1001 Albums: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere

#136

Album_136_Original

Artist: Neil Young

Album: Everybody Knows This is Nowhere

Year: 1969

Length: 40:29

Genre: Country Rock / Hard Rock

“Everybody seems to wonder
What it’s like down here
I gotta get away
from this day-to-day
running around,
Everybody knows
this is nowhere.”

CANADA REPRESENT! Love seeing some good, old Canadian talent getting the recognition they deserve. If you hadn’t guessed by now, I’m very much a Canadian (French-Canadian to be exact, hence why I was so excited to see Leonard Cohen pop up (but I do a great job of explaining that in that post)). I wouldn’t necessarily call myself a proud Canadian because the idea of patriotism doesn’t really make sense to me, how can you be proud of being a nationality? But I am proud of Canada’s achievements especially when it comes to the arts. Believe it or not, Canada is a huge exporter of artistic talent. Some of the biggest talents in music and film have come straight out of Canada. Jim Carrey was an Ontarion, Dan Akroyd, original not ready for prime time player and the writer for Ghostbusters and Blues Brothers, RUSH, one of the biggest prog rock bands out there with mega hits (who funnily enough I am currently listening to), Leonard Cohen, who I don’t need to talk more about, Celine Dion, the Quebec sensation who sang the Titanic song, Seth Rogen, stoner extraordinaire, Joni Mitchell, who also doesn’t need any introduction, and many, many, many more. Neil Young is just one of the hundreds of talents to come out of this country and from Toronto no less, which is my current home town.

There is a good possibility every time I come across Canadian talent, I’ll get excited, but that’s only normal. Everyone loves to see successful people who have brought some sort of joy to many come from their countries and especially their home towns and you do feel a sense of pride knowing that such great people are representing your home in a good way. (There’s tons that do in a bad way too, I mean Justin Bieber and Drake also come from Toronto, but I think Neil Young properly out shines them any day).

I’ll be honest, despite what I just said, this is actually my first exposure to any Neil Young music. The closest I’ve come to seeing any of his work was from his film Human Highway, and even then I only saw the segment with Devo performing “It Takes A Worried Man”, and that’s only because I’m a huge Devo fan. Of course, I don’t live under a rock either so Neil Young was definitely a name I knew and a musician I was 100% aware of but never listened to. Don’t even know why, I guess it was a lack of interest on my part to discover his work and also, and this is probably a big possibility, he falls under the country rock category, and everyone knows how much I avoid Country music as if my life depended on it. Either way, I really didn’t know what to expect going into this and I think the fact I went in with zero expectations is what caused me to enjoy the album as much as I did.

Yes, I enjoyed music that falls under the Country Rock category. I know, it’s insane. But to be fair, it’s country rock mixed with a healthy dose of hard rock, and I do really love me some good hard rock and it’s clear throughout that the hard rock aspects overshadow the country rock parts. This is nothing like The Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo, it’s very much Neil Young doing his own thing with his own style under the genre. Based on what I’ve read, this is where Neil Young sort of let loose and just went nuts forming his own sound, incorporating a lot of improvisational bits into his tunes and setting up a blueprint for his future work. Along with the band Crazy Horse who support him here, they sound like they’re having a great time, especially on the long songs that clock in at 9 minutes. Within them they have segments where the guitar just gets to riff at it’s hearts content and it wails and screeches in the best possible way, having a blast as note after note is played. Thanks to this, these 9 minute long songs don’t feel like they’re 9 minutes at all. The zoom by, which is funny because two of the songs that are just 5 minutes feel like an eternity.

I could have done without Round and Round, which just like it’s name suggest, feels like it’s on a loop. It becomes repetitive fast and I found myself bored with it quickly. Especially it’s placement in the album, it just feels like it kills the momentum Neil had set up with the first two songs. However, that being said the second one, Running Dry, has a quality to it that makes it hauntingly beautiful. An aspect that permeates throughout the entire album. Neil Young manages to be morose without ever becoming cheesy and it makes the vocals rather haunting in a way, especially when mixed with the loud, hard rocking guitar riffs. The whole thing may not be perfect but I’ll be damned if Neil Young isn’t doing a phenomenal job on this album. Cinnamon Girl, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, Down by the River and Cowgirl in the Sand are definite highlights that it makes the low points tolerable enough to sit through.

I’m glad to say I enjoyed it because I did think I might come out of it feeling very meh, which I thought would have been a real shame. But I didn’t, which goes to show it’s best to enter experiences having no expectations. Unfortunately, being human I know that won’t be the case with some future albums, but doesn’t mean it won’t happen and I look forward to those moments because they’re moments I cherish dearly.

