Monday, February 12, 2007

Random Lists

The other day I mentioned that last year I'd finally heard Love's Forever Changes and agreed with everyone that it's great. I said that it was now yet another 1967 album that I liked better than Sgt. Pepper. This is only worth saying because rock critics have routinely opted for the latter as "the best rock album of all time" or something silly like that. Anyway, just because, here are my top (rock) albums from 1967:

1. The Velvet Underground & Nico
2. Bob Dylan, John Wesley Harding
3. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band, Safe as Milk
4. Love, Forever Changes
5. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced?
6. The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

Also, oddly, over at Dusted, Tom McCarthy, author of the fantastic novel, Remainder (released in the U.S. tomorrow, so says Amazon and reviewed here by yours truly), has a top ten list of sorts, featuring, among others, My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth, Beckett, and Finnegans Wake. Checkitout.



Blogger brandon said...

I love lists! I should probably refrain from commenting because for reasons beyond my own understanding, I'm a life-long Beatles hater but yeah, particularly in what seems like a fruitful year of music, 'Sgt. Pepper' is more of the knee-jerk critical response than the actual one. But what do I know, I'd put 'Between the Buttons' and 'Their Satanic Majesties Request' above 'Sgt. Pepper' too.
Perhaps it is a generational thing, even though everyone loves the Beatles, I've never felt like they had the bite or menace of the Stones, Velvets, or LOVE. Not that they need to have that bite but it has always put me off.

PS: Thanks for the ad on your blogroll!

February 13, 2007 3:41 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Hey Brandon! You're welcome!

I do like the Beatles; I think there's something quite special about them. They are before my time, too (I was born in 1970). But they do lack menace, no question about that. In any event, I am more of a Stones guy. Speaking of which, I wasn't quite sure about Between the Buttons, so I left it off; I'll have to revisit it. And I've always had a hard time taking Satanic Majesties seriously.

Incidentally, the first time I conceived of this list was years ago when someone at a party was loudly proclaiming The Doors the best album of all time, and I was like, dude, it's not even one of the ten best albums from that year; I hate the Doors... also missing is Pink Floyd's The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, but there it is, not to mention any soul or r&b, but that's a function of years of exposure to segregated classic rock radio...

February 13, 2007 3:57 PM  
Blogger brandon said...

I'm a Stones person too. 'Between The Buttons' is more modest than the "classic" albums of 1967, so I think it's often forgotten. As for 'Their Satanic Majesties Request', yeah, it's a joke but in terms of the "Beatles vs. Stones" argument it works as like an explicit joke on the Beatles. A person I know who is in his 50s told me how 'She's a Rainbow' was he and his wife's "song" and I had to bite my lip or I would have said "Dude, that song's a joke on lovey-dovey 60s songs..." but I guess my point is, my unreasonable Beatles hate makes me even like 'Their Satanic Majestie's Request'...

A very good point about soul and r & b, I can think of many great 1967 soul singles but it would be harder to think of albums and I haven't heard most of them. And again, similar to 'Between the Buttons' I'd say 60s soul and r&b was a bit more modest and less overtly ambitious than 60s rock.

February 13, 2007 9:59 PM  
Anonymous Andrew said...

But Magical Mystery Tour, also by The Beatles in 1967, is better thwan all those.

February 15, 2007 6:34 AM  
Anonymous Andrew said...

I love Piper at teh Gates, but while The Beatles may not often have much menace, when they do go in that directiion like with Helter Skelter, I think they more than hold their own. "Where it all began", as Frank Black of The Pixies described Helter Skelter. Could also mention Happiness is a Warm Gun, for its somehwat edgy brilliance. ANd as for explicit jokes on The Beatles, how close on artistic immensity did the Stones ever get to the awesome Tomorrow Never Knows? A different league.

February 15, 2007 6:42 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

Brandon, Satanic Majesties always struck me as less a joke (intentional) than the Stones' attempt to follow that particular trend, and failing miserably.

