Wednesday, June 03, 2020


It has passed on now but, for a while, back in the early day of the virus, many of us were encouraged to choose some of our most memorable albums on Facebook. This my selection. Hope you enjoy:

1. Indo-Jazz Suite (1967): First heard when 17 at boarding school, at a time when I was trying to get high by smoking crushed-up joss sticks. I don't remember buying it. It has my name on the back in biro, an upside down pencil drawing of someone's head and the name Jeffries. Suspect he might have lent it me and I never gave it back! This original mono copy is now rare. A treasure.

2. JouJouka: This album is a live recording of the Moroccan group the Master Musicians of Joujouka in performance on 29 July 1968 in the village of Jajouka in Morocco and released on Rolling Stones Records in 1971, It was produced by Brian Jones.

I guess this was my introduction to world music. It opened my ears. I have always loved it and have never been able to listen to it without going into some kind of trance. It's magic music for the soul. You can hear the dogs barking. 
You can listen to the whole album here:

3: Christo Redentor. This glorious completely instrumental album, recorded in Nashville and LA, featuring the top session musicians from both camps, was created and led by young guitarist Harvey Mandel. This ambitious and unusual record, released in 1968, was the theme tune of spring 1969 for me as I recall. I had been working as a trainee librarian in Brighton Public Library since the previous September and was to leave in May. Lunchtime I'd weave my way through the ornate grounds of the Pavilion and down to the Laines where I would hang out in a tiny boutique that played good music. All names escape me at present. This is where i was first captured by the strange cool allure of this wonderful album.The whole is a psychedelic quilt of grooves that have subsequently been sampled heavily, especially the track that always moves me 'Wade In The Water'. I was DJng at that time as Freaky John May and, from then to now, WITW is always the first track I will put on to give the room immediately a warmth and a cool groove that tells you you're in for a good night, So many thoughts and feelings wrapped up in this one. Read more here:

4. Anthology of American Folk Music
It is my great pleasure to introduce you to what is considered one of the most influential releases in the history of recorded sound. In 1952, this 3-album compilation of what Greil Marcus later dubbed 'old weird American music' brought unknown music from the '20s and '30s into the modern limelight. It was put together by the remarkable Harry Smith a genius beatnik outsider, multi-talented and scholarly, who was an avid collector of '78s. When his money ran short, he tried to sell the cream of his collection to Folkway Records. Instead they suggested he produce this marvellous compilation which they released on the new-fangled LP format. The Anthology has profoundly inspired and influenced Dylan and generations of popular musicians. These songs lie at the roots of American music. They are moving, inspiring, chilling, powerful. This record is not cheap but it's the best money I've ever spent. It will blow your mind. Read more about Harry here:…
Also fabulous is the DVD of 'The Harry Smith Project Live', a series of three five-hour concerts in London New York and LA in 1999 and 2000, staged and produced by Hal Wilmer and Nick Cave, in which modern day musicians perform some of the albums' highlights. Involved were Lou Reed, Elvis Costello, Beck, David Johansen of the New York Dolls, Philip Glass and many others. Its brilliant. Read more here:…/albums/9587-the-harry-smith-project/

 5. The Rock Machine Turns You On.
This album did what the title promised. It turned me on to a whole lot of stuff. The first budget sampler album from a mainstream record company, released in 1968, 

It features Bob Dylan, Moby Grape, Spirit, The United States of America, The Zombies, The Peanut Butter Conspiracy, Leonard Cohen, Blood, Sweat and Tears, The Byrds, Simon & Garfunkel, Taj Mahal, The Electric Flag, Roy Harper, Tim Rose, Elmer Gantry's Velvet Opera. Still sounds great.

6. Will the Circle be Unbroken
This is truly a remarkable record. I am not a huge country fan but this is something else. Firstly its a three album set. You don't come across those often. Its also a kind of summit meeting of the two cultures: the straights and the freaks. The brain child of Bill McEuen, the manager of the long-hair Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, he decided that he wanted the band to record a three-disc acoustic set in Nashville with the country performers he most admired. First he got Roy Acuff (who had sold more than 25 million records) and his prestige persuaded other country greats to join in the project. These include Maybelle Carter, Earl Scruggs and brothers Kirby, Randy and and Gary, Merle Travis, Doc Watson and some wonderful Nashville sidemen. This is finger picking and fiddling at its highest level, beautiful and extraordinary playing in fact and also some great down-home chat in-between tracks. This album is rare and pricey but have just discovered a very affordable upgraded version on CD with extra tracks. In addition, there are albums 2 and 3 plus a 'Will the Circle be Unbroken Farther Along' (2003) all of which I'm itching to listen to. Enjoy.

7. Farewell Aldebaran.
It's time to go out there where this album lives. Forget trying to classify it. I have had three copies of this gem in my life so far. I lost the first vinyl somewhere, bought the second off a strange guy in Shepherd's Bush and lost that somewhere else. Many years later, got the re-issue CD which kept disappearing into my stacks. Suddenly it turned up again.
So there's Judy Henske and Jerry Yester, experienced singer/songwriters. They had a baby in Jan '68 and decided to decamp from Greenwich Village to the San Fernando Valley where this album was written during the Year of Revolution. Spring of '69 they signed to Zappa's label Straight Records and recorded it in Sunwest Studios in Hollywood..
Jerry had been in the Loving Spoonful and he arranged and co-produced it with Zal Yanovsky from that same band. Judy Henske, dubbed "Queen of the Beatniks", came from a family of poets. Her magical imaginings conjured up remarkable unexpected lyrics which she sang with her incredibly powerful and haunting voice,honed in nightclubs and late-night dives.
The outcome is poetically described by the Liner Notes writer Barry Alfonso as being 'A gorgeous blossom of exotic folk-pop...Snarling rockers, Genteel Ballads and Gothic mood pieces'. It's a stone cold cult classic which fascinates and compels me still with its strange swirling moods and styles.My advice is don't try and resist. Just give in to it.
[The re-release CD from Omnivore Recordings is beautifully put together with a great booklet with all the lyrics and there's five instrumental demos as extra tracks]

