If Altamont Had Been Yesterday: 5 Bands For Post-60s Listeners.
Bands for people who enjoy post-hippie music. Or just couldn’t move on.
By Scott Mason
To this day all the bands and managers and bikers at the “Altamont Free Concert” have played blame games of how that concert devolved into the violent uproar it is remembered as. But when heroes like Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, Santana and The Rolling Stones end up having the aid of a bunch of right-wing bikers with an explosive opposition towards flower power, it says in big, blood red letters, “ no one can be trusted in this scene, anymore.” And when approxomately 300,000 spectators make the gang’s presence arguably justifiable, it says, “this scene isn’t even worth it, anymore.”
If you’ve seen “Gimme Shelter,” you probably know this by heart. 4 people died. One of them was a would-be-assassin. Cars were stolen. Property was wrecked. Children were even born there. “The Summer of Love” was said and done. Rolling Stone’s clone band, Aerosmith formed the following year and the first wave of immitation had begun. More often than not and once again, it was finally a matter of how well a band could partake in an established art-form than how new said band could be. I think that is worth acknowledging, but not complaining about. Not just because I can enjoy bands with an algebraic approach for mixing influences. I can live with certain slight clones of Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin because some of them do a really good job in their own right. Here are a few that pay tribute to the day after the Summer of Love turned to Autumn. Or bands that just make you miss their stylistic progenitors.
Led Zeppelin is somewhat of a sacred cow for my generation. Guitarists, bassists and drummers love them. I’ve even heard a fair share of people say people lead singer, Robert Plant is one of the few front men out there who can get away with singing in such a high voice. If there is any band out there that can measure up to Plant’s high-pitched holler today , it’s the Swedish hard rock band, Graveyard. Yet, there is one thing that Joakim Nilsson can actually outmatch Plant over. He sounds meaner with a more gravely voice, yet still sounds like he’d fit right in during the end of the 60s. You don’t get the guitar solos of Jimmy Page or the artful rhythm of John Bonham and John Paul Jones but you do get the edge of riff driven songs that sing of submarines, vague rebellion and Lucifer.
Songs to start with: “Submarine Blues,” “Hisingen Blues,” “Hard-Headed”
2. Purson (and Rosalie Cunningham):
Little Richard is the latest passing musican to make me feel awful. I feel lousy enough when musicians I love die or quit before their time. I can’t imagine how it was for Beatles fans back in the day. The feeling that no one will every be able to fill a void of creativity as vast and expansive as the one they left behind. Plenty of bands have tried to imitate the Beatles and I realize that it inspires eye-roles from true fans but please hear me out on this one. Purson paid tribute to the Beatles in the vaudevillian rock sense. Not staging another shot at the British Invasion. Purson, may have broken up but their lead singer, Rosalie Cunningham, is still writing songs like the one’s that her previous band released. Imagine if Ozzy Osbourne was a woman who tried to write “Sgt. Peppers’ Lonely Hearts Club Band.” There will never be another “Sgt Peppers.” That doesn’t mean this isn’t a fun listen. It’s more trippy and a tad more macabre than John, Paul, George and Ringo were and, obviously, none of them sound like Rosalie Cunningham.
Songs to start with: “The Sky Parade (Purson),” “The Electric Landlady (Purson),” “Fuck Love (Rosalie Cunningham)”
3. The Vintage Caravan:
Do you enjoy surf, psychedelic and boogie-woogie guitar? Do you like your drummers slightly loose? Ever wonder what it would be like if David Bowie decided to impersonate Kurt Cobain’s vocal style? Do you care about your songs being introspective. If everything but the latter is a yes, you need to give this Icelandic power trio an ear. This band would have been a decent choice for “Cream (as in the band) withdraw” or an act who probably would have shared a tour with proto-metal bands like Blue Cheer. If you try them out, enjoy the ride.
Songs to start with: “Wild Child,” “Shaken Beliefs,” “On the Run”
4. Blues Pills:
As the decade came to a close, r&b, soul, funk and disco began the big revival that was already a long time coming, or in the cases of the last two, the grand entrance. The works and popularity of Marvin Gaye, Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding are impossible to ignore in the mid-to-late 60s and James Brown had been active for decades before his “Godfather of Soul” title became common place. The popularity of Al Green’s recording career was also a relatively recent development by 1969. Yet, plenty of amazing acts formed at that time. Plenty of former group members struck out to begin their own virbant solo careers, like Curtis Mayfield of The Impressions and Sam & Dave’s producer and songwriter, Isaac Hayes. And let’s not forget George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic Collective and the beautiful chaos and absurdity of their funk. This has all led up to soul-hard-rock band, Blues Pills. A hard edged, psychedelic band, Blues Pills captures the confident subject matter, breathy vocal style and occasionally suggestive rhythm of a soul band. Elin Larsson carries a soul song about leaving a lousy man or a disappointing relationship as well as a classic rock cover of Jefferson Airplane’s, “Somebody to Love.” Though for the latter, you have to go to Youtube. Something is truly amazing about current Swedish retro-hard rock, and Blues Pills is a good start to get a glimpse.
Songs to start with: “Bad Talkers,” “Black Smoke,” “Won’t Go Back”
5. Church of the Cosmic Skull:
The keyboard and electric organ were beginning to get popular by the tail end of the 60s, thus cueing the advent of progressive rock, for better or worse. From Keith Emerson’s The Nice to lesser know examples like Iron Butterfly, to German art rock bands like Kraftwerk to proto-metal bands like Deep Purple, the electric organ was quickly becoming the new thing. It’s an acquired taste and it can be very infuriating if the solos go on too long. Church of the Cosmic Skull takes that annoying detail into account with brutal honesty. Their songs are never more than 4 minutes long at most. They get by with heavily harmonized vocals and going to ridiculous extents of prog-rock pretentiousness, like having a song where to chorus is slowing counting to seven. “Seven” is still a fun song. If you enjoy science fiction and find the atmosphere of a cult service without the horrifying doctrine amusing, you might want to check out this potentially infuriating band.
Songs to check out: “Timehole (Gonna Build a Rocket Tonight),” “Into the Skull,” “The Great Black Hole”
I realize it’s impossible to raise a candle to the Beatles, The Rolling Stones Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton or virutally anyone else back in the heyday. Or even followers like Black Sabbath, Funkadelic, Led Zeppelin or Curtis Mayfield’s “Superfly Soundtrack.” I still think bands who pay tribute, without covers, aren’t to be dismissed as cheap imitations right off the bat. After all, you can only listen to the same song so many times before you stop loving it.