Tag Archives: Mothers of Invention

The Final Four – Beach Boys, Beatles, Dylan, Zappa

2 Apr

A poorly doctored image for our tournament needs

Why go all the way to New Orleans when you can just stay online and vote for the best album released in 1966? Oh, because March Madness and this Music Court tournament have nothing in common despite the intentional name and date similarities and the college basketball finals are enticing? Okay, I guess I understand. But wait! You can do both. So before the National Title game commences tonight at the unfairly late hour of 9:25 p.m. ET (seriously! I go to sleep at 10 p.m.), vote in the two Final Four matchups below!

#1-seed Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys vs. #4-seed Freak Out by The Mothers of Invention.

For the second straight year, the March Madness album pool has gone chalk. That does not mean that match-ups cannot be close. In a big surprise, Simon and Garfunkel’s Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme did not only give top-seeded Pet Sounds a run for their money, but also almost beat them. The two albums were only separated by two votes. This was not the case for Freak Out which took care of the Mamas and Papas with ease. Because of this, I am not ready to sail Pet Sounds into the finals just yet. There is a chance that Freak Out might pull off a Final Four update and compete for the title of best album of 1966.

#2-seed:Revolver by The Beatles vs. #3-seed: Blonde on Blondeby Bob Dylan

Revolver has blown out every opponent it has faced since the first round. Blonde on Blonde has pretty much done the same (with the small exception of the Rolling Stones’ Aftermath which it beat by three votes.) Both albums are looking quite strong and, well, are excellent albums. The winner gets the finals and, for the Beatles, a chance to win best album titles for 1967 and 1966.

The Elite Eight: Beatles vs. Simon and Garfunkel and The Mothers of Invention vs. The Mamas and the Papas

23 Mar

Well I guess I should have expected this. A tie. The 5 vs. 12 matchup featuring the Mamas and the Papas debut album vs. The Byrds’ Fifth Dimension was shaping up to be a close Mamas and the Papas victory, but, with a few minutes to spare, the match became tied and stayed tied at 2:30 p.m., when I officially closed the poll (at least in my mind because you can technically still vote). Overtime. I never established how overtime works but I made a call earlier this month that if a match-up was tied I’d bring it down to where the album charted in their respective category using U.S. Billboard rankings (pretty neutral). If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears by The Mamas and the Papas reached the #1 spot on the U.S. Billboard Pop charts. The Byrds reached #24 on the Top LP charts. Yes, not a very accurate way of making this decision, but for the sake of this competition, the five-seed moves on to face another mother in the second Elite Eight match-up.

Before we go on to that, the #1-seed Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys, coming off of its commanding victory against Buffalo Springfield, will take on Simon and Garfunkel’s Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme, which pulled off a narrow victory against John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, Eric Clapton infused album. These two albums go neck-and-neck in the first match.

#1 Seed: Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys vs. #8 seed: Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme

Can Simon and Garfunkel pull off an upset? If this was Bookends, maybe. While Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme is an excellent album that features some classic Simon and Garfunkel folk, Pet Sounds is true tour de force, an inspirational album that saw a band transform into quasi-psychedelic and master it. I predict another easy victory for the 1-seed and a spot in the final four to face the winner of our next match.

#4 seed: Freak Out by the Mothers of Invention vs. #5 seed: If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears by The Mamas and the Papas

This one is tougher to predict. It would seem correct to say that Freak Out should take this one easily since it beat it’s 13-seeded opponent The Soul Album by Otis Redding quite handily. But some might argue that The Mamas and the Papas had a more difficult path with the experienced Byrds and 5D. Interestingly, both albums are debuts. The winner gets this poll’s Kentucky (Pet Sounds) in the next round which will most definitely be a difficult match-up. You have the choice to send one of them there.

The First Round Continues – March 1966 Madness – 2 vs. 15, 3 vs. 14, 4 vs. 13

15 Mar

Thus begins the true first round of March Madness: 1966 Album Edition. If you are new to the game, let me do a quick sentence reminder of what this is. Over the next few weeks we are going to do a March Madness-style poll game that will narrow down the best album released in 1966 in a time span concurrent with the NCAA March Madness tournaments. Easy enough. All you have to do is vote and have fun. A few days I go I did the premiere post of this year’s competition that saw the #1 seed Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys vs. Buffalo Springfield by Buffalo Springfield. Both good albums, of course, but I think Neil Young would even vote for Pet Sounds, though. It seems that the majority of readers agree. Pet Sounds is winning 5 to 2 currently. Buffalo Springfieldis putting up a deserved fight, though. It is an excellent album featuring some musical superstars. Vote for The Beach Boys or Buffalo Springfield here

Keep voting! Remember, the only way this works is if we receive a whole bunch of votes. Let me thank John Phillips over at http://joebeans2002.wordpress.com/ for re-blogging the first March Madness poll. Do check out his blogs. I am grateful to all of you if you spread this along to others. Let’s make this years March Madness even more exciting than last’s.

On to the match-ups!

#2 seed: Revolver by The Beatles vs. #15 seed:The Young Rascalsby The Young Rascals


The Beatles were on last year’s 1967 list twice. They occupy a #2 seed this time around. The Beatles are Duke. They must have been a pretty good band. It is actually striking just how industrious and talented the fab four actually were. Many consider Revolver to be their first deep dive into musical diversity and psychedelics (and it makes sense considering their next two releases). It features hits like “Eleanor Rigbey,” “Got to Get You Into My Life,” and “And Your Bird Can Sing.” It goes up against the debut album from the Young Rascals. The album features their versions of “Mustang Sally,” “In The Midnight Hour,” and a little-known song named “Good Lovin” that went on to be one of the Young Rascals most beloved songs. Is this an easy match-up for Revolver? I think Revolver has too many strengths to lose. It is multi-faceted and classic. Up to you all, though!

#3 seed: Blonde on Blonde by Bob Dylan vs. #14 seed: A Quick One by The Who


Blonde on Blonde was released a year after Highway 61 Revisited which is my favorite Dylan album. It is nowhere near a slouch though. Many consider Blonde on Blonde to be Dylan’s most advanced album. The opening track is “Rainy Day Women #12 & #35!” The album also features “Just Like a Woman” and “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again.” It is bluesy and folky and if it wasn’t for the fact that two of the best albums ever released ever were ahead of it, it may be a #1 seed. It goes up against a Who album that is no Spring chicken – even though it was the second album released by the band. The album, which originally was called Happy Jack because of the title’s lewd aspirations, features a few great pieces, but mainly a band that would develop into one of the best of the generation. This may be closer than you think.

#4 Seed: Freak Out  by The Mothers of Invention vs. #13 Seed: The Soul Album by Otis Redding

This is a good battle between two bands that seem like they are absolutely nothing alike, but are more alike than it seems. The Mothers, led by Frank Zappa’s keen musical nature, blended doo-wop, blues, and rock, that together formed the experimental rock collage the album was. The Soul Album (features bluesy soul – obviously) was Otis Redding and members of Booker T & The MG’s (STAX Records house band). The album just couldn’t be bad. Will we have a 13-4 upset?

Progressive Music from The Hague – Groep 1850

21 Feb

Packed with an awkward family photo

Three months in 1966 sparked the progressive rock movement that flourished in the early 70s and gradually fizzled away (it has been revitalized recently by bands like Dream Theater). Obviously, this statement is completely subjective, so take my opinion for what it is. I also love how the founding year is 1966, and, as you know if you read the blog last week, I will be bringing back Music Court March Madness and we will all vote on the best album released in 1966 in a few weeks.

In May of 1966, The Beach Boys released Pet Sounds, and while this album is an early favorite (and a top seed) in the March Madness poll, it also was one of the first (if not first) Progressive Rock albums ever released.

Progressive Rock features creative arrangements, unusual blends of genres (like Jazz/Rock), eclectic (almost baroque) instrumentation, and classical constructions. The songs tend to be long, drawn out, and excellent if you have the time to lie on your floor, stare at the ceiling, and allow music to seep through your skin.

After the release of Pet Sounds (which most definitely pushed the Beatles even harder with their 1967 release about a pepper or something), Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention dropped Freak Out in June of 1966. This simply added onto Brian Wilson’s masterpiece. Then, in July, The Left Banke, a French-inspired New York baroque pop band, asked Renee to walk away (and a few months later they had a date with a pretty ballerina). The three months represented the inception of this new genre and it allowed a whole new stock of bands to flourish, including a mid-60s act from The Hague. A group of musicians who, while being one of the first progressive rock acts, is widely forgotten – until now!

Wait. A grand orchestral piece based on “Frere Jacques,” the old French lullaby. Back up.

Groep 1850 was formed in the Netherlands in 1964 as Klits. I think you can add them to the list of most influential Dutch musicians. A few others immediately come to mind. Golden Earring and Shocking Blue – you know, the band with the lead singer who proclaimed that she was your “pen” *cough* I mean “Venus!”

The original incarnation of the band is not important because they released their first single in 1966 with these members:  Peter Sjardin (vocals, flute, organ), Ruud van Buuren (bass), Daniel van Bergen (guitar & piano), Beer Klaasse (drums) & Rob de Rijke (bass, flute).  Yes, the drummer’s name was Beer. This line-up would change again in 1968, after the band went on hiatus for a year. Sjardin and Bergen remained, but they were now joined by Dave Duba, Dolf Geldof (bass), and Martin van Duynhoven (drums).

Peter Sjardin was of the first line-up and Daniel van Bergen the second. They can be viewed as constants. Let’s get to the music. The band started playing gigs in ’66 and became an underground sensation, even opening for The Mothers of Invention in 1967. In 1968, the band released their first full-length Agemo’s Trip to Mother Earth (picture above). The album cover actually had a 3-D sleeve and it included 3-D glasses (hence why it is today a tough find and BIG LP sell).

“Mother No-Head,” the esoteric piece above, is on that album. It was also released as the A-side of a single in 1967. In every sense of the word, the song is weird. After beginning with a drum beat straight out of Jazzy big band, and a bass/guitar riff from a spaghetti western, a chorus of monks provide background to a deep, unclear incantation. It’s a Dutch Western. Then a flute introduces something straight out of a cheeky British movie soundtrack before more odd vocalization. At around 1:15, I realized that the monks were humming the French lullaby and this made me smile. Then when a twangy guitar plucked the notes of the lullaby I was just flat-out grinning. This is just great! We get some nice keys before we fall back into the beginning (the fleeting flute still there). Why is the progressive? The flute, creative drumming, intricate track layering, and monk chanting.

Here’s another one from the band. “Misty Night” was the B-side of the band’s first single, released in 1966. This certainly feels more psychedelic (even garage) at the start. We get a reverberating (like SERIOUS reverb) guitar at the outset. I kind of like the vocal – despite the fact it is grunt singing at the start. The song then falls into a lull with the relaxed bass and humming.

Here is some more information about them. Click here.

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