Tuesday, October 16, 2018

It's a Beautiful Day – "White Bird" (1969)

White bird dreams of the aspen trees
With their dying leaves, turning gold
But the white bird just sits in her cage
Growing old

[NOTE: They don’t make albums like It’s a Beautiful Day anymore.  Its first track, “White Bird,” will do more to relax you in six minutes than a bottle of Xanax, and it clearly belongs in the 2 OR 3 LINES “GOLDEN DECADE” ALBUM TRACKS HALL OF FAME.  Here’s an updated version of my original 2010 post about the song.]

As I'm writing this, we've had two weeks of perfect late-summer weather – it's been warm (but not hot), dry, clear, and calm day after day.  

When I think of my college years, I think of days like these.  (Houston didn't really have winters, and I wasn't there for the hot, humid summers.)

And I think of "White Bird," "Hot Summer Day," and the rest of the It's A Beautiful Day album.

*     *     *     *     *

My residential college was constructed like a 1950s-style motel – it was only two stories high, and the door to every room took you directly outdoors, not into a hallway.  So on quiet afternoons, you could open the door to let the sunshine and breezes in as we read, or sit on the grass of the courtyard and lean back against one of the old trees.  

On an afternoon like that, there was not a better record to have on your turntable than It's A Beautiful Day. It's an unusual album, partly because the lead instrument is a violin instead of a guitar.  The songs are relatively long, and several of them can induce a trance.

There are certain records that can quickly put me to sleep.  That's not a sign of boredom – it's an indication of how relaxed and at peace that music makes me feel.  There's nothing more pleasant than falling asleep while listening to music.  Surrealistic Pillow is probably the best example of a record that has that effect on me.  Rubber Soul and Pet Sounds are other examples, and so is this album.  

I used to be able to fall asleep quite easily while lying on the grass in a park.  I remember lying on the side of a hill in People's Park in Berkeley one warm Sunday afternoon in 1981 and quickly dozing off while reading a Raymond Chandler paperback I bought used somewhere along Telegraph Avenue (The Long Goodbye?  The Little Sister?), but I don't think I could do that today.

It's a Beautiful Day (circa 1969)
Maybe I no longer trust strangers enough to close my eyes and fall asleep out in the open like that.  Or maybe I'm too self-conscious to let my guard down the way you do when you fall asleep – I'm afraid I may snore, or mumble in my sleep, or just look funny.

*     *     *     *     *  

The majordomo of It's A Beautiful Day was David LaFlamme, a classically-trained violinist from Salt Lake City who had played in the Utah Symphony Orchestra.  In the 1960s, he moved to San Francisco, where he played with Janis Joplin and Jerry Garcia (among others) and was one of the founders of the original Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks band. 

LaFlamme and his keyboard-playing wife, Linda, formed It's a Beautiful Day in 1967 – the year of the "Summer of Love" in San Francisco.

"White Bird" was apparently inspired by their experiences with their manager, Matthew Katz, who also managed the Jefferson Airplane and Moby Grape.  (Katz is still alive.  In 2010, when he was 80 years old, he was a candidate for the Malibu (CA) City Council.)  

Katz discouraged the band from performing in San Francisco, booking them instead at a Seattle club he controlled.  While in Seattle, the group lived in the attic of an old house owned by Katz while writing and rehearsing new songs. 

According to LaFlamme, 

We were living in the attic of an old Victorian house in Seattle, and performing at the Encore Ballroom. It was a typical Seattle winter day, rainy and drizzly, and we were looking out from the attic window over the street in front of this old house . . . 

The song describes the picture Linda and I saw as we looked out this little window in this attic.  We had a little Wurlitzer portable piano sitting right in the well of this window, and I'd sit and work on songs. When you hear lines like, 'the leaves blow across the long black road to the darkened sky and its rage,' it's describing what I was seeing out the window.  

Where the 'white bird' thing came from . . . we were like caged birds in that attic.  We had no money, no transportation, the weather was miserable. We were just barely getting by on a very small food allowance provided to us. It was quite an experience, but it was very creative in a way.  

The group members eventually returned to San Francisco and began playing at a few clubs without Katz's approval. The band got its first big break when offered a chance to open for Cream at the Oakland Coliseum on October 4, 1968.  This album was released the next year.

The LaFlammes split up shortly thereafter, and Linda did not perform on the group's next album.    

Click here to listen to "White Bird."

