Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Retro Favorite Albums: 1970

1970 was a pretty remarkable year in music. For one, it saw the deaths of Jimi Hendrix on September 17 and Janis Joplin on October 4th. Eerie so close, and of course Jim Morrison would go the next Summer.

But from a musical standpoint, a lot of favorites did come out this year, namely in October with Genesis, Pink Floyd and Zeppelin. Also the great Black Sabbath albums, my favorite Soft Machine record, and a wonderful Crimson album early in the year.

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Simon and Garfunkel - Bridge Over Troubled Water
rel January 26, 1970

Many consider this their best record. It does have the title track, "The Boxer" and "Cecilia"  and "Bye Bye Love" which all were standards.

I recall enjoying this as-a-whole when I saw Collective Unconscious play it in full. Although I recall like most albums at this time, it's kind of short, so it almost ends up leaving you wanting more.

Chicago - Chicago II
rel January 26, 1970

This is an edit as I missed this record in my research. And I of course don't know it, but probably more now after looking it over a bit, wish I did. A double album (which I guess Chicago got known for), with a couple of suite/epics of sorts.

It also includes maybe their biggest hit from all of their early albums with "25 or 6 to 4."

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Black Sabbath - Black Sabbath
rel February 13, 1970

Some say, this is the 1st Heavy Metal album, and Sabbath's debut record of course. While I prefer Paranoid that was released later in 1970, this does have some of their best tunes. From the Self-titled /title track which goes for over 6 minutes, to stuff like "N.I.B." and "The Wizard."

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The Who - Live at Leeds
rel February 14, 1970

One of the rare classic live albums felt worth including. I sadly do not own the Deluxe Edition, but have heard it and it adds a lot to an already great live album (although the original is only 6 songs, but that includes a 14+ minute version of "My Generation").

I know on the Deluxe edition, the complete Tommy is included. But I recall the version I bought back in the 90's didn't have that, but did include an amazing version of "Happy Jack" and "Sparks" (possibly back-2- back).

Van Morrison - Moondance
rel February 28, 1970

This album includes some of the better Van Morrison tunes, which of course the title track, "And it Stoned Me" and "Into the Mystic."

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Crosby Stills Nash and Young - Dejavu
rel March 11, 1970

While I enjoy the CSN debut album from '69, this record seems to have a bit more consistency and depth. "Carry On," "Helpless," "Woodstock" the title track, "Our House." Maybe Neil Young's presence made this an even better follow-up, or maybe they just were able to write that many more gems the 2nd time around.

A great record, that sadly they never were able to reproduce again as this was their only record with Neil Young until '88, and more or less the only record CSN ended up making again that had that magic.

Jethro Tull - Benefit
rel April 20, 1970

Another slept-on Tull album, that they still hadn't really started going into progressive rock yet, but I know many of the big fans dig this one. I did pickup the Record Store Day edition a couple of years ago on 180g Vinyl, but still haven't played it. But per a friend on rym, 2 of the better tracks are "For Michael Collins, Jeffrey and Me" and "Nothing to Say."

Could be one to enjoy down the road.

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Miles Davis - Bitches Brew
rel April 1970

Many praise this album as innovative/inventive and pioneering. I guess in the limited time I have listened to it, which was maybe 14 or 15 years ago, I found it spotty. It meanders per it is "Free Jazz" in many ways. And despite all those awesome players like McLaughlin and Corea, etc it never blew me away, the way that some of their bands later did, or even the previous record In a Silent Way has.

That being said, I may give it another go, like A Love Supreme, to see if time and a fresh new set of ears may change my feeling about it.

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King Crimson - In the Wake of Poseidon
rel May 5, 1970

I probably never would consider this better than Crimson King from '69, but I remember really loving a lot of this record when I checked it out many years back. "Cadence and Cascade" the title track "The Devil's Triangle" and the frequent live piece "Cat Food" among the best pieces.

It does include Greg Lake, which I think a lot of fans don't think of this album for, as they usually only assume he was on ITTCOTCK.

Great atmosphere, soothing, clean, clear production. I remember almost being mesmerized by a lot of it, namely the drums.

Definitely a record I enjoy and within 1970, I likely would put it in my top 5 at least.


The Beatles - Let It Be
rel May 8, 1970

"Across the Universe" "Get Back" "The Long and Winding Road" and the title track are the tracks I think of this album for. This album was released after they had already broke up, although as I came to learn, the music was recorded long before even Abbey Road. I imagine much of it didn't get released on The White Album or it was written and recorded shortly after that.

I remember checking it out from the library, mainly for "Across the Universe" namely from knowing that tune from Pleasantville and Fiona Apple's cover. But the criticism I found valid from memory, but that was quite a long time ago, and I may want to revisit it and see if the rest of it I may be selling short.

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Deep Purple - Deep Purple in Rock
rel June 3, 1970

One of Purple's better early albums, that includes both "Speed King" and "Child in Time" which also were even better live.

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Soft Machine - Third
rel June 6, 1970

An album that consists of 4 songs/pieces, much like a classical record. It predates Tales From Topographic Oceans by a few years, but the percentage of the audience that looks at Tales as the quintessential all-epics album, and the 1st in rock, probably don't know or think of this one.

I grew to love this album, much like Tales (and close to as much I suppose), but specifics, having not put it on in a couple of years, I can just say each of the 4 pieces stands out on its own, yet they do flow well.

One I recall reminded me a lot of the Pink Floyd from around the same era or even Piper a bit. "Moon in June" may be the most well known of the 4 pieces, which has it's canterbury or jazz moments.

While Bitches Brew has failed to impress me greatly, this record does. Maybe that is per the timing of when I heard each, or just this record does the epics better.

For 1970, this is certainly one of my loved albums.

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Yes - Time and a Word
rel July 24, 1970

The title track I've always loved, and was one of the 1st Yes songs that drew me to them (along with "Roundabout"). "Astral Traveler" I always associate with a radio show on KFAI I did with my friend John playing an extended live version of, I think it may have been from that BBC Sessions release. I almost think of it with "Starship Trooper"..almost a precursor, except Peter Banks was the guitarist at this point, not Steve Howe.

"Sweet Dreams" is another tune I know, but mainly live. And "No Opportunity Necessary, No Experience Needed' also is notable as a tune John once played on KFAI.

The rest of this album I'm a little gray about, but I usually associate with the early Psych/Pop Yes sound. I see this record about on par with the Self-Titled debut album, nice, but not amazing. But what they did after this of course was not quite just that way.

Michael Nesmith and the First National Band - Magnetic South
rel July 1970

Michael Nesmith's 1st album after leaving The Monkees. The deal was, he had a ton of music that never was recorded and released by The Monkees, and so once he left The Monkees, he had a large list of tunes to record, and many of them came out on the albums he released in 1970.

This album, also I think referred to as the "Blue" album, features tracks like "Calico Girlfriend" and "Joanne" which I think may have come out as a single as well.

Nesmith's early albums include the pedal steel work from Red Rhodes who I think at times is my favorite part of his music.

A blurred photograph of a man wearing a helmet and sash and brandishing a sword with the title of the album and artist written in the background
Black Sabbath - Paranoid
rel September 18, 1970

This is a classic, which I purchased on cassette tape I want to say in High School, or maybe a year or 2 after. "War Pigs" the title track,"Iron Man," "Planet Caravan" "Fairies in Boots" and "Electric Funeral" are all Sabbath staples for me and many others. I guess my familiarity with Black Sabbath's history is not the best, but I'm not sure they ever made a better record track-2-track really, at least among the Ozzy period.

Santana - Abraxas
rel September 1970

Santana's 2nd record, that includes both "Black Magic Woman" and "Oye como va."

Pink Floyd - Atom Heart Mother
rel October 2, 1970

One of the most under-appreciated Floyd records, that I have grown to adore. From the opening 23-minute instrumental symphonic title piece, to the wonderful and pretty Rick Wright led "Summer of '68," "If," and "Fat Old Sun" are also charming and fit the vibe so well on here.

And even "Alan's Psychedelic Breakfast" I always enjoy, namely for its atmosphere. It along with the whole record I have often enjoyed in the morning at work.

I also think when this record came out seemed so fitting in early October. 1 of 3 standout albums this month in 1970.

A collage of butterflies, teeth, zeppelins, and assorted imagery on a white background
Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin III
rel October 5, 1970

The acoustic and middle-eastern influenced Zeppelin record. A little odd how they made 2 albums in '69, yet only this one in '70, lol. I suppose part of that was to do with their touring schedule.

I really enjoy every track on this album, although i suppose at the same time, there aren't any top 5 or even top 10 Zep tracks for me. But going down the track list, "Immigrant Song" is a rocker that classic rock radio always plays, and many bands cover.  "Celebration Day" is a fun bluesy tune.

"Since I've Been Loving You" is a fan favorite blues ballad, that is one of their best.

The 2nd side run from "Gallows Pole" through "That's the Way" I always look forward to. Very nature-y and almost mystical in many ways.

And "Out on the Tiles" which is also a rocker, I've always found to be under-mentioned.

"Bron-y-aur Stomp" and "Hats Off to Roy Harper" I both didn't like at 1st, but definitely grew on me and fit the overall vibe/tone/style of LZ III.

Another great Zeppelin record and certainly one the Fall of 1970 I would have given a lot of time to.

Genesis - Trespass
rel October 23, 1970

Genesis 2nd record, and sadly the last with guitarist Anthony Phillips. This was the last of the Gabriel records I checked out, and it has become one I have grown to love more and more.

Its style, largely per Phillips writing and guitar work, was quite folky, but still with some heavy moments.

I guess breaking it down, "Stagnation" is incredible. I fucking adore it, really, especially the synth solo and some of Gabriel's vocal lines towards the end. The ole

I said I want to sit down 
I said I want to sit down 
I want a drink - I want a drink, 
To take all the dust and the dirt from my throat, 
I want a drink - I want a drink,
To wash out the filth that is deep in my guts.
I want a drink

I always get HUGE goosebumps from it.

