The Meandering Hexagon

Listener's Log: Squawk by Budgie

Album: Squawk
Artist: Budgie
Release Date: September 1972
Date Listened: 23 February 2017
Remarks: Squawk is everything the first album was... with better cover art as supplied by the legendary Roger Dean. It's an awesome collection of hard rocking riff driven tunes from the golden era: The dawn of heavy metal.
Stand Out Tracks: Whiskey River, Rocking Man, Rolling Home Again, Hot As A Docker's Armpit, Drugstore Woman, Bottled, Stranded

Listener's Log: Cruising with Reuben and the Jets by Frank Zappa

Album: Cruising with Reuben and the Jets
Artist: Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention
Release Date: December 1968
Date Listened: 23 February 2017
Remarks: Sometimes, you've just gotta take a break from expanding the boundaries of pop music and creating whole new sonic worlds to release an album of Doo Wop. This is my least favorite work of Zappa's so far. It's not that I hate Doo Wop... it's just that it's not really my favorite. Quite a few songs on here are re-recorded versions of earlier tunes, and I like the originals much better. This album feels forced and out of place. It's not really that funny either, which is what you can always fall back on with Zappa if you don't like the music.
Stand Out Tracks: Umm... I guess No No No, Anyway the Wind Blows and Stuff Up the Cracks

Listener's Log: Electric Ladyland by The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Album: Electric Ladyland
Artist: The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Release Date: October 1968
Date Listened: 21 February 2017
Remarks: The third and final album by The Experience combines the punch of the previous album with the tuneful rock of the first. But there's a lot of fat that could stand a trim. It might've been better to record a few more songs and split Electric Ladyland in two, but whether that was possible is a question for history. But what a powerful conclusion! The last two songs are The best Hendrix ever recorded.
Stand Out Tracks: Crosstown Traffic, Voodoo Chile, Come On, Gypsy Eyes, 1983, All Along the Watchtower, Voodoo Child

Listener's Log: Alpha Centauri by Tangerine Dream

Album: Alpha Centauri
Artist: Tangerine Dream
Release Date: March 1971
Date Listened: 11 February 2017
Remarks: The best way to listen to this album is in the middle of the night during a full moon, whilst driving past mountains, with just the right amount of cool AC blowing on your face. And, yes, I know from experience. Alpha Centauri is everything I liked about Electronic Meditation, only much better. There is more electronic, more space, and less guitar. But there isn't too much electronic music. There's also lengthy flute jams (an instrument I have a special fondness for as readers of this blog will doubtless recognize). All in all, a near perfect listening experience if you like space rock, and for me a definite candidate for my pile of favorite albums. 
Stand Out Tracks: All of them plus the bonus tune

Listener's Log: Axis: Bold as Love by The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Album: Axis: Bold as Love
Artist: The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Release Date: December 1967
Date Listened: 10 February 2017
Remarks: While I loved the debut, I wasn't the biggest fan of the production. Axis turns that... on it's axis. I love the production, but the album isn't my cup of tea. There's just no catchy riffs here, other than the minimalist If 6 Was 9. The tunefulness of Foxey Lady could've used the punch of Spanish Castle Magic. But it's not here. But it's certainly a creative effort that doesn't sound like anything else of the time. Or after.
Stand Out Tracks: Spanish Castle Magic, Little Wing, If 6 Was 9, Little Miss Lover

Listener's Log: Fairport Convention by Fairport Convention

Album: Fairport Convention
Artist: Fairport Convention
Release Date: June 1968
Date Listened: 10 February 2017
Remarks: Continuing the trend of self-titled debut albums, it's something a bit folksy-er. Um, I think. The first from the folk rock legends is really more pop than any of their later work. Chelsea Morning, in particular, has a summer of love vibe. Not one of my favorites, but an enjoyable venture into the wonderful world of Fairport.
Stand Out Tracks:  Time Will Show the Wiser, I Don't Know Where I Stand, Chelsea Morning, The Lobster, It's Alright Ma It's Only Witchcraft, M1 Breakdown

Listener's Log: Gentle Giant by Gentle Giant

Album: Gentle Giant
Artist: Gentle Giant
Release Date: November 1970
Date Listened: 10 February 2017
Remarks: Gentle Giant's debut has crossed my ears three times now. It's quite a good album and I can't quite seem to get past it. They do rock and roll quite a bit here but their unique brand of weirdness has pretty much emerged fully formed, especially on Funny Ways and Isn't It Quiet and Cold.
Stand Out Tracks: Giant, Funny Ways, Alucard, Isn't It Quiet And Cold, and quite a few passages scattered throughout the B side as well.

