Posts Tagged folk-rock album
This second full week of January is a week for debut albums. First-outs this week include The Beatles’ Introducing…The Beatles (1/10/64), Led Zeppelin’s 1/12/69 debut, Aerosmith’s 1/13/73 first effort and ZZ Top’s First Album from 1/16/71. Today, January 14, marks the 39th anniversary of Paul Simon’s eponymous debut album (click here for my Rhymin’ Simon playlist).
Hot off his decade-long, multi-platinum gig with partner Art Garfunkel in the acclaimed 60s folk-pop duet Simon & Garfunkel, Simon cooled off for two years to work on his debut album as a solo artist. When released 1/14/72, Paul Simon became the first of three straight Top Ten, million-selling studio LPs for Simon (not including the 1974’s Live Rhymin’).
Paul Simon expands from the straightforward folk-pop music of his Simon & Garfunkel years and includes reggae influences (“Mother And Child Reunion,” a Top Ten hit), African rhythms and texture (“Duncan”), and Latin tinges (“Me And Julio Down By The Schoolyard”). This subtle exploration of different musical genres continued with the R&B and gospel influences on 1974’s There Goes Rhymin’ Simon and the jazzy sounds of 1975’s Still Crazy After All These Years, which hit #2 and #1 on the U.S. pop charts (Paul Simon made it to #4 in 1972). After a relatively quiet 10 year stretch, Simon returned in 1986 with Graceland, an album deftly mixing American folk-pop with South African mbaqanga music. Those four albums, plus the heavy Latin sounds of 1990’s The Rhythm Of The Saints are Paul Simon’s best five and an incomparable collection of world-pop from one of the best all-around folk-pop songwriters of all-time.
Here’s a sampling of the great albums of 60s, 70s and 80s rock and pop – the best music ever made! – which were released this week:
● Dylan, Bob —— Highway 61 Revisited >> 1965
● Byrds, The —— Sweetheart Of The Rodeo >> 1968
● Beach Boys, The —— Surf’s Up >> 1971
● Rolling Stones, The —— Tattoo You >> 1981
● XTC —— Mummer >> 1983
● Miami Sound Machine —— Eyes Of Innocence >> 1984
● Scaggs, Boz —— Other Roads >> 1988
● REO Speedwagon —— Earth, The, A Small Man, His Dog And A Chicken >> 1990
● Oasis —— Definitely Maybe >> 1994
● Death Cab For Cutie —— Plans >> 2005
● Ventures, The —— Going To The Ventures’ Dance Party! >> 1962
● Beach Boys, The —— Sunflower >> 1970
● Rolling Stones, The —— Goats Head Soup >> 1973
● Jackson, Michael —— Bad >> 1987
● Charles & Eddie —— Duophonic >> 1992
● Mayall, John & The Bluesbreakers —— Crusade >> 1967
● Stevens, Cat —— Teaser And The Firecat >> 1971
● Grateful Dead —— Blues For Allah >> 1975
● Jethro Tull —— A >> 1980
● Bowie, David —— Tonight >> 1984
● Turner, Tina —— Break Every Rule >> 1986
● R.E.M. —— Document >> 1987
● Mötley Crüe —— Dr. Feelgood >> 1989
● Rolling Stones, The —— Through The Past Darkly (Big Hits, Vol. 2) >> 1969
● Van Der Graaf —— Quiet Zone, The/The Pleasure Dome >> 1977
● Moody Blues, The —— Present, The >> 1983
● UB40 —— Baggariddim >> 1985
● Joel, Billy —— Greatest Hits, Vols. 1 & 2 (1973-1985) >> 1985
● Bowie, David & Tin Machine —— Tin Machine II >> 1991
● Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark —— Universal >> 1996
● Genesis —— Calling All Stations >> 1997
● Fleetwood Mac —— Future Games >> 1971
● Iron Maiden —— Powerslave >> 1984
● Rush —— Roll The Bones >> 1991
● Nicks, Stevie —— TimeSpace >> 1991
● Rolling Stones, The —— Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out >> 1970
● Queen —— Queen >> 1973
● Scott-Heron, Gil & Brian Jackson —— Winter In America >> 1973
● Who, The —— It’s Hard >> 1982
● Summer, Donna —— Cats Without Claws >> 1984
● Triumph —— Sport Of Kings, The >> 1986
● Love And Rockets —— Love And Rockets >> 1989
● System Of A Down —— Toxicity >> 2001
● Poco —— From The Inside >> 1971
● Jethro Tull —— Minstrel In The Gallery >> 1975
● Skinny Puppy —— Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse >> 1986
● Motörhead —— Rock ‘N’ Roll >> 1987
● Grim Reaper —— Rock You To Hell >> 1987
● Siouxsie And The Banshees —— Peepshow >> 1988
● Soundgarden —— Louder Than Love >> 1989
● Big Audio Dynamite —— Megatop Phoenix >> 1989
● Jones, Mick —— Mick Jones >> 1989
An instant classic upon its release 40 years ago, super trio Crosby, Stills & Nash’s self-titled debut LP featured their trademark close, rich harmonies and each member’s unique songwriting talents in nearly equal doses. Timely social and political statements mark each track, and the whole is one melodic celebration of late-60s folk-rock.
Crosby, Stills & Nash spawned two singles, the somewhat bubblegum-ish “Marrakesh Express” (backed with “Helplessly Hoping”) and the perennial “Suite: Judy Blues Eyes” (b/w “Long Time Gone,” David Crosby’s lament to the Robert Kennedy assassination a year earlier), but neither made it into the Top 20 (the album itself hit #6 in the U.S.). Add the sweet ballad of “Guinnevere,” the mystic “Wooden Ships” (co-written by Crosby, Stephen Stills and Paul Kantner of the Jefferson Airplane), Stills’ warbling electric guitar in “Pre-Road Downs” and the toe-tapper “You Don’t Have To Cry,” and it’s not surprising that Crosby, Stills & Nash is one of the top debut albums of all time (it’s #4 on my Top 25 Debut Album list) and a quintessential example of the flourishing light country-folk-rock of the time (along with the Byrds’ Sweetheart Of The Rodeo and The Grateful Dead’s Workingman’s Dead, among others).
Nashville Skyline wasn’t Bob Dylan’s best album by any stretch, but it did top out at #3 in the U.S. and a surprising #1 on the U.K. charts (find Bob in The Playlist Vault, here). Recorded in Nashville (where else?) with a cadre of local session musicians and released on April 9, 1969, the album includes a duet (a remake of “Girl From The North Country”) with Johnny Cash and reflects the emergence of the country-rock sub-genre and the early shift of pure country music toward the pop mainstream.
Nashville Skyline spun three singles onto the pop charts, with “Lay Lady Lay” the only one to see significant chart action. The other two (“Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You” and “I Threw It All Away”) were pretty decent slower country tunes, but Dylan wasn’t a country artist and Nashville Skyline was far from a rock album, so one shouldn’t be surprised that the singles didn’t hit. But that’s the whole point. The album was smack in the middle of the early development of country-rock, and Dylan was on the forefront along with the Byrds, Gram Parsons and Neil Young.
And Bob Dylan’s best? My money’s on Blonde On Blonde, with Highway 61 Revisited at #2 and Blood On The Tracks #3. Your bias can be registered on DrRock.com. Nashville Skyline can be purchased as a CD or mp3 downloads on Amazon or iPod files on iTunes.
Neil Young released his fourth solo album, Harvest, on February 25, 1972, a long 18 month gap following After The Gold Rush (for Dr. Rock’s Neil Young playlist, click here). The delay didn’t seem to matter to his fans, and likely stoked their collective interest. Harvest met with an enthusiastic reception; the LP quickly went to the top of the Billboard album charts and eventually became the highest selling album of 1972.
Along with the #1 hit “Heart of Gold” and the #31 single “Old Man,” Young delivered a masterful collection of second-tier slow, plodding and mid-tempo country-rock and folk tunes. Background vocals were provided by Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor and Young’s former bandmates, David Crosby, Graham Nash and Stephen Stills. Two tracks (“A Man Needs A Maid” and “There’s A World”) feature the London Symphony Orchestra, a potentially disastrous mix that could have resulted in schmaltzy elevator music, but Neil pulled it off with his plaintive vocals topping just the right level of soaring orchestral background.
Harvest brought Young into the glare of rock stardom as a solo artist. While his later work includes many great albums, he never matched the widespread popularity of Harvest, his biggest seller. It’s available on CD, LP or mp3 at Amazon (click here). Downloads for iPods are on iTunes (click here).
Cat Stevens had several singles and three mediocre albums during his attempt to launch his career as a folk-rock singer/songwriter in the late 60s. While he garnered some attention in his native England, he found virtually no audience in the U.S. and, out of frustration, considered ending his efforts. But he had a backlog of decent material, and so decided to give it one more shot. His fourth album, Tea For Tillerman, rang the bell upon its release on November 23, 1970, reaching #8 in the U.S., #11 in Canada, #20 in the U.K. and, eventually #206 on Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top 500 albums.
Tea For Tillerman’s push up the charts benefited from the big single “Wild World,” which was issued in advance of the album and created the buzz Stevens needed to break into the U.S. market. But the album carried its own weight beyond the single. Four songs in particular, “Father And Son,” “Longer Boats,” “Where Do The Children Play?” and “Hard Headed Woman” have become timeless favorites for Cat’s devotees and casual fans alike.