Song of Choice: Everybody Knows This is Nowhere

-Bosco

Advertisements

1001 Albums: Truth

#128

Album_128_Original

Artist: Jeff Beck

Album: Truth

Year: 1968

Length: 40:16

Genre: Blues Rock / Hard Rock

“Soon I hope that I will find,
Thoughts deep within my mind.
That won’t displace my kind.”

What is Truth Jeff Beck? What is THE Truth? Does Truth even exist? I don’t know how it was in the late 60s but now in the good year of 2018, truth seems to be a non-existent thing. We live in a world where dishonesty, manipulation and keeping secrets seems to be what’s encouraged, tolerated and enabled. People are in a constant state of justifying their lies and dishonesty, coming up with non-stop excuses as to why they did that, why they were like that. No one takes responsibility for their actions any more and it’s baffling to see why people would go through the struggle of doing this when it’s so much easier to just tell the truth, mainly because then you don’t have to worry about what you’re saying any more, if your story is still working and if you tell the truth, you never have to worry about remembering things any more. But people don’t. It’s baffling how people say they want true honesty but turn around and act like completely dishonest people. “But I’m scared to hurt you, The truth might destroy you”. Continuous bullshit you hear from these people who find justified reasons as to why they lied to you because they can’t admit to themselves that it was shitty to be dishonest. Honesty is honestly the lost virtue, and the handful of people who still practice it are for some reason called the assholes. But they only are because the bullshitters don’t like when they get called on their bullshit so they find it easy to just call the honest person an asshole, which is irony at it’s best because in reality, they’re the actual asshole. But as we all know society is ass-backwards on a lot of things, and honesty is one of them.

I digress, why did I go on a tangent about this? This literally has nothing to do with Jeff Beck’s first debut solo album that is considered a seminal piece of hard rock and heavy metal. Can you believe he infused blues rock with Hard Rock sounds?? Un – Be – Lie – Va – Ble. Jeff Beck shows off his guitar skills on this 40 minute cover album, where he cranks out solo after solo, riff after riff on a plethora of songs that he apparently has zero writing credits on (Not even the one with his name on it “Beck’s Bolero”, which has the writing credit going to Jimmy Page). Heck, we’re even introduced to the vocal stylings of none other than Rod Stewart himself, the man who asked the world that if you think he’s sexy and you like his body then come on sugar tell him so. TELL HIM! What an album this is, truly remarkable. The one sentiment I get from it is:

Meeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

An album that’s considered such a seminal piece of work just didn’t really do it for me (which I guess isn’t that surprising based on my history with these types of albums). I just didn’t feel engaged with the music, it didn’t resonate in anyway with me and didn’t leave a lasting effect or mark. Jeff Beck’s guitar work, as usual, is really good and I will say I loved it, but not enough to walk away from it all going “Damn what fine piece of album”. For a debut solo I was expecting more than just a bunch of covers. It would have been nice to see Jeff Beck shine as a songwriter than just a guitar player, we know he can play guitar and play it well, but can he write? That’s the real question I want answered and I’m sure he can, he is considered one of the guitar gods, so why waste his time doing covers? This is the late 60s, not the 50s where everyone was essentially covering each other. Even Elvis took the time to write new material and his own stuff, so Jeff Beck could have done that too.

I have nothing against covers, especially when done well. A good cover is when an artist or group adds their own flavour to it, repurposes it their own way and creates something new from it. I hate covers that essentially sound exactly like the original, like the band didn’t even try to do something new with it, what’s the point at that point? If you want to play song you love live, then by all means do it but don’t record it and package it as something on your album when you don’t even take the time to add anything to it. (Hot damn, hot take). Thankfully Jeff Beck is original enough to add his own flair to the music he’s creating so it doesn’t fall flat or boring, I just wish he took the time to write original material… that’s all.

I mean, that’s not too much to ask from one of the greats right? He can do it, I believe in him. I really hope he has another album on this list that can show that off and maybe I won’t be as disappointed second time around. I like Jeff Beck and just want what’s best for him.

Song of Choice: Beck’s Bolero

-Bosco

1001 Albums: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida

#123

Album_123_Original.jpeg

Artist: Iron Butterfly

Album: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida

Year: 1968

Length: 36:15

Genre: Acid Rock / Hard Rock / Psychedelic Rock

“In a gadda da vida, honey
Don’t you know that I’m lovin’ you
In a gadda da vida, baby
Don’t you know that I’ll always be true

Oh, won’t you come with me
And take my hand
Oh, won’t you come with me
And walk this land
Please take my hand”

I listened to this album weeks ago. I’m five albums ahead. What am I doing? Why am I doing this? Keeping up a blog is much harder than it seems. I used to be able to crank these out quickly because I had set a routine for myself (and I guess my motivation was much higher when I had started as well compared to now where I have a lot of other priorities, like moving to a new apartment soon). I really want to get through this list because I’m genuinely excited to listen to all these albums I’ve either never heard of or know about but never listened to. But life is tricky sometimes and you do what you gotta do.

