1001 Albums: The Notorious Byrd Brothers

#119

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Artist: The Byrds

Album: The Notorious Byrd Brothers

Year: 1968

Length: 28: 28

Genre: Psychedelic/ Folk / Country Rock

“No I’d rather go and journey
Where the diamond crescent’s glowing
And run across the valley
Beneath the sacred mountain
And wander through the forest
Where the trees have leaves of prisms
And break the light in colors
That no one know the names of”

It’s a plane! It’s Superman! It’s a Lead Zeppelin! No, It’s The BYRDS!!!! Again. It’s one of the few bands that I always sort of anticipate will show up once again in my playlist but I always sort of forget about at the same time. I’m actually quite surprised at how extensive their catalogue is having only known their early sixties hippie-dippie sounding tunes and never knew they had this sort of impact and growth and evolution within the music world. If you asked me if I ever thought The Byrds would be considered a band that left a mark on history I probably would have said no. But I didn’t know any better at the time having known absolutely nothing about The Byrds. Discovering their evolution has been quite the journey and that journey isn’t done yet with at least one more album to come on this list.

Ok, so what can I say about this album? According to reviews this is considered their greatest piece of work, their debatable masterpiece, the album that would leave the biggest legacy for them. It was The Byrds at their most experimental, utilizing all sorts of studio techniques and psychedelic cliches to their best. This was also their transitional album into their eventual Country Rock days but was used very subtly here with a nice blend of genres from psychedelic, folk, baroque pop and jazz. They were at the height of their songwriting bringing in everything they had t create a massively cohesive album with nary a bad moment. All this despite the many issues they had behind the scenes, from tension with David Crosby, who would be fired halfway through the session, and their drummer leaving as well. Gene Clark would return but it is uncertain what he actually provided for the album in terms of songwriting. All these issues and they still managed to release what’s considered their greatest album of all time (and sometimes even appears on top 100 albums lists).

If this is the case, then why was it so forgettable for me? No joke, I can’t remember anything of this album. it’s as if once it was completed my mind just swiped the memory of this album away form me completely. I remember the style that played throughout and the vibe I got form it for the most part, but it’s just a vague idea of the thing as a whole and I can’t go into specifics at all. Nothing from this album stuck with me in any way, shape or form. There were even times when I’d check the playlist and notice I had missed a song completely, not even knowing I had listened to it. I had to go back several time to relisten to songs to make sure Spotify didn’t just skip it, which is how I felt it was. Maybe the songs just blended in together a little too much (which is a credit to the album’s cohesiveness I guess), but I just can’t tell you about any songs in particular because I honestly don’t remember any of it.

Maybe this will go into the pile of albums I’ll revisit one day because if it really is considered their greatest work then there’s got to be something there I obviously missed (which seems to be the whole thing). Almost as if it sort of passed by me and I didn’t even notice it go. I find it such an interesting phenomenon how some albums can stick with us and others just don’t. Especially when it’s a highly valued album, you’d figure it would stick with you in some way or another, but this one just didn’t at all and I have no idea why.

That being said, there’s not much else I can really say about it. Took me doing extensive research to get to know anything about this album so I could at least talk about something related to it, but I’ve reached my capacity to say anything about it. Sorry to disappoint but sometimes that’s how it is and with 1001 albums on this list I’m bound to hit a ton that just don’t resonate with me in one way or another and I have nothing to say about. Can’t like everything and can’t connect with everything. That’s the sad truth. I really do try to at least have something to say about every album I listen to and try my best to form an opinion of sorts and to go into it a little, but I’ll have to face the facts that sometimes I just can’t do it and will be faced with an album that I just have nothing to say about. I do feel bad because it is The Byrds and I was getting into their evolution as a whole and even though I recognised it as I was listening to it and felt “man this isn’t The Byrds we started with, cool, good for them” that was as far as my feelings went for it. Hopefully I’ll have more to say for their next one which is full-on Country Rock, so there’s a good chance I might.

Also, I love how there’s a horse in that fourth window on the cover. Gives me the impression that a horse was part of the band and played on this album. Don’t know about you, but the image of a horse in a recording studio playing an instrument makes me giggle.