And click on the link below to buy the song from Amazon:

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Undisputed Truth – "Smiling Faces Sometimes" (1971)

Smiling faces, smiling faces
Sometimes they don't tell the truth

Are you a University of Maryland student looking for a cheap way for you and your buddies to get  absolutely sh*t-faced this weekend?

If so, I’ve got some great news for you!

Anheuser-Busch recently shipped hundreds of 77-packs of Natural Light beer to its local distributor for delivery to liquor stores in College Park, Maryland – home of the University of Maryland’s 30,000-student flagship campus.

(Why a 77-pack?  Because the Natural Light brand was introduced in 1977.)

Those 77-packs are selling for about $30.  That’s only 39 cents a can, or less than $10 a case.  (To quote the Who, “I’d call that a bargain – the best I ever had!”)

Here’s a report on the 77-packs from a local TV station:

*     *     *     *     *

Anheuser-Busch deserves the thanks of young binge drinkers, but let’s give credit where credit is due and thank A-B’s local distributor, Bob Hall LLC, as well.

After all, they’re the guys delivering those 77-packs to the local stores – who I hope are checking IDs carefully.  (After all, we don’t want any 77-packs falling into the hands of underage Georgetown Prep students!)

One down, 76 to go!
Eric Best, the general manager of Bob Hall, was thrilled by the positive consumer response to the bargain 77-packs.  “It was selling out as our guys were delivering it off the trucks,” Best told the Baltimore Sun.  So he quickly got on the phone to the Natural Light brand manager to beg them to send him some more.  

Bob Hall hoped to deliver 1400 cases of the 65-pound behemoths to local stores in time for tailgating and homecoming parties.

That’s 107,800 cans of Natural Light, boys and girls.  (I’d be surprised if there was a single one of those 107,800 cans left unopened by the end of Maryland’s homecoming.)

I’m sure it was high fives all around at Bob Hall LLC when they saw just how fast those 77-packs were flying off the store shelves.  Ka-ching, ka-ching!

*     *     *     *     *

Not that the good folks at Bob Hall want people to consume Natural Light  irresponsibly.  “It’s a party pack,” said a Bob Hall spokesman. “It’s not an individual challenge to drink 77 beers.”

(Hopefully someone in your frat
has a car with a really big trunk)
Heaven forbid!  Like the man said, those 77-packs are for parties.  If four dudes get together with an equal number of babes, there’s enough in one of those 77-packs for everyone to have nine-plus beers.

Which should be more than enough to get the job done!

*     *     *     *     *

All this is going on as the “Task Force to Study State Alcohol Regulation, Enforcement, Safety, and Public Health” is assessing the Old Line State’s current system of regulating the sale of alcohol.

The preamble to the statute that established that task force makes a number of excellent points:

– For example, according to the Centers for Disease Control, excessive alcohol use is responsible for approximately 1321 deaths annually in Maryland, not to mention $5 billion in economic costs.

– As the CDC also points out, “alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States.”

– Also, excessive alcohol use is commonly involved in sexual assault because “excessive alcohol consumption increases aggression.”

*     *     *     *     *

Given all that, it may come as a bit of a surprise to you that one of the members of the esteemed Task Force is none other than Eric Best, the general manager of the aforementioned Bob Hall beer distributorship.

Haven't decided on your
 Halloween costume yet?
After all, he’s as responsible as anyone for those 1400 cases of bargain Natural Light 77-packs that are flooding the University of Maryland campus this weekend.

Why in the world would the leadership of the Maryland legislature appoint one of the biggest sellers of cheap beer in the state to a task force that claims to be the sworn enemy of excessive alcohol use – especially excessive alcohol use by Maryland youth?

To paraphrase the 18th-century English poet, William Cowper, our legislative leadership moves in mysterious ways, its wonders to perform.

*     *     *     *     *

“Smiling Faces Sometimes” was written by the greatest of all the Motown producer/songwriter teams, Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong (who also penned “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” “Cloud Nine,” “I Can’t Get Next to You,” and many other Motown classics).

The song was originally recorded by the Temptations, who released a 12-minute version of “Smiling Faces Sometime” on a 1971 album.  Shortly thereafter, the Undisputed Truth recorded a much shorter version of the song, which made it all the way to #3 on the Billboard “Hot 100.”

The Temptations returned the favor the very next year.  After the Undisputed Truth’s recording of “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” stalled at #63 on the “Hot 100,” the Temptations’ cover made it all the way to #1.

