1001 Albums 0071-0072

Published July 03, 2014

My continued journey through the albums featured in the book
1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

0071: Simon & Garfunkel: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme (1966)
An album I've already heard.

This is a lovely album, so Sixties. Just the opening track, 'Scarborough Fair/Canticle', is worth the price of admission: the beautiful harmonies and the delicate harpsichord playing conjure up images of the scene from The Graduate which I believe was soundtracked by this particular recording. It's a time-machine, that's what it is.

Other well-known tracks on the album include 'Homeward Bound', 'The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin' Groovy)' and the extremely beautiful 'For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her', but that's just scraping the surface of the delights here. Maybe the Dylan parody 'A Simple Desultory Philippic (or How I Was Robert McNamara'd into Submission)' is a little silly, and perhaps the lyrics for 'The Dangling Conversation' are a little pretentious (but who cares when the tune itself is so gorgeous), but the only track I really don't like is the album closer '7 O'Clock News/Silent Night', the solemnity of which seems a little student-y.

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0072: The 13th Floor Elevators: The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators (1966)

Prior to listening to this album, I can only recall ever hearing one song by The 13th Floor Elevators, namely the opening track 'You're Gonna Miss Me', through its inclusion on the classic Nuggets compilation album. Their name and that of their front figure Roky Erickson crop up with some regularity in magazines such as Mojo and Uncut. But I've never been tempted to investigate them further.

This was one of the first albums to use the word "psychedelic", so it was groundbreaking in that respect. According to the 1001 Albums book it was also the first acid rock album. "Frontman Roky Erickson yelps and howls like a man possessed while the alien sounds from Tommy Hall's electric jug add to the already gorgeously skewed mood," it says here. As for the sound of that electric jug, I'm more tempted to sympathise with the comment I found on an internet forum: "It's certainly a sound that hasn't aged well. I still LOVE some of their songs, even though the wibblewibblewibblewibble keeps me from ever listening to an album all the way through."

I listened to this album four times in a vain effort to find anything that actually appealed to me, but as you've probably gathered by now the rewards were slim. A track called 'Splash 1' was a nice ballad, not as aggressive and nasal as the other tracks - and none of the wibblewibblewibblewibble - but other than that I found this album a bit tiresome, to be quite honest.

Verdict: Wibblewibblewibblewibble.

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1001 Albums 0069-0070

Published July 01, 2014

My continued journey through the albums featured in the book
1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

0069: The Mothers Of Invention: Freak Out! (1966)

In 1979, Frank Zappa had a big hit in Sweden with a song called 'Bobby Brown', followed by 'Joe's Garage', and then, in 1980 'I Don't Wanna Get Drafted'. I guess at some point I've also listened to his jam session with John and Yoko on their Sometime In New York City album. That, my friends, was about the extent of my familiarity with Frank Zappa's music. I think I enjoyed those hit singles at the time, but other than that I've always had a hunch that his music wasn't for me.

Listening to this album (only rock's second double-album, after Dylan's Blonde On Blonde, according to the 1001 Albums book), recorded when Zappa and his band-mates traded under the name The Mothers Of Invention, I was prepared to be pleasantly surprised. Unfortunately, I wasn't. Quite simply, much of the music here sounds as if it has travelled through the brain before reaching the heart and soul of the people who made it - perhaps even bypassing them completely -  which is not something that appeals to me.

The album is obviously supposed to be satirical and I can sort of imagine some stoned late Sixties drop-outs listening to this and chuckling at how Zappa and friends are really sticking it to "the man" and challenging the expectations and conventions of suburbia. Why anyone in his right mind would voluntarily listen to 'It Can't Happen Here' or 'The Return Of The Son Of Monster Magnet' is beyond anything I could possibly comprehend. I guess you had to be there. And perhaps it helped if you were stoned as well.

It appears the appeal of this album is conceptual rather than musical, and I'm sure it was important at the time, but...

Verdict: Too much intellect, not enough heart.

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0070: The Rolling Stones: Aftermath (1966)
An album I've already heard.

Of The Rolling Stones albums I've heard, perhaps with the exception of Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed, I don't think I've enjoyed any of them from start to finish. I've never been one for blues-based workouts, and there's always a few too many of those for my liking.

Up until 1967 I think they were at their best when they were a pure pop band, so on the Aftermath album, despite the disturbing misogyny of some of the lyrics, I like 'Mothers Little Helper', 'Stupid Girl', 'Lady Jane' (which is gorgeous), 'Under My Thumb', 'Out Of Time' (although the version here drags on a bit), 'It's Not Easy' and 'I Am Waiting'. So that's about half the album, which in my book makes it worth owning.

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