MWE3 Archive Feature

MWE3 Archive Feature:




by Robert Silverstein

1969 will surely be remembered best as the year when anything that could happen did, in fact happen. Just a mention of the year 1969 is enough to bring back a flood of memories for most music fans over the age of 40. For starters, 1969 was the year that psychedelia and pop music merged into a new genre which subsequently was dubbed progressive rock. Groups such as Yes, King Crimson, Santana and Crosby, Stills & Nash took the center spotlight with debut albums, while legends such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and The Who recorded albums that are still referred to as being among their finest works ever.

Even people who could care less about rock and roll will have memories of that golden year in light of the fact that 1969 was the year that the Amazing’ Mets won the World Series in baseball. Two main events also associated with the Summer of ‘69 was the first lunar landing and the emergence of music festivals as a symbol of pop culture. Many music festivals took place back all over the world in 1969, including Hyde Park in London and the ill-fated Altamont in California, although the best known music festival had to be the Upstate, N.Y. Woodstock Festival, held during the late Summer of ‘69. On a sadder note, 1969 was also the year that the legendary Rolling Stones guitarist Brian Jones died and of course, ‘69 was also the year that The Beatles finally decided to call it quits after reigning as the kings of pop for most of the ‘60s. Whatever your taste in music is, 1969 held a big surprise and as such will always be remembered as a key turning point in 20th Century music. In this article, MWE3.COM CD reviews editor Robert Silverstein takes a look at some of the musical legends of 1969 who released new albums just in time to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of 1969.

For many music fans, 1969 culminated with the release of Abbey Road, the final album by The Beatles. Released in the early Autumn of ‘69, Abbey Road was the grand finale in the career of a band that completely changed the way most young people thought and listened during the ‘60s. While Abbey Road is still referred to as main Beatles album of 1969, the group was also very involved in the early January ‘69 release of the album soundtrack to the Yellow Submarine movie. Primarily consisting of the George Martin orchestral film score, Yellow Submarine also featured four new Beatles cuts including two new George Harrison songs and one new one each from John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Coming just weeks after the late November, ‘68 release of The White Album, the Yellow Submarine album made an interesting addition to the Beatles catalog. Thirty years after the first Yellow Submarine album, Capitol Records is offering a new 15 track Beatles CD entitled, Yellow Submarine Songtrack. This latest addition to the Beatles CD catalog remixes the six Beatles cuts from the original soundtrack and goes on to include newly remixed versions of nine other Beatles songs featured in the film but not on the first soundtrack, including “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”, “Nowhere Man” and “Eleanor Rigby”. The remixing of these tracks is quite a bold move and as such makes the album essential listening for Beatles fans. In addition to the new Yellow Submarine Songtrack, MGM and Apple Corps. is releasing a cleaned-up and re-enhanced version of the Yellow Submarine movie on DVD.

If there was one album from the Fall of ‘69 that represented a real paradigm shift in the way the baby boomers listened to music it had to be the first album from King Crimson entitled In The Court Of The Crimson King (Atlantic Records). With the venerable Robert Fripp on guitars and soon to be ELP superstar Greg Lake on bass and lead vocals, King Crimson took the FM radio airwaves by storm while freaking out millions of listeners, many of whom couldn’t quite believe what they were hearing. A mix of cosmic rock in the spirit of The Beatles and The Moody Blues fused with the high velocity power of the burgeoning jazz-rock fusion sound of the day, the first King Crimson album almost completely ushered in the genre which came to be known as progressive rock. Along with Fripp and Lake, another key member of the first King Crimson band had to be multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald. Following his time in Crimson, McDonald teamed with Crimson drummer Michael Giles for the one and only McDonald & Giles album and later hooked up with the rock group Foreigner. It’s seemingly taken forever, but in 1999 Ian McDonald finally released his first solo album to date. First released by the U.K.-based Camino Records, Drivers Eyes is like a dream come true for McDonald’s many fans. McDonald has obviously further matured into a well-rounded composer and vocalist and in the spirit of the first Crimson album has surrounded himself with some top players including his former Crimson bandmates Michael Giles and lyricist Pete Sinfield. Also on hand is the great Procol Harum vocalist Gary Brooker, former Saturday Night Live studio guitar ace G.E. Smith, vocalists John Wetton, Ian Lloyd and Lou Gramm of Foreigner. McDonald also receives outstanding support from ex-Wings drummer Steve Holley and bass player Kenny Aaronson. A spectacular mix of vocals and atmospheric instrumentals, Drivers Eyes is so well rounded that several of the tracks would easily fit on albums by King Crimson or Foreigner. Another key point here is the great studio sound. Recorded in NYC, Drivers Eyes is being readied for U.S. release on the Nashville-based Renaissance Records.

