Friday, May 3, 2013

Favorite Albums of 1967

First of all, before we start, I'd like to say one thing... FUCK THIS YEAR!!! 1967 is so good. It's one of those golden years of music. So many good albums, SO MANY GOOD ALBUMS. Bands like Pink Floyd, The Moody Blues, and Velvet Undergorund would have made top fives most other years. I left some amazing albums off this list, and even those at the bottom of the list are classics in my opinion. And don't even get me started on ordering these sons of bitches. Realistically, the top 5, maybe 6 could have been number one many other years and are some of my favorites ever. Alright, now that my tangent is over, let's begin... Hope you're comfortable, because there's gonna be a whole lotta gushin' going on (yeah, that Jerry Lee reference would have worked a lot better in '57 than '67).

10. The Byrds - Younger than Yesterday: You may not think so with the lack of attention they get from me, but I really like The Byrds. The thing is, they put out good album after good album, but outside of one or two exceptions (the two to actually make lists), I've never seen any of their albums as more than pretty damn good. Though not my favorite, this is definitely The Byrds' most solid album track-by-track. It has classic Byrds rock, classic Byrds ballads, and is probably the most musically complex album of their career. As much as this album is great in every sense, it just doesn't have the huge standout Byrds staples like Mr. Tambourine Man did, otherwise it'd be my favorite album by them.

9. The Doors - Strange Days: I can say with a good amount of confidence, that you'll never see these next two lower than they are here. Which is far from a knock on these albums and moreso a testament to how amazing this year was. I thought this would be a lot higher to be honest. Listening to it again though, it's probably the weakest album of The Doors' career. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy every single song on this ablum, but hardly any stand out. "People are Strange", "Love Me Two Times" and "Unhappy Girl" are all great tracks, but otherwise they're mostly just decent Doors songs. You can tell this is the transitional album, between finding their sound on their debut and trying to experiment and expand. It suffers a lot from lack of focus and consistency, if more songs were like the ones I mentioned before, it'd be a clear classic, but as it stands, it's just a great album by a band known for being better than great.

8. The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Axis: Bold as Love: OMG YOU PUT JIMI AT NUMBER EIGHT?! This reminds me a lot of Strange Days, really. It's the second album in the same year as a stellar debut, tries too many different things, and ends up being an inconsistent disappointment. This is a genuinely great album from top to bottom, but little really impresses like most of their work. I love tracks like "Spanish Castle Magic", "If 6 was 9", "You Got me Floating" and "Little Wing". With the odd exception, the rest are fairly forgettable compared to most Hendrix songs. The musicianship is great as always, but the songwriting just doesn't excel like on other albums. But when your worst album is the eighth best of 1967, you're still doing something right.

7. The Monkees - Headquarters: I believe this is the first time I've put The Monkees on any of my lists. I do like them, I've just never loved them. Honestly they just take a lot of tropes from other bands and don't pull them off quite as well. I suppose you could say they're the Pearl Jam of 60's rock. Well if that's the case, I suppose this is their "Ten". The only album of theirs that I can say I enjoy every song off of. It's not a hit machine, but it's by far the best collection of songs. "Forget that Girl", "I Can't Get Her off of My Mind", "Mr. Webster", "No Time", "Zilch", are all great, as is the rest of the album. This is proof of how excellent The Monkees were capable of being when they weren't so worried about making another "Daydream Believer" and put equal effort into every single song. I don't think their other albums, though great in parts, come anywhere near this one.

6. Jefferson Airplane - Surrealistic Pillow: This is the one Jefferson Airplane album I love. Every track is a trip (in the literal and drug-related sense) of creative musicianship, deep lyrics, pulsing melodies, and strong, fitting vocals. It's too bad they never lived up to this again, but I can't exactly blame them. This kind of Psychedelic Rock is hard to come by, and even harder to perfect. Every song feels different, and they all go together so well. I can't say from personal experience, but I imagine listening to this while tripping on mushrooms or LSD caused many a brain to suddenly leak white, salty fluids in the late 60's. The true testament to how great this album is, is that it includes classic staples of 60's music like "Somebody to Love" and one of my favorite songs in general, "White Rabbit" and every song matches those in greatness, never feeling like a means to an end, the end being the hit you love, like a lot of albums, especially nowadays, tend to.

