Tag Archives: Jimi Hendrix

What does “Louie Louie” have to do with the Birth of Progressive Rock? The Album “Touch”

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This blog was inspired by my friend and former roommate in college, Ken.  Ken is the first person who ever told me about this album.  Then Ken sent me a copy of the CD.  Later on I found two copies of the LP and bought both.  It turned out that they were both in VG+ condition.  I gave one copy to my daughter and I kept the one you will here on this blog posting.  

When the song “Louie Louie” by the Kingsmen opens, you hear a keyboard riff that is easily one of the most famous and influential musical ideas of all time. A fifteen year old young man named Don Gallucci created that keyboard riff. A billion songs have used that chord progression. It is arguably the most influential song in Rock history. It is certainly one of the most recognizable songs in Rock history. The song is the Root of the tree that all “Garage Rock” grew from. “Punk Rock”, too.  The song and group came out of the Pacific Northwest.  Portland to be exact.  So it is also the root of the tree that Grunge Rock sprang from as well.
The song and the riff were a blessing and a curse to Don Gallucci.  .  The curse was that he was so young that his parents  wouldn’t let him go out on tour with the rest of the band. The blessing was that the course of his life and destiny lay in another direction.
He started a new band called “Don and the Goodtimes” with drummer Bob Holden. He had another hit record. The song was called “I Could Be So Good To You”. The song made it into the top 20. The song was produced and arranged by the famous Jack Nitzchie.
The year was 1967. Don felt like every song, every album, was just like every other album and every other song… Two things happened that lead to Don Gallucci’s next great contribution to Rock history… He discovered L.S.D. and he heard “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band”.
Gallucci felt that song structure could be expanded beyond the typical 3 minute radio friendly song.  He felt that Rock-n-Roll had much more potential. Rock offered the opportunity for serious musical composition. He took some acid and came up with 12 minute long, wildly original song he titled “Seventy-five” and Rock music would never be the same.  He formed the band Touch with John Bordonaro on drums, percussion and vocals, Bruce Hauser on Bass and vocals, Jeff Hawks on Lead Vocals, and Joey Newman ( AKA Vern Kjellberg) on Guitar and Vocals.

They rented a house in the Hollywood Hills that resembled a Moroccan Castle and started writing additional songs and rehearsing.  They invited A & R men and Producers up to their Moroccan Castle to hear what they were working on.  Word spread around Hollywood that they were working on a very different kind of album.  This resulted in a bidding war for the bands debut album.  They finally signed with Coliseum Records for a reported advance of $25,000.  That was a lot of money in 1967!    While they were preparing for their own recording session the record label asked them if they would act as the studio musicians for an artist named Elyse Weinberg.  She was working on an album at Sunset Sound.  Sunset sound was founded by Walt Disney in order to record the soundtracks for his movies.  It is one of the most famous recording studios in the world.  The people who recorded successful albums at that studio is a “who’s who” of music history. ( It’s ironic to note that the same studio that recorded the songs for Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs also recorded the first two albums by The Doors!)  .They were credited on Elyse Weinberg’s album as “The Band Of Thieves”.  They took their name from one of her songs on the album.

The recording of the Elyse Weinberg album simply morphed into the Touch recording sessions.  The album was recorded in a party-like atmosphere.  Mick Jagger , Grace Slick, and Jimi Hendrix were all hanging around the sessions.  Jimi Hendrix even bank-rolled some of the studio time.

The recording engineer was the now famous Gene Shiveley.  Apparently, no one really remembers how all of the sound effects were created.  A lot of drugs and alcohol were involved.  The only unusual piece of equipment they had at their disposal was a tone generator.  Although, synthesizers were around in 1967 they were not always readily available.  According to Shiveley no synthesizers were used in the production of this record.  After you hear this music you will find that hard to believe.  So what you are about to hear was all done by real instruments and outstanding studio production techniques.

When you hear the stunning guitar work it’s easy to see why Jimi Hendrix was hanging around.  When you hear the piano and keyboard playing you won’t believe it’s the same guy that play “three cords and the truth” on Louie, Louie.

This album predates any English progressive rock.  It was recorded and released before King Crimson or Renaissance.  Maybe Frank Zappa could claim that Freak Out which was released in 1966 was the first Progressive rock album.  But it is a very different sounding album compared to Touch.

So take a listen to the eponymous album “Touch”.  Recorded in 1967 and released in 1968.

Side 1

We Feel Fine

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Friendly Birds

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Miss Teach

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The Spiritual Death Of Howard Greer

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Side 2

Down At Circe’s Place

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Alesha And Others

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Seventy-five

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I am also including some songs that were not on the original album.  They were included on the CD when the album was re released in 1999

Alesha And Others (Alternate Version)

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Blue Feeling

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We Finally Met Today

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The Second Coming Of Suzanne[cincopa AgNA6m7BjfjL

The piano work on this album sounds like Keith Emerson is performing it.  This album is sighted by many progressive rock musicians as a source of inspiration.  Genesis, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Kansas, King Crimson, Yes, Uriah Heep, and Renascence all sight this album as an inspiration and the beginning of Progressive Rock.

So what happened?  What is the reason that this album isn’t better known?  One of the reasons the album didn’t sell well is that they never toured to promote it.  There is a story out there that says they refused to tour because they couldn’t figure out how to perform the songs live.  This is obviously not true because there are outtakes that were recorded live in the studio of the band performing some of the songs.  The real story is that they had personal issues that caused them to decide not to tour.

And what happened to the band members?  Well, Newman still works as a musician.  Hauser is out of the business and lives and works in Central Florida.  Bordonaro is a successful business owner and also an equestrian.  He lives in Southern California.  Hawks is a hair dresser.  And what about Gallucci?  He too, is out of the music business.  He sells Real Estate in Southern California.  It is unbelievable that a man that has had such a major impact on Rock and Roll could  be out of the business and largely unknown by the general public.  He should be in the Rock n Roll  Hall Of Fame!!  But Don Gallucci can always take comfort in the fact that when opportunity came his way, he had the Touch…

 

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Posted in Rock Music, Vinyl | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Reg Presley passed away today at age 71

Troggs_PresleyReg Presley, who was the lead singer of The Troggs, passed away today from lung cancer at the age of 71. His publisher Keith Altham stated “My dear old pal Reg Presley died today, one very real person in a sometimes very unreal world.” What a nice thing to say about someone. He must have been a good “Chap”. Altham stated that Presley died at home surrounded by his friends and family.

Wild Thing is one of the seminal songs of “garage rock”. It has to be up there with “Louie, Louie” as far as the history of rock n roll is concerned. It was covered, famously at the Monterrey Pop Festival by Jimi Hendrix.  Wild thing was also covered by Bruce Springsteen.  The Troggs never quit touring even though there star faded in the 70’s.  They experienced a revival in the 90’s when REM covered their other hit song “Love is All Around”. So rest in peace Reg and thank you for your contribution to “Three Cords and the truth…”

In his honor Click here: Wild Thing by The Troggs

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The Great Doyle Bramhall died in his sleep. November 12, 2011. Life itself is something we should all be thankful for…

The Great Doyle Bramhall

Doyle Bramhall. Song writer, musician.

The Great Doyle Bramhall died in his sleep at his home in Alpine, Texas at the young age of 62.  Age 62 sounds younger to me every year I’m lucky enough to get older.  I wanted to write about him because it is a shame that a lot of people who read this will say “Who was Doyle Bramhall?”  This guy was a great blues musician.  He grew up with Jimmy and Stevie Ray Vaughn.  He was a drummer in several early bands that Jimmy played  in like The Chessmen and The Nightcrawlers.  Both the Vaughn brothers were in the Nightcrawlers.  During this time period Doyle wrote the song “Dirty Pool” that appeared on Stevie Ray Vaughn’s first album “Texas Flood”.  He was one of the movers and shakers behind the early Austin music scene.  He was a musician’s musician.  Other songs he wrote or co-wrote include:  Life by the Drop, I’d Rather be Blind, Crippled and Crazy, Marry You,  I Wanna Be.  There are many more songs you would recognize but didn’t know that Doyle wrote them. Don’t confuse Doyle, Sr. with his son, Doyle Bramhall II, who is also a great musician.  Doyle II plays guitar for The Arc Angels.  He has play guitar on many famous albums for people like Gregg Allman and Eric Clapton.   Here are just a few songs of Doyle Sr.’s  that I enjoy.  I hope you enjoy them too.  It reminds me this Thanksgiving weekend that every day is a gift.  God bless Doyle Bramhall and God bless his family and friends.  And by the way, God bless all of you too.  Happy Thanksgiving.