One of the most eagerly anticipated album from the Spring of 1969 was the self-titled debut album from Crosby, Stills & Nash. For David Crosby’s first recordings following his departure from The Byrds, he was joined by Steve Stills, who had similarly left Buffalo Springfield and Graham Nash joining from The Hollies. Not long after, Stills’ cohort in the Springfield, Neil Young joined in making them the most successful pop supergroup in the world at the time. Although CSN&Y have toured and recorded on and off for the last thirty years, their many fans will rejoice upon knowing that their new album has just been released by Reprise Records. Entitled Looking Forward, the new 12 track CSN&Y CD features new cuts by each member and of course, those great harmonies. Guitar fans will particularly dig the acoustic and electric guitar work by both Stills and Young. The foursome are assisted by top players like drummers Jim Keltner and Joe Vitale, Donald “Duck” Dunn (bass) and Mike Finnigan (keyboards). The biting social commentary the group is known for remains in tact and, overall the album features a cordial and compelling mix of laid-back harmony drenched songs balanced out by several tuneful rockers. Highlights include the insightful “Stand And Be Counted”, written by Crosby and his son James Raymond, the killer, rap-flavored “Seen Enough” composed by Stills and Bob Dylan, with the highlight being Young’s ethereal pop ditty entitled “Queen Of The Mall” recorded just this past July. Recorded between 1990 and ‘99, Looking Forward rates up there with the best of CSN&Y.

During the Summer of '69, a NYC radio station, WPLJ, began playing a new song from the U.K. called "Space Oddity" by a then, young and almost completely unknown David Bowie. The song became an instant cult favorite and more importantly planted Bowie's name in many minds. The lead off track on '69s Man Of Words Man Of Music, it and the album were almost impossible to find, and it wasn't until Bowie's final album for Mercury Records, 1970's The Man Who Sold The World that he began getting better distribution. Nevertheless, the first U.S. appearance of “Space Oddity” during that summer makes it a genuine rock curio in the spirit of Thunderclap Newman's "Something In The Air", another incredible song from Summer '69. There isn't much that Bowie hasn't done during the past 30 years, a sobering fact that permeates his century-ending CD called hours... just released worldwide on Virgin Records. Intriguing and undervalued at the same time, hours... finds Bowie revisiting old terrain to good effect on future classics such as "Seven" and "Survive". Featuring Bowie on keyboards and 12 string guitar, long time cohort and album co-composer Reeves Gabrels (guitars), Mark Plati (bass), Mike Leveque (drums) and guest guitarist Chris Haskett, hours... blends a heavy wall of sound permeated with the themes of loss and regret obvious in the lyrics. The best song here has got to be "Seven", a stunning melodic invention illuminated by Bowie's tasteful 12 string. Commenting on hours... Bowie adds "I wanted to capture a kind of universal angst felt by many people of my age. You could say that I am attempting to write songs for my generation." It's hard to compare it to the dramatic impressionism of "Space Oddity" and Man Of Words Man of Music, yet there are several moments on hours... when you can still hear the real Bowie. And then again there's BowieNet (

When The Who released their adventurous rock-opera Tommy back in ‘69, it went right over the heads of many of the group’s teenybopper fans salivating for more chart toppers like “Happy Jack” and “Magic Bus”. It took a little time, but Who fans eventually saw the magic of Tommy, which although originally a Who album, has also seen release as a U.K. theater production, a movie and, in the ‘90s as a Broadway show. The Who went on to record better rock albums such as Who’s Next and Who Are You, yet Tommy still clearly stands as one of Pete Townshend’s most ambitious works with The Who. It’s been over twenty years since the last true Who album, yet the ‘80s and ‘90s have seen a number of fine solo albums from Pete Townshend, who has just released a new for ‘99 CD entitled Pete Townshend Live on the Georgia-based Platinum Entertainment. Subtitled A Benefit For Maryville Academy, the 75 minute CD was recorded last year at Chicago’s House Of Blues. Townshend has toned down his act a bit over the years, yet on his new live CD his electric and acoustic guitar work sounds great and he really works the crowd into a frenzy. Helped out by an assorted cast including album producer Jon Carin (keyboards and drum tracks), Peter Hope-Evans (mouth organ) with guest vocals by Eddie Vedder, Townshend and company rock their way through a number of Who classics like “Anyway Anyhow Anywhere”, “Drowned” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again”. Surprises include the set opening version of the Canned Heat chestnut “On The Road Again” and the Dylan-esque “North Country Girl”. A great live document from one of rock’s surviving elder statesmen, Pete Townshend Live is a must-hear CD for all Who fans.

Bassist extraordinaire John Entwistle never quite got his fair share of acclaim, this despite having released some of the best solo albums from any member of The Who including his classic 1971 debut album, Smash Your Head Against The Wall. Despite the fact that The Who haven’t recorded together for years, Entwistle keeps the Who spirit alive with the release of his latest solo project by The John Entwistle Band entitled Left For Live. Interestingly, the guitarist in the JEB is Godfrey Townsend (no relation to Pete!) while the other members include Steve Luongo (drums and musical direction) and Gordon Cotten (keyboards). A number of Entwistle gems, first recorded by The Who, are revived on Left For Live including “Success Story” (from Who By Numbers) and “905” and “Had Enough” (from the last great Who album Who Are You). Keeping his group on their toes with his uncanny sense of time, Entwistle assumes lead vocals on several cuts including "905" and the title track from his last solo album from the early '80s entitled Too Late The Hero. By the time Entwistle and company get to their Who-inspired closing covers of "Shakin' All Over" and "Young Man Blues", it's quite apparent that the legendary rock bassist has lost none of his ability to rock you out. Now, a new studio album would really provide the best of both worlds.

With the sound of their 1967 album classic Days Of Future Passed still fresh on the airwaves, The Moody Blues made new headlines at the tale end of 1969 with the release of their most brilliant album, To Our Children’s Children’s Children. As fantastic as the group’s three prior late ‘60s albums were, 1969’s TOCCC is often referred to as the greatest Moody Blues album ever. The album portrayed the band as bona fide musical visionaries. It also signified the Moodys as the heir to the British rock throne abdicated by The Beatles. The most cosmic of all the Moody Blues albums, TOCCC remains one of the most significant albums of 1969. Thirty years later, the same Moody Blues - minus the essential keyboards of original member Mike Pinder - have just released Strange Times, their first album of all new material in eight years. Featuring original members Justin Hayward (guitar), John Lodge (bass), Ray Thomas (flutes) and Graham Edge (drums), Strange Times is the first self-produced Moody’s album ever. According to group guitarist and lead vocalist Justin Hayward, “With this album, we were able to rediscover and get closer to our own musical souls. By writing, recording, and producing it ourselves, there was nothing standing in the way.” Recorded over the past two years in Genoa, Italy, Strange Times is a most striking return to the spotlight from a group that still best symbolizes the magical spirit of 1969. Although the group never quite recovered from the loss of the magical mellotron of Mike Pinder way back in 1978, Strange Times is proof that the Moodies’ ability to craft an exquisite progressive pop tune still remains second to none. Recorded for the group’s own Threshold Records and released on Universal Records, Strange Times will not disappoint long time Moody Blues fans.

