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Category Archives: 1967

By 1967, bossa nova had become quite popular within jazz and traditional pop audiences, yet Frank Sinatra hadn’t attempted any Brazil-influenced material. Sinatra decided to record a full-fledged bossa nova album with the genre’s leading composer, Antonio Carlos Jobim. Arranged by Claus Ogerman and featuring Jobim on guitar and backing vocals, Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim concentrated on Jobim’s originals, adding three American classics — “Baubles, Bangles and Beads,” “Change Partners,” and “I Concentrate on You” — that were rearranged to suit bossa nova conventions. The result was a subdued, quiet album that used the Latin rhythms as a foundation, not as a focal point. Supported by a relaxed, sympathetic arrangement of muted brass, simmering percussion, soft strings, and Jobim’s lilting guitar, Sinatra turns in an especially noteworthy performance; he has never sounded so subtle, underplaying every line he delivers and showcasing vocal techniques that he never had displayed before. Francis Albert Sinatra & Antonio Carlos Jobim doesn’t reveal its pleasures immediately; the album is too textured and understated to be fully appreciated within one listen. After a few plays, the album begins to slowly work its way underneath a listener’s skin, and it emerges as one of his most rewarding albums of the ’60s.

Watertown is Frank Sinatra’s most ambitious concept album, as well as his most difficult record. Not only does it tell a full-fledged story, it is his most explicit attempt at rock-oriented pop. Since the main composer of Watertown is Bob Gaudio, the author of the Four Seasons’ hits “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” “Walk Like a Man,” and “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” that doesn’t come as a surprise. With Jake Holmes, Gaudio created a song cycle concerning a middle-aged, small-town man whose wife had left him with the kids. Constructed as a series of brief lyrical snapshots that read like letters or soliloquies, the culminating effect of the songs is an atmosphere of loneliness, but it is a loneliness without much hope or romance — it is the sound of a broken man. Producer Charles Calello arranged musical backdrops that conveyed the despair of the lyrics. Weaving together prominent electric guitars, keyboards, drum kits, and light strings, Calello uses pop/rock instrumentations and production techniques, but that doesn’t prevent Sinatra from warming to the material. In fact, he turns in a wonderful performance, drawing out every emotion from the lyrics, giving the album’s character depth.

-Stephen Thomas Erlewine,

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The S/T is a rip of the first pressing MONO vinyl, WOW is from a reissue with bonus tracks on CD. I didn’t skip GRAPE JAM out of laziness, it’s just particularly not very good. Meandering jams, they couldn’t even give it away at the time. They even tried discounting it heavily if you bought a copy of WOW and nobody really cared. -Ian!

Moby Grape’s career was a long, sad series of minor disasters, in which nearly anything that could have gone wrong did (poor handling by their record company, a variety of legal problems, a truly regrettable deal with their manager, creative and personal differences among the bandmembers, and the tragic breakdown of guitarist and songwriter Skip Spence), but their self-titled debut album was their one moment of unqualified triumph. Moby Grape is one of the finest (perhaps the finest) album to come out of the San Francisco psychedelic scene, brimming with great songs and fresh ideas while blessedly avoiding the pitfalls that pockmarked the work of their contemporaries — no long, unfocused jams, no self-indulgent philosophy, and no attempts to sonically re-create the sound of an acid trip. Instead, Moby Grape built their sound around the brilliantly interwoven guitar work of Jerry Miller, Peter Lewis, and Skip Spence, and the clear, bright harmonies of all five members (drummer Don Stevenson and bassist Bob Mosely sang just as well as they held down the backbeat). As songwriters, Moby Grape blended straight-ahead rock & roll, smart pop, blues, country, and folk accents into a flavorful brew that was all their own, with a clever melodic sense that reflected the lysergic energy surrounding them without drowning in it. And producer David Rubinson got it all on tape in a manner that captured the band’s infectious energy and soaring melodies with uncluttered clarity, while subtly exploring the possibilities of the stereo mixing process. “Omaha,” “Fall on You,” “Hey Grandma,” and “8:05” sound like obvious hits (and might have been if Columbia hadn’t released them as singles all at once), but the truth is there isn’t a dud track to be found here, and time has been extremely kind to this record. Moby Grape is as refreshing today as it was upon first release, and if fate prevented the group from making a follow-up that was as consistently strong, for one brief shining moment Moby Grape proved to the world they were one of America’s great bands. While history remembers the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane as being more important, the truth is neither group ever made an album quite this good.

Between the time that Moby Grape released their brilliant self-titled debut and when their second album Wow appeared in 1968, a little thing called Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band happened, and for the next few years it was no longer enough for a band with some claim to importance to just play rock & roll, even if they approached it with the freshness and imagination Moby Grape displayed on their first LP. Bowing to the pervading influences of the day, Wow is a far more ambitious album than Moby Grape, trading in the latter’s energetic simplicity for an expansive production complete with strings, horns, and lots of willful eccentricity, best typified by the helium-treated vocals on the hillbilly pastiche “Funky Tunk” and “Just Like Gene Autry: A Foxtrot,” a woozy ’60s dance band number complete with introduction from Arthur Godfrey (the band went so far as to master the tune at 78 rpm on the original vinyl edition). While at first glance Wow pales in comparison to the instant classic Moby Grape, repeated listening reveals this album has plenty of strengths despite the excess gingerbread; the horn-driven boogie of “Can’t Be So Bad” swings hard, “Murder in My Heart for the Judge” is a tough and funky blues number, “He,” “Rose Colored Eyes,” and “Bitter Wind” are lovely folk-rock tunes with shimmering harmonies (even if the latter is marred by a pretentious noise collage at the close), and “Motorcycle Irene” is a witty tribute to a hard-livin’ biker mama. Wow lacks the rev-it-up spirit of Moby Grape’s masterpiece, but Peter Lewis, Jerry Miller, and Skip Spence’s guitar work is just as impressive and richly layered, and the group’s harmonies and songwriting chops are still in solid shape. While the unobtrusive production on Moby Grape showcased the group’s many virtues, those attributes are visible on Wow despite the layers of studio excess, which sapped the momentum and charm of this band without snuffing them out altogether.

-Mark Deming,

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WOW (1968)
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Rip of an first pressing MONO vinyl from Buddha Records. -Ian!

Beefheart’s first proper studio album is a much more accessible, pop-inflected brand of blues-rock than the efforts that followed in the late ’60s — which isn’t to say that it’s exactly normal and straightforward. Featuring Ry Cooder on guitar, this is blues-rock gone slightly askew, with jagged, fractured rhythms, soulful, twisting vocals from Van Vliet, and more doo wop, soul, straight blues, and folk-rock influences than he would employ on his more avant-garde outings. “Zig Zag Wanderer,” “Call on Me,” and “Yellow Brick Road” are some of his most enduring and riff-driven songs, although there’s plenty of weirdness on tracks like “Electricity” and “Abba Zaba.”

-Richie Unterberger,

Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band-SAFE AS MILK (1967)
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This is a deeply touching tribute to Otis Redding by DJ Johnnie Walker, floating out on Radio Caroline South on December 22nd, 1967. Audio has been dramatically cleaned up from its source tape by Pandora, whose excellent UK offshore radio blog is a must visit.

It didn’t even occur to me until I typed that just now that today is also December 22nd. 42 years ago today. It’s pretty amazing these tapes exist at all.

Anyway, it really puts things into perspective how utterly tragic and devastating this was, and to have it happen just before the holidays… Man. I just love Otis Redding and feel this with Walker the whole way through, even though this was all before my time.

Redding’s biggest hit, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” was recorded three days before his death, and wasn’t released until two weeks after this broadcast. It would go on to be Redding’s biggest hit and the first posthumous #1 single in US chart history.

I can’t say I’m intimately familiar with Johnnie Walker, and his later career. But I certainly hold him in high esteem for this. British people always appreciated American R&B and soul, possibly even more than white America ever did. The purity of emotion involved must have been particularly appealing to such a seemingly reserved society. But hey, what do I know? Is that off the mark?

This was actually cleaned up a little bit in Audacity. Just some normalizing and light noise reduction. It’s also edited down from two hours, the full audio can be found at the bottom, unedited and un-processed on my end. I have better sounding tapes that will be posted eventually, this one just felt right for today.


Something a little experimental. A high-end FLAC rip of an original MONO mix first pressing vinyl of this album, ripped at and presented in 24 Bit / 96 kHz resolution by “Prof. Stoned” (his details here), making this a higher than CD resolution capture of an analog recording on an analog source. It’s also the last Stones album to get a dedicated mono mix in the US. As in, not a fold down of the stereo mix, but created for mono specifically. The stereo mixes are engineered after the fact in subsequent remixes.

Also thrown in is the mono mix of Sympathy For The Devil, for reasons explained in the dealie.

I take issue with the premise presented in the review below. I happen to have always thought TSMR was a psych MASTERPIECE, even surpassing SGT. PEPPER. Though the mono mix of PEPPER did raise it in my esteem greatly just this past year. My point, though, is that the reputation of this album only suffered because it was a STONES album. Had this been recorded by a band like The Zombies or something it would have been forever hailed a masterpiece. But instead, it’s called “the time the Stones made a psych album.”

Anyway, this plays fine in Foobar2000, but if you use iTunes you might want to stick with the regular old MP3 version. I threw in the STEREO ABKCO version, and also an MP3 version of the mono mix taken from the FLAC if you just want the mono mix without the fancy high-end hullabaloo. -Ian!

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What is arguably the worst album the Rolling Stones did during the 1960s has suddenly been transformed into one of the best bootleg releases ever, its reputation salvaged and its songs transformed into superb, punky psychedelia, and it’s all because of the use of the mono mix (virtually unheard by anyone outside of England) and a new transfer that runs circles around the late-’80s ABKCO stereo CD edition. Their Satanic Majesties Request has always been disliked by fans, who perceived it as the Rolling Stones trying to emulate the Beatles during the latter’s psychedelic phase, and generally not sounding terribly good. The mono mix fixes all of that and then some — indeed, all of a sudden, the album sounds great, and is great. The rhythm instruments are upfront and solid, and from the opening bars of “Sing This All Together” through the punchy break on “In Another Land” to the extended jam on “Sing This All Together (See What Happened)” (as it’s printed here), this sounds like the Stones, pounding away hard and heavy, and scarcely like the Beatles at all. As expected, “2000 Man” is the highlight, with a crunchy guitar break that’s right up close and personal, along with Jagger’s vocals over it and Charlie Watts kicking the hell out of his kit while the organ twists little Arabesques around all of them; not far behind in terms of allure, amazingly enough, is “Sing This All Together (See What Happened)” — the horns sound much more integrated into the texture of the track and a lot more dissonant, the Mellotron is more upfront in the mix, holding the piece together much better at the end, and the tom-toms and kettle drums are practically in your lap, while Keith Richards’ guitar, doing strange psychedelic slides in the opening or playing a crunchy rhythm accompaniment to the horns, comes off as a true rock virtuoso performance. The rest of the album pretty much is elevated to a similar degree — oddly enough, only “She’s a Rainbow” isn’t transformed radically — and it’s all more worth hearing than it’s been in decades.

-Bruce Eder,

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