Saturday, 16 January 2010

Playlist - Hippy Dream (Before the Dream Faded)

Having thoroughly enjoyed documenting the reasons for choosing the 50 or so tracks I selected for my John Peel inspired playlist, I have decided to attempt to do the same for my playlist called Hippy Dream (Before the Dream Faded).

This will however be a very different writing experience to the Peel playlist as that one was written from my recollections of hearing the songs pretty much as they were released. Despite feeling very old today, I was not old enough to have heard the songs fom my Hippy Dream playlist when they were released, and only grew to know and love them later on ... but there's still a story to be told.

So, as before, these are not in any particular order, just as I thought of them (or in some cases heard them). Also, it's possible that some of 'facts' are a little wayward.

The Youngbloods - Get Together (1967)

This is one of the tracks that I heard for the first time on lastfm. Really beautiful track, originally released in 1967 and then again in 1969, to a much greater response, following its use in a TV public service announcement.

Buffalo Springfield - For What It's Worth (1966)

I had of couse actually heard this song at some stage in my earlier life, but it wasn't until I started exploring Neil Young's musical family tree in the late 80's that I realised he was in the band that recorded it. Not having been a child of the 60's revolution I can't say how well this song sums up that era, but for someone who's looking back at those times it seems to fit the bill. A truly great track, demonstrating Stephen Stills' song writing at its best.

Crosby, Stills and Nash - Carried Away (1977)

This track comes from their brilliant, 1977 album, CSN. I must admit it took me a while to really get into this one, having been totally blown away by their 1969 debut, but it improves with every listen. Brilliant track dominated by their wonderful harmonies and piano.

James Taylor - Carolina in My Mind (1970)

I heard this track for the first time whilst at college back in the early/mid 80's. A beautiful song that still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Hearing this track again makes me think that I really ought to get hold of some more James Taylor material.

Al Stewart - Life In Dark Water (1978)

This is another track I heard for the first time on lastfm. I remember when I first heard it I thought it was Roy Harper. On researching its year of release I was quite surprised to find it was from the late 1970's. Sounds much earlier to me, and the hippy dream had well and truly faded by then. Great vocals, though if you ask me are a bit spoiled by the overblown guitar solo half-way through.

Neil Young - Old Man (1972)

The first time I knowingly heard Neil Young was back in 1979 when John Peel played a couple of tracks from his Rust Never Sleeps album. This made an immediate impression, but as a child of the punk era it was not until later that I started working my way through his extensive back catalogue. Released as a track on his classic 1972 album, Harvest, this track, along with pretty much every track on that album, is a classic. A handful of people at school had the album but once I got to college I realised that Harvest was one of the records most students owned ... I do wonder however when my kids go off to college what their 'must have' student albums will be, or will such a concept even exist?

David Crosby/Graham Nash - Bittersweet (1975)

Released on their 1975 album, Wind on the Water, demonstrating the beautiful harmonies achievable through the human voice. What I particularly like about this track is the piano introduction followed by the gradual overlay of their beautiful vocal harmonies, building up into what I suspect today would be called a "massive" song ... probably suffixed by the word "init".

Fred Neil - Everybody's Talkin' (1969)

The first time I heard Fred Neil I was convinced it was Tim Buckley. Little did I know that it was probably more a case of Tim Buckley sounding like Fred Neil, and in fact Buckley covered Fred Neil's Dolphins on his 1973 album, Sefronia, but more about Tim Buckley later. Neil started off much more in the blues/folk era of New York's Greenwich Village, rather that the US west coast hippy scene, but somehow this track seems to perfectly fit both.

Tim Hardin - How Can We Hang On To a Dream (1966)

I had never heard of Tim Hardin until I saw the film Factory Girl which featured the song Red Balloon. Inspired by this I satrted to explore his back catalogue and uncovered some great tracks, of which this is one. Beautiful arrangement of piano and violin, complimented by Tim's slightly husky vocal track. I've recently picked up a truly brilliant Tim Hardin double CD compilation called Hang On To A Dream: The Verve Recordings featuring no less than 47 tracks.