Another classic from the Fall of ‘69 was The Turning Point, from blues giant John Mayall. Recorded at NYC’s Fillmore East on July 12, 1969 the same night as the Blind Faith concert at Madison Sq. Garden, The Turning Point (Polydor Records) featured an acoustic band highlighted by guitarist John Mark and sax player Johnny Almond. Thirty years later, Mayall is back with a new winning blues-rock album released on the L.A.-based Purple Pyramid entitled Padlock On The Blues. Padlock features another hot Mayall lineup including guitarist Buddy Whittington and drummer Joe Yuele. The album also features guest appearances by long time Mayall guitarist Coco Montoya and blues giant John Lee Hooker. Padlock On The Blues is a fitting century closer from Mayall, who remains the band leader remembered best for cultivating some of the greatest British blues guitarists of all time including Eric Clapton, Peter Green and Mick Taylor.

Back in the late '60s, the British blues rock group Fleetwood Mac could do no wrong. With guitar great Peter Green at the helm, Mac scored hit after hit in England and Green couldn't have chosen better bandmates and co-composers than guitarists Danny Kirwan and Jeremy Spencer to help fuel Mac's rising popularity. On the heels of their '68 classic English Rose, Green and Mac closed out the '60s with their 1969 effort entitled Then Play On, released on Reprise Records. A mix of spacey blues, melodic rock and atmospheric instrumentals, Then Play On represented Fleetwood Mac at their most diverse, but just as the band was on the verge of Stateside superstardom, Peter Green left the band leaving Kirwan and Spencer to carry the load. Following years of relative obscurity, Green returned last year with comrade Nigel Watson for the release of their critically acclaimed disc entitled The Robert Johnson Songbook. Now, Green, Watson and their new band called Peter Green Splinter Group have just issued their debut entitled Destiny Road. A collection of driving, smoky blues-rockers, Destiny Road spotlights the unrivaled guitar skills of Green, who readily shares the songwriting spotlight with his fellow musicians while trading off guitar chores with Watson. Although he's featured throughout the CD on lead, slide and rhythm guitars, especially on the album highlight "Turn Your Love Away", Green is credited with composing just two tracks on Destiny Road, including the cool instrumental "Tribal Dance", first released on Green's '79 solo album In The Skies. Another definite highlight is a set-closing cover of Steve Winwood’s “There’s A River” which surprisingly segues into a shimmering instrumental version of “Man Of The World”. A key player in the making of Destiny Road is former Cream lyricist Pete Brown, who's credited as the album's co-producer. Released on Artisan Recordings / Snapper Music, Destiny Road features informative liner notes describing Green's ongoing activities as well some future games in store for Green's fans. While it might not be the ultimate project some diehard fans had in mind, Destiny Road shows that Green is evolving into even a finer guitarist. In spite of what's been said of him in recent years, Peter Green remains a musical giant with a few tricks up his sleeve after all.

An essential release from the Summer of ‘69 was Spooky Two, the second album from the British rock legends Spooky Tooth. In honor of that great group, A&M Records has just issued a new 16 track compilation CD entitled The Best Of Spooky Tooth - That Was Only Yesterday. Covering the years ‘68-’73, That Was Only Yesterday highlights a number of line-ups including the Spooky Two group which featured keyboards and songs from the band’s only American member Gary Wright. Although Wright departed following the group’s least successful album Ceremony (January ‘70), he rejoined the band for their 1973 comeback album entitled You Broke My Heart, So I Busted Your Jaw. This definitive Spooky Tooth CD retrospective features tracks from each of their albums including their debut entitled It’s All About (released May, ‘68) and The Last Puff (July, ‘70). Produced by Bill Levenson, That Was Only Yesterday is highlighted by informative liner notes and never before seen photos. In a strange twist of fate, 1999 saw the release of a new Spooky Tooth album entitled Cross Purpose. Covered extensively in the March issue of 20th Century Guitar, Cross Purpose features a revamped version of the late ‘60s group minus Gary Wright, yet still retains the classic signature Spooky Tooth sound.

