If you have ever seen Soylent Green, there is a scene where Edward G. Robinson goes to the assisted suicide center (overpopulation is the theme). He is allowed to choose visuals and music to go out by in a very moving sequence. Or perhaps you recall the Simpson parody when Grampa Simpson chooses the Glenn Miller Orchestra playing to video of cops beating up hippies. Anyway, I don't know about the visuals, but I thought about the concept of picking the last 100 songs I would listen to (don't worry, I am not planning the lethal injection, just using this to transition into the next stage of my life beyond a primary focus on writing about music).
This is broken down into four components: Fire, Earth, Water, Air with the songs all set up on YouTube playlists. Clicking on those titles will take you to the list and you can listen along if you like. The descriptions of these songs are below. They are not necessarily my favorite 100 songs, just the ones I want to hear once more flowing to a conclusion. There is a bias on the more psychedelic, folk, and searching songs, as I don't want to necessarily be revved up here (but there is still plenty of room for some heavy material as that was a huge part of my musical history).
Anyway, here it is and I am (hopefully) off to Scotland to see Roy Harper among other things, provided I make the flight.
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown “Fire” - This is the first record I ever owned, as I flipped when hearing it at a childhood friend’s house. He insisted I have it and it was a crazed beginning to my love of hard rock, psychedelic music, and punk rock. Other early records I bought were fairly tame, this is still one of the wildest songs ever.
MC5 “Looking at You” - Detroit/Ann Arbor of the late sixties has become one of the most important epicenters of music history. The MC5 pushed forward and pushed hard.
Stooges “1970” - And the Stooges have now become legend. Watch all the documentaries on punk rock and see how many bands formed on three different continents because school kids found other Stooges fans and knew they needed to become friends and bandmates. And their reunion tours were absolutely brilliant.
The Damned “Neat Neat Neat” - And here is one of the earliest punk bands that will admit to taking the Stooges sound and running for their lives, musically (mostly). The Damned are still an overly neglected band that worked many styles brilliantly, but I’ll stick to their second single to take me through the roof.
The Avengers “We are the One” - A profoundly powerful American punk sound that was terribly influential and chilling to listen to.
Stiff Little Fingers “Alternative Ulster” - When this Northern Ireland band was singing about war and death, they could see it right out their window, which few bands could ever claim. They were smart, worked hard, and made brilliant music for many decades to come.
Radio Birdman “455 SD” - The Australian punk scene was magnificent and thankfully a few of the bands were able to rise to world wide prominence. Many, including this and the next band, didn’t consider themselves punk, but that matters not. They took the Detroit sound and worked it beyond barriers like the speeding car that this song is about.
The Saints “This Perfect Day” - More Australian brilliance by the other top band of the continent at the time (with Nick Cave and many more to follow). The Saints were ferociously loud, fast, and tough, making crazy music even before the Ramones and the Sex Pistols and should be far better known.
Bad Brains “Banned in DC” - I was fortunate to see them on their first tour and many more times at various points of their career. I still remember getting this cassette and having to take people from a party into my car for a listen several times that first night. Early live shows and recorded works prove these guys as being one of a kind.
The Dicks “Hate the Police” - What a buzzsaw sound! This is the purest American punk rock song in my estimation. An erratic band, but capable of brilliance or utter perfection in this case. Many people thought Mudhoney’s cover version was the best song Mudhoney ever wrote.
Mudhoney “No One Has” - How to rescue punk rock from hardcore and other fragmentation? Creating Mudhoney was how these Seattle guys did it, even as it ended up becoming the beginning of grunge. This band was so badly needed in the late eighties and I really don’t see how we would have had Nirvana without them.
The Wipers “Over the Edge” - I am amazed how many young people love the Wipers even though you have to work hard to find this band in American media outlets. You had to work hard in the 80s as well, except in Europe, where they totally understood the brilliance of Greg Sage and his music. I got lucky, I found them just about from the get go and they have been a major part of my life ever since.
Golden Earring “Radar Love” - Desperate I was for hard rock in my youth, radio was able to offer some occasional brilliance including this perfect driving song. I love listening to it five times to listen to each part which is utterly brilliant by itself—vocals, guitar, drums, bass, and then the fifth time for the overall synchronized production.
Focus “Hocus Pocus” - It is the early seventies and no punk rock. No problem, just keep hunting out hard rock and progressive rock that is fast and crazed. And these guys still continue to make this signature song faster and more wild then ever when they cut into it on stage.
