Cream – Disraeli Gears (1967)

The late 1960’s was a very interesting time for music. Psychedelia was in fashion, but then again even if that weren’t so, great records were being made.

This is often considered Cream’s best album. It probably is not as good as Fresh Cream. But hey, it still rocks well. Let’s have a listen, track by track. It’s trippy for sure.

Strange Brew kicks off the album. It’s an ode to dangerous drugs right from the outset. It has some proto Black Sabbath style riffs and psychedelic imagery in it. It’s a good starting point, the band sound top here. It’s a great start to a great album. Very enjoyable.

Sunshine Of Your Love was likely written for and inspired by Jimi Hendrix, who was one of their contemporaries. Funnily enough, Hendrix loved this song and covered it live from time to time. It’s a terrific tune, and we go into interstellar overdrive with this number. It’s the best song from the album, and a great listen as well. The solos here are fantastic, typical Eric Clapton goodness.

The more modest piece, World Of Pain, actually is a lot more cheerful than you’d expect. It talks about difficult emotions, yet is just simply a solid piece on the album. It sounds so mellow that it is essential listening. Good wah-wah guitar is here, too. It’s a nice tune.

The next song, Dance The Night Away, continues our surreal adventure into a fantasy based world. It’s different, and still very very good. Jack Bruce’s subtle singing is fantastic, better than belting out the lyrics too harshly or loudly. He just sings – and this song is one of his best examples of singing here.

Blue Condition is a riff driven piece that has piano in the background of the song. It’s a nice piece about being blue. Despite the troubled emotions in the lyrics, the band sounds really happy to play these songs. A little strange, but fortunately it is another good song to hear. Ear candy.

Tales of Brave Ulysses is the most psychedelic piece out there on this album. It is so tripped out lyrically especially, that one cannot help but think the amount of drugs these guys consumed. In other words, a lot of drugs. “Tiny purple fishes, run laughing through your fingers…” is a totally great example of these tripped out lyrics. A great effort indeed.

The next song, SWLABR is a nonsensical piece that sounds rather bluesy and complex structurally and musically. It’s a good listen and although seemingly is more of the same, it is not in any way inconsistent or unlovable. All these songs are great here on this album.

The follow up We’re Going Wrong is a subtle and interesting piece to follow onto. Some brilliant tom-tom drumming by Ginger Baker is here. All three members of Cream excel fantastically at their craft here. It’s a great listen about love lost. Nice. The interplay between the vocals and guitar is nice here.

Outside Woman Blues is about the nasty topic of cheating partners. It’s not an easy subject to talk about. But it’s a great listen here, and indeed a subtle reminder of what damage cheating actually does. Of course, divorce rates were much lower in those days. But still, the sentiment remains the same here. A good little blues number here.

Take It Back sounds rather country-esque. It shows the band had many influences in their work. It’s a cheerful number with some harmonica here as well. This album is very enjoyable listening, and this song is no different whatsoever. It’s a dance-able and fun piece here.

The last piece, Mother’s Lament is a cynical satire about a mother and her malnourished infant. It’s simply taking the mickey out of those who have large families. There is just singing and piano here. We end this album feeling satisfied and happy with our listen.

This was Cream’s greatest commercial success as an album. It sold well and took the band into the history books. Unfortunately, Eric Clapton and the others in the group fought fairly frequently, causing Clapton to eventually leave the group in search of a new sound. Despite all that, this is a fine album to listen to.

Short and sweet.

8/10

The Incredible String Band – The 5000 Spirits Or The Layers Of The Onion (1967)

Although The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter album by The Incredible String Band gets more credit than this album, by far this a better one. Delivered in 1967, this album is a great psychedelic trip. In fact, it’s brilliant all the way through and is one of the most underrated albums ever.

Here we go, track by track.

The beautiful song Chinese White begins. It sounds so natural and beautiful with all the instrumentation here. The singing here is reassuring as well. It has a beautiful and surreal edge to the song. A very nice start to the album.

After that, we have a flute and acoustic guitar-driven No Sleep Blues. It has a country and Nick Drake-like folk approach to the song. This is art – set to the music of course. A wonderful and joyful listen. You can hear all the variety throughout, it’s very musical indeed.

Painting Box is a trippy and lyrical number that points to a great sense of psychedelia by the group. There is a sitar-like sound and some beautiful lyrics here. A nice song, and sounds not at all dated, even today.