The Summer ‘69 release of the first solo album from Leslie West, entitled Mountain, couldn’t have come at a better time. A Long Island-based guitarist who made somewhat of a name for himself in a local band called The Vagrants, West had caught the ear of esteemed producer Felix Pappalardi, who together with West and drummer N.D. Smart joined forces on what has come to be known as the first album by Mountain. The U.K. supergroup Cream had just broken up, and while Ginger Baker and Eric Clapton teamed for the one and only Blind Faith album, Cream producer Pappalardi astutely merged his incredible production and songwriting skills with West’s clear talent as a guitarist and vocalist. Just as good, if not better than the one and only Blind Faith album, Leslie West Mountain, released on Windfall Records, was, more importantly just the beginning of a successful career for Mountain. Thirty years after the first Mountain album, West is back in the spotlight once again with the release of a new solo album As Phat As It Gets, just issued by NYC-based Mystic Music. The only thing missing here is the late, great Pappalardi’s skilled touch as a producer. West adds, “I thought our best stuff was stuff Felix and I wrote. I’d come up with a big fat hook and he would show me how to turn it into a real song.” As Phat As It Gets is proof that West has lost none of his ability to pin you to the wall with his gutsy singing and white hot guitar chops. A solid set of sizzling blues rockers, As Phat As It Gets teams West with a wide range of players including blues-rock legends Leo Lyons (bass) and Kim Simmonds (guitar) along with Bernard Perdie (drums) and Wilbur Bascomb (bass). More bluesy than the catchy, art-rock Mountain were best known for at their zenith, As Phat As It Gets is nonetheless a welcome return from a key figure of the Summer of ‘69.

When Jethro Tull released their second album, Stand Up in the Fall of '69, the album completely took fans of the first Tull band by surprise. Out was the blues-rock guitar sound of Mick Abrahams and in was long time Tull guitar god Martin Barre who remains with the group till today. Stand Up has weathered the years and remains a pillar of progressive rock. The album became a jumping off point of sorts for Tull founder and chief composer, singer and lyricist Ian Anderson. With the instant acceptance of the album by the rock intelligentsia, Anderson became a rock savant of sorts and went on to literally mesmerize legions of Tull fans who stuck with them through their heyday and who more than likely still follow the group's releases. Thirty years after the groundbreaking success of Stand Up, Anderson, Barre and company are back with an album that, while nowhere near as trend-setting as early Tull classics like Benefit or Passion Play, nevertheless does the trick. The streamlined Tull of the the next millennium is an effective rock instrument and while Anderson's new songs come up a bit short on melodic brilliance at times, the overall performance of Tull as a well oiled rock machine is still something to marvel at. Anderson's flute and acoustic guitar coupled with Barre's unparalleled electric guitar sound remains as delightful as ever. The 1999 album, just released by L.A.-based Fuel 2000, entitled J-Tull Dot Com is a sonic delight from start to finish. Even when the songs rely a bit too much on style versus substance, the overall studio sound is enough to command attention. Among the songs sure to find praises among the diehard Tull brigade are the title track, illuminating on the vastness of the Internet, the killer atmospheric rock and ominous lyric of "El Niño", the ultra catchy and early Tull flavored "The Dog-Ear Years" and the evocative closing track "A Gift Of Roses", which is followed a minute of silence broken by the voice of Ian Anderson announcing the album's hidden bonus track entitled "The Secret Life Of Plants". As veteran rockers who've seen and played it all, Anderson, Barre and the newest members of Jethro Tull exude a rare graceful dignity and conjure up a sound that is as nostalgic as it is innovative.