That being said, I have been given more motivation to crank these out quicker. I’ve run into a bit of a challenge with a friend (who also writes a blog!) where basically we each have to crank out at least two posts a week. If this is not met by the deadline, then we each have to do a dare for each article we didn’t post. And because she lives all the way in Boston, I’ll need photo proof of it. I’m usually really great at these dare games where I always succeed in not having to do the dares (my friend Luis can tell you all about that) and I am not going to start failing now.

As a side note if you do want a really fun dare game to play, here’s one I play with my friends (especially when we are out drinking). The game is simple, yet explaining it is difficult, so bear (bare?) with me. You think of a dare (must be something reasonable. Essentially nothing that will get you punched, kicked out of where you are or that tampers with people’s food or drinks) and then you turn to the daree and say “Out of how much to (insert dare here). They pick a number between 1 and 100 (1 being they’ll absolutely do it and 100 being the least likely). You both pick a number between 1 and the chosen number and count down “3…2…1”. You both say the number at the same time. If it’s the same number the person has to do the dare and if it isn’t you move on and forget about it. What make the game so fun is that sense of anticipation if you’ll have to do something relatively embarrassing or not. My friend hates playing with me because he can never get me and I guess his number all the time. I’ve had him stand up in front of an entire bar and declare that he was coming out of the closet (he’s not actually gay). But credit to my friend, he does the dares and doesn’t half-ass them. But I know he’ll get me one day and it’ll be an incredibly big one. I have to brace myself for when that day comes. Lets’ be fair, I’ll deserve it.

Iron Butterfly is widely know for their one big hit: In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. They’re 17 minute epic that seemingly feels like it never ends, that captures you in and mesmerizes you not only by it’s monstrous size but it’s transcending instrumentals. There’s no denying that this song has a very well-deserved place in rock history (Which also made an appearance in my famous psychedelic music class), which is what made me question the inclusion of this album on this list. Obviously I was familiar with the hit song because… well, who isn’t? The iconic riff and simplistic lyrics have appeared everywhere, including a famous scene in The Simpsons where Bart switches out the organ player’s music with a reworked version of this song called In The Garden of Eden, having everyone sing for the full 17 minutes and causing the organ player to pass out from exhaustion. Funny story, the song was originally supposed to be called In The Garden of Eden, but when coming up with it the main songwriter was so incredibly drunk that he slurred the words coming out with In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. They liked it so much they kept it. It is also the first song to have a long drum solo, this drum solo goes on for an eternity, but is absolutely magnificent in every way. The drums were mostly always there to keep a beat but this song revealed how much more it can do and the band stepped aside to let the drummer have his moment in the light (something that doesn’t happen too often in bands).

What I was getting at was, when I saw the album listed on the… list, I questioned if the album was only here because of their hit song. Did they put it on here just because In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida was such a bit hit and such an epic feat that they just had to include the entire album? I see a lot of albums on this list that are basically just that, an album that included a big hit and must just be on this list because of the hit (But I don’t know until I listen, it’s just speculation). At that point, if the song was that worthy why don’t they just put it on their 1001 Songs list and call it a day? So with this idea starts a new game I want to play called: Big Hit or Worthy Album? Where I see if the album was only included because of it’s big hit or was a worthy album that just happened to be eclipsed by it’s big hit.

What is the case for Iron Butterfly? Was In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida the only reason this album is here or was the rest of the album just as good?

I’m going to give this one a Worthy Album pick. I was pleasantly surprised by Side A and wasn’t sure what to expect as the whole band is mainly known for their one monster hit. I didn’t know if all their songs would sound like that one or they had more to offer. They definitely had more to offer. In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida seems to be a stand alone product as the rest of the album plays more into a hard rock vibe than as psychedelic one and although elements of psychedelic music appear throughout, they never have that acid trip vibe that their hit has. For the most part I do feel the rest of the songs could seem a little underwhelming and come across more straight-forward in terms of Hard Rock, but what really saves them is the singer’s unique vocals and that Organ. That organ is beautiful and comes in with licks and splits and jumps and spurts and adds a unique flavour to otherwise ordinary hard rock songs. Everytime that Organ came in it all made sense to me and put a smile on my face. This albums has definitely become a favourite of mine off the list so far and I plan to search for it in my local vinyl bins (although I saw it for 60 bucks at one store… yikes!!!).