Love “Your Mind and We Belong Together” - The first three albums took psychedelic rock into fascinating new terrain culminating in the brilliant “Forever Changes’ This audacious song was the follow-up to that LP and the last thing that the first serious incarnation of Love came up with.
The Electric Prunes “I Had Too Much to Dream Last Night” - It is not surprising that Lenny Kaye chose this to start of his essential psychedelic rock compilation, “Nuggets”, as it virtually defines psychedelic rock music. And this band was not just a studio creation, as they could cut it live, be it 1967 or 2005.
The Third Bardo “I’m Five Years Ahead of my Time” - So many bands are five years ahead of their time and it was none truer than in the 1960s, but thankfully music history has served them well.
The Misunderstood “I Can Take You to the Sun” - Oh what a tangled, messed up tale they spun, this brilliant band. Their story is legendary so go find it. After all the missteps, at least we have a six song recording that was made in England after a John Peel invitation to come to the UK, that is one of the most perfect recordings ever.
International Harvester “There is no Other Place” - This Swedish band mastered droning psychedelic rock long before the Swans and death metal bands. This album is still hard to believe and this song still sends me into shock.
The Rolling Stones “Paint it Black” - This song still has the magic of sounding fresh and vibrant no many how many times I hear it. And I am of the age that as a child too young to understand this music, I at least heard and knew of the Beatles and the Stones (as they hit Ed Sullivan and so on).
Fleetwood Mac “The Green Manalishi” - No, I don’t necessarily slam the newer Fleetwood Mac to go back the bluesy days of Peter Green… BUT for the brilliant “Oh Well” and this monstrous psychedelic song that is unlike anything Peter Green and Fleetwood Mac ever did. Weird and wonderful.
Roy Harper “Me and my Woman” - Harper is as brilliant as Dylan or anyone else you want to name, if I have anything to say about it. This is epic folk with Jimmy Page helping out. There are about five songs in here, but it all makes sense in its majestic manor.
Comus “Song to Comus” - The British folk revival was not ready for this in 1970. Who was, then or now? Their first LP, “First Utterance” was one of the most singular oddities unleashed on the musical world. When they reformed in 2004 for the first time to play for the first time in 30 years, I along with others from the US, Canada, China, Thailand, and Europe converged to witness the seemingly impossible. And I was slated to be their road manager on an aborted US tour. Alas, but no matter, as this first album is still here to amaze us all.
Opeth “Demon of the Fall” - And one of the people that got Comus to reunite was Mikael Akerfeldt a musician of many tastes and one has taken Opeth to vast adventures along various forms of metal and progressive music over the years. This little number has a bit of everything, although ir usually reminds me I want to listen to all of Opeth.
Ennio Morricone - “Sixty Seconds to What?” - He may compose soundtracks and I may be using this as a transition piece, but his music is so bold and brilliant that it holds it own without the film (but oh, to put it to Sergio Leone is utter magic). I chose this song as it has so many crazy elements of sound, loud and quiet, and is fully in the theme of this powerful movie “For a Few Dollars More”.
The Kinks “Til the End of the Day” - There are so many good choices for the Kinks but this is a bouncy little rocker that brings it all down to the earth.
The Chocolate Watchband “I’m Not Like Everybody Else” - And let’s go with another Ray Davies song that the Chocolate Watchband gave some toughness to and is a great anthem for all of us that keep searching this planet.
The Ramones “I Just Want to Have Something to do” - And one search was answered when I first heard the Ramones. They ushered in a profound style without any attempt to do so. I met so many great friends at their early shows in Cincinnati and Dayton. Great memories.
The Buzzcocks “Ever Fallen in Love” - Like the Ramones, but even more confusing to me as why this band was not simply massive. Monster pop hooks, sexy-cynical vocals, a great beat, and rocking guitars… no excuse for why the American market did not push this to the max.
Fairport Convention “Tam Lin” - I named my third cat after the legendary character in this old traditional poem/song. Fairport helped usher in folk rock with their album ‘Liege & Lief’ where this is my co-favorite song (along with Richard Thompson’s ‘Crazy Man Michael’).
Moody Blues “House of Four Doors” - I will defend this band to all the naysayers, and until they listen to the psychedelic cuts that don’t make classic rock radio, there is no point to discuss. I love the odd structure to this trippy song.
T2 “No More White Horses” - This obscure rock band was only three guys strong, but strong they were with great touch and fine lead vocalist on the drum kit. Keith Cross should be a better known guitarist as well.
Beatles “A Day in the Life” - John and Paul each get a portion of this epic song that retains much power for me, especially as i move on in life.