Of all the bands to debut with a new album in 1969, Yes was strangely the only one not everyone paid much attention to. During a year marked by new albums from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Crosby, Stills & Nash, the fabulous self-titled ‘69 debut from Yes, on Atlantic Records and simply called Yes, was not so much ignored as it was overlooked. In a strange twist of fate, Yes have just released possibly their greatest album of their long and winding career. The new ‘99 Yes album, entitled The Ladder, has just been released by the L.A.-based Beyond / BMG Entertainment. At the core of the Yes hub is still lead singer and lyricist Jon Anderson and bass great Chris Squire, the two responsible for starting the band back in 1968. Although Yes resumed their activities in a big way with their 1997 album entitled Open Your Eyes, the release of The Ladder is truly the culmination of the late ‘90s Yes sound. The twin guitars of long time Yes guitarist Steve Howe and multi-instrumentalist Billy Sherwood is one of the keys to the newly revitalized Yes sound this time out. Drumming ace Alan White has never sounded better and even the most recent addition to the Yes line-up, keyboardist Igor Khoroshev, adds in some well thought out Wakeman-inspired keyboard flourishes. Compared to the pop oriented Open Your Eyes, The Ladder may take a little longer to get into, but the end result is an album that simply gets better with each spin. While much of Open Your Eyes was composed by Chris Squire and Billy Sherwood, The Ladder sounds much more like a well thought out group effort. Commenting on his role as the one Yes member who’s appeared on each and every Yes album, Chris Squire recently said, “I don’t want to be looked upon as the leader of the band, but I have been here the whole time. Jon was only not there for one album. Alan too feels like he has been there forever, since 1972. I had no idea we could possibly be in anything that would last this long. At first I thought if Yes could stay together for five or six years that would be amazing. Who knew it would end up being thirty years.” After several spins, it’s tempting to say that The Ladder is the most compelling Yes album since the mid ‘70s release of Relayer. Bringing in a wealth of influences from his many New Age and World Beat solo albums, Yes singer and pop visionary Jon Anderson sounds particularly energized on The Ladder. Anderson recently commented that, “It was important that thirty years down the line we explored the classic Yes style while challenging ourselves as writers and musicians.” In addition to a complete lyric sheet, The Ladder also features apropos CD artwork by the great Roger Dean with the artwork centerpiece being a colorized version of the track chart used by album producer Bruce Fairbairn. Fairbairn, in a strange twist of fate, passed away following the final recordings for The Ladder. Listening to The Ladder thirty years after The Beatles broke up and Yes began, is an unparalleled inspirational experience guaranteed to bring back a flood of technicolor musical memories.

More album classics from 1969!


Blind Faith - Blind Faith - The one album from ‘69 that everybody was waiting for and it instantly arrived with two different album covers no less. The legendary post-Cream, post-Traffic, post-Family superjam fulfilled the experimental atmosphere of the '60s. Like manna from heaven, it was too good to last. An incredible production by NYC native, the late great Jimmy Miller.

Arthur - The Kinks - (Reprise) Prior Kinks albums like Face To Face proved that Ray Davies & Co. were rock royalty, but it was really on their '69 disc that the Kinks sound was brought to fruition. Maybe a better album than The Who's Tommy, the rock opera of Arthur was also a TV show musically depicting England during the war years and brilliantly delivered the goods while featuring Ray Davies' classic rock melodies.

The Soft Parade - The Doors (Elektra) Next to their first and Morrison Hotel, the best Doors album ever. Complete with strings and horns, The Doors took American rock to the next level. Morrison's lyrics and vocals would never sound better.

Led Zeppelin - Led Zeppelin (Atlantic) The buzz was all out about Zeppelin in early '69. Having to compete with some of the greatest rock albums ever recorded in one year, their debut nevertheless got rave reviews and was a huge hit. Unlike Atlantic Records label mates Yes, Zeppelin were an instant hit and delivered the one, two punch with the late '69 release of Led Zeppelin II.

The Band - The Band (Capitol) The second Band album continued their rural rock experiment in style, though it still wouldn't completely gel until the release of their ‘70 follow-up Stage Fright. The second Band LP contains their all time hit, "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down". One band that never should have broken up so quickly and so permanently.

Volunteers - Jefferson Airplane (RCA) The Airplane’s big anti-Vietnam War statement also featured some gorgeous melodies cloaked in futuristic lyrical imagery especially on "Wooden Ships", written by David Crosby and Airplane pilot Paul Kantner and also featured on the first C,S&N album released earlier that spring.