Click here to listen to “Smiling Faces Sometimes.”

And click on the link below to buy the song from Amazon.  Unless you’ve spent all your money on Natural Light 77-packs, of course.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Led Zeppelin – "Dazed and Confused" (1969)

Been dazed and confused for so long it's not true
Wanted a woman, never bargained for you

[NOTE: Led Zeppelin may have stolen “Dazed and Confused” from Jake Holmes.  But it’s still the best track on what may be the best classic rock album ever, so it should come as no surprise that I chose it for the inaugural class of the 2 OR 3 LINES “GOLDEN DECADE” ALBUM TRACKS HALL OF FAME.  Here’s a mashup of three 2015 posts I did on three different recordings of “Dazed and Confused.”]

The Yardbirds went through three of the greatest guitarists in rock music history – Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, and Jimmy Page – in their five-year history.

When Clapton decided to leave the Yardbirds in 1965, Page was asked if he wanted to replace him.  Page declined the offer but recommended his friend Beck, and Beck was hired.

Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck
In May 1966, Beck went into the studio to do some solo recording.  He called on Page to help him work up some songs to record.  

Page came up with the idea of basing an instrumental on Maurice Ravels famous 1928 composition, Boléro (which became enormously popular when it was featured in the Bo Derek movie, 10).

Beck then recruited disaffected Who members Keith Moon and John Entwistle to play drums and bass.  Moon showed up for the session, but Entwistle did not, and John Paul Jones – who later joined Jimmy Page in Led Zeppelin – played bass instead.

Keith Moon
The recording of Becks Bolero went so well that Beck, Page, Moon, and Jones talked about forming a group and doing more recording.  According to Page, Moon quipped “Yeah, that'll go down like a lead Zeppelin,” which gave Page the idea for the name of the group he did form after the eventual breakup of the Yardbirds.  (John Entwistle has also claimed credit for the quip.) 

Page got the songwriting credit for Becks Bolero,” although Beck later said that he should have shared that credit.  Page also claimed that he was the record's actual producer, but he did not get the producing credit.

Click here to read more about Becks Bolero.

*     *     *     *     *

After Becks Bolero was recorded, Page was invited to join the Yardbirds.  During the few months when both Beck and Page were in the group, Beck played lead guitar and Page shifted to bass.

The only comparable situation that comes to mind is seven-time All-Star shortstop Alex Rodriguez shifting to third base when he joined the Yankees, leaving shortstop to Derek Jeter.

A-Rod and the Captain
The popularity of the Yardbirds was declining by the fall of 1966, when Beck was fired from the band and Page took over as lead guitarist.  

The band finally broke up in July 1968.  Drummer Jim McCarty and singer Keith Reif authorized Page and bassist Chris Dreja to put together a new group – to be called the New Yardbirds – to fulfill a contractual commitment to play a series of shows in Scandinavia that fall.

Page wanted Terry Reid to be the new groups lead singer.  Reid said no, suggesting that Page use Robert Plant instead.  Plant then recommended his former Band of Joy bandmate, John Bonham, to be the drummer.  When Dreja decided to drop out of the new group, Page recruited John Paul Jones -- the bassist on Becks Bolero.

The New Yardbirds played the Scandinavian dates, then went into the studio and recorded an album in just nine days.  Dreja threatened legal action if the group continued to call itself the New Yardbirds, so they became Led Zeppelin.

Led Zeppelin
Atlantic Records signed them to a contract without ever having seen them perform.  The first Led Zeppelin album was released in January 1969, and the rest . . . is history.

*     *     *     *     *

That album included a song called “Dazed and Confused, which also was the title of a song from a relatively obscure 1967 album by Jake Holmes. 

Holmes opened for the Yardbirds at the Village Theatre in New York City on August 25, 1967.  Holmes performed “Dazed and Confused that night, which he later described as the night that his song fell into the loving arms of Jimmy Page.

The Yardbirds drummer, Jim McCarty, said years later that he was so impressed by “Dazed and Confused that he bought the Holmes album the next day so the group could work up a cover of the song.  

But the author of a book about the Yardbirds quotes a man who says he saw Jimmy Page himself buying the Holmes album at a particular record store on Bleecker Street.

The Yardbirds never recorded “Dazed and Confused in the studio.  But there are several recordings of them performing the song live before they disbanded.  Click here to view one of them.

*     *     *     *     *

Led Zeppelin recorded “Dazed and Confused with entirely new lyrics – except for the words of the songs title.

But the arrangement was recognizable as the same basic arrangement that the Yardbirds had used.  Thats not surprising since Page was largely responsible for the Yardbirds arrangement.) 

I think most people would say that Jake Holmes“Dazed and Confused is the same song as Led Zeppelin“Dazed and Confused.  But Led Zeppelin did not give a songwriting credit to Jake Holmes.  

Although Holmes heard Led Zeppelin“Dazed and Confused shortly after it was released, he didnt do anything about it for for more than a decade.  

When Holmes did finally write to Page to ask for a shared songwriting credit and some do-re-mi, he never heard back.

*     *     *     *     *

Led Zeppelin has been sued several times for copyright infringement.  In 1985, veteran blues musician Willie Dixon sued the band, alleging that Whole Lotta Love infringed not just one, but two of Dixons songs.  (The case was settled out of court.)  More recently, the estate of the late Randy California claimed that Stairway to Heaven infringed California's composition, Taurus, which was recorded by the band Spirit in 1967.

Holmes finally sued Page in 2010.  His complaint was eventually dismissed – probably because the two parties agreed to an out-of-court settlement.  

While the terms of any such settlement have never been released, it appears that Holmes won at least a partial victory.  The Led Zeppelin reunion concert album, Celebration Day – which was released several months after the presumed settlement of the Holmes lawsuit – contains this songwriting credit for “Dazed and Confused:  Jimmy Page; inspired by Jake Holmes.

To read more about the controversy over the authorship of “Dazed and Confused, you can click here – or you can click here -- or you can click here.

Click here to listen to the Led Zeppelin recording of “Dazed and Confused. 

Click on the link below to buy the song from Amazon:

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Beatles – "Helter Skelter" (1968)

When I get to the bottom
I go back to the top of the slide 
Where I stop, and I turn, and I go for a ride 
'Til I get to the bottom and I see you again! 

[NOTE: It wasn’t easy to decide which Beatles song most deserved to be included in the first class of inductees into the 2 OR 3 LINES “GOLDEN DECADE” ALBUM TRACKS HALL OF FAME.  I seriously considered “A Day in the Life,” and I even toyed with the idea of choosing the 16-minute, eight-part medley on the second side of Abbey Road.  But at the end of the day, “Helter Skelter” simply couldn’t be denied.  Here’s a revised version of my original 2010 post about “Helter Skelter.”]

I never bought The Beatles -- a/k/a “The White Album.”  (I’m not sure why.  It was a two-record album, so maybe it was a little too expensive.)

The Beatles was a very popular record when I was in college, even though it had been released in November 1968 – almost two years before I started classes.  I heard it played much more often in the dorms than Abbey Road.

The songs on this album are all over the place.  It’s wildly uneven, with some of the worst Beatles songs ever recorded – “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill,” “Blackbird,” “Rocky Raccoon,” “Honey Pie” . . . do I really need to go on?

One song really stands out: “Helter Skelter.”  Both it and “A Day In The Life” clearly belong in the 2 OR 3 LINES “GOLDEN DECADE” BEST ALBUM TRACKS HALL OF FAME, but I had to pick one or the other.

*     *     *     *     *

To paraphrase something George Washington once said about government, “Helter Skelter” is not reason, it is not eloquence, it is force.   

What is most surprising about “Helter Skelter” is that it apparently was wholly a Paul McCartney creation.  Who would have thought that the mild-mannered McCartney – the schmaltziest of the Beatles – could have written a stick of dynamite like “Helter Skelter”?

Paul McCartney in 1968
I would have bet money that the song was a John Lennon creation.  But in a 1980 interview, Lennon said, “That's Paul completely . . . . It has nothing to do with anything, and least of all to do with me.”  

*     *     *     *     *

According to a biographer, McCartney was inspired to write the song after reading a 1967 magazine interview with Pete Townshend, who described the Who’s latest single, “I Can See for Miles,” as the loudest, rawest, dirtiest song the Who had ever recorded.  (“I Can See for Miles” is a brilliant song -- so original and so good that it's quite takes one’s breath away.  Keith Moon's drumming on this record has never been equalled.)

