Saturday Single No. 72

Originally posted May 17, 2008

I spend a fair amount of time at a music forum called Groovy Fab. When I post stuff here, I leave a note there. I wander, of course, through other folks’ music posts (and find lots of stuff, some of which ends up being posted here). And, as is the case with most such forums, there are questions, surveys and discussions.*

In December 2006, a forum member called rocketboy started a discussion by asking members to list the Top Ten albums from the years 1950-76. Not a list of favorite albums, but an objective list of the best ten albums from those years. There was one rule: No more than two albums from any one artist.

For a year and a half, I’ve wandered through the forum without answering the question. Sometimes I was short on time. Other times, I thought to myself that I hadn’t really thought the matter through and was certain to leave a response that I’d want to change almost immediately. Yesterday, though, I took a deep breath and worked on my list of the best ten albums from 1950-1976. I first made a list of favorites, and then culled out the choices that were personal quirks. I’d once made a similar list here, noting in June last year my thirteen favorite albums (with only one from any one artist). That list was:

Bob Dylan: Blood on the Tracks
Rolling Stones: Exile on Main Street
The Band: The Band
Beatles: Abbey Road
Boz Scaggs: Silk Degrees
Johnny Rivers: Realization
Bruce Springsteen: Tunnel of Love
Pink Floyd: The Dark Side of the Moon
Moody Blues: Question of Balance
Carole King: Tapestry
Danko, Fjeld, Andersen: Ridin’ On The Blinds
Bonnie Raitt: Nick of Time
Delaney & Bonnie & Friends: Motel Shot

This time, the bottom five of those didn’t make the list. Ridin’ On The Blinds and Nick of Time were released after 1976, and the other three, well, I simply overlooked them (although they wouldn’t have ended up in the Top Ten anyway, as it turned out). And then I strayed: I added two selections based on personal taste, not long-term merit, to get to my Top Ten: Glenn Yarbrough’s To Emily Whenever I May Find Her and J. J. Cale’s Naturally.

I reminded myself that the list was supposed to be based on long-term merit, not personal taste. I sighed, removed the Yarbrough and the Cale. I looked for a long time at the Boz Scaggs, decided that, as good an album as it is, it’s probably more Top Thirty than Top Ten and pulled it off.

Another sigh, and I changed the Springsteen from Tunnel of Love – an admittedly quirky selection – to Born to Run. And I added three albums, struggled with the order for a while, and came up with this:

1. Abbey Road, the Beatles, 1969

2. The Band, The Band, 1969

3. Blood on the Tracks, Bob Dylan, 1975

4. Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen, 1975

5. Exile on Main Street, the Rolling Stones, 1972

6. Surrealistic Pillow, Jefferson Airplane, 1967

7. Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd, 1973

8. Déjà Vu, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, 1970

9. Allman Brothers Band at Fillmore East, Allman Brothers Band, 1971

10. Realization, Johnny Rivers, 1968

No Little Richard, no Elvis, no Chuck Berry. But they – and many more – I consider more as singles artists than album artists. If you want a list of the ten most important artists/acts from 1950 to 1976, all three of them would be there, and probably others that went unmentioned here.

I think it’s a reasonably good Top Ten. I imagine some folks would quibble with the Johnny Rivers album. I know it’s an album that doesn’t often show up on these types of lists, but – having thought hard about it – I think it belongs.

I was surprised to find out how well I regarded Surrealistic Pillow, which I’ve mentioned only in passing three times on this blog without ever posting anything from it. Its two best-known songs, of course, are the hits: “Somebody to Love” went to No. 5, and “White Rabbit” reached No. 8, both in 1967. But it’s an album full of gems, recorded at the moment when folk rock was going psychedelic, an album that’s much more mellow than that description might make one expect. My favorite track from the record is straight folk rock, however, without a hint of psychedelia, a quiet song that closed Side One of the record in its vinyl configuration.

Written by Marty Balin, “Comin’ Back To Me” is this week’s Saturday Single.

Jefferson Airplane – “Comin’ Back To Me” [1967]

*Since this post was originally published, the Groovy Fab forum was closed and then reopened and has since been closed. There are signs that it may come back again. Note added June 28, 2011.


One Response to “Saturday Single No. 72”

  1. Saturday Single No. 73 « Echoes In The Wind Archives Says:

    […] week, I presented here the list I left at a board called Groovy Fab, my list of the best ten albums from the years 1950-1976. And I […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: