Sunday, December 19, 2010


30. David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust (UK) 1972: This was my starting point with Bowie (aside from songs on the radio) and the concept worked on me. The band is solid, a few of the songs are magical such as my favorite "Moonage Daydream". There are certainly some other Bowie classics in radically different styles to get into (and I do), but this one nails a great sound for 1972 and is still a great listen these days.

29. 13th Floor Elevators - Easter Everywhere (USA) 1967: Tough call choosing between the first album and the second. Even the third is not as far of as some would think, just inconsistent. I went with the second as the first cut "Slip inside this House" is an eight minute masterpiece of flowing psychedelic rock music. There is some nice variety with the lower key "Dust" and plenty of memorable songs all reaching the climax where we are all to leave our bodies behind--a prospect that sounds more enticing as I age.

28. Zombies - Odessey & Oracle (UK) 1968: The Zombies are an interesting band. I've read that they are one of those bands that people forget about and don't associate with the hit songs that are buried in their memory. I have tested that on a few people and found that to be completely accurate. And this final album also had this band getting little respect from their record label who pretty much wanted to bury them. "Time of the Season" became a hit in spite of the label and well after the group had called it quits due to their own internal problems. The enduring legacy is their ability to create such intricate harmonies and accompaniment to very catchy songs. They still have sounded good on recent tours that I have seen--Rod Argent looks like a 39 year old power lifter. This album really covers both sixties pop music and psychedelia in a more balanced way than even the Beatles did.

27. Subway - Subway (France) 1972: This really obscure acid folk album is by a folk duo that also recorded under their names of Mowrey & Watson. This finally was rereleased to much acclaim as the classic it is. Strong haunting acoustic songs with guitars and violins carrying the way along with powerful vocals. There is a delicate touch within and this eventually goes on every psyche-folk record collector's Top Ten list. Irv Mowrey was American and he and his partner live in America now performing separately off and on.

26. Woven Hand - Woven Hand (USA) 2001: When Denver's brilliant 16 Horsepower split up with some musical differences, main songwriter and voice David Eugene Edwards started this loose band which was mostly a solo project with guests. It has solidified into an amazing band with 16Hp's bassist and the drummer from Slim Cessna's Auto Club. I am a massive fan of everything they do, but will put down their first record for this list. There is a great variety of musical styles--Eastern vs. Western, heavy vs. light, etc. The lyrics and singing hit such powerful depths of emotion, that you really have to prepare to listen. I get all tingly just putting a CD into the player which does not happen too often. Their live show is even more intense than their records, but I am using the word intense more as it relates to volume and rock principles. Even Edwards' most quiet songs have the intensity that many associate with Dylan and Tom Waits and the like. At the end of the day, I'll go with Edwards is my favorite living songwriter right now in December 2010.

25. Jethro Tull - Stand Up (UK) 1969: Alright, I have nothing to apologize for here, as I have long given up on the pretentious rock critics that have slammed this band over the decades. Yes, there are some issues with many of their albums and if their style is grating, well too bad. Perhaps a sober front man who just wants to put music out for the fans is a concept lost on all the critics that fawn over the oddballs in rock'n'roll. I liked Jethro Tull when I was young and still listen to them regularly. There are a few good albums to choose from, but I will take their second with some of the obvious hits like "Nothing is Easy" and "Bouree" and lots of great lesser known songs as well. It plays through wonderfully and has a great line-up with Barre, Cornick and Bunker joining Ian Anderson that only did one other album together. As someone asked once while going through my wall of CDs "why do you have so many Jethro Tull albums?" Ummm, cuz they're good?

24. Trees - On the Shore (UK) 1970: Trees was another crucial band for those of us that wanted to uncover all the great folk acts that embraced rock and/or psychedelic music back in the late sixties and seventies. Trees formed at a key moment when there were great things happening, but they helped influence even more that was to come. They had bass, drums and two guitarists that were opposites but loved playing together. One did acoustic 12-string and the other electric leads. They just play and play and play on all songs. There are tons of things happening in a similar manner with that of Mellow Candle, but exclusively guitar driven here. Celia Humphries' magical voice sends the material skyward. This second record is my favorite as it starts so strongly. I particularly love the second song "Murdoch" which seems to come to an ending, when they break into more wailing vocals and guitars to add another half minute of intensity.

23. Haizea - Hontz Gaua (Spain) 1979: Only two records came out of this fantastic Basque band, although their male singer had a few solo records. This one is almost krautrock in style with lots of wild psychedelic work very smoothly integrated to the folk songs. Deep powerful material that is an absolute classic in the psyche-folk world. I still am fully enchanted by the fourteen minute closer on this record.

22. Gwydion - Songs for the Old Religion (USA) 1975: This is a highly debated record in the psyche-folk world. Obviously, I am in the pro camp as I think it is a great realistic example of minimalist pagan music by real people. There is not a lot of instrumental power or psychedelic intricacy, yet the ancient beliefs and powerful songwriting create a great psyche-folk songs here. Gwydion was a key American figure in Pagan circles and died young in 1982. His second record is not as good, but this one still has a huge following, even if some people find it twee.

21. Bob Theil - So Far (UK) 1982: Some consider this the pinnacle of psychedelic folk music. And although, it comes along a bit late, the songs are from the 1970s. Theil really hits emotional highs and lows like few singers with strong guitars going on in the foreground as well. As I continue to age, this record keeps climbing higher on my list as each additional listen surprises me with how strong everything sounds. It is certainly an essential place to go early on in your psyche-folk explorations.

1 comment:

Vincent said...

What DC Rock Live did not cover was the Beatles booking saga.
Back in 1963 the Rolling Stones gig in Horsham, England was followed by a Beaters booking.
they never appeared, because nobody would hire the young promoter a hall ! Stones: yes please. Beatles: no thank you!
That saga forms the basis of a new fact to fiction novel 'Tear My Heart' with great songs, intrigue, romance, sex, abuse, blackmail and of course the Beatles.
'Tear My Heart' a must for 60s music buffs.