Monday, February 10, 2014

Sixties Flashback: #iPodAlbumPlaylist, January 2014


Oddly enough, though I only recently began choosing the albums on my #iPodAlbumPlaylists at random (rather than assembling a selection first, and then shuffling everything on the list) January became my most themed month yet. After sampling three albums from the 90s and then five albums I had never heard before, I launched into a 35-album splurge in which I only listened to LPs released between 1964 and 1970 (plus one from 1971). Maybe it was because I was gearing up to watch a series of 60s movies, or perhaps I was just feeling nostalgic myself - not so much for the 60s (which I was 14 years too late to experience) but for exactly ten years ago. Around January 2004, after burning out a bit on movies I began to deeply explore rock music - particularly album rock - for the first time ever (for some reason in high school, I'd been only a casual listener, the sort who owned only a handful of CDs, mostly movie soundtracks and a few ubiquities like Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band).

The journey began the previous autumn when a movie obsession was still at its height; I viewed A Hard Day's Night for the first time and realized, to my surprise, that I was unfamiliar with most of the songs on the soundtrack - even though I had thought of the Beatles as my favorite band. The coming year, already a time of transformation for me, would be illuminated and amplified by a growing obsession with music (particularly rock - first classic and then punk/post-punk - which I'd mostly overlooked in favor of hip-hop in high school). For a while I hardly watched any films at all and spent most of my time glued to headphones, exploring a sonic universe I hardly knew existed.

It began tentatively with the Beatles CDs at home - an odd bunch of singles collections, Anthology outtakes, and the then-new "Naked" edition of Let It Be (I fell in love with the stripped-down version of "Across the Universe", and consider that my gateway drug into the next several years of audiophilia). As '04 began, I ventured to the record store and bought a few proper albums, Abbey Road and Help! as I recall. Within a few months a roaring Beatles obsession had spilled over, with purchases of Pet Sounds and 12 X 5 opening the floodgates, into a deluge of sixties sounds - with the Dylan and Stones catalogues get particularly heavy rotation. This obsession arrived at the perfect time, when CDs - and therefore proper long-player albums - were still just barely the prime currency of musical exploration, and yet the emergence of the iPod and iTunes (in a college dormitory shared between multiple floors, yielding thousands upon thousands of possiblities) made this exploration so much easier. Within a year of hearing Abbey Road for the first time, I considered myself something of a connoisseur of sixties albums and had delved deeply into later periods as well.

Within about two or three years, perhaps because I had no musical inclinations or talents myself and therefore no hope of participating directly in my passion, this musical obsession ended. However, it left behind a collection of CDs and vinyl records (my own enthusiasm had spread to a roommate who also hadn't any previous rock affinity), a treasure trove of new idols, inside references, and favorite sounds, and a deep impact on my film sensibility became more rhythmic and spontaneous under the sway of my sonic shamans. Although these albums had been cultural icons/cliches for decades, I had somehow escaped their creeping familiarity as a teenager, so in the mid-zeroes I was hearing them all at once with fresh ears and a perfectly receptive mind. I still recall the thrill of experiencing records like Sticky Fingers, Pet Sounds, We're Only In It For the Money, and even the White Album for the first time. No less exciting were the albums that gradually grew on me: I remember hearing Blonde on Blonde and Exile on Main Street a few times, wondering what exactly people were raving about, before they suddenly "clicked" for me and revealed the multitudes they contained.

My stint as an avowed music obsessive eventually journeyed far beyond the sixties (albeit no other single period was explored as rapidly or deeply by me) but those years still remained at the core even as I burnt out on that canon and welcomed the punk and post-punk rebels to refresh my ears. Regardless, ten years ago I fell in love with music for the first time and if the intensity of that love affair ended eventually, its residue remains - perhaps to be reanimated at some point in the future. Anyway, I had fun revisiting experiences which were definitely personal highlights of an often frustrating time in my life. My early twenties was confusing, disappointing, and frustrating for me but when discovering the enormous emotional potential of rock music I felt young, alive, and free in a way I rarely did when the headphones, stereo, or record player were shut off.

Below are the album covers, info, and favorite tracks (linked to online videos) from everything I listened to January - my biggest one-month binge yet with 43 titles, total (the sixties contingent, forming 5/6 of the total, was all squeezed into the month's second half). You can visit previous #iPodAlbumPlaylist round-ups, and also follow this hashtag on Twitter.

Oh and why not ask - what do you think of these albums, what is your favorite era/genre, and did you too have a breakthrough moment when you went from loving a few songs here and there to embracing and exploring as much of the musical universe as you could grasp?

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness (1995) - Smashing Pumpkins
Favorite track: "1979"

(What's the Story) Morning Glory? (1995) - Oasis
Favorite track: "Champagne Supernova"

Life After Death (1997) - The Notorious B.I.G.
Favorite track: "Ten Crack Commandments"

Bustin' Out of L Seven (1979) - Rick James
Favorite track: "Bustin' Out"

And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out (2000) - Yo La Tengo
Favorite track: "Cherry Chapstick"

Berlin (1973) - Lou Reed
Favorite track: "Sad Song"

Bummed (1988) - Happy Mondays
Favorite track: "Brain Dead"

Come Get It! (1978) - Rick James
Favorite track: "Dream Maker" (no video)

Help! (1965) - The Beatles
Favorite track: "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away"

Beggars Banquet (1968) - The Rolling Stones
Favorite track: "Parachute Woman" (no video)