Andrew, I've never thought of Magical Mystery Tour as an album, like the others, and I hadn't remembered that it was 1967, too. I tend to think of it as a hodgepodge of songs. Though, admittedly, they are for the most part great songs.

I take nothing away from the Beatles. They were unquestionably great. And I love "Happiness is a Warm Gun", though I don't think it has that elusive "menace" we're talking about.

As for "Tomorrow Never Knows"--you know, I never really listened to either Rubber Soul or Revolver till last year, so I haven't quite absorbed this song yet. I might post about this.

February 15, 2007 10:15 AM  
Anonymous Andrew said...

Though perhaps the menace aspect of music perhaps a bit over-played. I don't really have much desire to feel menaced when listening to music! Magical Mystery Tour while not quite made as a unified album, the end result is very much of a whole. If we replaced feeling menaced with feeling awestruck, well the climax to I Want You prtty hard to beat. Or to take another genius, Voodoo Chile is mind-blowing heavy stuff though not menacing.

February 15, 2007 1:10 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Sure. It's not that I feel menaced when I listen to the Stones or Velvet Underground. In fact, let me replace the word "menace" with "grit". The Stones (and Velvets) had a grit that has appealed to me, which the Beatles do not have. Which is nothing against the Beatles! For a while I did privilege grit over polish--that old "authenticity" trap, I guess. But I've been listening to the Beatles a lot more in the last year or so than I had for quite some time, and more closely too, and, damn, yeah, they were fucking awesome.

Happily, I don't have to choose.

February 15, 2007 1:35 PM  
Anonymous Andrew said...

I'd agree with all that, Richard. And certainly grit or rawness is what one's being calls out for.

February 15, 2007 1:40 PM  
Anonymous Andrew said...

Oops, I ommitted "sometimes" from the above.

February 15, 2007 1:41 PM  
Blogger brandon said...

You certainly could be correct about 'Satanic Majesties Request', short of like a close-reading on the lyrics or something, I can't make much of an argument here, but I do think it's the Stones selling-out to a trend and joking with it at the same time.

I threw the "menace" speak into the conversation; just my own little interpretive obsession. I guess all I mean is, the Beatles to me, are about fun or joy (even when they are singing seriously) and in my sick, weird, brain that's something like keeping death out. And for me, keeping death out is insane. The Stones on the other hand, at least that first decade, were in opposition to Beatles-esque sounds of joy and being uplifting. But yeah, that isn't necessary for music to be good, it's just a personal preference in anything. To be a pretentious douche, Rauschenberg over Jasper Johns, or Derrida over Foucault...or you know, the Beatles smoked weed and did LSD; the Stones did heroin (I know Lennon was on heroin at some point, but that sort of fits too, since Lennon is the only Beatles member who maybe kind-of grasps "menace"...)

The "grit" is part of it, but to me, 'Forever Changes' has menace even though it's not as gritty as the Stones or VU, and not only because of Arthur Lee's lyrical content, it just has a darker sound that I prefer. It's tough or even impossible to explain, I guess that's the point.

February 15, 2007 5:20 PM  
Anonymous Andrew said...

Well put, Brandon. My personla favourite Stones moment certainly Gimme Shelter. What about Lennon's Plastic Ono Band album for rawness and certainly avoiding any softening of things like death? My Mummy's Dead a heart-breakingly poignant climax. And to mention the flashing of a thought as my first attempt to post is foiled, Eleanor Rigby is a superb, and very strangely dark little song, with lines such as "Wearing a face that she keeps in a jar by the door." Something tells me that must be Lennon.

February 15, 2007 6:43 PM  
Anonymous Andrew said...

And to add, if one likes Forever Changes, certainly sheck out The Notorious Byrd Brothers album by The Byrds(who'd have guessed?). From 1968 but very much of a 1968 vibe. And if anyone considers them a bit sugary, check out Draft Morning from that album.

February 15, 2007 6:57 PM  

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