Song of Choice: Old John Robertson

-Bosco

 

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1001 Albums: Electric Ladyland

#113

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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

 

 

1001 Albums: Axis: Bold As Love

#105

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Artist: The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Album: Axis: Bold as Love

Year: 1967

Length: 39:21

Genre: Psychedelic Rock

“Anger, he smiles,
Towering in shiny metallic purple armour
Queen Jealousy, envy waits behind him
Her fiery green gown sneers at the grassy ground”

Just five albums apart and we’re already hit with a second Jimi Hendrix album. Unbelievable and in the same year no less (this god forsaken year that I can’t see to get out of). I have no idea how they organize this list anymore because I highly doubt the two albums came out that close together. I’d really like to know how the editor organised all this because the order just makes no sense whatsoever. It’s like they got the general idea of when each album is and just randomly picked the order because there seems to be absolutely no form of order here.

Either way, I’ll just enjoy the madness for what it is.

So, Jimi Hendrix again. I loved his debut so much, was this one in equal or greater value to it? eh…. I don’t know… It was an odd experience (durhurr) to say the least. I in no way disliked the album, Jimi Hendrix’s skill and talent is apparent throughout as usual and it’s great stuff just… I don’t know. I found myself oddly disconnected the whole time. It just never pulled me in or got me engaged. It was good stuff and I found myself thinking that but… it just really didn’t do anything for me. I even had to listen to it twice because the first time left such a little impression on me I couldn’t even remember 90 percent of it. Which is really weird. I mean it’s Jimi Hendrix afterall and I really love Hendrix… so what was up with this. The second listen helped a bit… but not really much. What was I mising exactly?

It’s not like I had my expectations low either. The album started with an unusual radio broadcast about aliens and I remember thinkign to myself that this was going to be interesting and then… it just felt underwhelming as a whole. I think part of it was the dissapearance of his hard rock guitar sound from his first album that I really loved and even the style felt more pop-ish than the first one, which I guess was partially why I felt disconnected… but even then… it was still all good, so why didn’t it do anything for me?

I even tried asking a friend who loves Hendrix to possibly give me insight into what I may hve missed. But I gave up quickly because instead of telling me why this album was good he just kept repeatedly asking me why I didn’t like it (even though I told him many times I did like it I just didn’t really engage with it) and kept questioning if there was a song I liked and why I didn’t like it and basically didn’t answer my initial question of getting insight into this album. So he was basically useless, keeping me on an endless loop of why I didn’t like it rather than just telling me why I should… I don’t know, he’s like that.

Of what I read this seems to be a transitional album for Hendrix which could explain why it just didn’t do it for me either but then others say it’s a masterpiece so… I’m at a loss here. Maybe one day someone will give me the insight into it and it’ll finally click and I’ll get it but for now I’ll just leave it for what it was. An experience I was disappointed in my feelings for.

I really can’t explain it.

Song of Choice: Bold as Love

-Bosco

 

1001 Albums: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)

#101

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Artist: The Electric Prunes

Album: I Had Too Much To Dream (Last Night)

Year: 1967

Length: 29:47

Genre: Psychedelic Rock / Garage Rock

“Last night your shadow fell upon my lonely room
I touched your golden hair and tasted your perfume
Your eyes were filled with love the way they used to be
Your gentle hand reached out to comfort me
Then came the dawn
And you were gone
You were gone, gone, gone

