Saturday, 12 July 2014

60s Music - A barren decade

Until the dawn of the 21st century, the 1960s was my least favourite decade for music. I wasn't sure if I could even scrape together ten tunes to form one of my customary themed charts. And yet it was a highly political decade with youth at its head, so could have been more crucial musically than it turned out to be, although to be fair at least by the decade's end we no longer had to watch our beat combo groups performing on TV still wearing suits. Anyway, here are my top 10 tunes from the 60s.

1) The Doors - "Light My Fire"
To me Doors were the quintessential sound of the 60s. A bit political, a bit rebel, a bit hippy, a touch literary and a lot druggy. Having said that they along with Hendrix are perhaps the only two artists who would have more than a handful of songs in my collection. And Coppola's use of "The End" to bookend his movie "Apocalypse Now" is a perfect artistic synthesis.

2) MC5 -  "Kick Out The Jams"
Now here were a political group who brought a whole heap of trouble down on their heads because of their incendiary music. I met Fred Sonic Smith once, and he looked very burned out. that's what oppositional politics can do for you I guess.

3) Shangri-Las - "Leader Of The Pack"
Girl groups were a staple of the pop charts, but the Shangri-Las turned up to inject a touch of edge, cynicism and put the 'bad' into the bad boy they always seemed to yearn for.

4) Jimi Hendrix - Voodoo Child"
Never been bettered, nuff said. In my contemporary record collection there are bands with maybe two top guitar riffs at best. Hendrix had albums chockfull of them.

5) Creedance Clearwater Revival" - "Have You Ever Sen The Rain"
This is one of those bands I wouldn't have come across were they not referenced and covered heavily by bands I like such as Sonic Youth and Minutemen. But and this is a big but, as great as the songs they wrote were, there is the question, as with Neil Young, of whether you can stand John Fogerty's reedy and frankly weedy vocals. That is the limiting factor for me.

6) Julie London - "Cry Me A River"
There will always be a place for female crooners and this stands the test of time. Will Adele? We will have to wait and see.

7) The Guess Who - "American Woman"
Don't know any other of their songs and again I came to this via a modern cover version, but this is great.

8) Jefferson Starship - "White Rabbit"
Those of you who know me will recall that I am very anti-drug use. And yet in a demonstration of cognitive dissonance, I acknowledge there has been some great music (but probably not great literature) made while under the influence. This is the grand-daddy of them all, or maybe the grand-mommy since Grace Slick's vocal style takes this song beyond the stratosphere.

9) Don Drummond - "The Man In The Street"
At least the 60s brought us Studio One label and the opening up of Jamaican reggae. So it wasn't all bad as a decade then...

10) Pink Floyd - "Lucifer Sam"
The great unsolvable question, what would Pink Floyd have been like if Syd Barett hadn't destroyed his brain cells and been forced to hand the group over to Roger Waters that helped usher in the bloated supergroups of the 1970s like Floyd, Led Zep, Yes, Supertramp, Steeley Dan et al.

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