Let It Bleed - Rolling Stones (London) The last Stones album to feature essential member Brian Jones, and also their first let down. Packed with one great tune after another, it nonetheless lacked the cohesion and raw power of their '68 LP Beggars Banquet. The lack of Jones' curious pop powers led to the group's artistic downfall which in turn lead to their financial windfall. Go figure. Another incredible production by NYC native, the late great Jimmy Miller.

20/20 - The Beach Boys - (Capitol) The last Beach Boys album from the '60s was also ironically their last for Capitol as well. Totally overlooked in '69 due to the great mass of killer competition, it was later devoured whole by Beach Boys fans. Brian Wilson's gorgeous melodies were expertly fleshed out by those glorious Beach Boys harmonies. From 20/20 in '69 to the release of Holland in '73 the Boys could do no wrong. 20/20 is still a great album in retrospect.

Live Peace In Toronto - The Plastic Ono Band - (Apple) John Lennon's first major album/event with Yoko Ono. An amazing band containing Clapton, Voorman and drum icon Alan White of Yes, at a once in a lifetime concert. It came with a 1970 calender when issued around X-Mas '69. A must see video as well.

As Safe As Yesterday - Humble Pie (Immediate) - Marriott, Frampton, Ridley and Shirley. Killer blues-rock with a heady dose of power pop. Amazing vocals and songs. Surely among the Pie’s classics since it hit these shores back in September '69.

Ummagumma - Pink Floyd (Harvest) Just before they peaked with their 1970 album, Atom Heart Mother, the post-Syd Barrett Floyd issued this off the wall avant-gard rock experiment as a double album featuring one side for each member. A daring musical move and the one that cemented their reputation as a rock icon with their fans.

Barabajagal - Donovan (Epic) - Donovan really rocked out on his classic from the Fall on '69. Having The Jeff Beck Group backing him on the title track and others didn't hurt either. Most famous for the killer opus "Atlantis".

Songs For A Tailor - Jack Bruce (Atco) - The first official Jack Bruce solo album after leaving Cream was equal to if not better than anything by Blind Faith. Maybe Jack’s best album, it's currently awaiting a proper reissue as is his ultimate album, 1970’s Harmony Row.

Hank Marvin - Hank Marvin - (EMI - U.K.) Just after the first breakup of The Shadows (they reformed again in 1973), England's first guitar icon recorded his first solo album. Accessible yet complex instrumental music, it also featured some of London's great session players.

Running Down The Road - Arlo Guthrie (Reprise) Some refer to it as his best and certainly most rocked-out album. There wasn't an FM station during the Fall of '69 that wasn't playing "Coming Into Los Angeles", which was just one of many killer tracks here.

Fat Mattress - Fat Mattress (Atco) Bass legend Noel Redding blew away many fans with the first release from his first post-Hendrix album. Far from the fury of the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the first Fat Mattress featured a cross section of highly melodic, almost pastoral rock.


Hard And Horny - Wigwam (Love) Finland's most celebrated rock group from the late '60s, '70s, and with their '93 comeback entitled Light Ages, the 90s. Wigwam featured the songs and vocals of the British-born pop mentor Jim Pembroke. Signed by pop mogul Richard Branson to his Virgin Records back in 1975, Wigwam made adventurous, often experimental art-rock, blues and prog-rock. Their greatness can be heard even going back to their '69 debut.

Tons Of Sobs - Free - (A&M) Released shortly after their famous Summer Of '69 tour with Blind Faith, Free's debut album featured those classic Paul Roger's vocals and killer guitar of the late, great Paul Kossoff. The disc blended a penchant for the blues, tapered with traces of melodic pop. Not quite as good as their self-titled second album which followed, it’s nevertheless one of the great album debuts of that year.

Taste - Taste (Atco) With Rory Gallagher on guitar, the powerhouse blues-rock trio burst onto the scene with their self-titled debut. One of the favorites from the Summer of '69, the album makes an interesting prequel to the band's greatest moment which followed with the release of 1970's On The Boards.