I had too much to dream last night
Too much to dream
I’m not ready to face the light
I had too much to dream
Last night
Last night”
Keeping up the pace with this list. If I want to make it to 1001 before I die (which I think is the goal in general) then I really need to pick it up. To be honest the listening part is the easy part. The writing the blog posts and doing the photoshopped covers is really what usually slows me down otherwise I probably would be way farther in the list by now. It’s hard to find time sometimes to sit down and crank one of these out, especially if a lot of time has passed since I heard the album and I basically forgot about it. When I started this challenge, I made it a point to write a post the night of listening to an album, but things change and it’s become tougher in general. But no more of that. Time to take my life into my own hands and get back on track.
I really liked this album. It’s another one of those bands that appeared in my famous Psychedelic music class (forgot to mention Jimi Hendrix did too but that wasn’t important). So, I had exposure to this band and have heard of them before. I got excited because as much as I’m getting bored of psychedelic music, I love 60s garage rock and that outweighed my boredom with psychedelia. How does it compare to other fusion bands? Not sure if I can say the best, but their mix of Psychedelic and Garage blends together almost seamlessly that it’s hard to tell where each begins and ends. That was an aspect I really liked about it. Other than two songs (The King is in The Counter House and The Toonerville Trolley) which had more of a ragtime, children’s story feel to them, the rest of the tunes hit you hard with that raw garage rock sound and muddy noise with backwards tape and psychedelic acid attached to it. The singer screams and yells at the right moments and takes it easy at others. And you get different tempos for different vibes. Fast ones for those like me who love to get pumped up (Get me to the world on time) and slower ones for people who like to enjoy their time (About a Quarter to Nine).
There’s definitely a cheeky feel to a lot of the lyrics but I think they decided to go more the psychedelic imagery route along with slight cheekiness thrown into it. It’s really hard for me to find things I didn’t enjoy about the album. The album is in no way perfect or even the greatest thing ever, but for garage rock lovers it’s really a great album that holds up from beginning to end (even at the slightly weirder parts). It flowed really well and it’s short run time seems to feel even shorter than it really is. Maybe it’s my personal taste bias that feels this way, but what you gonna do?
I don’t really have much else to say about this album mainly because it’s a little hidden gem from the big year of 1967. It was a garage rock album that really made an impact and stood out as being it’s own unique specimen but definitely got overshadowed by all the big albums that came out that same year. Shame because it’s a great album all the way through and deserves more recognition than it gets. (Unless it’s getting tons of recognition that I’m unaware about. If that’s the case than excuse my ignorance).
Now excuse me while I go sleep and possibly dream too much (lame I know… fuck you, whatever).
Song of Choice: Get Me To The World On Time
-Bosco

1001 Albums: Are You Experienced

#100

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Artist: The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Album: Are You Experienced

Year: 1967

Length: 40:12

Genre: Acid Rock / Psychedelic Rock

I know, I know you probably scream and cry
That your little world won’t let you go
But who in your measly little world
Are you trying to prove that
You’re made out of gold and, eh, can’t be sold

But first, are you experienced?
Have you ever been experienced?
Well, I have

It’s happened folks. It’s finally happened. I’ve broken into the triple digits, I’ve finally hit album 100! And perfect timing for celebration since it is Christmas too (or was at the time I’m writing this). I’m officially at about 10% of the entire list. I started about a year ago so at this rate I’ll finish the entire list in ten years. Ten years… gotta pick up the pace a bit I think. Either way, it’s a big milestone in this challenge and one I’ll hold dear to myself because it’s proof I won’t give up and will keep doing it no matter what. I will make it to the end.

And what an album to do number 100 on. I think currently one of the best albums I’ve heard so far on this list. From beginning to end it’s just a powerhouse of guitar playing and psychedelic music. I’ve heard songs from this album before (Are You Experienced, Third Stone From The Sun, The Wind Cries Mary, Purple Haze (the last two from countless hours of playing guitar hero)) but had never listened to a full Jimi Hendrix Album before. Believe my shock when a ton of his biggest hits all appeared on his debut along with some other fantastic songs. To call this one of the greatest debut albums of all time is a bit of an understatement. This sounds like a band that have been playing together for years and years and been developing their sound. They managed to do in their first album what many bands and artists don’t achieve until their third. I really wish I hadn’t missed out on this album when I first heard about Jimi Hendrix, but I didn’t because I wasn’t really into Psychedelic music at the time and two I was as open-minded as I was today.