8. Songs To A Seagull: This holds a special place in my heart. It was in the window of a record store in Brighton. I came back at lunchtime and bought it. First thing: It's a heavy cardboard sleeved edition for distribution in Canada! Rare. Second thing: The cover painting by Joni is is exquisite and I love the fact that, in the picture, the name of the album is made up of birds. Wikipedia has just informed me that there was printing error which explains why part of the title is cut off.
Also learnt that in the track title 'Sisotowbell Lane', the name stands for "Somehow, in spite of trouble, ours will be ever lasting love"
The very next day after this purchase I came down with heavy flu that kept me in bed for several days. At that time I had a beautiful old-school record player on a little table right next to the bed. In a delirium I listened to this album again and again and again and again. It was so different and so inspiring and filled my head full of visions. I have loved Joni ever since like millions of others for her wonderful artwork and her rapturous songs which are imprinted on my consciousness.
Produced by David Crosby with Steven Stills on bass, the album was recorded in 1967 at Sunset Sound and released in March 1968 by record label Reprise. Joni was hanging out with Crosby at the time and later with Graham Nash.
Before the album Mitchell had already written songs that were hits for other artists - ”Both Sides Now" and "Chelsea Morning" for Judy Collins, "Eastern Rain" for Fairport Convention and "Urge for Going", "The Circle Game" and "Tin Angel" for Tom Rush - but she chose to record none of them for her debut. []
'Mitchell was "discovered" c. 1968 when ex-Byrd David Crosby pulled up in a sailboat outside the Florida club she was playing and took her to L.A. At the time, folk was out of fashion yet Mitchell managed to pull down an unprecedented major label deal for a girl and her guitar: total and complete artistic freedom, with the caveat that Crosby would produce her first album. It was rare for a woman to be writing and recording her own material at the time, let alone to be an unaccompanied solo act.' '…/…/17269-the-studio-albums-1968-1979/

9. East-West.
Back in the day I really dug the Butterfield Blues Band and particularly this remarkable album which blew minds back then and still does the business now.
What makes it extra special for me is the fact that the BBB actually played live in the Town Hall in Lewes on Saturday 19th November 1966, their last ever gig in Britain and I have a copy of the poster signed by the band to prove it. 
They came over to promote this album on a Georgie Fame package tour and afterwards played a number of London gigs, including Eel Pie Island, and hung out with Eric Clapton and the Cream. Why they made Lewes their final gig is an intriguing question.

For reasons too lengthy to explain, last Xmas and New Year I became fixated with this fantastic Chicago blues outfit and ended up buying numerous albums, two documentaries and a massive biography. What makes them and this album so great?
This band is special, Paul Butterfield was and is regarded as one of the greatest harp players, white or black. Michael Bloomfield is similarly considered to be one of the great guitarists. That's what Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan thought. Elvin Bishop, the other guitarist, grew up in this band and is also highly rated and admired. MIke Naftalin is cool and hot on organ and piano, and, in the engine room, Jerome Arnold on bass and Billy Davenport on drums, lured away from Muddy Waters' band, are driving those beats. This was one of the early mixed race bands, kicking off in the middle of the Civil Rights movement, in Chicago, a hotbed of unrest.
The album is a joy and is doubly interesting because of the 13:10 minute title track - featuring extended soloing by Butterfield, Bloomfield and Bishop - which explores Eastern influences and intertwines them with the blues - a pioneering recording. At their height and in concert, the band were known to improvise on this for up to 45 minutes. Enjoy.

10. Another side of Bob Dylan.
It was inevitable in an exercise like this that Bob Dylan would appear somewhere in the ratings. This particular album had a stunning affect on me because it came out in 1964 when I was 14 and, more importantly, I had just got my first guitar (thanks mum). Mine was a musical family. My mum was a singer and my dad was a choir master and organist. I had a strong voice and a passion for music and an ambition to try and write my own songs.
This album completely floored me with its remarkable, powerful and unusual songs, many of which I learnt to sing and play. In addition, the back cover was covered in poetry, another thing I was dabbling with myself. At the time it stopped me in my tracks. I thought I'd never be able to match this strange eloquence and style which seemed to open doors that I didn't even knew existed.
As things have turned out, I have continued to play and sing to this day. I happily made up songs after a few drinks at parties but they just flew out the kitchen window and for many years I never wrote anything down. It was only when I formed my own proper band BOHO in 1999 that I began songwriting in earnest and have now got some tunes to my credit that I am pleased and proud about.
Strangely, in later years, I met and interviewed Ramblin Jack Elliott       …/music/3…/Woody-Bob-and-me.html

I discovered a set of Dylan previously unseen pictures by Douglas R. Gilbert from exactly the time in Woodstock when Dylan had just finished the album. One photo even shows him typing the poems for the back cover. This resulted in a book 'Forever Young' in which I am credited. You can read the full story here: