Monday, June 4, 2012

Psychobabble’s Sixteen Greatest Post-‘Pepper’ Albums of 1967

The influence of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was immediate. In February of 1967, the single release of “Strawberry Fields Forever”, a track recorded at the very beginning of the album’s sessions, revealed just how far The Beatles were taking studio possibilities. Brian Wilson was apparently so devastated by the record that he started having second thoughts about his own SMiLE, an album he partially conceived as a riposte to The Beatles’ recent experimentation and one that may have been the record of 1967 had he completed it. Less paranoid artists took healthier inspiration from “Strawberry Fields” and tales of The Beatles’ studio exploits. Such Pepper-esque platters as Their Satanic Majesties Request and Axis: Bold as Love were underway even before the June 1st release of Sgt. Pepper’s. Tellingly, several others— Forever Changes, After Bathing at Baxter’s, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones, LTD.—were started in June. Some were created in parallel, as fellow Abbey Road occupiers Pink Floyd and The Pretty Things took much inspiration from the sounds bleeding beneath The Beatles’ door (and vice versa, for sure). Brian Wilson’s meltdown notwithstanding, the one-upmanship was healthy, and a great deal of great music was born throughout those magical post-Pepper months of 1967. Here are Sixteen of the best.

(Release dates in parentheses were mostly pulled from Wikipedia, which means it may be wise to take them with a grain of salt.)

16. Buffalo Springfield Again by Buffalo Springfield (10/30/67)
The Buffalo Springfield sound may have been laid back, but relationships in the band were anything but. Neil Young was always a mercurial cat, and his constant comings and disappearances made the recording of the band’s second album tense. Stephen Stills and the rest couldn’t complain too much, though, because when Young did show up, he always pushed the band into the challenging territory that kept them from getting left behind in the post-Pepper age. The three songs he brought to Buffalo Springfield Again are the album’s most audacious tracks, and each one is totally different from the other: the raging “Mr. Soul”, the dreamy and uplifting “Expecting to Fly”, and the fractured, avant-garde puzzle “Broken Arrow”. Instead of trying to compete with Young’s wild imagination, Stills kept up by doing some of his best work in his established folk-rock style, particularly “Bluebird” and “Rock & Roll Woman”. Richie Furay’s work is more varied as he dabbles in country, soul, and jazz, but really, it is Neil Young who makes Buffalo Springfield Again a work of art.   

15. Revolution! by Paul Revere and the Raiders (August 1967)

Paul Revere and the Raiders sure look dorky in their Revolutionary War costumes on the cover of Revolution!, but the swampy blues/soul/pop/psych noise on the record totally betrays that silly image. In fact, that image is really the extent of the bands involvement in a record that was basically a Mark Lindsay solo product cooked up in the studio with producer Terry Melcher. Despite a somewhat pre-fab creation, Revolution! is the most consistently thrilling album credited to the Raiders, even as it marks the point at which their commercial viability began to decline. “Him or Me (What’s It Gonna Be)” was the group’s last radio smash (before they shortened their name to The Raiders in the ‘70s and recorded the lame MOR hit “Indian Reservation”) and it is unfiltered adrenaline and grimy swagger. A pair of Stonesy rockers, “Mo’reen” and “Make It With Me”, are nearly as exciting, the latter having so much bottom that it sounds like the studio floor is about to cave in under the studio band. “Reno” and the hilarious “Ain’t Nobody Who Can Do It Like Leslie Can” (a tribute to Paul Revere’s maid, his vocal being the only contribution to the album from a Raider other than Lindsay) are the best pure blues recordings on a Raiders record. The haunting “I Hear a Voice” is the best psychedelic one, and it twinkles like a sky speckled with very strange stars.