I’d Rather Be Blind (Crippled and Crazy)

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This song is written and performed by Doyle Bramhall, Sr.

Changes

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This song was written by another famous drummer who also sings: Buddy Miles. For the Jimi Hendrix fans out there this song may sound familar. It appeared on Jimi Hendrix’s live album “Band of Gypsys”.

It Ain’t No Use

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There’s not a blues man alive that wouldn’t have wanted to have written this song!

Dirty Pool

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This is pure Texas blues. This song appeared on Stevie Ray Vaughn’s first album “Texas Flood”. A song like this could only be written by someone who had hung out in every “Kinfe and Gun club” in Texas.

Scratch and Sniff

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An instant Rockabilly Classic. I dare you to sit still while you listen to this… See? I told you so…

The House is Rockin”

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This has always been one of my favorite SRV songs. Once again, any song writter would be proud to have written this little ditty. Am I right? This is one of Doyle’s best known songs. The problem is no one knows he wrote it!
Life by the Drop

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Last but not least the powerful song, “Life by the Drop”. This song is written by Doyle and performed by Stevie. They are both gone now and it makes the lyrics even more poignant. Here are the lyrics in their entirety as Doyle pens a song that seems to be about the two of them and their lives:

“Hello there, my old friend

Not so long ago, It was ’til the end.

We played outside in the pouring rain.

On our way up the road we stated over again.

You’re livin’ a dream as thought you’re on top.

My mind is achin’ and Lord it won’t stop.

That’s how it’s happened livin’ life by the drop.

Up and down that road in our worn out shoes,

Talikin’ bout good thangs and singin’ the blues.

You went your way and I stayed behind.

We both knew it was just a matter of time.

Livin’ a dream as though you’re on top.

My mind is achin’ and Lord it won’t stop.

That’s how it happens livin’ life by the drop.

No waste of time.  We’re alive today.

Turnin’ up the past, there’s no easier way.

Time’s been between us, a means to an end.

God it’s good to be here, Walkin’ together my Friend.

Livin’ our dream, my mind stopped achin’…

That’s how it happened, livin’ life by the drop.

Well, the two old friends are together again.  The music world here on earth just got a little poorer and the band in heaven just picked up a hell of a drummer and song writer…

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It’s Natures Way of Telling You That Spirit’s Great…


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Finally, I am back to blogging about Vinyl!  This LP is one of the gems I pulled out of the garage sale mother lode.  I think it is a real treasure.

Let’s go back to Los Angles California in 1967 to experience the spirit of Spirit.  Spirit was formed by Guitarist Randy California and Drummer Ed Cassidy (a.k.a. Mr. Skin).  Ed Cassidy was actually the Step Father of Randy California.  Ed Cassidy had been a major jazz drummer and had played with Cannonball Adderly, Gerry Mulligan, Roland Kirk, Thelonious Monk, and Lee Konitz.  In addition he had played with blues musicians like Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder.  Right before Randy California formed Spirt with his step father he had been playing with Jimi Hendrix in a band called Jimmy James and the Blue Flames.  (circa 1966). Additional members of the band were Bass player Mark Andes, Lead Vocals, percussion player Jay Ferguson, and keyboard player John Locke.  

Their self titled first LP was released in 1968.  It contained two hits that are on this “Best of” LP.   The first hit they had was “Mechanical World.”  Their first LP also contained their biggest hit “I Got a Line On You.”  “Mechanical World” reached #31 on the Billboard 200 and “I Got a Line On You”.  The album was a huge hit and stayed on the charts for over eight months.  Their second Album was called “The Family That Plays Together”  Their third album was released in 1969 and it was entitled “Clear”.  Due to Randy California’s personal connection with Jimi Hendrix the band was offered the spot before Hendrix at Woodstock.  Their record company executives advised them not to participate because the festival was not going to be significant and so it would benefit the band more to concentrate on their own tour and promoting their new album.  I can’t help but think that this band would be so much more well know if they had played Woodstock instead!

This band was heavily influential to so many other musicians.  Many guitarist held Randy California in high regard.  Jimmy Page worshiped the ground Randy California walked on.  Led Zeppelin was the opening act for Spirit at the beginning of their 1969 tour.  Randy California introduced Jimmy Page to the Theremin.  The Theremin was synthesizer that reacted to heat and the motion of the body.  You may recall seeing Jimmy Page use this on stage with Led Zeppelin in the movie “The Song Remains the Same.”  Jimmy would wave his hand through the antenna area of the Theremin and make all kinds of strange noises with it.  Randy California had one that he mounted to the amplifier of his guitar.  During the 1969 tour of Led Zeppelin they even did a medley of songs by Spirit that included the hit song on this “Best Of” LP called “Fresh Garbage”.    Spirit is considered to be one of the chief architects of Psychedelic Art Rock.  Their masterpiece album is considered to be Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus.  It is as revered as Pink Floyd’s  Dark Side of the Moon.  This album contains my favorite song by Spirit Nature’s Way.  Spirit also was one of the earliest bands to use brass and strings in their music.  You can hear how they influenced bands like Blood, Sweat, and Tears, Chicago, Earth, Wind and Fire, War, The Animals, and the list could go on and on and on.

So listen to the music and then I will wrap up the strange ending to Randy California and the amazing band Spirit.

Side 1:

1.  1984:  This song never appeared on a Spirit album until this onePrior to the release of “The Best of Spirit” in 1973 the song was only available as a single.  The Band had challenged Randy California to write another hit like I Got a Line On You.  At first it looked like he had done it and the song rose up the charts.  But it stagnated at #69 on the Billboard chart.  It’s still a really great song.  I had forgotten all about it till I heard it again.  The song is almost symphonic.  It has that very dramatic opening.  It’s a great cut to start their “Best of ” LP with.  It also features a great psychedelic lead guitar solo by Randy California.


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2. Mechanical World:  This is the song that started it all for Spirit.  It was released in 1968 and got to #31 on the charts.  It was a very long song for radio at that time.  It clocks in at over 5 minutes when most songs that made it on the radio at that time were only 2 to 3 minutes.  This song sounds like it could have been a song by Jim Morrison and The Doors.  It underscores a great gift of this band.  They had a great ability to make lyrics an integral part of each song.  Note the strings in this song.  It is interesting that they were used so successfully on their first album but they never went back to that sound on any other LP they ever made.  Great Fuzz guitar work again on this cut.  Also, great keyboard work from John Locke.  Jay Ferguson is probably the most under appreciated lead vocalist in Rock n Roll history.


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3. Natures Way:  This is one of my favorite songs.  I love everything about it.  The use of Tympani Drums by Ed Cassidy is brilliant.  It creates a highly dramatic effect.  This song echos the great song by Ten Years After “I’d Love to Change the World…” The quite guitar starts out, then the tympani come in, next the cow bell.  There is the eerie sound of Randy California’s distorted guitar.  The uneasy sound of the overlaid vocal lines as they reprise the message and build to the climax “…it’s natures way of telling you somethings wrong…”  The only problem with this song is it’s too short.


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4.  Animal Zoo:  This song is also from “Twelve Dreams of Doctor Sardonicus.”  What a very 70’s sounding song.  This song was released as a single but never made it past #69 on the charts.  Note the use of the Moog Synthesizer.


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5. Fresh Garbage:  This song is from Spirits first album.  This is one of the songs that Led Zeppelin used to cover.  The lyrics are part of the overall theme that used to permeate a lot of their songs.  Environmentalism.  They were pioneers in the use of music to promote environmental issues.  I can hear how groups like War, Santana, The Animals, The Doors, Chicago, etc… all were influenced by this great music.  I love the jazzy keyboard solo in this song.  It’s kind of Ray Manzarek like.


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Side 2

1. I Got a Line on You:  This is the best known song of all of Spirits great music. It originally appeared on their second album called “The Family That Stays Together”   I love it too.  It immediately takes you back to the early 70’s.  Can’t you just hear this song blaring out of an A.M. radio?  I know I can…I know I did…  This song just rocks and makes you want to dance!  What else needs to be said?

 

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2.  Prelude – Nothing to Hide:  This was the first song on the album “Twelve Dreams of Doctor Sardonicus”.  Thus the reference to Prelude.  This is the prelude of a concept album.  Spirit was one of the forerunners of this type of album rock.  The song features a wild guitar solo from Randy California.

 

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3. Uncle Jack:  This was the second cut on the first Spirit album.  It has a very progressive art rock sound.  No one sounded like these guys back then.  After they made this record a lot of bands started sounding like this.  Spirit actually invented a kind of L.A. sounding rock.


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4. Morning Will Come:  This song was the 11th cut on “Twelve Dreams”.  It almost sound like Glam Rock.  I love the horns in the background.  It just has a great jazz influenced rock sound.  Randy California again has a great solo in this song.

 

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5. Dark Eyed Woman:  Dark Eyed Woman was the first cut on their album called Clear. It has a moody atmospheric opening.  I love Randy’s guitar sound.  This should have been a big hit.  It is a tightly constructed multi part song.  It is somewhat experimental for it’s time. Again this song is too short.

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6. Mr. Skin:  Mr. Skin is the nick name of Drummer Ed Cassidy.  He was famous for his shaved head and, like Johnny Cash; he was famous for wearing black.  (Note the two Photos of the Album).  Mr. Skin was the sixth cut on “Doctor Sardonicus”.  It has great horns on it.  It also features great percussion from “Mr. Skin”.  This is a very cool sounding song.  It swings and is very easy to listen to.


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And now the rest of the story…

After the tour in 1973 to promote “Doctor Sardonicus”  Ferguson and Andes left the group and formed  Jo Jo Gunne.  The band went through a lot of personnel changes.  Solo projects ensued.  And things began to com apart.  The band disbanded in 1973.  Randy California moved to Hawaii.  There were some attempt to reunite in the late 70’s.  At a concert in Santa Monica California, Randy California punched out an inebriated Neil Young and the keyboard player (John Locke) said “that’s enough” and walked off stage.  That was pretty much  it for Spirit.  They reformed again in the early 80’s with some minor success but again they all went their separate ways.  On January 2, 1997 Randy California was surfing in Hawaii with his son when they both got caught in a rip tide.  Randy was able to push his son out of the tide to safety but he could not save himself.  John Locke also died in August of 2006 from complications of lymphoma.  Ed Cassidy is still playing the drums and performing.  He is also an actor.  Maybe you know him from his time on General Hospital?  Isn’t life ironic…

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Posted in Vinyl | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Top Ten Live Albums

Live albums are usually considered to be only for the “hard core” fan of that particular artist. I’m not not sure that I agree with that. Sometimes the live album raises to the level of high art. So what follows is my list of the top live rock albums. I’d love to hear what your list would be. Review the list and make your own.

1.  The Rolling Stones  – “Get Yer Ya-Ya’s Out!”Cover of Get Yer Ya Yas Out -

This album captures the Stones at the height of their powers.  The 1969 American tour is considered to be one of the greatest rock-n-roll tours of all time.  It was the first time a band toured with monitors on stage so they could hear themselves above the crowd noise.  The Stones came back to England and told the Beatles “You need to go tour the U.S. again.  Now you can actually hear yourself on stage.”  The result was that they could do things musically on stage that could not be done before.  A great example it the magnificent version of “Midnight Rambler” .  The new deluxe version of this record contains The original LP on CD and vinyl as well as bonus cuts and the complete opening acts that toured with the Stones that year:  Ike and Tina Turner and B.B. King.

2.  Little Feat “Waiting for Columbus”

Little Feat "Live" – Waiting for Columbus

I get excited the second I hear the band warming up their voices back stage. This band is so good live that you wonder if it’s really a studio recording with a crowd overdub. Consummate musicianship and artistry!

 

 

 

 

3.  The Who – “Live At Leeds”

Album cover of The Who "Live At Leeds"

Album cover of The Who "Live At Leeds"

 

This is another live album that caught a band at the height of their power. Tommy was still a new LP. Roger Daltry was young and had that powerful voice. Keith Moon was still alive and kickin’, and Pete Townsend wasn’t deaf. I love the 18 minute version of “My Generation” that becomes a highly complex medley of several of their best songs.

4.  Jimi Hendrix – “Band of Gypsy’s”

Jimi Hendrix "Band of Gypsys"

What an album this is! It is spooky how good Hendrix was. Here he is only months before he died, with a new band, pushing his music in an entirely new direction. This album was recorded at Filmore East at the height of the Vietnam war and the civil rights movement. Jimi sings “Machine Gun” and dedicates it “to all the cats fighting in Chicago, and New York and, oh yea; all the soldiers fighting in Vietnam”. In many ways this is my favorite Hendrix LP.

5.  Neil Young with Crazy Horse – “Live Rust

Neil Young and Crazy Horse Live

This was one of the all time greatest tours of rock history. Neil toured in support of his masterpiece “Rust Never Sleeps”. All the hits are here. You gotta love “Cortez the Killer”, “Like A Hurricane”, and “Hey, Hey, My, my, Rock-n-roll will never die…” Crazy Horse at their sonic, dissonant best!

 

 

6.  Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young “Four Way Street”

 

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young – Live

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I remember the first time I heard this record. It was in Art class in junior high school. This girl I had a crush on brought it in to listen to while the class painted. I loved it the moment I heard it. I loved how it was divided into a “wooden” disc and an “electric” disc. CSN&Y used to start their shows acoustic, take an intermission, then come back and do an electric set to close the show. There are so many great moments on this record. I love all the banter the band members have with the audience. It creates a very intimate atmosphere that is unique in live recordings.

7. The Allman Brothers “Live at Filmore East.”

 

The Allman Brothers Live at Filmore East

This is without a doubt one of the most amazing live albums ever. The musicianship on display here is mind blowing. These guys were great! What a lose to rock-n-roll that Duane Allman died so young. “Whipping Post”, “Statesborro Blues”, and “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed” are wired into the Psyche of roll-n-roll. This is a “must have” in any collection.

8.  Talking Heads – “Stop Making Sense”

Soundtrack to the Concert film “Stop Making Sense”

If you have never seen this concert film you should. This is a stunning performance by one of America’s best bands of all time. Talking Heads are a force of nature. The concert starts with just David Bryne on stage by himself. With each song another band member comes out to join him until finally the entire band is on stage. What is amazing is that each song retains it’s identity no matter who is on stage performing it. “Once in a Lifetime” is just unbelievable. Every song is great. The drama and musicianship is beyond belief.

9.  U2 -“Live at Red Rocks”  

 

U2 Live at Red Rocks

I think this is one of the best live albums U2 ever did. I like it much more than “Rattle and Hum”. They are still young and full of piss and vinegar. I love “11 O’Clock tick-tock”. All these songs were still new and the power and outrage the band feels at the violence in Ireland is palpable.

 

 

10. Johnny Cash “Live at Folsom Prison”

Johnny Cash Live at Folsom Prison

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You can hear prison guards in the background. You can even hear Prison doors clink and slam shut. A passionate performance from a man who really tried to make a difference in the lives of prisoners. By the way, although Johnny Cash is a country singer, he is one of only two country singers in the Rock-n-Roll Hall Of Fame; so, he belongs on the list. This is a powerful, and moving recording. If you ever get a chance to see the documentary about this concert don’t miss it. It will make you think. God Bless Johnny Cash.

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