Coming home for the holidays I stumbled on my mom's record collection. She has an extensive collection (who didn't when streaming wasn't even a gleam of possibility) but these ten are special and hopefully, a few are new to you. Disclosure: she was (and still is) very into jazz, Pat Metheny, and Hall and Oates. So not much classic rock here folks.
5 Best LPS
Emerson Lake and Palmer / Brain Salad Surgery / 1973
Using some of the first electronic synthesizer's in the business, Emerson Lake and Palmer are far ahead of their time. It's pretty incredible how much sound they create between three people. Switching from industrial-noise to lilting melodies in my favorite song "Still...You Turn Me On," this album is an adventure through Jerusalem (the first track) on through some fantastic narratives. If you only listen to one of these albums, I recommend listening to this one.
Favorite Song: "Still...You Turn Me On"
Jimmie Spheeris / The Dragon is Dancing / 1975
For this one, I'm going to let the words of my mom explain this.
"He was one of the groups that no one knew about, so when we went to see him we were just enthralled with him. He had the most amazing sensual moves on stage and a buttery voice. That one time when I saw him, he stopped his concert to tell the people using the blender at the bar to stop. We felt like we were seeing something illegal. In the '70s it was clean. And he was this kind of writhing guy on stage and his music just took you somewhere else. In his vocals and the keys at which he sang were all really unusual and you didn't really want to sing along with him, you wanted to listen to him because he just did it so well. There's something so natural about this one, not as processed as the other albums. It's the album I'd always take out and say this is who I listen to. He was the record that I would put on when I needed to be grounded and solitary."
Favorite Song: "In the Misty Woods"
Kenny Rankin / Family / 1970
Kenny Rankin's voice is like drinking a perfectly steeped cup of tea on a boardwalk. There are a few Beatle's covers like "Dear Prudence" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps,"on Family, but they're done with the embrace of a folk guitar and a beautiful brass and string accompaniment behind it.
Favorite Song: "Soft Guitar"
Stephen Bishop / Careless / 1976
Everyone should take a fashion cue from Stephen Bishop: Adidas, white suit, pink button up and a straw hat. "Careless" has probably the oddest trombone solo I've ever heard but the rest of the song is incredibly catchy. "Madge" is just a hopeless romantic song I can imagine girls in the '70s lying on their bedroom floors wishing Stephen Bishop would write a song about them. If the synthesizer in "One More Night" could enchant those hearts, it will enchant yours too.
Favorite Song: "Save it For a Rainy Day"
5 Best 45's
The Jaggerz / Karma Sutra / 1970
Album artwork makes me a little bit biased. In this case, it makes me a lot biased. The Jaggerz recorded Karma Sutra on Buddah Records which made for a glorious album sleeve. The band turned out to be a one-hit-wonder but that one hit was worth it. However, my mom said they thought it was about a rapist. Listen to the lyrics and make a decision for yourself.
Frankie Avalon / Venus / 1959
This 45 was given to my mom by her older sister, a true '50s girl. "Venus" is the kind of song that you'd hear in the backseat of an El Camino. It's really magical.
The Cyrckle / The Red Rubber Ball / 1966
In a live cover version of this song by Simon and Garfunkel, they joked that The Cyrcle stole this "The Red Rubber Ball" from the duo. And it was in fact written by Paul Simon and Bruce Woodley. Perhaps why I took such a liking to the song is because it's very reminiscent of S&G with classic key changes, clever lyrics, and an unbearably catchy chorus. And the b-side: "How Can I Leave Her" misses those clever lyrics.
Steve Ellis and the Starfires / Walking Around / 1965
Listening to this now, the music of Steve Ellis And The Starfires would fit right into the psychedelic rock of today. The gritty quality of "That's How it Feels" is irresistible. I couldn't find that particular single ANYWHERE, but this comes close.