Jimi Hendrix is easily one of the greatest guitarists of all time. I’ve heard that phrase so many times and everyone I ask always puts him in their top 5 lists. Listening to this album, I now know why. Putting aside the fact that he has such a distinct sound to his guitar. I mean, you hear it play and you know exactly who it is. There’s no one else that sounds like him and he’s managed to really capture his own sound that people would try to emulate but no one can sound like Jimi Hendrix, it’s his sound not yours. Putting that aside, his playing his also really unique, fusing rhythm and blues influence, with some free-jazz stylings and psychedelic music, he clearly was trying out new things that suited what he wanted and it worked very well and to his advantage. He didn’t care what people said, he wanted to play his way and he did. His producer even made sure he had full creative control over the album so the band wouldn’t have to compromise over their songs. Smart choice because this whole album just oozes with Hendrix (I think, I don’t know, just talking out of my ass again).

There’s such a fascinating and long history about this band an dhow Jimi Hendrix got to where he is. Wasn’t successful in the Rhythm and Blues scene, moved to England, met a manager who loved his rendition of Hey Joe, got a band together and boom, dynamite album. That’s the most brief and condensed version I can tell you because I’m not going to sit here talking about the whole thing. I’ll leave it to you to find it yourself and also it’s been said many times before, I don’t want to just reiterate.

Speaking of which, what can I really say about this album that hasn’t been said already? Everyone has talked about this album to no end already so there isn’t much I can add to the conversation. All I can say is as a first-timer, it was a great experience through and through and I feel I really need to listen to it a second time to truly experience the full experience of Are You Experienced.

Not sure what else to say so I will end this post with a cover of Are You Experienced by my favourite band Devo:

 

Song of Choice: Purple Haze

-Bosco

p.s I’m not sure what version of the album I listened to… doesn’t seem to be the Uk or Us release or any of the other versions… Spotify seems to have it’s own unique version that included every song from both releases, hence why I said Purple Haze despite it not being on the original UK release… oh well.

1001 Albums: Sunshine Superman

#98

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Artist: Donovan

Album: Sunshine Superman

Year: 1966

Length: 42:59

Genre: Psychedelic Folk

“Sunshine came softly through my a-window today
Could’ve tripped out easy a-but I’ve a-changed my ways
It’ll take time, I know it but in a while
You’re gonna be mine, I know it, we’ll do it in style
‘Cause I made my mind up you’re going to be mine”

Wait… Hold up a minute… Am I reading this correctly? What the hell is going on? I must be going crazy here. This can’t be right. Does that say… 1966? 1966?!?!? 19 fucking 66??? I spent all this time listening to album after album in 1967 only to be setback to 1966?? How is this even possible? How do they order these fucking albums on this list? I always thought it was chronologically but now I don’t know what to believe anymore. Just when I thought I was making it to the end it turns around and goes in reverse. What, is the next album back in the 50s? Will I hear something from the 40s? Doesn’t make any sense but at this point I would believe it could happen.

I digress.

What truly is amazing is that I’m making two posts in one day. That rarely ever happens. I usually try to avoid that because one of the two entries always gets lost in the ether of the internet doomed to only a small amount of views. But I need to catch up, I’m already halfway through the next album and don’t want to get bogged down with all the posts I need to write and also I don’t want to forget the album itself either. When you listen to an album once and listen to many others after, it’s easy to not really remember it that much, unless it really captivated you in some way, and even then my memory isn’t the greatest. I’ll remember loving it but ask me to recreate the songs and I will barely remember how they sounded. Sounds odd but it makes sense because I remember how I felt while listening more than the details of the song.

That kind of happened with this album. I remember listening to it and the general feeling of the whole album I had while listening to it, but I can’t remember the details of it. This actually happens with most albums I listen to but it was especially with this one. It’s another mix of Psychedelic folk that I guess I just wasn’t that crazy about. Loved it with Jefferson Airplane but here Donovan really takes the folk root with some long (one going as far as 7 damn minutes) and repetitive tunes that feel like a bore and a struggle to get through. Thankfully he contrasts those tunes with some fantastic ones, with Sunshine Superman and Season of the Witch clearly being the stand-out ones, and a fun folk tune called The Trip that even though is long and repetitive, it’s upbeat enough to keep you engaged the whole way through, it never feels boring is what I’m saying.