The Street Giveth And The Street Taketh Away - Cat Mother And The All Night Newsboys (Polydor) The first Cat Mother album, from the Summer of '69 sort of answers the question what did Jimi Hendrix do in '69. Well the answer is partly to be found on this album, which Jimi produced at his Electric Lady studios. Famous for the radio hit, "That Good Old Rock & Roll", the album from the NY-based band was a real sleeper.

Santana - Santana (Columbia) Just after their history making appearance at Woodstock, Carlos Santana and Company released their trendsetting first studio album, which completely introduced Latin rock to a whole generation of rock and pop fans. Thirty years later, Carlos Santana recently released his new album for ‘99 entitled Supernatural on Arista Records.

Is This What You Want - Jackie Lomax (Apple) One of the great Apple albums, the 1969 debut album from U.K. singer-songwriter Jackie Lomax featured incredible songs, production and guitar work from George Harrison, whose trademark late '60s sound can be heard all over the album.

A Salty Dog - Procol Harum (A&M) Although the group would peak with their 1970 album Home, their '69 effort A Salty Dog has really stood the test of time and remains one of 1969's best albums. With killer guitar work by Robin Trower and ever better songs by Gary Brooker and Keith Reid, the album's highlight will always be the magnum opus title track.

Devotion - John McLaughlin (Douglas) The bridge between the guitar great's work with Miles Davis and his upcoming recordings with Mahavishnu Orchestra, Devotion was a rocked out affair, featuring drummer Buddy Miles. Some say it was and remains one of McLaughlin's best ever albums, Devotion was one of the great instrumental fusion albums from the Summer of '69.

Clear Spirit - Spirit - (Ode) Kicking off with the great "Dark-Eyed Woman", Clear brought Spirit out of cult status into a more widespread popularity and also set the stage for their final and most popular album Dr. Sardonicus. Featuring a great selection of songs from guitarist Randy California, keyboardist John Locke and company, Clear Spirit was a sleeper from the Summer of '69, yet it packed a powerful musical wallop.

Chicago Transit Authority - Chicago - (Columbia) Following the success of the horn-driven sound of Blood, Sweat & Tears, Columbia issued the first CTA album, which featured great songs like "25 Or 6 To For" written by group keyboardist Robert Lamm. Lamb incidentally has issued his first solo album in some time entitled In My Head, and released on Mystic Music. A good album In My Head features solid guitar work, and great background vocals from greats like Phoebe Snow as well as the final work from late great Carl Wilson.

James Taylor - James Taylor (Apple) Signed by Paul McCartney and released on The Beatles self-owned Apple label, the first and self-titled James Taylor solo album was an unexpected surprise and clearly held the promise for the superstardom that Taylor would experience on his next album Sweet Baby James.

Caravan - Caravan (MGM) The 1969 album from Canterbury, U.K. progressive rock legends Caravan was just a taster of the greatness that was to follow. Lead by guitarist / songwriters Pye Hastings and Richard Sinclair, Caravan's debut album transcended mere rock greatness by fusing breathtaking melodies and vocals with symphonic arrangements.





  With so many of the musical legends from 1969 returning with new albums in 1999, the comparison between both years is surely going to be a topic of conversation as years go by. These legendary artists may be a bit older, but their musical abilities still remain the stuff that still makes them superheros for millions of listeners. This article is also dedicated in part to the many great players that shaped the music of the past 30 years but didn’t make it to the close of century. John Lennon, Keith Moon, Felix Pappalardi, Jim Morrison, Mick Ronson, Brian Jones and Jimi Hendrix and others will leave a legacy for future generations to rediscover. And for the players who survived long enough to make their final century-closing album, let’s hope they stick around to record well into the next hundred years. Well, there you have it. The biggest and best from that amazing year of 1969. No doubt we missed a few of your favorites. Musically, 1970 was almost as good, but the magic that occurred at the turning point of the '60s transcended mere music. 1969 was an event in itself, a coming of age, a loss of innocence so to speak, and apparently people still can't seem to get enough of it. Well, here's to 2009!

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