Iron Butterfly were definitely putting their own unique twist on Psychedelic music and fusing it with hard rock was a smart choice on their part. Even though Hendrix was already doing that, the inclusion of their organ sound is what would set them apart and allow them to create an album that although was eclipsed by their big hit is an incredibly memorable one. It would become the biggest selling album of 1969 and become Atlantic Record’s biggest selling album until Led Zeppelin 4 would come around (which I get but… come on, yuck). No easy feat for a sophomore album but definitely worthy.

Song of Choice: Are You Happy

-Bosco

P.S. Do listen to the whole 17 minutes of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, it’ well worth your time.

1001 Albums: Vincebus Eruptum

#118

Album_118_Original.jpg

Artist: Blue Cheer

Album: Vincebus Eruptum

Year: 1968

Length: 32:08

Genre: Hard Rock / Proto-Metal

“Well my mom and papa told me son you gotta make some money
Well if you wanna use the car to go a ridin’ next sunday
Oh, Lord, I didn’t go to work I told the boss I was sick, said

Sometimes, I wonder what I’m gonna do
Lord, there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues”

Goddamn this album was loud. Like really loud. It’s the loudest album I’ve ever heard in my life. And I listen to music loudly, extremely loudly and nothing has ever coming close to the loudness of this album. It was so loud my speakers in my car almost couldn’t handle the sheer loudness that was coming through it. I thought they were going to blow at any second. I actually had to turn the volume down because it felt too loud, which is a first for me. The songs just boomed through, rumbling and shaking the entire car and especially my eardrums. The low frequencies were incredibly prominent on this album, which is a staple of this band’s sound it seems (based on an interview I read where they try really hard to make sure all the lows of the rhythm section are there and loud). This band was notorious for being so goddamn loud that I think I even read somewhere that they burst an amp playing at their volume (but I could be wrong, so don’t quote me on that). Never before has a band played as loudly as this band played and with that they paved the way for new horizons in music.

It’s shocking that an album that is probably not very known at all (my only exposure to Blue Cheer was their hit Summertime Blues from a Rock N’ Roll History music course) was such a ground breaking album for a variety of reasons. It’s officially the first album on the list to be considered Hard Rock, and although it may not be the first band to develop a hard rock sound (we’ve definitely heard some bands on this list already to do that) they were definitely one of the first to wear the term on their sleeves like a badge of honour. ¬†They were the band that inspired the term Power Trio, which means way before Rush was considered the Holy Trinity, these guys were rocking it out as the first Power Trio. They also were one of the founding movements of Heavy Metal. The history of Heavy Metal can probably be tracked all the way to these guys as the starting point of the genre. So, if you are a love of Heavy Metal, you have these guys to thank for paving the way for the creation of the genre. So many firsts for a lesser known album.

All that being said, despite being the perfect recipe of music for me, I was simply ok with the whole thing. As a whole it was great to see the beginnings of metal and hard rock coming to fruition and I could definitely feel the obscene loudness shien through into my eardrums and rattle my brain, which is always great, but the songs themselves didn’t really have much else to them. Other than Summertime Blues, which is a fantastic cover, the rest of the songs felt mostly forgettable with the memory of the sound being what really sticks to you. I can go on and on about the sound of this album but wouldn’t be able to tell you much about the individual songs. I mean, one song was a drug anthem about how much he loves drugs… I guess that’s something to be proud about. I don’t know I should have loved this album, and there’s definitely a lot of moments throughout that I did love, but that’s the thing, it was always moments. Moments of solos or banging drums that appeared within the songs, but never the full songs themselves. I still really liked the album but it just didn’t connect with me and left me feeling like there was something missing deep down under all the loudness and guitar sounds that were plugged through multiple amps. There was a lack of structure throughout which caused for some unexpected shifts within the songs themselves that almost felt like a change of song occurred, even though it didn’t. Interesting choice but a little jarring nonetheless.

I guess what I’m saying is that there was a shallowness to the music here, but then again, nothing wrong with that. Blue Cheer’s goal was to create an album of music that was just beyond loud and would burst your eardrums and they succeeded in doing that! And despite my feelings towards it, I wouldn’t ask for any less from this album. It did what it aimed to do and I will admire it for that.