The Beatles did 18 takes of “Helter Skelter” on September 9, 1968, and the 18th take is the one that is on the LP.  Ringo Starr is the Beatle who says "I got blisters on me fingers!" at the end of the song.  (I always assumed it was Lennon.)

In British English, the term “helter skelter” not only means “in undue haste, confusion, or disorder,” but is also the name given to a tall, spiralling amusement park slide:

A “Helter Skelter” carnival ride
Of course, the phrase is also associated with Charles Manson, who believed that a number of the songs on the “White Album” (including this one) prophesied that there would be an apocalyptic race war in the future.  

Click here to read a Wikipedia article that explains Manson’s thinking, which is as looney-tunes as it can be.

(I used to think that the most tasteless band name I had ever heard was the Dead Kennedys.  But then I heard a band that called themselves Sharon Tate’s Baby.  Much worse, I think.)  

*     *     *     *     *

The author of that page captures the very visceral experience of listening to “Helter Skelter”:  

One almost flinches before it the same way you move back a step from the edge of the subway platform as the train comes into the station.

Click here to listen to “Helter Skelter.”  (Buckle your seat belts low and tight across your hips before you hit the “play” button.)

Mike Gravel was Bernie Sanders
before there was a Bernie Sanders
And click here to watch a truly bizarre video of "Helter Skelter" featuring former Alaska senator and 2008 Democratic presidential candidate Mike Gravel.  (After leaving politics, Gravel became the CEO of a company that sells marijuana-infused products.)

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Vanilla Fudge – "You Keep Me Hangin' On" (1967)

Let me get over you 
The way you've gotten over me

[NOTE: I originally featured this 2 OR 3 LINES “GOLDEN DECADE” TRACKS HALL OF FAME song way back in 2011.  Vanilla Fudge’s cover of “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” was a stick of dynamite then, and it’s still a stick of dynamite today.  Here's a slightly revised version of my original post about “You Keep Me Hangin’ On.” ]

Why is it so hard to do a cover version of a good song that is an improvement on the original?

I think it’s mostly a matter of familiarity.  When you’re used to the original version of a song, a different version just doesn’t sound right.  The more popular the original version was and the more familiar it is, the less likely it is that people will cotton to a cover version.

The covers that I think work the best are the ones that deconstruct the song and put it back together in a completely different way.  

No one was better at doing that than Vanilla Fudge, who took simple little three-minute, top-40 songs and turned them inside out and upside down to such an extent that their own mothers wouldn't have recognized them.   

*     *     *     *     *

“You Keep Me Hangin’ On” was a classic Motown song that was a #1 hit for the Supremes.  It was written and produced by Motown’s legendary Holland-Dozier-Holland production team, and I think it’s the best song the Supremes ever did.  It has a little more punch than most of their songs.

Just in case you've forgotten what the Supremes’ version sounds like, you can click here to listen to it.

That’s a really good performance of a really good song – don’t you agree?

The Supremes
If you had been living in Long Island in 1966 and playing in a psychedelic band with a bunch of other white guys, why in the world would you have picked that song to cover and release as your first single just a few months after it had been a big hit for the Supremes?  What would have made you think you could do it better?

I certainly wouldn’t have chosen it as a song to cover.  And I would have been wrong.  (It just goes to show you.)

*     *     *     *     *

I recently stumbled across a video of Vanilla Fudge performing this song on The Ed Sullivan Show in January 1968.  

Sullivan's other guests that night included Duke Ellington and his band, Flip Wilson – he did a bit as “Geraldine” – and Topo Gigio, the famous mouse puppet who was a favorite of Sullivan’s.

Ed Sullivan with Topo Gigio
Make sure you’re sitting down before you watch this Vanilla Fudge video -- and if you have a bad heart, have those nitroglycerin tablets handy.

I’m not kidding.  This performance is the damnedest thing you’ve ever seen.  When it ends, you may feel like lying down in a dark, quiet room with a cool washcloth on your forehead.  Or maybe you'll be so jacked up you'll run outside, grab a baseball bat, and start taking out your neighbors’ mailboxes.

Each of the band members appear to be completely spastic (to use a word that was one of our favorites back in 1968).   I’m not sure which one is the most over the top, but I’m voting for drummer Carmen Appice.  

Vanilla Fudge
Appice’s demented performance puts even fellow nutjob/genius drummer Keith Moon to shame, and that is saying something.  (Check out how Appice twirls his drumsticks between beats, and literally hugs his cymbals to silence them.)

