What Happened, 1969-1971

September 15, 2017 at 11:49 am (Music What Happened Mixes)

jann

On April 10, 1970 in a tersely worded press release, Paul McCartney officially “broke up” the Beatles. (The reality: George and Ringo had checked out a year or two earlier, and John told Paul he’d had enough in September of ’69.) Although the breakup of the band shouldn’t have surprised anyone (and didn’t surprise most tuned-in observers), it still created a seismic shift in the music world. The Beatles and their sound became nostalgia overnight. Artists who espoused a similar creative worldview found themselves dismissed for being old-fashioned. Welcome to the 1970s and 10-minute songs about elf maidens.

This three year span coincides with of one of the great reigns of error in modern cultural history. In the UK, the two major weekly music magazines — NME and Melody Maker — had found new audiences and thrived as serious critics and commenters on modern rock and soul music. In the States, an entrepreneur named Jann Wenner sought to do the same thing and launched Rolling Stone magazine.

Say what you will of early Rolling Stone issues being too beholden to their time, but by 1970 Wenner was eager to “professionalize” everything about the magazine, and began to assert a strong editorial authority over the music reviews. That’s a poor practice in general, exacerbated here by the the sad fact that Jann Wenner had terrible taste in music. If your record had slick production, a flat, mushy compressed sound, and a few million dollars backing it, Jann Wenner probably loved and would insist it be championed in the pages of his highly influential magazine.

Wenner’s influence and tastes are the reason why, inexplicably, venerated bands such as Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath were brutally ripped by the critical cognoscenti of the times. Only a handful of critics at upstart magazines like Creem dared challenge the notion that heavy loud rock was, you know, good. With that said, there was still some fine rock and soul and now funk being made if you just knew enough to follow your own ears.

Let’s get to the actual yearly mixes!

1969 This ends up being a really terrific yearly mix. Miller describes ’69 as the cresting of a wave, and I think the strength of this material clearly shows it. The big hits are here, but so are some more obscure threats. Todd Rundgren’s songwriting chops and production skills (check the sound of that snare) on “Forget All About It” are mind-blowing. And if “Goodbye” has a familiar lilt to it, it’s because it was a song gifted to Mary Hopkin by Sir Paul himself. Also, send the kids outta the room for the Serge Gainsbourg/Jane Birkin cut, which is hilariously over-the-top and single handedly establishes the Gainsbourg legend.

Also, the Marianne Faithfull track is a Goffin/King song with Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, and Bill Wyman backing her. It’s a new song to me, and man….I sure wish there was a lot more of this combination where it came from, but alas.

Miller mentions that he edited the Sly and the Family Stone cut and also the Neil Young track. I’ve left them intact here. Also: I knew I’d chosen the right music critic to follow when Miller displays as much affection for the Shocking Blue version of “Venus” as I have. I think that song is just tremendous, and it makes me absurdly happy that it’s here.

1970 arrives and we get some Chicago (with Scott Miller noting that they were once a really good band with horn arrangements second to none) and a smart notice that “Come Saturday Morning” has way more in common with The Velvet Underground than it does the easy listening schmaltz with which it’s sometimes associated. We also get the first appearance of many by David Bowie in these mixes.

Of all the 1970 tracks here, I think the most revelatory to me is the pre-Buckingham/Nicks, Fleetwood Mac song “Jewel Eyed Judy”. I don’t have any firsthand knowledge of this, but listening to the song it sure sounds like it had an incalculable influence on Chris Bell and Alex Chilton. It feels like a song that would’ve felt right at home on the first Big Star album a few years later, directly impacting the way songs like “Don’t Lie To Me” and “When My Baby’s Beside Me” were written, played and arranged. So: Danny Kirwan, proto-godfather of 90s alternative rock…you heard it here first.

One other cool thing: I really, really hate the influence of Rolling Stone’s awful record reviews that kicks in around this year in history mostly because I think they helped contribute to the segregation of popular music that came later in the decade. And to hear that in practice, dig how great the segue from “Fire and Rain” into “Paranoid” sounds here. James Taylor and Black Sabbath fit like hand in glove in the right context.

