite Jimi Hendrix album. I will always remember a passage in that Rolling Stone 1967-87 top 100 albums issue about Hendrix wanting the music to sound like it was being heard under water. I think it was "1983... (A Merman I Should Turn to Be." Which is a tune, may be Jimi's most progressive and maybe my favorite Hendrix tune ("Are You Experienced" maybe a co-favorite?).

But beyond that piece, tracks like "Crosstown Traffic" "Burning of the Midnight Lamp" "Rainy Day Dream Away" "Voodoo Child Slight Return" "Voodoo Chile" and of course his famous cover of "All Along the Watchtower" (and it's god-like guitar solo).

"And the Gods Made Love" "Have You Ever Been to Electric Ladyland" and the lyric about the "magic-carpet" always is a trip.

A concept album certainly, and one I always have enjoyed. Trippy, mystical, bluesy, melodic and jammy.

If I was around in '68, I can't fathom another record being my album of the year actually.

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Jethro Tull - This Was
rel October 25, 1968

Tull's debut record, which is mostly blues-rock, which is pretty different from what they evolved to just a few years later.

Caravan - Caravan
rel October 1968

Psych/Prog band's debut record. Proto-prog. One to hear at some point.

The Beatles - The Beatles [The White Album]
rel November 22, 1968

I have a love/hate/overrated relationship with The White Album. On on one hand, it has some of their best tunes like "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" (incl Eric Clapton's solo) "Happiness is a Warm Gun."

Some fun/harmless tracks like "Rocky Raccoon" "The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill" and "Piggies"

Some decent radio tunes like "Back in the USSR" "Birthday" "Blackbird""Helter Skelter" "Revolution 1"

"Dear Prudence""Glass Onion" are also 2 of the better tracks on here.

The other stuff varies from a bit out there, to not as strong, to filler really.

This album is a little like Tales From Topographic Oceans from Yes, while it has some wonderful content, I find it to be less replay-able as most other Beatles albums, all-at-once. But there's still a lot of it worth enjoying, but more with the songs on their own.

And of course it was controversial among fans given how it was made, Yoko Ono's role, etc.

Van Morrison - Astral Weeks
rel November 1968

I remember seeing this in that Rolling Stone 1967-87 top 100 Albums issue among some of his others  (Moondance and maybe Into the Mystic ?) and always meant to check it out. Then in getting into Jeff Buckley about 11 years ago, Jeff mentioned it being one of his favorites, and I then did check it out and really enjoyed it.

I think that was from my local library, and sadly, I don't know if I've listened to it since. But I know I considered it my favorite Van Morrison record. The title track and "The Way Young Lovers Do" are probably from memory, what stand out.

Also it's interesting for someone who wrote a lot of shorter pop tunes, there being a number of tracks that clock in over 7 minutes.

The Monkees - Head
rel December 1, 1968

My favorite The Monkees album, which is a soundtrack to the film. My favorites or at least the 3 tracks I think of it most for being "Circle Sky" (Nesmith) "Can You Dig It?" (Tork) and "Porpoise Song" which Carole King wrote. I love the trippy psych element on that one. Very epic.

I suppose it sounds weird with all the experiments on The White Album I found them less addictive, whereas a lot of the rest of Head has some similar experiments with field recording, samples, tape loops, etc, but I actually find it works listening to as a whole pretty well.

This is The Monkees doing psych and using the studio to their advantage.

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The Soft Machine - The Soft Machine
rel December 1, 1968
Soft Machine's debut album, and one I recall purchasing but haven't spent time with.