Tim Buckley “Pleasant Street” - I had hoped that Jeff Buckley’s success might pave the way for a more thorough rediscovery of his absent father. But Jeff died at 30 and left a lot less music then his Dad did when he died at age 28. But Tim Buckley’s music is still there to discover in all its incredible variety, all with his powerful 5-octave voice.
Woven Hand “Dirty Blue” - I adore the music of David Eugene Edwards, first in 16 Horsepower and then in Woven Hand. It is deep and mystical with an inner power that works its way into acoustic and electric songs of varying tempos and volumes. Amazing band that Europe understands better than the US (like the Wipers and many punk rock bands). And this is my tie to Colorado.
Dead Meadow “Between Me and the Ground” - Originally a DC-area band, this LA outfit has never quite caught in with the real world, but musicians and core fans really dig their psychedelic moves with those playful bass lines. They know how to jam away and write some great songs.
Faun Fables “Housekeeper” - This husband and wife duo manages to work the Brothers Grimm into everyday life with their mysterious music. Chilling and unique.
Townes van Zandt “Our Mother the Mountain” - Although rising out of the earth, Townes’ song covers all of earth, water, fire and air. He had that knack when he was on and he puts a flaming arrow deep inside me, a former mountain dweller.
Trees “Murdoch” - Just two 1970 albums to their name, aside from some found tracks later on, and this UK band still can bring in fans. As a friend said, their guitars just go and go… acoustic meets electric and all with Celia Humphries dazzling vocals.
The Strawbs “Witchwood” - Another misunderstood band who did not make it easy for people with lots of style shifts between albums and songs. This is one of their earlier cradle to the grave life cycle songs that offers space for profound reflection.
Pink Floyd “Jugband Blues” - I am glad the Barrett-less band found room for Syd Barrett’s masterpiece on ‘Saucerful of Secrets’. Although ’Astronomy Domine’ may be just as, if not more, favored; I really love Syd’s approach here and his oh so quiet send off before even going further down the rabbit hole for his solo albums.
Hair Cast “The Flesh Failures/Eyes Look Your Last/Let the Sunshine In” - Still an excellent play and this closing medley is a monster when it hits you in the face on stage. The Age of Aquarius has ended, but keep moving.
Van der Graaf Generator “Darkness” - I easily see why John Lydon cites Pete Hammill of VDGG as an influence, since he is the one guy who had ever sounded anything like John Lydon before the Sex Pistols. This band always amazes me every time I listen closely.
Folque “Ravnene” - This is a Norwegian version of the old English folk song, ’Twa Corbies’. Folque had a rich sound throughout their run and did a masterful job with this song, which is ancient, rustic, and ever powerful.
Mellow Candle “Sheep Season” - Tempting to hear their masterful ‘Boulders on my Grave’, but I love this quiet song and the closing jam that is one of the more woven pieces of music I’ve heard. I could listen to them play that for hours.
Joan Armatrading “Visionary Mountains” - I first enjoyed Manfred Mann’s version, but the original is far better. It was on Joan’s first LP and features Guyanese lyricist Pam Nesbo (had to get a bit of Guyana in my list). Oh, and a sitar (which makes a frequent appearance on my lists).
The Byrds “Child of the Universe” - The Byrds first wrote a country rock song for the movie ‘Candy’, but then were told to bring them something big and psychedelic. This was the result, a wild over the top cosmic ride, something they hadn’t done much of since ‘Eight Miles High’.
The Zombies “Hung Up on a Dream” - Probably the most psychedelic song for the Zombies, it has all the vocal magic and pop hooks, too. Fabulous band and super nice guys, too.
Henry VIII “Pastime with Good Company” - I am a minor league Henry VIII scholar, but even if I was not, I would still love this magical song he wrote as an arts loving lad. This is the New World Renaissance Band, but Robin Williamson does a great one as well.
Jethro Tull “Bourée” - Continuing the water theme with flowing classical music is the amazing Jethro Tull interpretation of this Bach piece. I never get tired of what they conjure up here and Glenn Cornick’s bass line and solo may be my favorite of all time.
Donovan “Get Thy Bearings” - Donovan should be considered a giant for all the versatile and wonderful music he created. This wildcard came out of his creative muse as he shifted from a folk club to a jazz lounge while keeping the musical flows of both and more.
Génesis “Raquel” - This the Genesis from Colombia who put out three fine LPs of progressive psychedelic rock music with that unique South American vibe (there is a lot of great South American music from the psychedelic era). This is a Kevin Ayers cover.
