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Life at 33 1/3   By Carl Meyer

 

The album classics of 1969 part 1

The Beatles, Abbey Road (Apple) - Released: September 26, 1969

Is the famous medley on side 2 actually nothing more than spectacular styling of half baked ideas and song fragments that they couldn’t bother to finish?  The question is irrelevant because the medley works.  Blended into a suite, the individual pieces interact and create something so much larger, a universal message, nothing less. 

The medley also works on another level as it reflects and summarizes the songs that precede it and brings “Abbey Road” to its natural and moving conclusion.  There is a lot of pain in the songs, they are all about growing up and growing apart, about broken love and broken friendship, but the strength of this collection of songs is The Beatles’ amazing ability to convey hope.

“Abbey Road” points us to the given wonders such as the sun, the sky, the Earth spinning, the miracle of life and having someone who loves you that you can love back.  The album - and with that The Beatles’ career – concludes with the love of mankind, echoing the words of the most famous rabbi of them all: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”  A powerful finale to the most remarkable career in the history of music.

Contents: Come Together/Something/Maxwell’s Silver Hammer/Oh! Darling/Octopus’s Garden/I Want You (She’s So Heavy)/Here Comes the Sun/Because/You Never Give Me Your Money/Sun King/Mean Mr. Mustard/Polythene Pam/She Came in Through the Bathroom Window/Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End/Her Majesty

Elvis Presley, From Elvis In Memphis (RCA) - Released: June 17, 1969

“From Elvis In Memphis” was Elvis’ “Bringing It All Back Home”.  Things mattered again.  He cut himself loose from all the idiotic advisors, got a real producer who hand-picked the stellar musicians and tore into songs that he could have written himself, if he had been able to write.  It was chemistry.  The voice was back, mighty as mountains, soft as heartbreaks, turning the lyrics into flesh, blood and human spirit.  The songs were strong, the playing magnificent.

“From Elvis In Memphis” is up there with “Elvis Is Back” and all his classic recordings from the ’50s.  The album was as contemporary, valid (and timeless!) as anything The Beatles, The Rolling Stones or Bob Dylan did at the time.  As rock swerved in all directions, “From Elvis In Memphis” was an anchor.  This is what it’s all about: Take the listener to the heavens and back through the magic of a three minute song.  If he believed in it, nobody could turn a song into a living being like Elvis.

Contents: Wearin’ That Loved On Look/Only the Strong Survive/I’ll Hold You in My Heart (Till I Can Hold You in My Arms)/Long Black Limousine/It Keeps Right On A-Hurtin’/I’m Movin’ On/Power of My Love/Gentle on My Mind/After Loving You/True Love Travels on a Gravel Road/Any Day Now/In the Ghetto

Procol Harum, A Salty Dog (Regal Zonophone) -
Released: June, 1969

You can pick any Procol Harum album as your personal favourite, that is OK, but it will always have to be measured against “A Salty Dog”, the fulfillment of Gary Brooker and Keith Reid’s master plan, its magnitude cannot be surpassed.  This is where it all came together.  This is what they build the band’s future on.  Matthew Fisher quit, and later Robin Trower did too, but the overall sound did not change that much. 

With few exceptions, any Procol Harum album is a blessing from start to finish, but none more than “A Salty Dog”.  Why didn’t it sell a gazillion copies?  Now that is a mystery to me.

For a start just check out the title track on YouTube; it is one of the most beautiful songs any band has given the world, so stunning it hurts.

Contents: A Salty Dog/The Milk of Human Kindness/Too Much Between Us/The Devil Came From Kansas/Boredom/Juicy John Pink/Wreck of the Hesperus/All This and More/Crucifiction Lane/Pilgrim’s Progress
 


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The album classics of 1969 part 1