Thursday, March 11, 2010

The British Invasion

According to Rolling Stone magazine's list of top 500 albums, four of the top ten are by the Beatles, who also own the Gold Medal position of Numero Uno with their ground breaking Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The other three Beatles albums on the top ten are Revolver (3), Rubber Soul (5) and The White Album (10).

I remember when The White Album came out there were all kinds of rumors about what would have been on the cover of this album had not the censors interfered. I'm not up to speed on the trivia here but suspect that the mystique created by this album devoid of even a title was a brilliant concept that helped maintain the buzz for these now maturing mop tops who took America by storm only a few short years earlier.

It was called The British Invasion by the media heads, with groups like the Dave Clark Five and The Animals and The Rolling Stones all having a go at American audiences via the trend setting Ed Sullivan Show. Beatlemania was so over the top that when they appeared in concert it was impossible to hear them perform because of the girls shrieking and shaking and screaming.

Other groups that cross-pollinated with American audiences, influencing emerging Stateside bands, included Herman's Hermits, Peter & Gordon, Manfred Mann, Petula Clark, Freddie and the Dreamers, Donovan and the Kinks. My first 45 single was the Kinks' All Day and All of the Night. All these groups had hits in the American pop scene.

The influences went both ways though. Dylan made an impact "over there" as did Jimi Hendrix whose time in England gave him the traction his career needed to get out from the typecasting expected of a black guitarist in the States. Hendrix found his voice (or rather, his guitar did) and he carved out a new territory in rock history.

Rounding out the top ten of RS magazine's greatest albums, we have Pet Sounds by the Beach Boys (2), Dylan's Highway 61 Revisited (4), Marvin Gaye's What's Going On (6), Exile on Main Street by the Rolling Stones (7), London Calling by The Clash (8) and Dylan's Blonde on Blonde at number nine, number nine, number nine, number nine....

Not sure what I think of a couple of those. Elvis makes the list at number eleven with The Sun Sessions. And Miles Davis grabs the twelve spot with Kind of Blue, the first jazz album on the list.

What would be the top ten albums on your list... if you can narrow it down that far. You should check the Rolling Stone Top 500 for a good selection of ideas. Maybe it would be good to get a handle on their criteria. Pet Sounds? Exile on Main Street? Not sure I understand those selections. How about you?
Note: Picture at top right is from a wall in Haight-Ashbury, SF 2008.

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