October 2016

james_taylor_james_taylor_1968#6 – James Taylor – “Carolina In My Mind” – (1968)

James Taylor recorded his first album on Apple Records. That means he had to audition to the Beatles to get his first record contract. No pressure. This was his first single about his homesickness (even though he is from Boston) and it has sort of become an anthem for North Carolina.

220px-Jimi_Hendrix_-_Electric_Ladyland#7 – The Jimi Hendrix Experience – “All Along the Watchtower” – (1968)

Here is my favorite Bob Dylan song. Yes, this is a cover of a ’67 song by Dylan and while Dylan is a great songwriter, his performances and singing abilities… well, let’s just say this version rocks (and it’s the most famous take on it). Plus, when Dylan performs it, he performs it more like this version than his original. And the opening of this track just screams “Vietnam War movie,” doesn’t it?

220px-Crimson_&_Clover_(album)#8 – Tommy James & The Shondells – “Crystal Blue Persuasion” – (1969)

This single came out in 1968 and the album it was released on was released in January of 1969. So there. This is one of those “classic oldies” hits that is definitely 1960s. It has a soulful, psychedelic feel – and it has been stated that the song might be about James’ meth habit in the 60s. This was a #2 hit on the Hot 100 – the second highest-charting single off of this album.

BeggarsBanquetLP#9 – The Rolling Stones – “Sympathy For the Devil” – (1968)

Here is one of the Stones’ greatest songs. Lyrically, it’s brilliant, as it tells the story of the devil and his interactions with human history from his point of view. Listen carefully to the percussion here – it’s awesome and completely un-rock-and-roll. As far as great Stones songs go, this might be the best composition.

build-me-up-buttercup-single-foundations#10 – The Foundations – “Build Me Up Buttercup” – (1968)

Here’s another classic you’ll likely only find on oldies radio stations today. The Foundations were a soul band that was actually from the U.K. and they were not a one-hit wonder, because they had two smash hits, with this one getting all the way to #3 in the U.S.

220px-Bigpink#11 – The Band – “The Weight” – (1968)

The Band was obviously from a time where self-promotion on the internet was not a thing, because you’d be crazy to call yourself that now as no one would ever be able to find you online. The Band was actually a band that backed other musicians (namely: Bob Dylan) before venturing out on their own. “The Weight” is one of those songs that just brings the 1960s to mind and I’m not quite sure how they pull that off, but it’s brilliant.

Creamwheelsoffire.jpeg#12 – Cream – “Crossroads” – (1968)

As I often tell people: no matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, you will never be as good at anything as Eric Clapton is at guitar. And it is on display here for sure. Originally recorded by Robert Johnson as “Cross Road Blues” in 1936, Cream’s take of “Crossroads” is a thing of beauty. 

220px-Cheapthrills#13 – Big Brother & The Holding Company – “Piece of My Heart” – (1968)

While Janis Joplin might get all of the credit here oftentimes, this song was actually recorded by Big Brother and the Holding Company and it is a cover of a song originally recorded by Erma Franklin (Aretha’s sister). This version absolutely rocks and might be Janis’ best work. Big Brother is one of the most important bands of the late 60s psychedelic rock scene that came out of San Francisco – the epicenter of 1960s counterculture. Side note: if you’re familiar with “Smooth” by Santana and Rob Thomas, listen to this song at the 3:30 mark and then go listen to “Smooth.” See if you can spot the striking similarity.

Turtlesbattlebands#14 – The Turtles – “Elenore” – (1968)

It always seems like when bands record a song as a send-up or parody, that it goes on to become a big hit. That’s the case here as they were satirizing themselves (and “Happy Together”). They sound similar, but the beautiful lyric “You’re my pride and joy et cetera” really sets it apart.

220px-Bend_Me,_Shape_Me_(album)_cover#15 – The American Breed – “Bend Me, Shape Me” – (1968)

The American Breed got their start in 1962 but didn’t take this name until 1967. This was their biggest hit and it’s a good one. After breaking up in 1970, some of the members would later reunite and become Rufus, which would launch the career of Chaka Khan. This is a classic oldie.

220px-TheByrdsSweetheartoftheRodeo#16 – The Byrds – “Hickory Wind” – (1968)

This beautiful country rock tune was written by Gram Parsons and, while considered his “signature song”, it isn’t the signature song of The Byrds, who released a lot of great music like this. This song is actually the perfect example of 1960s country rock. It’s just pretty.

220px-PeopleGotToBeFree#17 – The Rascals – “People Got To Be Free” – (1968)

The Rascals were originally known as The Young Rascals, before, obviously, growing up and changing their name. If only Boyz II Men would follow suit (c’mon Men II Grandpaz would be an awesome band name). Anyway, this song is definitely a product of the 1960s when tolerance (and intolerance) were two social mainstays.

classics-iv-spooky#18 – Classics IV – “Spooky” – (1968)

Classics IV, as opposed to the Classics I through III, had a couple of hits in the late 1960s and this is the coolest. It’s been covered a lot, but was originally released as a single by this band in 1967 (the album came out the following year). It was originally instrumental, but the lyrics were a good add, making it perfect for Halloween.