Highway 61 Revisited (1965) - Bob Dylan
Favorite track: "Desolation Row"

Something Else by the Kinks (1967) - The Kinks
Favorite track: "Waterloo Sunset"

The Who Sell Out (1967) - The Who
Favorite track: "I Can See For Miles"

Small Faces (1967) - Small Faces
Favorite track: "Green Circles"

Odessey & Oracle (1968) - The Zombies
Favorite track: "A Rose For Emily"

The Beatles (1968) - The Beatles
Favorite track: "Dear Prudence" (no video)

Tommy (1969) - The Who
Favorite track: "Sparks" (no video)

Live at the Isle of Wight (1970) - The Who
Favorite track: "Sparks"

Who's Next (1971) - The Who
Favorite track: "Baba O'Riley"

Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs (1970) - Derek & the Dominos
Favorite track: "Layla"

Disraeli Gears (1967) - Cream
Favorite track: "Strange Brew"

Are You Experienced (1967) - The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Favorite track: "Are You Experienced?"

The Doors (1967) - The Doors
Favorite track: "The End"

Freak Out! (1966) - Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention
Favorite track: "Hungry Freaks, Daddy!"

Axis: Bold as Love (1967) - The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Favorite track: "Little Wing"

After Bathing at Baxter's (1967) - Jefferson Airplane
Favorite track: "Young Girl Sunday Blues"

Bookends (1967) - Simon & Garfunkel
Favorite track: "Bookends Theme"

The Notorious Byrd Brothers (1968) - The Byrds
Favorite track: "Goin' Back"

Deja Vu (1970) - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Favorite track: "Woodstock"

Volunteers (1969) - Jefferson Airplane
Favorite track: "Hey Fredrick"

Jefferson Airplane Takes Off (1966) - Jefferson Airplane
Favorite track: "Tobacco Road"

John Wesley Harding (1967) - Bob Dylan
Favorite track: "As I Went Out One Morning" (no video)

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme (1967) - Simon & Garfunkel
Favorite track: "Scarborough Fair/Canticle"

Wednesday Morning, 3 AM (1964) - Simon & Garfunkel
Favorite track: "The Sound of Silence" (original)

Beatles For Sale (1964) - The Beatles
Favorite track: "I'll Follow the Sun" (no video)

Roger the Engineer (1966) - The Yardbirds
Favorite track: "Over, Under, Sideways, Down"

The Kink Kontroversy (1965) - The Kinks
Favorite track: "Where Have All the Good Times Gone"

Arthur, or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire (1969) - The Kinks
Favorite track: "Shangri-la"

Led Zeppelin II (1969) - Led Zeppelin
Favorite track: "What Is and Should Never Be"

Let It Be (1970) - The Beatles
Favorite track: "I've Got a Feeling" (no video)

Let It Be...Naked (rec. 1969-70, rem. 2003) - The Beatles
Favorite track: "Across the Universe"

Anthology 3 (rec. 1968-70) - The Beatles
Favorite track: "Because" (a cappella version) (no video)

Magical Mystery Tour (1967) - The Beatles
Favorite track: "Baby, You're a Rich Man" (no video)

4 comments :

Doug Noakes said...

I don't think it is entirely nostalgic of me, Joel-since I was only pushing ten when they ended--to say the Sixties opened up a new revolution in popular music that still resonates, with younger listeners and far different times. Thanks for sharing your appreciation for these many great bands, and your favorite tracs.

Mike said...

Great post, very interesting to read about your 'rock music renaissance' that is similar to what I'm going through now with music in general, even though I'm still a 60's rock virgin. Although I can't comment on any of the albums here (besides Life After Death, which I like a lot, great track pick btw) my favorite era for music would be 1987-1996, the standard golden age of hip hop, and most of the jazz I have really liked has come from the late 50s and 60s.

This year has been much more music dominated so far for me, proven by my albums diary here-

https://rateyourmusic.com/list/mnorton96/2014_listening_diary/

vs. my film diary here-

http://letterboxd.com/mnorton96/

So yeah, I can relate to what you say about being 'burnt out' with films and replacing that, if momentarily, with music. If there's one specific album that sent me off on this recent obsession it's probably A Love Supreme, which I've already listened to more than any other album having heard it for the first time late last year (even though I haven't listened to it this year yet, in fear of overplaying it).

One day I will take the full plunge into 60's rock, perhaps this summer. Coltrane's spiritual awakening fits within the romanticism set by rock artists during the era, so there's that. I have a feeling I will like a lot of this stuff if I put in the effort. I'm already fascinated with the cultural impact of The Beatles and that time period in general.

Joel Bocko said...

Doug, yeah however one personally likes the music of that era it seems pretty clear-cut to acknowledge the huge sea change that occurred in popular music. There are other transformational moments in pop culture - early rock 'n' roll and jazz before, punk and hip-hop later - but nothing that was as revolutionary on as many fronts as the sixties era.

Joel Bocko said...

Mike, it's interesting how those interests have to arrive at their own pace and convenience. For years I'd had chances to check out rock albums but the subject just didn't interest me. Like you, my musical passion for the period arose from initially a historical/cultural interest that opened that door. I look forward to hearing more about your own musical explorations in the coming year...

Glad that Coltrane is making such an impact for you. That's one of my favorite jazz albums but I feel like jazz (and classical) in general are areas I still haven't fully unlocked - so future exciting discoveries probably await on the horizon.