Song of Choice: Second Time Around

-Bosco

1001 Albums: Electric Ladyland

#113

Album_113_Original_Alt

Artist: The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Album: Electric Ladyland

Year: 1968

Length: 75:47

Genre: Psychedelic Rock / Hard Rock / Blues Rock

“Well, I make love to you
And Lord knows you’ll feel no pain
Say, I make love to you in your sleep
And Lord knows you felt no pain
(Have mercy)
Because I’m a million miles away
And at the same time I’m right here in your picture frame
(Yeah! What did I say now?)”

Here we are. Back to Jimi Hendrix. That would be three Jimi Hendrix albums in the span of roughly 13 album, they come at you quickly. It would also be the third and final album of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, marking this one as the final in a trilogy of sorts. And just like any finale, it’s bigger, bolder and more monstrous than it’s predecessors. It hits you in the head and knocks you out. A grand slam of finales. An explosion of music and fireworks to mark the end of a legacy that will live on forever.

If you hadn’t guessed by my last paragraph there, I really liked Electric Ladyland. I felt they had stepped it up from what I felt was a rather meh second album that I just didn’t engage with and went back to their first album with some hard rocking riffs, his famous guitar sound and some added layers to add that extra oomph the two other albums were missing. Clocking in at almost 76 minutes, which I was shocked to find out because it honestly did not feel that long and I felt like I zoomed through the album (which just proves how it sucks you in very well), it is quite the impressive musical feat. Jimi Hendrix would be both producer and director on this album for the first time having complete control and the album really shows off his perfectionist attitude to perfection as everything here sounds like it was meticulously crafted from start to finish. He was also notorious for doing multiple takes until they got it absolutely right and it really paid off here.

I’ll be honest, the first two songs made me nervous. They gave me flashbacks to Axis: Bold As Love and I was worried I’d have the same exact experience from that one. But once Crosstown Traffic hit, my attitude changed and I’m happy to say the rest of the album was really one hell of a great experience from there (one would even say it was a… Jimi Hendrix… Experience… HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA……ha). Voodoo Chile, which I always thought was called voodoo child and I kept reading it as Voodoo Chili (which to me sound deliciously spicy), is the longest song and despite going on and on it rocks hard enough to keep you going for it’s entire 15 minute length of time. And oh! Did you know Steve Winwood, my very own personal firetruck, has a guest appearance on it as the organ player? In fact, a ton of musicians had guest appearances on this album. It was said that the studio would end up so crowded with all these guests that it felt more like a party than a recording session. It would get so crowded that it was hard to move around. I don’t know about you but a bunch of top notch musicians creating some great music together sounds like one hell of a party to me. Sign me up anyday.

Electric Ladyland is also part of the ever growing list of albums that had controversial covers. I’m not talking about the one you see up there, which is completely harmless as far as covers go (unless you’re really disturbed by the fact he’s red and yellow and that doesn’t look like people! OH MY GOD!) but I’m talking about THE cover that had record stores ban this album or even sell it inside out as not to disturb the young, innocent eyes of everyone who enters. If you’re familiar with it than you know what I’m talking about. The famous nude women cover that look like this:

1970s-Electric_Ladyland_Cover_Jimmy_Hendrix.jpg

To be honest, this one at least makes more sense than the album covers that were considered controversial because they had a picture of a toilet on it. God forbid we see a god damn toilet. Apparently, Jimi Hendrix hated this cover and wanted it to be something completely different (he also hated the cover for Axis: Bold as Love but realistically he’s also a perfectionist so he was probably never happy anyway). This is nowhere as near to being like the famous Penis Landscape controversy from the Dead Kennedy’s album Frankenchrist, but I can easily see people having a hard time dealing with a cover like this back in 1968. Times are defintiely different now. Although it’s debatable if as a society we’ve become more prudish or desensitised to this kind of imagery, especially if it was sold out in the open, but with an argument for it being “art” who knows. I am curious to know what would have occurred if this came out in 2018 with this cover and what debates and conversations it would spark. But that’s not for me to start, just to wonder.

What else can be said of this behemoth of a double rock LP that hasn’t already been said? I can’t really personally add anything new to the table but I will share that it was a fantastic album that I thoroughly enjoyed and was happy that My Jimi Hendrix Experience (teehee) ended on this high note. If I had listened to the albums like I used to (meaning one a day) I probably could have sense a bigger journey form their first to here. Heck, I could always just listen to all three back to back and who knows, maybe Axis: Bold as Love will finally make sense to me. I really do feel there is a story to be told musically by listening to all three back-to-back, especially as you watch the evolution and growth of the band through each one. One day I might just do that, but for now I’ll leave with the happy memory that was me enjoying this four-sided beast of an album.

Song of Choice: Crosstown Traffic

-Bosco