Other favorites include the dark, riffy "The Knife"..
some of you are going to die, the others Martyrs of course to the freedom that I shall provide

"White Mountain" and it's great, fast crescendo, namely from the keys/organ work from Tony Banks.

"Looking for Someone," "Visions of Angels," and even "Dusk" I enjoy as well, as the acoustic and almost spiritual element add to how pastoral and inspiring this record is. Even the artwork, which I often think could be from the story of a traveler, in the mountains, perhaps during biblical times, etc.

I love this album a ton, and sometimes think it is my favorite Genesis album. Certainly for 1970, it would be among the top. And to imagine it came out the same month of Atom Heart and Zeppelin III is pretty surreal.

Derek and the Dominoes - Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs
rel November 9, 1970

This is the lone record from Clapton's post-Blind Faith band, and of course it includes the classic rock staple "Layla." The cover is inspired or supposed to be a visualization for "Little Wing" from Jimi Hendrix, and Clapton's tribute I recall to him after his untimely death during the Summer of 1970. And the album also includes a cover of the Hendrix piece.

The guitar solo on Layla I didn't realize until years after hearing it, was done by Duane Allman of the Allman Brothers.

From a track list standpoint, "Bell Bottom Blues" and the blues cover "Have You Ever Loved a Woman" also come to mind. The rest, really I recall liking as I purchased an anniversary edition like 12 years ago, but I also recall liking Blind Faith more (even beyond the jams).

But it seems after this band (and the 3 others he'd been in notably, Cream, Blind Faith and The Yardbirds), Slowhand more or less concluded he would do his best stuff solo, which I don't fault him for. A little like Steven Wilson in that sense.

Emerson Lake and Palmer - Emerson Lake and Palmer
rel November 20, 1970

The ELP debut record, while is hardly my favorite, compared to some of the other classic progressive rock bands debuts (Yes, Genesis, Tull among others), it definitely came out better.

Stuff like "Knife-Edge" "The Barbarian" "The Three Fates" the epic "Take a Pebble" and even maybe their biggest radio hit, in the "Lucky Man" and its moody mini-moog solo.outro from Emerson.

A good record for the year, and among their discography; and not overly excessive at all really.

Gentle Giant - Gentle Giant
rel November 27, 1970

One week after ELP's debut, another UK prog band released their debut album, in this Self-Titled record from Gentle Giant. It's funny though, as when I 1st checked out GG over 15 years ago, I remember how much this album reminded me of ELP. Likely a coincidence, but who knows.

The opening cut "Giant" I usually associate this album for. It's catchy and layered at the same time.
My memory of the rest of it has escaped me in terms of specifics, but I know I often would cite this as the record I looked to 1st with GG, until checking out Octopus many years later.

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George Harrison - All Things Must Pass
rel November 30, 1970

I'm including this as I know it's a classic and it includes a lot of music that was intended as Beatles songs, but didn't make it for whatever reason.

And especially in recent years, I've meant to check it out, as it's an obvious one for Beatles fans, and I feel I've slept on it. Hopefully in due time. It could be one of if not my favorite non-Beatles, Beatles members records (although I'll confess not to have invested all that much into any of their careers in-depth save for some of the well known singles).

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Michael Nesmith and the First National Band - Loose Salute
rel November 1970

I have on vinyl, a bunch of Nesmith's solo records, largely per my fiancee's interest (she has them too of course). From brief experience with them, I enjoy them and his style of somewhat experimental country-rock.

This album, also referred to as the "Red" album, includes a fan favorite "Listen to the Band" which was an unreleased Monkees track I recall. It also includes "Silver Moon" and "Lady of the Valley."

And per Wikipedia, "Bye Bye Bye" was a song that a great amount of time and perfecting took place before Nez was happy with it.

One I probably could get more into soon as well.

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King Crumson - Lizard
rel December 11, 1970

This album, honestly I have only checked out maybe a couple of times, and my memory is not all that good about. Greg Lake had left the band and it does not include much if any vocals sans for an appearance of Jon Anderson of Yes on the Lizard suite.

I honestly have very little appreciation for this album from the limited amount of time I've spent with it, which maybe that could change with time. And it is the early Crimson, but it's maybe more *out there* in some ways compared to many of their others. Although I suppose Islands, which came out in '71 I can't say any more about as well.

Despite Steven Wilson's remasterings of late, etc.

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Gypsy - Gypsy
rel 1970

Minnesota jazz-rock+folky? band, maybe the 1st band from Minnesota doing something remotely/related to prog. As I wrote about them recently HERE, I've known about them and they likely would appeal to me. And I see their vinyls frequently at Cheapo and other stores, but they usually are pretty pricey. I may bite the bullet at some point and pick some of them up, and this I guess is as good of a place to start.,

There's no release date or month as far as I can tell, online. Some Minnesota music historians might know I suppose. But if I was around in 1970 and with my taste, I gotta believe this band and album would have been one I'd have championed.

"Gypsy Queen" per Wikipedia, did chart as a single.