Saturday, June 13, 2009

The 10 Grooviest Albums of All Time

1.Margo Guryan ‘Take A Picture’ 1968

Margo Guryan’s soft pop masterpiece came out in an atmosphere of heady-psychedelia, Richard Nixon and groovy Vietnam ; but you sure couldn’t tell listening to it now. ‘Take A Picture’ sounds more fresh and relevant than almost any modern day pop record. This is music for rainy days without an umbrella, wearing cool socks from Grandma and frying up more Swedish Pancakes than you could possibly eat on a Sunday Morning. Strangely, it’s the only album that Margo ever recorded – but it was enough to capture the attention of Dion, Harry Nilsson and Spanky and Our Gang, who all recorded versions of songs off ‘Take A Picture’. Find it, buy it – but good luck locating it on vinyl.

2.Bill Holt ‘Dreamies’ 1974

Think of this 2-song avant-garde testament as a bold reimagining, as well as a sequel, of the Beatles’ ‘Revolution 9’. Inspired by the social consciousness of Bob Dylan and the way-out Musique Concrete of John Cage; Bill Holt quit his job in 1972, gathered a legendary collection of strange instruments, locked himself in the basement of his home and emerged a year later with ‘Dreamies’ – a structured, yet somehow free-flowing, amalgam of tape-loops, topical news samples, Elliot Smith style vocals and melodies and inter-dimensional sounds that continues to leave its mark on the body of experimental expression. The two songs are about 26 minutes each and successfully build an intriguing Wall of Weird around three identifiable melodies that interweave with each other, resurfacing in the proper places and frequency.

3.Georgie Fame ’20 Beat Classics’ 1982

I discovered this record during my brief residence in New York City in a jukebox at the hippest bar in the East Village, The Library. The album itself is a tight compilation of the best songs from UK born Jazz/RnB legend, Georgie Fame, who scored a handful of #1 hits in the 60’s (Yeh Yeh, Get Away and Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde). Every song is a hip, life-affirming revelation but if you really want to get down to it – I suggest you immediately listen to his version of The Temptations’ ‘My Girl’. It is, without a doubt, the single Grooviest cover ever recorded! The bartenders at The Library once considered removing it from the jukebox after I played it 5 times in a row one particularly drunken Saturday night. It really is that good!

4.The Partridge Family ‘The Partridge Family Album’ 1970

Sometimes it’s hard to love life in such an impure world – people will always let you down, friends will lie and cheat, subhuman dogs will roam the streets with an advantageous glimmer in their eye – but then there is The Partridge Family. Yes, they were a “fake” band, built and polished by TV and record executives to appeal tweens and concerned parental WASP’s – but does that really matter when you’re listening to the music? David Cassidy is quite possibly the greatest pop vocalist of the 1970’s, at once both honest and virile; the background vocals are provided by The Love Generation who were without question, the “sunniest” vocal group of the 1960’s; and the album features some of the Family’s most well known and catchiest tunes (I Think I Love You, I Can Feel Your Heartbeat, Point Me in the Direction of Albuquerque). This album will part the clouds on the dreariest of days, it will lasso the sunshine and fill your heart with something other than modern grief. Come On Get Happy! You deserve it.

5.People Like Us ‘Abridged Too Far’ 2004

People Like Us is the recording name under which sound collagist, Vicki Bennet, records; a psychotic, funny, whimsical, violent and often unsettling pastiche of sounds from the 1920’s to the present – People Like Us will sever your connection to sanity and leave you paralyzed with nothing to hold onto but her sound. Imagine Charles Manson raping and dismembering the bodies of Lawrence Welk and Mitch Miller and then reassembling them into one musical performance instrument and you might just get an inkling of what this album will sound like. Vicki Bennet offers free downloads of the entire discography of People Like Us at www.ubu.com.

6.Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66 ‘The Fool On the Hill’ 1968

This isn’t elevator music – but if I’m mistaken and it truly is, then fuck the stairs. Sergio Mendes created Brasil ’66 out of a cache of mostly unknown Brazilian musicians and singers, invading the USA in the mid-sixties with a string of pop hits on Herb Alpert’s easy jazz label A&M. This record, and others, are mostly filled with a mixture of internationalized versions of pre-existing pop hits (like the Beatles’ “Fool On the Hill” and Simon and Garfunkel’s “Scarborough Fair”) and infectious Brazilian bossa nova tunes; an excellent choice while decorating your home or sipping on a citrus heavy cocktail.

7.The Voodoo Organist ‘The Return of the Voodoo Organist’ 2004

Scott Wexton is the Voodoo Organist; straight out of a David Lynch honky-tonk saloon, he is a spectacle that needs to be seen and heard and he will deliver. Prepare to be baptized in the dark side of Outta Sight. This cat has a Hammond organ adorned with human skulls and a fucking theremin and a slick red suit borrowed from Lucifer’s closet. This shit is Groovy. It’s Church of Satan Groovy; Bobby Brady finding a Tiki Idol in Hawaii Groovy. Bloody Groovy.

8.Phil Spector ‘Back To Mono’ 1991

This is the first and definitive collection of Wall of Sound genius, Phil Spector’s classic and ethereal pop recordings. Everything you need is here; The Ronettes, The Righteous Brothers, The Paris Sisters, The Crystals, Ike and Tina Turner etc. Phil Spector himself was a true testament to the power of War, Semen & Grooviness; violent, virile and very Groovy. Whether or not you’re familiar with the legend of Phil Spector, this is a must have box set; the fourth and final disc is Spector’s magnificent ‘A Christmas Gift To You’ album – which is quite possibly the greatest collection of yuletide songs ever and provides a groovy and cheery atmosphere no matter what the season!

9.Pharoah Sanders ‘Karma’ 1969

A protégé of John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders became synonymous with the tenor saxophone in the 1960’s, playing alongside his mentor and helping produce a rich, free-form wall of jazz and attitude. After Coltrane’s death, Sanders and others sought to create a spiritual eulogy to the master – 1969’s ‘Karma’ is the fully realized byproduct of that desire. With only two tracks, the 32-minute ‘The Creator Has a Master Plan’ and the 5 and a half minute ‘Colours’, Pharoah Sanders’ third album is the ultimate hybrid of jazz and psychedelic theory – more far out than Hendrix and much more poignant than ‘Bitches Brew’ – ‘Karma’ will sound different every time you listen to it. It is an organism in itself; evolving, flowering, learning and then consuming you with its primeval tones.

10.ABBA ‘ABBA Gold’ 1993

ABBA would’ve been Hitler’s favorite pop group. So pure, so Aryan, so Groovy, so Gold. I love them. I love this album. I love it more than most people. There will never be another pop group like ABBA. They were maligned and misunderstood heroes in their time; single-handedly saving the 70’s from the decadent euro-trash invasion of Anarchy and gutter chic. ABBA established melodic Order onto the youth of the world and became living idols in the process. We have much to thank them for. I suggest that you buy every one of their albums but the Gold collection is a good place to start. There is not one wasted word or note on this entire collection – everything is necessary and nothing is overused. ABBA Forever!

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