[originally posted June 2011]
Fill Your Head With Rock – CBS Two LP Sampler
Choosing this as one of my top fifty albums is a cheat, but I’m Prospero over my musical world so I can do what I like.
I have mentioned this LP earlier in this blog when writing about the huge impact and influence of the sampler albums of the late 60s and early 70s, but this is, for me, the zenith of that promotional tradition. It introduced so many great bands – and their best ever tracks – at a time when I was the most influenced by such inspiration. It has been a quest to collect the albums from which these songs were taken as well as others from those various artists’ careers. Here is the hall of fame:
Chicago – Listen
Santana – Savour
Spirit – Give A Life, Take A Life
Steamhammer – Passing Through
Blood, Sweat And Tears – Smiling Phases
The Flock – Tired Of Waiting
Black Widow – Come To The Sabbath
Argent – Dance In The Smoke
The Byrds – Gunga Din
Skin Alley – Living In Sin
Laura Nyro – Gibsom Street
Leonard Cohen – You Know Who I Am
Moondog – Stomping Ground
Amory Kane – The Inbetween Man
Trees – The Garden Of Jane Delawney
Al Stewart – A Small Fruit Song
Tom Rush – Driving Wheel
Janis Joplin – Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)
Al Kooper – One Room Country Shack
Taj Mahal – Six Days On The Road
Mike Bloomfield – Don’t Think About It Baby
Pacific Gas & Electric – Bluesbuster
Johnny Winter – I Love Everybody
This will have been the precursor to obtaining most of the albums I will now recall. Chicago’s Chicago Transit Authority will in fact be one of my ‘Top Fifty’ albums, and Listen is a great pop track from that album’s brilliant mix of orchestrated balladry to heavy rock. I may have had Spirit’s Spirit before this sampler [having been introduced to Fresh Garbage from another sampler The Rock Machine Turns You On], but I can’t be sure: Give a Life Take a Life is such a gentle, calm song from their glorious offerings. Steamhammer’s Passing Through is a stunner and the best thing they ever did, just trumping Junior’s Wailing. The Flock’s Tired of Waiting introduced rock violin to those of us who hadn’t heard much jazz before, and Come to the Sabbath was simply weird and wonderful in the way that was often all you needed in those experimental days. Skin Alley’s Living in Sin has that wonderful rolling drum and flute core that breaks into a memorable guitar solo.
The Byrd’s Gunga Din has those sublime harmonies, and Laura Nyro’s Gibsom Street wrenched me to her soaring vocals. Trees’ The Garden of Jane Delawney is so beautiful it is painful, whilst Al Stewart’s A Small Fruit Song is so short it is subliminal: a lightning flash of acoustic excellence sparking off the aphorism of its ridiculous lyric. It was this album’s mix of ‘heavy’ and ‘folk’ that appealed too, eclecticism tapping into the idealism of sharing and exploring everything.
Pacific Gas & Electric like so many bands of that time simply had a cool name to complement their take on the blues, as did Taj Mahal. But the blues got ripped to electric shreds of tension in Johnny Winter’s I Love Everybody where his opening laugh launches one of the great guitar pumped songs of all time, his voice growling out the lyrics along the guitar lines with the stereo oscillations slamming around inside your head, filling it fully.
I haven’t mentioned all of the tracks but they are all superb. I have every album from which these tracks were taken, though not all of them are vinyl. Not yet.