6. The Meters- Rejuvenation
I can't say for sure if music from New Orleans needs to be heard live, the way people say you need to see the Dead and Bruce Springsteen live to become a fan. I certainly loved Irma Thomas and Fats Domino and so many others, including The Meters, long before I made my first trip to the Crescent City. But there was a sea change after my first week in New Orleans, and suddenly the music felt different, almost holy. If there was one record that defines that feeling, it's The Meters' "Rejuvenation." It plays like The Meters Greatest Hits. It is funk and soul, blues, jazz and rock, and most important, happiness, all in one place
7. Chicago II
Prior to becoming known as schlock balladeers, the Chicago Transit Authority were a respected, horn-based, jazz rock band that also had the ability to create wonderful hit singles. "Chicago II" first made its way into my hands on an 8-track, and almost 50 years later, I can still hear those bad fades as the tape made its way from track one to track two. Still, I played that baby constantly, especially Side Two and the suite entitled "Ballet For A Girl In Buchannon." I'm sure you are familiar with the hit singles "Make Me Smile" and everyone's wedding song from 1969-1975, "Colour My World." But in the context of the suite from which they came, these two songs have a different life. The playing, especially Terry Kath's guitar and Danny Seraphine's drums, is out of this world. This is without a doubt one of my favorite Side Twos.
8. Jr. Walker & The All-Stars- Home Cookin'
Too many of Motown's album catalogue is uneven. It is rare when you can find a Supremes, Temptations, or early Marvin Gaye album that is consistent. But "Home Cookin'," from Jr. Walker & The All-Stars is an absolute killer. It is the closest thing to what a James Brown record might have sounded like under the guidance of Berry Gordy. There is the iconic sax intro to "What Does It Take," some raw funk workouts like "Baby Ain't You Shame" and "Hip City," and the impossible bass playing from "The Hook," Mr. James Jamerson on the title track. This record rocks!
9. The Bees- Free The Bees
I can't describe the fervor over this record when it first came through my shop. Who the hell were The Bees and what the hell kind of music are they playing? I still can't describe it because every song on "Free The Bees" is different. At times they sound like The JB's, or maybe even Traffic, or possibly The Ventures. It's a damn smorgasbord of music. If we played it, we sold it. I can't even decide what song to post as a sample, because it wouldn't represent anything else. All I know is, 13 years later and it still kicks my ass.
10. Savoy Brown- Getting To The Point
Would you believe I hadn't heard a note of the Chris Youlden lineup of Savoy Brown's music before the 90's? I had written them off as some sort of boogie band, like the music made by ex-members when they formed Foghat. But once I heard Youlden's voice and style, and discovred the ridiculous playing of Kim Simmonds, there was no turning back. "Getting To The Point" is the second Savoy Brown record, but the first featuring Youlden. It remains my favorite and their style of British blues still blows me away. How can the blues be fresh and original? Listen to this record, and you will understand.