Listener's Log: Mountain by Leslie West

Album: Mountain
Artist: Leslie West
Release Date: July 1969
Date Listened: 10 February 2017
Remarks: I like this better than Mountain's debut. The songwriting is a little tighter, and the tunes are more groove-able. But is any of it half as good as the first few measures of Mississippi Queen?
Stand Out Tracks: Blood of the Sun, Long Red, Blind Man, Dreams of Milk & Honey, This Wheel's On Fire, Look to the Wind, Southbound Train, Because You Are My Friend

Listener's Log: Budgie by Budgie

Album: Budgie
Artist: Budgie
Release Date: June 1971
Date Listened: 8 February 2017
Remarks: From the dawn of heavy metal and from the days before Rush, we give you... Budgie. Of course this is quite dissimilar to Rush in many respects, but it doesn't take much imagination to draw a connection. Budgie is a hybrid of the blues riffing coined by Zeppelin and the progressive noodling being undertaken by psychedelic groups of the day. It is also a power trio styled after the Experience or Cream. And! There's a bass player who sings. Shrilly! Yet, this is not the proto-Rush, but something unique. Heavy in the sense that Sabbath is heavy, but also much more tuneful. There's great promise and great imagery. My only true complaint is the sleeve. It's a bit girly, and doesn't really represent the music contained within. But mystical pony and mariachi bird away! I guess.
Stand Out Tracks: Guts, The Author, Nude Disintegrating Parachutist Woman, Rape of the Locks

Listener's Log: Climbing! by Mountain

Album: Climbing!
Artist: Mountain
Release Date: March 1970
Date Listened: 7 February 2017
Remarks: Mississippi Queen is, no doubt about it, one of the most bad ass tracks from the most bad ass days of rock. But if all you know of Mountain is this one tune, you're missing out. Leslie West is one heck of a guitarist and the band packs quite a wallop. But what's surprising is their dexterity. For Yasgur's Farm is a precursor to the power ballad and To My Friend is an all accoustic number with bluegrass energy. I hope the rest of Mountain's discography will be as exciting.
Stand Out Tracks: Mississippi Queen, Never in My Life, For Yasgur's Farm, To My Friend, The Laird

Listener's Log: Are You Experienced by The Jimi Hendrix Experience

Album: Are You Experienced
Artist: The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Release Date: May 1967
Date Listened: 6 February 2017
Remarks: I had listened to this album once before in my formative years. Then, as now, I was not the biggest Hendrix fan. The production technique always seemed to be lacking punch to me. He was not, I assumed, a "studio guitarist." However, upon re-examining this LP, I find I was wrong. The songs are actually quite punchy– very rock 'n' roll! Especially for early 1967. I don't suppose there were many records on the shelf that could compare to this. Hendrix, obviously, is a master. It's not just what he's playing, but the way he plays it. A very enjoyable :cough: psychedelic experience. 
Stand Out Tracks: (1997 edition) Actually had a hard time choosing: Purple Haze, Manic Depression, Hey Joe, Love or Confusion, The Wind Cries Mary, Third Stone from the Sun, Foxey Lady, Are You Experienced?, Highway Chile... but let's face it. Purple Haze. 

Listener's Log: We're Only in it For the Money by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention

Album: We're Only in it For the Money
Artist: Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention
Release Date: March 1968
Date Listened: 6 February 2017
Remarks: Zappa continues to astound. I'm not the biggest fan of the Sgt. Pepper parody cover (probably because there've been so many parodies since) but the music contained within is stellar. It's his best yet in terms of production, although the orchestral passages on Lumpy Gravy are somewhat more enjoyable overall. 
Stand Out Tracks: Who Needs the Peace Corps?, Mom & Dad, What's the Ugliest Part of Your Body?, Absolutely Free, Let's Make the Water Turn Black, Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance

Listener's Log: Hawkwind by Hawkwind

Album: Hawkwind
Artist: Hawkwind
Release Date: 1968
Date Listened: 2 February 2017
Remarks: Being somewhat familiar with Hawkwind's later works, I found their debut album rather surprising. There's a tiny bit of folk and blues influence and the space rock doesn't really start to gel till the B side. It isn't at all what I was expecting. It's not unpleasant though, and the sentiments of the first track and only single are enough to warrant a listen.
Stand Out Tracks: Hurry On Sundown, Seeing It as You Really Are, Mirror of Illusion, (Note: the bonus tracks on the remaster Kiss of the Velvet Whip, and Cymbaline [by Pink Floyd] are better than many of the A side tracks- at least to my ears.)

Listener's Log: Sophisticated Beggar by Roy Harper

Album: Sophisticated Beggar
Artist: Roy Harper
Release Date: 1966?
Date Listened: 1 February 2017
Remarks: "And yet I hear our voice of love above the loudest madness." Harper's debut album is surprisingly well formed. I've always likened Roy Harper to a British Bob Dylan but he's clearly more complex than that. And given the complexity of Dylan's body of work, that's certainly saying something. There's some beautiful poetry on this disc, to say nothing of the gorgeous music amply enhanced by the likes of Bert Jansch and John Renbourn. Two of many legends that would perform with Roy Harper over the years. 
Stand Out Tracks: Goldfish, Sophisticated Beggar, Big Fat Silver Aeroplane, Blackpool, Girlie, October 12th