Sunday, November 14, 2010


80. MIJ - Yodelling Astrologer (USA) 1969: ESP was a really cool sixties label that brought us Pearls Before Swine, Fugs, Holy Modal Rounders and others. But if you think those bands are odd, well you may have missed MIJ. Apparently, Jim Holmberg (MIJ) suffered a skull fracture in an auto accident and upon waking, found he had an extra couple of octaves in his voice and new musical perceptions. He went and recording this crazed psychedelic folk album with singing, whistling, yodelling and banshee screams over acoustic guitars. If this sounds like complete nonsense, one listen to Grok (Martian Love Call) should have you believing anything.

79. Queens of the Stone Age - Songs for the Deaf (USA) 2002: I came to this band rather late and have been exploring the back catalog. I am enjoying Josh Homme's first band, Kyuss, the more I listen to them, but this one still is the one to get. Homme got Mark Lanegan and Dave Grohl to join Nick Oliveri and himself and put out this heavy riffing powerhouse with loads of pop hooks mingling with raucous noisy rock music. Smart powerful music that is well above that of its many imitators.

78. Michael Raven & Joan Mills - Can y Mellinydd (The Miller Song) (UK) 1976: The three albums this duo recorded are all equally excellent, but I rather enjoy this one as it never got a proper release. It was on the Dutch label, Stoof, but got held up for various reasons and plain sleeve copies are available only in the collectors market (fortunately I paid less than the $1,200 I saw recently). Mills hits emotional depths much more than most singers of that era and Raven's guitar work is world class. Quite simply, some of the loveliest UK folk in the classic era.

77. Group 1850 - Agemo's Trip to Mother Earth (Netherlands) 1968: It's a toss up between this record and 1969's Paradise Now. This one is a tad more experimental in the psychedelic rock department. The cover was in 3-D like the Captain Beyond debut. Musically, they avoided cliched heavy psyche and brought in a lot of style shifts and dynamics. Often, I am expecting them to explode and they never quite do creating a lot of dramatic tension. Music that still intrigues me.

76. Genesis - Yakta Mama (Colombia) 1975: No, this is not that Genesis, but a band from Colombia who released three albums. South American rock, folk and psychedelic music from the sixties and seventies is very popular--especially in Europe. Record collectors have scoured out of the way shops for vinyl pressings that were pretty flimsy even when released. While many gems have been mined, the three albums by this band have some of the snappiest psyche rock songs with plenty of hooks, great vocals and local folk moves. Short, but sweet songs here.

75. Pearls Before Swine - One Nation Underground (USA) 1967: This "band" is pretty much Tom Rapp and friends. Rapp released many excellent records with a mix of great songs. A greatest hits record may be the best way to start, but this opening record is my favorite. Rapp is pretty much a folk artist who works with a band and comes up with fuller arrangements. His songs are really spacey with his mysterious lisp of a voice appearing to come from a different plane. Rapp quit the business and became an activist and attorney in Florida before being lured out of retirement in recent years to record again and play sporadically. He is a class act.

74. Jimi Hendrix Experience - Are You Experienced? (USA/UK) 1967: Well, I don't really have to say much about this one, do I? Quite simply, Hendrix was and is amazing and although I think a lot of people graduate to his subsequent works, I'll put the first one on my list with the great hits that got me into him in the first place.

73. Faraway Folk - Seasonal Man (UK) 1975: Superior folk-rock that is fairly hard to find with most likely bootleg CD issues and expensive vinyl originals out there in the marketplace. Clicking this link will give you an example of the jarring rock sounds on top of the folk heart of their music. This genre will make my list a lot as it is a bias, but this record (and others here) are pretty likable for everyone.

72. Caedmon - Caedmon (UK) 1978: This would have made my list even if I had not seen them recently and got to see what a nice group of people they are. The reunion shows in Edinburgh were great fun and they have a new album coming out in a month or so. This first obscure release was salvaged by the great Kissing Spell label, bringing in a hungry audience looking for great psyche-folk type records. This one fits between a lot of categories (and the band themselves play around with at least seven genres). They are acoustic based with electric bass and a really interesting electric guitar. There are cellos popping in and scrumptious male and female vocals. The album is up for free listening at their site and check out their new material as well.

71. Nirvana - Nevermind (USA) 1991: Here's another one that won't need much comment, so I'll pass on a story. I was a fan of theirs prior to this and went out of my way to see them when they were opening for Dinosaur Jr. They were excellent, but there was this fantastic song that I had not heard before. It really stuck, so I quickly bought the one single I had not owned at this point. Turned out "Sliver" was the other song I liked that I did not know. But what was that other song and why the hell wasn't that out there. A couple of months went by and I kept trying to find this song. Then while on travel, I went into a record store in Salt Lake City and while browsing suddenly realized they were playing that lost Nirvana song. I went to the counter and learned it was an advance copy of their new album on Geffen and the song was called "Smells Like Teen Spirit". And you know what happens next.

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