The Mad Hatter’s Song is a trip, Alice In Wonderland-style. It’s a trippy experience featuring a vast imagination of different characters. It’s a true trip musically, of course. Some nice piano is here as well. What a nice tune. It’s an extended piece for the album but sounds really nice.

The next song is Little Cloud. This piece begins with some wonderful vocal harmonies, then leading into an acoustic and bongo piece. It has a nice chant after the chorus, which is an interesting twist. It’s a perfect portrait of an era long gone.

Following up is The Eyes Of Fate. It’s a great almost Spanish guitar sounding piece. The singing here is really fantastic too. It is simple and wonderfully beautiful. There is some awesome chanting here too. A nice touch, very Hippie like.

Blues For The Muse is a short and sweet piece, very uptempo. It sounds very inspired and has some great references to guitars. Oh yeah, there is a harmonica here too. Good job to these guys, it is a great listen.

The Hedgehog’s Song sounds wacky, with slide guitar and bongos. Surreal lyrics abound here too. Obviously, an album like this is designed for some serious tripping. But listening to this album sober is fine on its own.

What’s next is The First Girl I Loved. It’s a retrospective journey about one’s first woman to have. It’s highly romantic lyrically, and there are some proto Led Zeppelin acoustic guitar playing here. It’s a great listen.

The next song is You Know What I Could Be. It’s a very Syd Barrett sort of song lyrically. The chorus has a good lyrical message here. Very psychedelic in approach as well musically. The part at the end is really cool stuff.

My Name Is Death is a tale about Mr. Grim Reaper himself. It’s a subdued tale talking about him. It’s a nice, subtle change from the music on the radio today. Good stuff by The Incredible String Band.

Gently Tender is a nice nature-based piece lyrically. It’s image evoking and powerful in intention. This is real psychedelia everybody, and it sounds really very good indeed. The song has an intelligent approach to its timing of the instruments in the song.

The last track Way Back In The 1960s is a nice song to finish the album. If you are like these guys, you will listen with nostalgia-based feelings. The 1960s was indeed a great era for music and culture, the likes which will not be done again. Very good indeed.

This album is really underrated. In fact so much so that it makes some of the albums of the time, let alone today, look like a joke. Fortunately, this is not a joke of any sort this album. It is one of the greatest psychedelic records ever made.

9/10

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Axis: Bold As Love (1967)

After the release of Are You Experienced, Jimi Hendrix and his Experience band went to work to deliver the follow-up. It was also released in 1967 and confirmed Jimi Hendrix’s place in history. It’s perhaps not as strong as the first offering by the group but is still a great album. Let’s dive in and have a listen.

We begin with EXP is a blast of science fiction in musical terms. Science fiction was not very popular in movie culture until much later. This proves the forward thinking on the subject of U.F.Os by the group. An interesting intro.

It leads into Up From The Skies, which features a good wah-wah guitar part and some calm vocals by Jimi Hendrix. It proves the ability of the group to create a nice sounding and variable piece musically. It’s just chilled, which is great.

Spanish Castle Magic is a loud, raw and driven piece by the group. It features Jimi Hendrix playing a Mosrite guitar, as opposed to his typical Fender Stratocaster, which is unusual. Still, it works well and sounds great.

Wait Until Tomorrow tells a tale of lost love in an instant. The song is a great story like tale in this respect, but Hendrix sounds so optimistic about it all, it’s forgivable to cover a difficult subject. It’s a good piece by the group.

Next up is Ain’t No Telling. Even though this one is not as strong a piece as the other songs on the album, it sounds just really great. It references Cleopatra too. It’s really short, but good listening.

The next piece is legendary. Little Wing features excellent guitar work by Jimi Hendrix himself with some imaginative lyrics. It has been covered by a lot of artists from all genres, cementing its relevance, even today.

The centrepiece of this album follows. If 6 Was 9 speaks about being independent and doing one’s thing lyrically. It does this in such a Hendrix style way and is such an impressive statement from him. Great stuff from Jimi Hendrix. The instrumentation is just as good as the lyrics, both intertwine in importance. Brilliant.

You Got Me Floatin’ is a great pop piece by Jimi Hendrix. It’s short enough and catchy enough to make it onto the album. Although this album may seem not as impressive to others out there, it’s a solid number, even on its own. It demands listening.

Castles Made Of Sand is another short and sweet piece. It refers to the fact that nothing lasts forever. Despite all this, Jimi Hendrix’s great music is still popular today. It’s such well-done music that one listens to it and feels impressed by what is offered. The outro is superb.

The following song is sung by bassist Noel Redding. She’s So Fine does sound very good indeed, and references the hippies of the time and the strangeness of the lady spoken about. It’s a good piece with some great drumming as well from Mitch Mitchell. Not at all bad.

Back to Hendrix on vocals now arrives One Rainy Wish. It talks about dreaming and the perceptions of such dreams, talking in particular about golden roses. It’s a little weaker, but still a great song by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. This whole album is so consistent, even though it’s not Hendrix’s best. Well done.

Little Miss Lover has some funky like wah-wah guitar parts and a groove to match. It’s a good piece, and very poptastic. Not bad a sonic journey.

Axis: Bold As Love is the final and title track. It refers to an emotion that is often ignored by others. It’s not the most original Hendrix piece, but speaks directly about colours and relating them to emotions. An epic way to finish the album, and what a great listen we have heard.

This recording further cemented Jimi Hendrix’s place in rock history. Although he only made three official records during his short lifetime, his influence has lasted ever since he recorded these superb albums. Do yourself a favour and give this one a good listen. It’s so surreal and imaginative sounding that it is a wake-up call to all music lovers out there.

9/10

The 13th Floor Elevators – Easter Everywhere (1967)

The 13th Floor Elevators were on a roll, despite some drug possession troubles with the local police. Their first album had attracted some attention over the quality of their music. There were some quality pieces on it.

This album is even better than the first album. It is a more definitive and branched out style of tunes. A wider variety of instrumentation is here. Let’s dive in and have a listen.

It begins with the extended Slip Inside This House. Yes, this is the song that Primal Scream reworked on their own Screamadelica album. It’s a very good song, however. It’s a hippy sort of song but has beautiful acoustic guitar propelling it along. The guitar solo is mint too.

The following song Slide Machine has some wicked slide guitar, more gobbling Ostrich style sounds and plenty of audio space. By this meaning, the simplicity of the music gives the song an easy listen. It’s a simple and wonderful piece.

She Lives (In A Time Of Her Own) is up next. It’s a simply listenable pop piece. The instruments combine for a wall-of-sound style listening experience. Consistent in comparison to other bands, even around this time.

Nobody To Love is a melancholy piece with fuzz guitar, gobbling galore and pacing drums. It shows the variety of the 13th Floor Elevators and the ability of the band to create such music way back in the 1960s.

A Bob Dylan cover follows. (It’s All Over Now) Baby Blue is a bittersweet ballad that demands listening. The undercurrent of melancholy that exists throughout this album likely reflected their real-life situation, which was becoming difficult for the group. It’s a really great cover nonetheless. You can really hear the emotion in this song, especially towards the end. Brilliant.

The following piece Earthquake is more uptempo, with some fascinating sounds included in the song. The lyrics are rather random but excellently written. There is some sweet electric guitar playing in it with a bit of feedback. It’s an awesome listen overall.

Dust exhibits such a sad feeling in the song that one hears the direct emotion from Roky Erickson’s singing and feels immediately sad. It’s such a good song, it deserves multiple listens. What a beautiful song indeed.

Levitation is about an out of body experience, judging by the lyrics of the song. It’s a trip alright, but feels optimistic and joyful. It’s a great piece about the said experience. These guys were obviously heavily into drugs, and it shows here. “I’ve got levitation,” indeed.

The next song, I Had To Tell You is a short and sweet ode to music, with female backing vocals included. It also has harmonica to boot. Is there anything that the 13th Floor Elevators could not express? Probably not. It’s a good piece by the group.

The closing song is Postures (Leave Your Body Behind). It’s a laid back piece, likely about tripping. It sounds solid, a nice way to finish this recording. It takes its time but doesn’t seem at all boring.

Although being essentially a cult band, the 13th Floor Elevators had some great songs in their arsenal. Sadly, Roky Erickson was arrested for drug possession and the group disbanded shortly afterward. It’s a sad ending to such wonderful music. But at least we have the recordings here to enjoy. Check out the remastered reissues of the 13th Floor Elevators, worth doing so as well.

A great listen.

9/10