John Martyn - Over the Hill (1973)

A great track taken from his 1973 album, Solid Air. I was introduced to John Martyn, and in particular this album, at some time in the mid to late 1980's between school and college. The whole album is a masterpiece and it was pretty difficult to choose a track, but this is probably my favourite. I saw John play a concert several years ago but I don't remember it being as good as I'd hoped. Hearing this album again makes me want to look over his back catalogue in more detail.

Nick Drake - Cello Song (1969)

I can't quite remember when I first heard Nick Drake, but pretty sure it was some time between leaving school and going away to college. I didn't however have my own copies of any of his material until the 90's, starting off with the Way To Blue compilation, closely follwed by his three studio albums. This track is taken from Nick Drake's 1969 album, Five Leaves Left, featuring his distinctive whispy, dreamy voice. A perfect track from a perfect album.

Fred Neil - The Dolphins (1969)

I first became acquainted with this magnificient song through the Tim Buckley cover vesrion on his 1973 album, Sefronia, and it wasn't until a while later I heard Fred Neil's original version. The beautiful string work, subtle percussion and deep vocal track really make this a stand-out song. It's a hard call to make but if I had to make a call between this version and Tim Buckley's cover version, then I would say the original wins, but only just.

The Pentangle - Hunting Song (1969)

I had heard the name Pentangle before but it wasn't until I'd started exploring on lastfm that I'd actually heard any of their tracks. I guess this probably fits more into the folk genre rather than into what I've called the hippy dream, but it seems to fit well in the playlist. This track is taken from their 1969 album, Basket of Light.

John Martyn - May You Never (1973)

Another brilliant track from John Martyn's 1973 classic, Solid Air. I'm not convinced the version that comes up on lastfm is the original album version though. It sounds and feels like a much later version, but is still a great track nonetheless.

Richard and Linda Thompson - When I Get to the Border (1974)

Taken from their 1974 album, I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight, this is another track which probably fits equally into the folk genre as it does into the hippy dream one. The whole album is a masterpiece from beginning to end, and this particular track perfectly showcases their oustanding, combined vocal talent.

Tim Buckley - It Happens Every Time (1966)

This is my favourite track from Tim Buckley's 1966 debut album. This album however was almost the last one of his that I tracked down; the last one being Blue Afternoon which I still do not own in any form.

Pearls Before Swine - Ballard to an Amber Lady (1967)

This group are new to me in that I'd not even heard their name before I found them on lastfm. To be honest though I have found their material a bit hit-or-miss, but this track is really good, featuring some mean guitar picking overlaid with a folky vocal track ... and lots of humming. This track comes from their 1967 album, One Nation Underground. On hearing the track again whilst documenting this playlist I think perhaps they are worthy of a bit deeper investigation.

Richie Havens - Here Comes the Sun (1971)

The Beatles original was pretty darned perfect in every way, but this cover version is just as good, whilst at the same time being completely different. Hard to explain but if you don't believe me just listen to the track.

The Pentangle - A Woman Like You (1968)

Taken from their 1968 double album, Sweet Child, this was another track that when I first heard it I thought it might have been Roy Harper. I really however know so little about Pentangle, only having recently heard the odd track here and there.

Grace Slick and the Great Society - Somebody to Love (1966)

Timeless classic. This is an unusual version though, and has a more raw and edgier feel to it than the versions with Jefferson Airplane.

The Doors - The End (1967)

Taken from thir 1967 debut album, I probably could have chosen many other Doors' tracks but for me this one captures the mood perfectly. Its use in Apocalypse Now is a hauntingly perfect fit.

Kaleidoscope - Flight From Ashiya (1967)

I'd heard the name of this band before but had not knowingly heard anything by them until recently. Unlike most of the songs above this one in the list, this has a distinctive and unmistakeable English sound to it. It's also drawn to my attention that perhaps too much of this playlist has been focussed on the US west coast sound, so I might need to make some adjustments.

Buffalo Springfield - Mr Soul (1967)

A great track by none other than Neil Young from his very early days with Buffalo Springfield. It always used to make me think it was Satisfaction by The Rolling Stones until the vocals kick in.

Crosby, Stills & Nash - Suite: Judy Blue Eyes (1969)

I think this was the one of the first Crosby, Stills & Nash songs I ever heard. I picked it up on the 1974 compilation album, So Far, and this track alone was probably the main reason why I started exploring more of this era. The music, the vocal harmonies, the atmosphere, in fact everything about this song is just perfect.

The Lovin' Spoonful - Summer in the City (1966)

No compilation of this type would be complete with this song.

James Taylor - Fire and Rain (1970)

Another classic James Taylor track. I'm very sure it's been covered to death, and appeared in numerous films, but I remember it working particularly well in the 1988 film, Running on Empty, starring River Phoenix playing the son of a couple who blew up a Napalm lab in protest against the war.

The Byrds - Mr Tambourine Man (1965)

Maybe a contravesial choice but personally I prefer the Byrds version to the Bob Dylan version. Bob Dylan is a bit like champagne for me ... everyone raves about it, and sometimes I like it but other times it doesn't do anything for me.

The Guess Who - American Woman (1970)

The first time I heard this track was as part of the soundtrack to the excellent film American Beauty. To be honest I know very little else about this band so probably need to do a bit more investigation.

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young - Teach Your Children (1970)

Another great Crosby, Stills and Nash track, this time from the 2nd album, Deja Vu, which brought Neil Young in to make up a formidable foursome. I heard this first on the excellent So Far compilation, and I actually feel it sits better with the tracks on that album than it does with those on Deja Vu.

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young - Long Time Gone (1970)

This is a superb David Crosby penned track, and also appropriately the title of his autobiography. I think I heard this on a TV documentary with some festival footage quite a while before I found an interest in Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

Dave Mason - Sad and Deep As You (1970)

Great track from the Traffic guitarist, Dave Mason. This track is from his debut solo album, Alone Together, from 1970. The whole album is one of my favourite of the era and for me this is one of the stand-out tracks. Quite a mellow album compared to some of the material he produced with Traffic but a gem nevertheless.

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young - Woodstock (1970)

I can only imagine what it must have been like being a child in the summer of love, but for me this song captures what I believe it would have been like.

The Incredible String Band - First Girl I Loved (1971)

I've heard a few tracks by these guys but so far this is the only one that made an instant impression. Again, probably a band to whom I've not found the time to give sufficient creedence to.

Neil Young - After the Goldrush (1970)

I think I heard a cover of this before I heard Neil's original version, with a female vocalist I recall. Discogs suggests that it was Prelude. The line "Well I dreamed I saw the silver spaceships flying" makes me think of The Chrysallids by John Wyndham, where one of the central characters has a similar dream.

Love - The Red Telephone (1967)

Love's Forever Changes is such a strong album that I could probably have chosen pretty much any of the tracks to include here, but this is one of my favourites. I'm sure there's someone out there who can identify another group who sound like Love, but for me they provided a very unique sound.

Neil Young - The Needle and the Damage Done (1972)

Harvest was the first Neil Young album I heard in its entirity, after having been introduced to his later material, Rust Never Sleeps, on the John Peel radio show in the late 70's. Again it's another one of those albums where almost all of the tracks could end up here.

Love - A House is Not a Motel (1967)

Ok, so I couldn't resist adding another song from Love's classic Forever Changes album from 1967.

The United States of America - Garden of Earthly Delights (1968)

Another band about whom I know very little and have only been introduced to through Seems like they only made one album, released in 1968.

The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band - Here's Where You Belong (1967)

Yet another band whose music was introduced to me recently by This track is from their 1967 album, Part One.

I have quite finished compiling this list as I'm struggling to find the time. Hopefully I'll complete it over the next couple of weeks.

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