5. Cream - Disraeli Gears: I hate this. This album doesn't deserve a 5 spot in any given year. I can't argue when I see it #5 on all-time lists. It's truly an astounding album in every sense. It's a perfect blend of psychadelic, blues, and pure rock. I can't name a standout track this time because they're all great. Clapton, Bruce, and Baker are all at the top of their game and are probably the best set of musicians together at the time, and create a classic among classics. Honestly, if Cream had stayed together longer, they'd probably be considered among the greatest bands ever. But I suppose we wouldn't get Derek & The Dominoes, Blind Faith, or his solo material. So it evens out.

4. Albert King - Born Under a Bad Sign: Albert King may be the most under-appreciated man in Blues. In a decade where Blues was being pushed out the door for Rock n' Roll, Albert King came along with his second studio album and blue the motherfucking doors off. You can tell why this album took 5 years to create. The guitar-work is some of the best of the entire decade. It's skillful, emotional, and perfectly executed. The backing instruments fit the tone of each song perfectly, and King himself just has an awesome voice. He has a rare blend of energy and somberness that excellently conveys the messages of struggle and inner-strength in his lyrics. If you have even the slightest hint of interest in Blues, this album is a necessity.

3. The Doors - The Doors: Be. fore. you. Slip intooooo unnnnconsciousnessss... This album is THE reason the doors are as renowned as they are. It's near-perfection throughout. It goes from haunting blues, to pure rock, to somber and epic Simon & Garfunkel-esque pieces, but somehow, don't ask me how, I'm not a musical genius, but it all ties together so fluidly. The typical rock isntrumentation is great, but I've never heard a keyboard sound so badass. Ray Manzarek is an excellent musician, milking every ounce of emotion possible out of his keyboard, vox continental, and the marxophone, clearly the biggest instrument in music at the time. Every song is unique, every song is a journey, and every song is a trip on its own. This is only triples when you add Jim Morrison's excellent vocal skills. He had an astounding and underappreciated knack for finding the perfect tone to match the sound of the song he was singing over. This is an absolute clinic in songwriting and performance. And again, fuck this year, because I actually didn't even think twice about leaving this out of the top two.

2. The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Are You Experienced? I'm legitimately experienced after having heard this album. This is Jimi at his absolute finest. Perfect riffs and solos, soulful singing, and emotional lyrics, if a little heavy on innuendo and metaphors, but he was a stoner among stoners, so that's to be expected. The thing that makes this album borderline perfect though, is the entire band. Jimi is widely considered legendary and for good reason, but have you heard of Mitch Mitchell? Probably not. Just listen to the drum work on "Manic Depression", "Fire", "Red House" or "Hey Joe". The Experience wasn't great just because of Jimi, but because of Mitchell's stellar drumming and Noel Redding (no relation to Otis)'s solid backing bass work. The combination created a masterpiece worthy of being heard by every human being.

1. The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hears Club Band: This album, THIS ALBUM! If this isn't my favorite album of all time, it's definitely up there. I love almost every Beatles album, but aside from maybe Rubber Soul, none are in the same stratosphere as Sgt. Pepper in my opinion. Every track on this album is pure gold. You can tell every member put their heart into this album as I can't find a single flaw in any song. From the musicianship, to the lyrics, to the vocal work, everything is performed with as much excellence as possible. I could keep gushing, but I think you get the point. It's my favorite album of all time from possibly my favorite band ever, released in one of the greatest years in the history of music. If you haven't heard it, you absolutely need to, and I hope you will enjoy the show.

Like always, thanks for reading, hope you liked, feel free to follow on Twitter @SycoMantis1991, comment, follow the blog, or don't, that's cool too. Prick :)

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