Recent Picks

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Heart & SoulHeart & Soul (1969)

Shame upon shame: Johnny Adams is nowhere near as popular as he deserves to be, and it took a decade since his first single for an LP of his work to be released. For your convenience, Heart & Soul actually includes that inaugural song, and while its sound is undeniably 50s, “I Won’t Cry” is representative of…

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Living Together, Growing TogetherLiving Together, Growing Together (1973)

They did it. They actually did it. Heaven knows I thought The 5th Dimension wouldn’t capitalize on the last album’s momentum, but for the first time since The Magic Garden, they’ve put together an LP worthy of their talent. Nothing here is really new, it’s just that, between…

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The Magic GardenThe Magic Garden (1968)

Having supplied The 5th Dimension with their breakout hit, Jimmy Webb takes songwriting and production duties, steering the group through a romantic arc (couple falls in and out of love) that outstrips their debut to a staggering degree.

First, the voices are…

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Little GamesLittle Games (1967)

Of course I, after finding their bluesier (most would say better) work rather middling, would latch onto the Yardbirds’ final LP of the 60s as my clear favorite. Now that producer Mickie Most has steered them into proper pop waters, my past complaints of flimsy songwriting and flimsier vocals have…

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Odessey and OracleOdessey and Oracle (1968)

Half of me wonders if their vocal blend is sublime enough to warrant such spare arrangements–a minor worry, admittedly, considering the abundance of adorable backing bips and tweets. That leanness pays dividends, though, as it suggests the baroque while staying loose enough for…

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Take a HeartTake a Heart (1965)

I guess they call this freakbeat? R&B thrashes that subvert genre convention with jagged, stop-and-go verse rhythms (“Baby”) and proto-psych flashes (“Pink Purple Yellow Red”), never too stuffy for visits from Donald Duck (“No, No, No, No”). Whatever it is, I’m grateful for The Sorrows’ willingness to…

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Jackson C. FrankJackson C. Frank (1965)

Ignore the tragic backstory if you can; it helps reduce the urge to treat this as uniform depression, which would do Mr. Frank quite a disservice. Because while his pensive voice certainly skews melancholic, there’s impressive variety here, from rousing anthem (“Don’t Look Back”) to gentle love song (“Kimbie”) to troubled driftwood…

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RenaissanceRenaissance (1966)

Make no mistake, dropping Boettcher from the producer’s chair was a bad call. His attention to stereo depth and detail fit The Association’s ensemble voice well, giving them a richness Yester doesn’t come close to.

That said, the group…

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And Then...Along Comes The AssociationAnd Then…Along Comes The Association (1966)

So what if their love of Brill and past balladeers makes them squares? That just plays to their benefit.

Outside of some uptempo pop, The Association bring jazz-flecked moonlit rendezvous into the 60s, with a throaty, bewildered lead keeping…

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S.F. SorrowS.F. Sorrow (1968)

Lost in all the squabble over whether this actually beats Tommy as the first rock opera: Before now, The Pretty Things had never even seemed capable of a consistent album, let alone something so conceptually grand. Starting as a bratty Bo Diddley tribute on their self-titled debut, they nearly disintegrated…

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