Davy Graham “Angi” - Graham wrote this 1960 when I was not even a year old and released it in 1962. I still see finger style guitarists take a stab at it, as it is a rite of passage for just about every finger style guitarist that takes to a stage. It also helped introduce and popularize DADGAD tuning.
Jackson C. Frank “My Name is Carnival” - Unlike Paul Simon, this is the American the British folk scene liked, when Frank spent time in the mid-1960s there in the burgeoning folk scene. He made one brilliant LP before a book length series of miseries wrecked his life. I saw this decaying man at the only Wizz Jones American show about six months before he mercifully died.
Gurnemanz “To His Love” - A surprisingly little known German band, that like the better known Ougenweide, showed a progressive/krautrock musicality within the deep folk scene. There were so many great songs, but I chose this Shakespearian droner.
Sounds of Salvation “Overseers” - Believe it or not, there was a day when Christian Rock and Christian Folk were not genres that everyone else ran from in terror. This band was crazy with deep psychedelic folk songs, Country Joe covers, and this wild rocker.
13th Floor Elevators “Slip Inside this House” - Another long flowing psychedelic masterpiece here, from that wild Austin band who also have yielded full books and movies about what they have created and become.
Radiohead “Karma Police” - A nod to the more modern genius of Radiohead with this mesmerizing cut from the classic ‘OK Computer’.
Thomas Mapfumo “Shumba” - I first discovered this Zimbabwean musician on a long defunct satellite channel, the Caribbean Satellite Network. Thankfully they added one simple African video from this master musician who doesn’t quite fit any genre, although his warmth and power works its way into many a playlist.
Baris Manço “Daglar Daglar” - A nod to the great music of Turkey as the legendary Baris Manco put out some wonderful music. I am sure there is much more to explore if I keep digging, but it is hard to get beyond the giants.
Amon Düül II “Kanaan” - Amon Düül morphed into two bands with the first version retaining a free form hippie brand of musical expression, while II finely honed their psychedelic visions into progressive rock forms that wowed people worldwide.
Scott Walker “Amsterdam” - Walker is the voice I want to hear and his Jacques Brel interpretations still amaze me including this one set in a very watery city.
Phantasia “Winter Winds” - The icy chill in the air may cool down the waters, but they still flow in this lovely psychedelic charmer from a fine band, who should be better known.
MU “Drink from the Fountain” - I was stunned not to find this marvelous cut on YouTube, so I had to make a video myself and even got permission from the writer, Merrell Fankhauser, also getting a great interview with him as well.
Steeleye Span “Lovely on the Water” - Not even the jarring electric guitar of acoustic specialist Martin Carthy can keep the lovely flow of this song from pouring all over me. I particularly like the ending chord.
Incredible String Band “The Water Song” - Alright, an obvious song to fit my theme, but I just had to get in as much Robin Williamson as I could as this is the first of two from the great Incredible String Band.
Sugar Creek “Night Flash” - I really love the vocal work, that is too often taken for granted these days. Jonathon Edwards had a nice solo career, but I really enjoy this early band of his.
Blue Öyster Cult “Screams” - Allan Lanier’s keyboard playing is quite underrated. Just listen to the landscape it creates here in this early cut that shows the psychedelic roots of this classic band.
Erkin Koray “Cemalim” - Part 2 of my homage to the great Turkish Psychedelic masters. Koray’s guitar playing is wildly famous in that part of the world and further into Europe. But you have to really find a sharp scene in the US to find people to discuss him with.
Caedmon “Aslan” - Psychedelic Folk? Folk Rock? Progressive? Christian Folk? This Scottish outfit did not fit anywhere comfortably, but made one dazzling album in 1978 and have thankfully come back to create more music and honored me with a show in Edinburgh, where I spent time with them as well. Great people, great music.
Bröselmaschine “Gedanken” - I saw a recent video recording of a reunion show where they closed with an incredible version of this, so this apparently is their signature song. It moves me to no end.
Chimera “De Waardin” - The Nederland Chimera is an obscurity, but were one of the more balanced of that scene’s fine progressive/psychedelic folk scene.
Haizea “Hontz Gaua” - Spain does not always feature as prominently in the European Psychedelic Folk canon, but Haizea were grand masters of the style. This is their epic song and a fitting close to the flowing, watery song list.
The Pentangle “Light Flight” - The air is breezy as this snappy song emits that free flowing late sixties happy urban atmosphere that few captured well.