I wish I knew what Ed Sullivan was thinking as he witnessed the performance.  It probably scared the bejesus out of him.

OK, enough yakety-yak.  Here’s a link to the Sullivan show performance.  Drop your socks and grab your you-know-whats.  Hit the “full screen” button and set your volume control to 11 on a 10 scale.

Click the link below to buy the song from Amazon:

Friday, October 5, 2018

Jimi Hendrix Experience – "Are You Experienced?" (1967)

Are you experienced?
Have you ever been experienced?

I hadn’t really thought about the two different meanings of “experienced” in the lines quoted above until I sat down to write this post, which features the oldest of the initial group of songs being inducted into the 2 OR 3 LINES “GOLDEN DECADE” ALBUM TRACKS HALL OF FAME.

*     *     *     *     *

In 1961, after he was caught riding in stolen cars on two different occasions, the 18-year-old Jimi Hendrix was told he could either go to jail or join the U. S. Army.

He chose the Army, which assigned him to the 101st Airborne Division and sent him to Fort Campbell, Kentucky: 

In one of his first letters home, Hendrix begged his father to ship him his red Silvertone Danelectro guitar.  Fellow soldier Billy Cox – who performed with Hendrix at Woodstock – heard him playing that guitar at a club on the base and was impressed.  He later described Hendrix’s technique as a combination of John Lee Hooker and Beethoven.

Hendrix eventually completed his paratrooper training, but he was hardly a model soldier.  He was graded “unqualified” as a marksman, and was caught napping while on duty.  His platoon sergeant wrote a very negative report about Hendrix:

He has no interest whatsoever in the Army. . . . It is my opinion that Private Hendrix will never come up to the standards required of a soldier.  I feel that the military service will benefit if he is discharged as soon as possible.

Hendrix was granted an honorable discharge on the basis of unsuitability for military service a little over a year after he enlisted.

*     *     *     *     *

After his discharge, Hendrix worked as a backing musician for Wilson Pickett, Ike & Tina Turner, the Isley Brothers, Little Richard, and others.  

But he didn’t like playing the same setlist of songs night after night, so he moved to Greenwich Village in 1966 and formed his own band.  

Linda Keith
Model Linda Keith – she was the girlfriend of Keith Richards at the time – heard him playing one night and was “mesmerized.”  She told Andrew Loog Oldham, the Stones’ manager, that he should sign Hendrix, but Oldham was not as impressed by his playing as she had been.

Keith then introduced Hendrix to Chas Chandler, the original bass player for the Animals, who had recently left that band to seek his fame and fortune as a talent scout, manager and record producer.

Chandler persuaded Hendrix to come to London with him, talked him into changing the spelling of his first name from “Jimmy” to “Jimi,” and recruited bassist Noel Redding and drummer Mitch Mitchell to play with him.

Chandler picked “Hey Joe” for the group to release as its first single, and that record made it to #6 on the UK singles chart early in 1967.  The Jimi Hendrix Experience followed up “Hey Joe” with “Purple Haze” and “The Wind Cries Mary,” which were also top ten hit singles.

Jimi Hendrix and Chas Chandler
Between tours and TV appearances, the group managed to find the time to record enough tracks to fill up an LP.  Are You Experienced – there’s no question mark in the title – was astonishingly original. 

Chas Chandler was the unsung hero of the album, which was recorded on relatively primitive four-track recorders.  The sixteen recording sessions that eventually produced Are You Experienced took place at three different London studios, in part because Hendrix played his guitar so loudly while recording that the studio owners got numerous complaints from those who worked and lived nearby.

*     *     *     *     *

In the words of one music historian, Are You Experienced is “still a landmark recording because it . . . altered the syntax of the music.  [I]n a way I compare [it] to James Joyce’s Ulysses.”

I actually rank Are You Experienced ahead of Ulysses because I’m able to listen to Are You Experienced all the way through.  I’ve never come close to finishing Ulysses, and I bet you haven’t either.  (I can guarantee you that when I’m on my deathbed, I won’t be thinking “I wish I had read Ulysses!”)

The album’s title track – which was the last track on the both the UK and North American versions of Are You Experienced – was Hendrix’s most original composition.  Given that Hendrix may be the most original rock musician of all time, that’s saying something.

If “Are You Experienced” doesn’t deserve to be the first song inducted into the 2 OR 3 LINES “GOLDEN DECADE” ALBUM TRACKS HALL OF FAME, then – pray tell – what song does deserve that honor?

