19 Sep Six JAM Clients Land in Rolling Stone’s 50 Essential Albums of 1967
Read the full list in Rolling Stone.
This survey of the most important and influential albums released in 1967 was first published in 2007 to mark Rolling Stone‘s 40th anniversary and the records that inspired and fueled its birth. The list, now presented alphabetically, has 10 new entries in honor of the half-century mark. Everything else is intact and enduring, as continually exciting and inspirational as the year they celebrate: 12 months in which rock & roll and the long-playing album, together, challenged and changed the world around them, detonating revolutions in cultural expression, studio technology, social conversation and emotional candor.
This is how fast the world turned at 33 1/3 RPM – in soul, noise, songwriting, jamming and dancing – in 1967. Three of the turning-point debut albums in this list were issued within a week of each other, between March 10th and 17th: Aretha Franklin’s I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You, the young R&B singer’s explosive arrival on Atlantic Records; an avant-rock cataclysm from New York City, The Velvet Underground and Nico; and The Grateful Dead, the self-titled first album by a notorious improvising-blues band from the new psychedelic scene in San Francisco.
It should be noted that some of the albums here – records that define the power, joy and legacy of 1967 – were made in 1966: The Doors, in August of that year, after the Los Angeles band’s transformative summer as the house band at the Whisky a Go Go; Jefferson Airplane’s Summer of Love soundtrack, Surrealistic Pillow. And Bob Dylan’s John Wesley Harding arrived in the very last days of ’67, a quiet alert to the roots and introspection of country rock in 1968 and the singer-songwriter movement.\
Big Brother and the Holding Company – Big Brother and the Holding Company
Janis Joplin’s first band is still dissed for its crude musicianship, and its pre-Columbia album is still patronized for failing to showcase Joplin the blues singer. Only she wasn’t a blues singer, she was a rock singer – a rock singer who learned to conceal her country twang after she cut these 10 crazed songs. Most are by her bandmates, whose folk-schooled garage-blues licks provide goofy hooks. One that isn’t is the definitive Joplin original “Women Is Losers.” She sensed what was coming – you know she did.
The Doors – The Doors
In a year of historic debut albums, no record by a new American band so immediately electrified the world as The Doors, the first and best documentation of singer Jim Morrison’s Byronic fury and the locomotive jazz-inflected drive of organist Ray Manzarek, guitarist Robby Krieger and drummer John Densmore. The band was just a year old when it recorded these 11 songs in six days in August 1966. But in the crisp funk of “Soul Kitchen,” the extended pop art of “Light My Fire” and the Shakespearean violence of “The End,” the Doors perfected an airtight resolution of their live prowess (refined nightly that summer at the Whisky a Go Go) and Morrison’s improvised explosions of lyric transgression.
The Doors – Strange Days
The Doors’ second album lacks the shock value and cohesion of the first, mostly because they made it in the manic wake of their Number One hit, “Light My Fire,” and in the precious time between live gigs. “Moonlight Drive” and “My Eyes Have Seen You” were already two years old, first cut as demos in 1965. But the Doors channeled the daily chaos of their new fortunes into fierce performances – “Strange Days,” the headlong lust of “Love Me Two Times” – climaxing with “When the Music’s Over,” an anthem for change driven home by Jim Morrison’s ferocious, outraged demand: “We want the world and we want it – now!”
Jefferson Airplane – After Bathing At Baxter’s
Singer Marty Balin was so alienated by the acid-fueled indulgence of the sessions for the Airplane’s third album – four months in Los Angeles, where the band stayed in a mansion that once housed the Beatles – that he co-wrote only one song, “Young Girl Sunday Blues.” Yet Baxter’s was the Airplane at their most defiantly psychedelic, exploring outer limits of despair and song form in the dark urgency of “The Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil,” Grace Slick’s “Rejoyce” – a protest-cabaret adaptation of James Joyce’s Ulysses – and the nine-minute instrumental improvisation “Spare Chaynge.” The raw challenge of Baxter’s was also a requiem for the Day-Glo life promised a few months earlier by the Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow. In the closing medley, “Won’t You Try/Saturday Afternoon,” Paul Kantner looked back in longing at the Human Be-In of January ’67, a new dawn that already seemed a lifetime ago.
Jefferson Airplane – Surrealistic Pillow
When vocalist Grace Slick joined Jefferson Airplane in the fall of 1966, she came with two songs from her old band, the Great Society – “Somebody to Love,” written by her brother-in-law Darby, and “White Rabbit,” her psychedelic translation of Alice in Wonderland – that became Top 10 hits in the Airplane’s grip, dosing America with San Francisco Utopia. The rest of this second album is a definitive catalog of the Airplane’s acid-rock dynamics and rare composing gifts: Jorma Kaukonen’s metallic-snarl guitar and Jack Casady’s grumbling-funk bass; the beautiful agony of singer Marty Balin’s ballads (he wrote “Today” with Tony Bennett in mind); the weave-and-soar interplay of Balin, Slick and singer-guitarist Paul Kantner. The Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia attended the Los Angeles sessions as a “musical and spiritual advisor,” suggesting arrangements, playing the delicate acoustic leads in “Comin’ Back to Me” and coining the album’s title when he remarked, “This is as surrealistic as a pillow.”
Otis Redding & Carla Thomas – King and Queen
The epitome of raw soul, Otis Redding made better albums than any other R&B artist of the Sixties. Carla Thomas was daughter to Rufus Thomas of “Funky Chicken” fame, with the teen novelty “Gee Whiz” and graduate school in English behind her. Together whenever conflicting schedules didn’t compel Carla to overdub, the sparrow and the bear chuckled and moaned through the greatest duet album this side of Ella and Louis. In addition to reconceiving Clovers and Sam Cooke oldies and a bunch of current soul hits, they turned “Tramp” into their own classic and “Knock on Wood” into everybody’s.