Elly & Rikkert “Godin van de Liefde” - This Dutch couple put out some deep LPs before lightening it up a bit too much, but were magic in the day.
Ougenweide “Der Hofmaler” - The best known German folk rock band put out many great LPs, all with so much to offer in the ethereal world as well as this.
Gwydion “The Sungod” - Gwydion was either too twee or a brilliant American bardic shaman. I lean somewhere toward the latter especially on this first LP of his two.
Mystery Maker “Giver of Life” - This obscure Christian folk album has long been a favorite with the mystical vibe and the guitars that go on and on.
Bob Theil “Yesterdays” - Bob Theil put out one transcendent LP that this comes from and finally returned a few decades later to transverse the heavens once more.
Amber “White Angel” - Two Donovan friends Julian MacAllister and Mac MacLeod (also an Argent member with Jim Rodford and Rod Argent of Zombies) hooked up to form Amber. MacLeod borrowed Donovan’s sitar that he got from George Harrison. Elton John’s Ray Cooper played percussion and the Yardbird’s Keith Relf produced. So why didn’t this awesome duo take off?
Pererin “Can Y Melinydd” - Yet another ‘religious band’ from Wales this time, singing in Welsh much of the time. Terrific soaring psychedelic folk, delicate, but powerful.
Rufus Zuphall “Knight of 3rd Degree” - A German band that transversed many genres as did many German bands who got the krautrock moniker because no three genres could hold them.
The Frantics “Relax Your Mind” - Psychedelic music in the sixties reached Billings, Montana and this is the proof. Proof also, that this band should have found better distribution to find the audience they deserved.
Joy Division “Day of the Lords” - This band reopened some distant doors as punk rock was blazing its trail with ferocity. No less intense, just more mysterious in sound and thought.
Incredible String Band “Three is a Green Crown” - Now here is a mysterious psychedelic journey worth taking as it is the second song I have selected from the brilliant LP ‘The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter’. Get high on sound.
Trader Horne “Velvet to Atone” - Judy Dyble from Fairport Convention is the chilling voice and Jackie MacAuley from Them was the guitar and writer of this gem from their only album.
Agincourt “When I Awoke” - John Ferdinando and Peter Howell, who worked at BBC Sound, released many records under various names. This one with Lee Menelaus on vocals captures a unique perspective in the latter day hippie era.
Spirogyra “Van Allen’s Belt” - The Canterbury band that was more folky than others still had loads of creative progressive moments on their three LPs. Rather under the radar more than they should have been.
Voice of the Seven Woods “Silver Morning Branches” - I wish Rick Tomlinson were more prolific, but I still have this modern miracle that sounds like something out of Book of AM.
Book of AM “Hear the Voice of the Bard” - Speaking of which, this band was actually Can Am des Puig, although it was a nice collection of European musicians hooking up in Spain to undertake a fascinating project of setting the Book of AM to music. Gong members are loosely involved.
Robbie Basho “Katari Takawaitha” - It is with great pleasure that I have been able to review so many Robbie Basho reissues and rarities in recent years. His music is steadily the most transcendent of any American artist in the 1960s and 1970s. Indulge.
Corben Simpson “Le Poisson” - This New Zealand artist is little known in this part of the world except for record collectors. The music is good, but this song seemingly came out of nowhere or some intense vision he had, as nothing he did (or many others did) sound like it.
Donovan “Three Kingfishers” - Donovan gets his second airing with this touching song. He and the Incredible String Band pretty much started psychedelic folk by taking bardic tradition through the realms of social revolution, while keeping the focus above all the muck. Also view the performance of this song on Youtube with Shawn Phillips from their spot on Pete Seeger’s television show.
Midwinter “Winter Song” - While looking for the masters of the great Stone Angel material for rerelease, Ken Saul also found his earlier band’s unreleased album. What a find—the world is a better place.
Dr. Strangely Strange “Strings in the Earth and Air” - Tying up Earth and Air, Dr. Strangely Strange takes us to the conclusion of this project. Gently as they do.
Ensemble D.E.U.M. “Tourdion” - An ancient song that I love to hear in a variety of ways. I selected this German vocal group as I love the older human voice compositions of Tallis and Byrd.
Pentangle “Lyke Wake Dirge” - The second Pentangle song included here is a classic song covered by many bands, and one I always play when some living creature I care for has passed on. And this is a passing of sorts.
Dead Can Dance “Persephone” - But what a way to finish 100 songs than with a Dead Can Dance composition that opens the earth, parts the seas, emits the fire, and soars into the stratosphere.