Greetings from Asbury Park/Bruce Springsteen (Sony):
Stripped of all its excesses, rock 'n' roll can be powerful stuff. And no one puts more into a musical scene than Bruce. Born to Run may be one of the greatest all-time albums ever, but this one is equally as important. Record company hype aside, Bruce's only similarities to Dylan were that they shared record labels; and Bruce also wrote his own songs and played guitar. Wait, make that Bruce wrote novellas as songs. Where Dylan sang about hopelessness, Springsteen sang about redemption-anthems for the working guy, as found in the streets and neighborhoods of Anytown, USA. Bruce's props were girls and the boardwalk (cars would come later). "Blinded By the Light," "For You," and "Spirits in the Night," were full of youthful exuberance, but they signaled a major talent was on the rise.
Blind Faith/Blind Faith (Atco/RSO):
They may have been lauded as one of the first supergroups, but there was much more historical importance to Clapton/Winwood/Baker/Grech. Clapton's' previous supergroup, Cream, had disbanded and with this album, the jolly lot stumbled their way onto another page of rock history. Forget the fact this was their first and only album and there was much drama that dogged the entire project. "Had to Cry Today," "Sea of Joy," and "Presence of the Lord" could easily have been on a Traffic album, or on a Cream album with Steve Winwood on vocals. No matter-it still ranks as an important step in rock history.
England's Newest Hitmakers/ The Rolling Stones (Abkco):
If you haven't listened to this album in a while, prepare to be surprised. The Stones' very first album features everything from Motown ("Can I Get a Witness"), easy listening ("Route 66"), and blues ("I Just Want to Make Love to You"). Take these and mix 'em up with good old American rock 'n' roll, courtesy of Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away" and Chuck Berry's "Carol" and you get the makings of the World's Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band. Sure, this album was eclipsed by the Beatles' Please Please Me, but the Stones are to road music what asphalt is to a highway. This is where it started and it sounds good to get re-acquainted.
Are You Experienced/Jimi Hendrix (Experience Hendrix):
Little need to explain this one. Jimi's short four-year reign as one of the universe's greatest guitar heroes was put into play by this album, a psychedelic maelstrom of guitar wizardry the world had never witnessed before. Everything about Jimi was over the top-his look, his guitar playing, and his song-writing prowess. "Foxey Lady," and "Purple Haze" were Jimi at his peak. Sure, the albums that followed were also great, but for sheer perfection, this was it!
The Allman Brothers Band/The Allman Brothers (Mercury):
The Allman Brothers roared out of the south like a hell-bound train. Bathed in the blues, their debut album was the sound of the south rising again. But it wasn't Johnny Reb and his red neck buddies-it was a band fulfilling their musical destiny. Shortly before, Duane Allman had garnered cult status as a session player and was highly regarded by other guitarists-Eric Clapton included. After all, he had guested on projects by everyone from Aretha Franklin to Boz Scaggs. Thus his legendary slide guitar became the band's centerpiece, bolstered by brother Gregg's organ. It was a solid team effort, and tracks such as "Dreams" and "Tied to the Whipping Post" morphed into extended jams at all Allman Brothers concerts. Then tragedy struck. At the height of the Allman Brothers fame, Duane perished in a crash on his Harley. In a cruel irony, the band's bass player, Berry Oakley met a similar fate some 13 months later near the same site. Thankfully, the band and its music still endure, all these years later. And so does this album.