Click here to listen to “Are You Experienced.”

Click on the link below to buy the song from Amazon: 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

LL Cool J – "The G.O.A.T." (2000)

I'm the G.O.A.T.!
(The Greatest Of All Time!) 

Announcing . . . (drum roll) . . . the 2 OR 3 LINES “GOLDEN DECADE” ALBUM TRACKS HALL OF FAME!

In June, we presented the inaugural class of our first hall of fame: the 2 OR 3 LINES “GOLDEN DECADE” HIT SINGLES HALL OF FAME, which was created to honor the best top 40 hits from the golden decade of rock/pop music (1964 to 1973).

Our second hall of fame will feature the best tracks from the best albums of that same golden decade.  To be eligible for the 2 OR 3 LINES “GOLDEN DECADE” ALBUM TRACKS HALL OF FAME, a song must have been the best track on a classic album released between 1964 and 1973.  

Songs that were hit singles won’t be eligible for our new hall of fame.  As noted above, we already have a hall of fame for hit singles.  
Also, songs that SUCK won’t be eligible.  Each of the songs that make it into our new hall of fame are songs that sound just as good today as they did when they were released – which was roughly a half-century ago. 

While the main criterion for choosing songs for the album tracks hall of fame is the quality of the song, the artists whose songs are in the first class of inductees into that hall of fame are A-listers with impressive bodies of work.  No one-hit (or one-album) wonders need apply!

*     *     *     *     *

The first ten songs I’ve chosen for the 2 OR 3 LINES “GOLDEN DECADE” ALBUM TRACKS HALL OF FAME are so good that it’s simply not possible to argue that they don’t belong in that hall of fame.

I’m not saying that my first ten picks are necessarily the best ten “Golden Decade” album tracks ever – although they might be.  But I don’t see how anyone can say these ten songs aren’t in the top 100. 

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You’ll probably notice that there’s no overlap between the artists whose songs were selected for the initial class of the album tracks hall of fame and the artists whose hit singles were among the first inductees into the hit singles hall of fame.

There will be overlap between the artists represented in the two halls of fame sooner or later, but isn’t it better to spread the love around a little – at least at first?

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A lot of you were surprised that there are no Beatles or Rolling Stones songs in the first ten songs inducted into the 2 OR 3 LINES “GOLDEN DECADE” HIT SINGLES HALL OF FAME.  (As you may recall, there were actually eleven songs inducted into that hall of fame.)

That was because the very best songs recorded by those groups didn’t crack the top 40.  So they aren’t eligible to be selected for that hall of fame.

But there was no way I could fail to include a Beatles and a Stones song in the initial class of inductees into the 2 OR 3 LINES “GOLDEN DECADE” ALBUM TRACKS HALL OF FAME.  It was easy to decide which Stones album track to honor – but I had a hard time deciding which Beatles album track most deserved to be inducted.

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Enough chitter-chat.  It’s time to announce the first ten inductees into the 2 OR 3 LINES “GOLDEN DECADE” ALBUM TRACKS HALL OF FAME.  

Here they are, in chronological order of release – oldest to newest:

Jimi Hendrix Experience – “Are You Experienced?” (1967)

Vanilla Fudge – “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” (1967)

Beatles – “Helter Skelter” (1968)

Led Zeppelin –  “Dazed and Confused” (1969)

It’s a Beautiful Day – “White Bird” (1969)

Stooges – “I Wanna Be Your Dog” (1969)

Janis Joplin – “Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)” (1969)

Rolling Stones – “Gimme Shelter” (1969)

Traffic – “Freedom Rider” (1970)

David Bowie – “Suffragette City” (1972)

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According to the Grammarphobia website, “G.O.A.T.” was first used to mean ”greatest of all time” in 1992, when Lonnie Ali (Muhammad Ali’s wife) incorporated Greatest of All Time, Inc. (G.O.A.T. Inc.) to consolidate and license her husband’s intellectual properties for commercial purposes.

But the first person to use “G.O.A.T.” in that sense and to pronounce it as “goat” (rather than as four individual letters) was the rapper, LL Cool J, in 2000.

Click here to listen to “The G.O.A.T.” from the album of the same name (sans “The”), which was LL Cool J’s only album to reach the #1 spot on the Billboard 200 album chart.

Click on the link below to buy the song from Amazon: