Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood: The Hits of Nancy & Lee (1968) LP

Nancy Sinatra &Lee Hazlewood
The Hits of Nancy & Lee
Reprise 6273

Produced by Lee Hazlewood

Rating:**** (Recommended)

Nancy strutted on the scene in 1966, but after two sets from that year, the albums were quite lacking.  Hazlewood continued to provide the production, but it looked as if the best albums were behind them.  This offering starts out like it’s not going to remedy the situation.  Either the music is just not that convincing or I just don’t care about the things they have to say.  (Or maybe I’m bitter because she’s not singing about me.)

“Summer Wine” (the first Hazlewood original of the album) finally grabs your attention, and things improve considerably on side two.  “Jackson” jumpstarts the preceedings, the tempo getting things rolling and the theme setting Nancy free so she can hop right into my arms where she belongs.  From there, she can holler in my ear, tell me how she’s going to be “dancing on a pony keg.”  If that image doesn’t get your heart skipping along like a schoolgirl’s sneakers down the sidewalk, you better check your pulse and make sure you’re still living.  The version might not match Cash & Carter’s, but it’s certainly in the running.  This is followed by “Some Velvet Morning,” a Hazlewood original that fits like a pair of silk stockings.  It makes me happy that I could be alive during a time that created such a song.  The strength of that could have ruined the rest of the album, but it actually just pulls you into the experience and three more Hazlewood originals are more than enough to keep the listener engaged until the end of the set.  While I’d love to switch the placements of “Summer Wine” and “Sundown Sundown” to create an classic side, this is still an essential set for fans.

— winch

(author of Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s)



Fleetwood Mac: Then Play On (1969) LP

Fleetwood Mac

Then Play On

rating: **** (recommended)

These folks started out as a solid but standard British blues outfit but by 1969 they’d turned into something much more interesting.  This was Mac at its best, with all three of the classic guitarists on board (but some suggesting that Spencer didn’t actually play on this album).  This would be the end of Green’s involvement, another acid casualty, and they’d also soon lose Spencer–apparently to some American religious cult.

Green’s contributions are especially strong at this point, with the almost nine-minute version of “Oh Well” the centerpiece, perfectly capturing the manic-depression acid-fueled insanity.  This flash of mad brillance had started with the “Albatross” single late in ’68 and concluded with “The Green Manalishi.”  It’s too bad these cuts didn’t end up on this set, but this still has plenty to offer.

If you’ve never heard this extended version of “Oh Well,” you owe it to yourself to crank it and lie down, turn out the lights.  If you’re a frybrain, roll one up and fire it up at the beginning of the album so you’re flying high by the time “Underway”/”Oh Well” rolls around.  Then play on.

— winch

author of Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s

Quicksilver Messenger Service: Happy Trails (LP) 1968




Happy Trails
Capitol 120

Recorded 1968 (Fillmore East and West, and Golden State Recorders), released March 1969 (US & UK), reached #27.

Rating:**** (Recommended)

An exercise in excess if there ever was one, a
pparently a mix of different live shows fused with studio work, “Who Do You Love” stretched out for the entire first side, or at least the song dominates the side, opens and closes it, sandwiches a bunch of acid-fueled madness, and if that wasn’t enough, side two opens with “Mona,” blurring Bo’s beat into a messy acid-rock sound that sounds like it’s helping to invent a new version of space rock and is certainly one of acid-rock’s defining moments.  Like with “Who Do You Love” on side one, “Mona” squeals into some noisy feedback-drenched jamming, except while side one returned to Bo’s beat with a bass-driven vengeance, this feedback continues until a brief version of the title track (Dale Evans) closes the set.


This album might be a bit too much for some, but this definitely has some killer moments.  At least this group had the sense to use Diddley’s beat to help power the monster along,contrasting the meandering madness with some thumping bass-heavy punch.  While this group had a promising debut, they climaxed with this set.  It’s much better than most of the West Coast jamming from this era, miles ahead of Iron Butterfly or the Grateful Dead.  While the Dead’s jamming sounded like a drunken hippie staggerring aimlessly down a dirt road, this at least uses some muscle to carve out a ditch.  The lunatic music certainly bounces around inside the groove, but it’s got some direction.  If you ever wanted to go back in time to Frisco in 1968, this is probably as close you’ll ever get.  Light up and kick back, and even if your stash is running low, you can probably catch a buzz just listening to this album.

— winch

author of Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s

Obits: I Blame You (LP) 2009

I Blame You

Subpop 785
Produced by Sanoff-Janney & Obits

Recommended ****
Debut set from this Brooklyn outfit of rock & roll veterans.  The set is consistent throughout with several highlights, has a hard-rock garage sound with a heavy bass-driven backbeat, the powerpop influence becoming clear on the last cut, a number called “Back & Forth.”  The songs are credited to the band except one cut, a solid cover of “Milk Cow Blues.” 
This album is one of Subpop’s better 21st Century offerings, should appeal to most anyone with rock & roll running through their veins.
— winch
author of Kalamazoo: Growing Up Sideways in the 1970s