1971 hasn’t really got any technical issues to note, but it is the year of the big hits, and also some songs that I personally cringe at. If the inclusion of overplayed chestnuts like “Maggie May”, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”, “Imagine” and “Wild World” seem like a bit much, we also get some pre-ELO Move with “Ella James” and a truly underrated Stones cut with “Sway”.

One interesting thing I’d never consider that Scott Miller notes here: Eric Clapton — who I think most of us normally associate with being an excellent blues stylist and guitar player — wrote some of the most beautiful, soaring pop melodies of anyone in the immediate post-Beatle era. “Easy Now” (best to not give those lyrics too hard a think, eesh) fits that to a tee.

Finally, the bane of my existence, the pop standard of all pop standards I truly despise, is here: “American Pie”. And it’s hard for me to fault Miller’s logic in including it, that it may be the catchiest chorus in history. From personal experience, I can tell you that the insistent, instantly memorable chorus was the first piece of any rock song I learned to sing, running around the house at age four annoying anyone and everyone with my off- key toddler warbling of “Bye bye Miss American Pie…” At any rate, it fits the mood, and deserves to be here, and so it is.

What Happened, 1969

1969 mp3 to download and track list.

  1. “Long Time Gone” Crosby, Still and Nash
  2. “The Dust Blows Forward ‘n the Dust Blows Back” Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band
  3. “Something” The Beatles
  4. “I Want to Take You Higher” Sly and the Family Stone
  5. “Cymbaline” Pink Floyd
  6. “Forget All About It” The Nazz
  7. “Goodbye” Mary Hopkin
  8. “Candy Says” The Velvet Underground
  9. Christmas” The Who
  10. “Frank Mills” Shelley Plimpton, Hair Original Cast Recording
  11. “Whole Lotta Love” Led Zeppelin
  12. “Je T’Aime…Moi Non Plus” Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin
  13. “Come and Get It” Badfinger
  14. “Gimme Shelter” The Rolling Stones
  15. “Venus” Shocking Blue
  16. “Fortunate Son” Creedence Clearwater Revival
  17. “Victoria” The Kinks
  18. “Something Better” Marianne Faithfull
  19. “Down By The River” Neil Young
  20. “Come Together” The Beatles

 

What Happened, 1970

1970 mp3 to download and track list.

  1. “Two of Us” The Beatles
  2. “25 or 6 to 4” Chicago
  3. “Come Saturday Morning” The Sandpipers
  4. “I Think I See The Light” Cat Stevens
  5. “Fat Old Sun” Pink Floyd
  6. “Fire and Rain” James Taylor
  7. “Who’ll Stop the Rain” Creedence Clearwater Revival
  8. “Sweet Jane” The Velvet Underground
  9. “Tangerine” Led Zeppelin
  10. “Maybe I’m Amazed” Paul McCartney
  11. “Tell me Why” Neil Young
  12. “The Love You Save” The Jackson Five
  13. “Nature’s Way” Sprit
  14. “Holy Holy” David Bowie
  15. “Octopus” Syd Barrett
  16. “Jewel Eyed Judy” Fleetwood Mac
  17. “No Matter What” Badfinger
  18. “Bell Bottom Blues” Derek and the Dominos
  19. “Lola” The Kinks

 

What Happened, 1971

1971 mp3 to download and track list.

  1. “Maggie May” Rod Stewart
  2. “Sway” The Rolling Stones
  3. “Day After Day” Badfinger
  4. “Aqualung” Jethro Tull
  5. “Hope I’m Around” Todd Rundgren
  6. “Ella James” The Move
  7. “Easy Now” Eric Clapton
  8. “When the Levee Breaks” Led Zeppelin
  9. “Fearless” Pink Floyd
  10. “Wild World” Cat Stevens
  11. “The WASP (Texas Radio and the Big Beat)” The Doors
  12. “Life On Mars?” David Bowie
  13. “Too Many People” Paul and Linda McCartney
  14. “Imagine” John Lennon
  15. “American Pie” Don McLean
  16. “Won’t Get Fooled Again” The Who

 

What Happened 1969-1971

What Happened 1969-1971 mp3 3-year mix to download or stream.

 

What’s all this then? It’s what happened, musically, during these particular years. No really! Hit that link for more info.

 

 

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