Sunday, December 5, 2010


50. King Crimson - In the Court of the Crimson King (UK) 1969: I have always used King Crimson as the band to recommend to people who think they don't like progressive rock. Crimson had a great variety of styles from album to album and sometimes within. There is a lot of variety here from the chaos of 21st Century Schizoid Man to the quiet of I Talk to the Wind with the rest in between somewhere. And there early use of the mellotron makes this a progressive must. "Red" is considered the other classic, but start here at the beginning and go as far as you want.

49. Voice of the Seven Woods - Voice of the Seven Woods (UK) 2007: Rick Tomlinson came out with this beauty a few years back and now calls his band Voice of Seven Thunders whose album is also excellent. It is a bit heavier than this debut which has a wonderful psychedelic mix of rockers, mood pieces and folk. I choose this one because of the haunting "Silver Morning Branches" which is one of my favorite psyche-folk cuts of all-time, and not too many people can do them like this in the 21st century.

48. Chimera - Obstakel (Netherlands) 1981: This Netherlands folk-rock band had two lovely albums that are reasonably well known there, but have not even excited the record collectors as much as some other fine acts like Deirdre. Still, no CD releases, there are some copies floating around that are not ridiculously pricey. If you like Kong Lavring, Steeleye Span, Folque, Spriguns and the rest, you owe yourself a treat with this record.

47. Sixteen Horsepower - Sackcloth 'n' Ashes (USA) 1995: I lived in Colorado for roughly 18 years (and yes those mountain snows were rough). There were always a few good bands around but David Eugene Edwards and company hit on a style that became known as the Denver Sound. It was pretty much Appalachian tunes rocked up a bit with failed fire and brimstone lyrics which dug deep and hung darkly. Chilling, hypnotic power evident in so many of these songs. Like a few of my other favorites coming up later on the list, Europe understood this band in far greater numbers than did America. Such a shame, because these guys should have been grabbing top chart positions.

46. Emtidi - Emtidi (Germany) 1970: A male/female German and Canadian duo put out two albums that had significant differences. Most people rave about the second album, "Saat" with its long dreamy psyche-progressive songs. It is excellent and worthy of listen but I prefer the more psyche-folk debut with shorter songs that are powerfully sung with strong resonating acoustic guitar and even the occasional psyche jam. Fit & Limo and many more recent artists certainly have taken note of this magical band.

45. Ramones - Road to Ruin (USA) 1978: Well, it is pretty hard to leave out the Ramones considering how important punk rock was to me. I first remember taping their Don Kirshner Rock Concert tv appearance (!) with my brother and a cheap tape recorder trying to wake up our parents. It was great stuff and we eventually squirreled away money to get the albums. The live tours through Dayton and Cincinnati were the real prize as they were amazing back when music needed their mighty kick in the ass. People have written books about this, so I will just head to this fourth album which had a great mix of songs and a bit more sophistication in the production. The first four are all essential and there's plenty of good work scattered about after that.

44. Mark Fry - Dreaming of Alice (UK) 1972: I may have this a bit high in terms of importance to the psyche-folk scene, but I just never stop playing it. Pretty much the classic acoustic sounds with loads of sitar, flute, spacey vocals, psyche themes and embellishments. And there is only this album from Mark Fry, which has thankfully been re-released.

43. Radiohead - OK, Computer (UK) 1997: I did not pick up on this one early and then when critics proclaimed this as one of the most important albums of all time, I kind of felt I better give it a listen. As usual, when something is hyped, my initial listens were filled with "what's the big deal?" in my thoughts. It took several listens to break down the walls I build against the hype. I now see the amazing pop construction of some of the songs on this album. "Karma Police" is still one of the most stunning songs in my huge record collection. So listen to the hype, the critics got this one right.

42. Bread Love and Dreams - Amaryllis (UK) 1972: The third and final album of this male/female folk duo named after a Gina Lollabrigida comedy. The first two albums were nice enough, but they went crazy on this finale with cool psyche cover art and more importantly, the addition of Pentangle's rhythm section. Side A is a continuous song cycle which is the pinnacle of their work and one of the classics of the psyche-folk genre (with a progressive pacing at times).

41. The Moody Blues - In Search of the Lost Chord (UK) 1968: My live review of this band including my defense of their truly essential early work was one of my most read entries. There are a number of us who while listening to punk rock, never gave up our Moody Blues moments. There was no question of them making the list, it was only whether to do this album or the underrated "To Our Children's Children's Children". This one gets the edge, but it really does not matter to me. The amazing "House of Four Doors" is here and the video which I linked was mesmerizing enough that I played it twice through before writing this. There are tons of psyche moves amidst the progressive in their early works and they really should be given a re-listen for open minded music fanatics. And of course, the mellotron is all over the record.

No comments: