The Top Ten Other Records Of 1971

April 20, 2007

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Ah, 1971. The Vietnam war was still rolling along, Ólafur Jóhannesson formed a government in Iceland, and somewhere on the East Coast of these United States, I was still a decade-plus away from being born. Unfortunately, this mild setback cost me valuable time that could have been spent enjoying the unholy number of stunning records that were released in ’71. That’s why today, in 2007, if I hear that a a record was released in ’71, I always buy it. There must have been something (drugs) in the air (drugs) back then (drugs) that inspired musicians around the world (drugs) to release incredible albums. That’s why today’s Top Ten is a lesson in ’71.

As usual, there are a couple of rules I need to share before I get started. Why do we have rules, you ask? Because a webpage without rules is like a country in chaos, and in a country without chaos, women fear flash mobs and lock themselves indoors, and none of the men can get laid. Rule number one is no ‘Krautrock,’ otherwise half the list would be devoted to albums I’ve already covered here in great length (Tago Mago, Faust, Tanz der Lemminge, Cluster ’71, Alpha Centurai, In den Garten Pharaos, Ash Ra Tempel, Kraftwerk 1 all were released in ’71). Also, no “mainstream” albums (Sticky Fingers, Hunky Dory, Songs Of Love And Hate, Tupelo Honey, Paranoid AND Master Of Reality, Electric Warrior, Who’s Next, Led Zeppelin [IV], Meddle, The Low Spark Of High-Heeled Boys also were released in ’71). Are you starting to see why it was such a monumental year?

THE TOP TEN OTHER RECORDS OF 1971

10) Blast Furnace (Blast Furnace) – Blast Furnace formed in Copenhagen in 1970, released one album in 1971, then disbanded. Sounds like every band you’ve ever been in, right? Yeah, the only difference is, Blast Furnace was monumentally better than your band, and their self-titled record is a prog-rock gold mine. Fierce, a little bit weird, and all good.

09) Fresh Maggots (Fresh Maggots) – Acid-folk singing teenagers from England. What more do you want from a record? Don’t answer that, you’ll only embarrass yourself. These kids took the best aspects of Zeppelin and T. Rex, and churned out something completely unique. The only problem is, there’s no drummer. No drummer? No problem!

08) Hush (Extradition) – For anyone who has ever wanted to recreate the feeling of sitting around a campfire in the outback watching a bunch of acid cases make exotic folk music, this is the album for you. No joke, they use tree branches and water and sticks as instruments. It’s so fried, it’s hard to figure out if it’s genius or total crap. One thing is certain: it’s an awesome trip.

07) Childhood’s End (Phil Sawyer) – Another Australian fellow, Mr. Sawyer released this one album and that was it. He’s kind of like their version of Gary Higgins, but slightly worse. His is a sound that melds country twang with psychedelic folk. Are you catching a certain theme running through this list? (It’s drugs – the theme is drugs)

06) In My Own Time (Karen Dalton) – Did you know that in 1971, women were making music? I’ll bet you didn’t. Unfortunately, Ms. Dalton was maligned by her peers, probably because she wasn’t writing hazy folk jams people could half-ignore while they freed their inner child. Those people were stupid. This album is filled with rich interpretations of traditional songs and heartbreaking original compositions. You GO girl! (Is she dead now? If she is, she can’t very well “go” anywhere)

05) Turns You On (Luv Machine) – This England via Barbados (huh?) group must have really loved them some Hendrix. They didn’t freak out like Hendrix, but they probably had one thing in common: gettin’ fuckin’ fried out of their minds and laying down some jaaaaaaams. It’s like I always say, if you’re going to mimic your career after anybody, choose the guy who died by asphyxiating on his own vomit!

04) Time Of The Last Persecution (Bill Fay) – Do you like stark songwriting? Maybe a guitar here, with some dappled piano over there? A great voice filled with equal parts hope and melancholia? Well you’ve just deduced that you should be heralding the name of Bill Fay wherever you go. In fact, from now on, I’m going to answer my phone by saying, “Bill Fay” whenever it rings. A definite for fans of anyone from Nick Drake to Six Organs of Admittance.

03) Marc Mundy (Marc Mundy) – No one I’ve ever played this album for has appreciated it. Mundy was a guy (much like you) with a dream (much like you), who moved from Cyprus to New York City as a teenager to seek fame as a songwriter. He even learned English just to write the lyrics. The result is quite endearing. Sure, he’s no Leonard Cohen with his words (listen to the awkwardly conveyed story in “How Can I Marry This Language”), but his Eastern-tinged musicality lends an air of weird psychedelia to above-average pop songs.

02) Jardim Eletrico (Os Mutantes) – If I have to explain the greatness of Os Mutantes to you, you shouldn’t be here. Go away. I don’t want you reading my thoughts anymore.

01) Demon And Eleven Children (Blues Creation) – The Japanese version of Black Sabbath, who set the stage for all the great Japanese psych and doom bands that would follow in the ensuing decades. Very natural recording of a huge, heavy acid-blues sound. The greatness of Blues Creation can be traced in everyone from Les Rallizes Denudes and High Rise to Boris. Dig in.

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