The psychedelic tunes are easily the best songs on this album and although a lot of the folk tunes delve into medieval imagery and stylings, which if you’ve read my posts you know I am a sucker for medieval things, no idea why. That’s something I’ll eventually look into. But really isn’t important at the moment… is it? I don’t think so… no, it isn’t…

As I was saying, even though the folk tunes still captured an image of something that captivates me I still found it a bit of a struggle to make my way through them (Legend of a Girl Child Linda comes to mind). But what really makes up for it is Donovan’s delivery of his vocals. He’s a damn good singer and sings with a youthful quality that really adds to the whole experience. Even if you don’t like the music at least his vocals will win you over.

So as a whole the album is really hit and miss, but the high points are really strong and well worth the time invested. I have a strong feeling this album was mainly included for its two biggest songs, but Donovan does seem to blend psychedelic with folk in a really strong way and it’s nice to hear some well needed sitar sprinkled throughout. I’ll always feel half and half about this album, but at least the half I do like I really like and that’s all that matters to me.

Song of Choice: Season of the Witch

-Bosco

 

1001 Albums: Surrealistic Pillow

#96

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Artist: Jefferson Airplane

Album: Surrealistic Pillow

Year: 1967

Length: 34: 48

Genre: Psychedelic Rock / Folk Rock

“When the truth is found
To be lies
And all the joy
Within you dies

Don’t you want somebody to love
Don’t you need somebody to love
Wouldn’t you love somebody to love
You better find somebody to love, love”
Winter has been slowly approaching. Temperatures have dropped considerably forcing me to pull out my tuque and scarf and wear my oversized winter coat. But do you think I’d wear any boots? Of course not, Converse all year, every day. I also don’t own a pair of boots so that kind of factors in to the whole not wearing boots thing. You would think I’d be prepared for winter seeing as I lived in Montreal my whole life where winters are pretty brutal, but the exact opposite effect has occurred. I’m so used to it I’ve trained myself to survive through it with the least amount of effort. I hate boots, absolutely hate them. They’re clunky and big and just awkward. The least amount of time I can go without wearing them, the happier I will be.
I digress, I’m not here to talk about boots and winter. I’m here to talk about albums. A whole list of albums from 1967 it seems because I feel like I’ve been stuck in this year for eternity. It never ends. Everytime I think I’m closer to the end, it just swoops me back in. 1967 must have been one hell of a year for music because it’s like the never-ending story here with musical albums. Maybe it’s not actually that bad and my perception is just a little warped due to not listening to the albums as frequently, but I’m so close to the 70s that I just want the 60s to end so I can move on. I don’t think I can take anymore psychedelic albums. I mean, they were great at first because they felt like a break from all the pop music from the early 60s and just added a little flavour to something different, but now I feel like I’m stuck in the flower power era of hippies and acid and t feels like it just goes on and on.
It’s funny you would expect me to hate this album since it’s a mix of folk rock and psych music with a heavy-dose of flower power hippie ideals and the age of the summer of love and woodstock feelings. A great ombination for me to just despise. But, I actually love this album very much. I was already a huge fan of their big hit “Somebody To Love” a song I was widely addicted to for a very long time and their other hit “White Rabbit” brings back memories to such a memorable scene in a movie I love, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, so Surrealistic Pillow is the exception to the rule for me I guess.
Ok, so I could probably do away with some of the pure folk tunes. Especially the ones near the beginning like My Best Friend and Today. It’s such a tonal shift after the first two songs that it really took me out of the album. Started strong only to transition into two pretty cheesy songs that I feel just don’t fit in with some of the rest of the tunes. The best music off the album was either their high-energy folk tunes or their blend of folk and psych tunes, the pure folk stuff feels like filler and just brings the album down since it doesn’t really add anything new and stands out as bad especially compared to the rest of the album.
That being said, the good tunes are really good and hit nice and hard into your ears. The title Surrealistic Pillow gives me the idea that it’s supposed to be some sort of acid dream, where you fall asleep and let your mind get lost into a drug-induced trip. I don’t know if they achieved that here but there is definitely a dream like quality to it that you can just lie down and get lost to throughout. I don’t know, either way it’s a great album and considered the quintessential album of the 60s counter culture, so that’s gotta mean something.
Now excuse me while I enjoy some pancakes and mentally prepare myself to brave the cold.
Song of Choice: Somebody to Love
-Bosco