14. Chelsea Girl by Nico (10/67)
Nico never really belonged in The Velvet Underground, and the band never really wanted her even though she got to voice some of the most important tracks on the most important pre-Pepper album of 1967. She parted ways with the band amicably enough to continue working with Lou Reed and John Cale outside its confines. Oddly, Nico’s first solo album would be even less representative of her very individual artistic ambitions than The Velvet Underground & Nico had been. Its folky songs mostly written by Reed, Cale, and future-MOR star Jackson Browne and arranged tastefully with strings, flutes, and finger-picked guitars were too pretty for an artist who longed to challenge and disturb. Things like “The Fairest of the Seasons”, “These Days”, “Little Sister”, “Winter Song”, “and “Somewhere There’s a Feather” may not have been Nico’s cup of arsenic, but they are lovely, her frosty vocals reminiscent of skeletal trees standing strong against bitter winter winds. It is interesting that she had long burned to record Dylan’s “I’ll Keep It With Mine” because it is the most conventional track on Chelsea Girl, but it is also a tremendously stirring and beautiful piece, as is the title track which pairs a jovial tune with a disturbing lyric about the squatters in Warhol’s factory. The lengthy, discordant “It Was a Pleasure Then”, which matches its unpleasant lyric with equally off-putting discordance, gives a better idea of where Nico’s solo career was headed, and her next album would be fearlessly uncompromising. The Marbel Index would also be Nico’s greatest album, but chances are, you’ll enjoy listening to Chelsea Girl a lot more.
13. With a Lot O’ Soul by The Temptations (7/17/ 67)
As the pop and rock bands were making more ambitious albums in the wake of Sgt. Pepper’s, a lot of the soul discs coming out of Motown were sounding less progressive than ever. Holland/Dozier/Holland and Smokey Robinson just couldn’t produce enough great new material to fill records by The Supremes and The Four Tops, and an over-reliance on covers songs left those groups’ recent LPs sounding kind of lame. Diana Ross and Levi Stubbs must have been seething when With a Lot O’ Soul appeared, because it suggested that Smokey and H/D/H were saving all their best new songs for The Temptations. With a Lot O’ Soul isn’t just a solid collection of songs that hadn’t already been made famous by Rodgers & Hart or The Monkees—it’s a great soul album track after track, showing off how fabulously The Temps conveyed sweetness (“All I Need”, “It’s You That I Need”, “You’re My Everything”) and paranoia (“I’m Losing You”, “Ain’t No Sun Since You’ve Been Gone”, “No More Water in the Well”). None of it sounds particularly in tune with its era’s trippy sensibilities, as The Supremes’ contemporaneous hit “Reflections” did, nor does it hint at how The Temptations would soon launch themselves into Lysergic Land with things like “Could Nine”. It just sounds fucking great, which is really what most people want from a Motown record. 
12. Groovin’ by The Young Rascals (7/31/67)
Released early in 1967, Collections was a good album, but its combo of covers and originals was way too old-fashioned for the year of the art album. Only relying on a single cover, The Young Rascals got their act together for their second LP of ’67, and Felix Cavalerie and Eddie Brigati’s originals made Groovin’ the best Rascals album yet by a long shot. That they could whip together a bunch of smashes that ranged from their usual fresh soul (“A Girl Like You”) to threatening garage punk (“You Better Run”) to astoundingly adult pop (“How Can I Be Sure” with its crushing Brigati vocal) to a great little hippie idyll (the title track) makes one wonder why they weren’t doing their homework from the very beginning. The non-hits are terrific and eclectic too as the guys show off how well they can jangle (“Find Somebody”), spray sunshine like the cheeriest bubblegummers (“I’m So Happy Now”), groove (“If You Knew”), and trip-out (“It’s Love”). On Groovin’, the group that would soon drop the “Young” from their name grew up, and unlike a lot of their peers, they did it without giving up a crumb of their innate pop gifts.

11. John Wesley Harding by Bob Dylan (12/27/67)

The Byrds’ release of “Eight Miles High” in early 1966 is often cited as the official beginning of the psychedelic rock age that would rule pop music with weird lyrics and discordant music for the next two years. As The Byrds’ main guiding light and a master of weird lyrics and discordant music, Bob Dylan may have been a sort of psychedelic pioneer but he didn’t like the music. Instead of engaging in the craziness of pop’s most psychedelic year, Dylan went into retreat to recover from a bad motorcycle accident and make stripped down, sepia-toned country and folk music that couldn’t have been more of a contrast to the rainbow-abandon of Sgt. Pepper’s and Satanic Majesties. The acoustic guitar, bass, drums, and harmonica arrangements of John Wesley Harding made the album sound defiantly simple even as it smuggles some of Dylan’s most complex, and yes, weird lyrics. Biblical allusions are plentiful with its references to saints, sinners, and apparent apocalypse. Toward the end of the album, Dylan even drops that stuff to croon two shockingly basic and sincere love songs, mapping his plans for his next few records and the year to come, because as was always the case with Dylan, the entire rock world followed him like a parade of little goslings. Everyone abandoned their sitars, Mellotrons, and acid for simple sentiments and rustic textures, making one of the final albums of 1967 the most important one of 1968.
10. Axis: Bold As Love by The Jimi Hendrix Experience (12/1/67)

Having established himself as a peerless guitar pyrotechnician on his first album, Jimi Hendrix was ready to perfect the rest of his craft on his second. Axis: Bold as Love expands on the far-out production of Are You Experienced? while also venturing down new songwriting avenues. Hendrix had never before— and arguably never since— written a lyric on the level of “Castles Made of Sand”, which addresses his part Cherokee heritage via a triad of complex character vignettes. He counters the gravity of his lyrics brilliantly with one of his most ethereal chord structures. “Little Wing” is also kept afloat by angelic, jazzy harmonics and a heartfelt lyric. “If Six Was Nine” overcomes its trite hippie provocations with a whimsical structure and some of the weirdest sounds ever coaxed from an electric guitar. But Axis: Bold as Love is more than meditative thoughtfulness and experimentation. “Up From the Skies” is all buoyant, mellow sweetness. “Spanish Castle Magic” and “Little Miss Lover” are two fierce slabs of metal that haven’t been beaten to death like “Foxy Lady” or “Purple Haze”. The title track is a psychedelic soul rainbow. “Wait Until Tomorrow” and “You’ve Got Me Floating” are two of Hendrix’s most straight-forward and infectiously funky songs, and both make great use of Noel Redding’s backing vocals. Even Redding’s poppy original “She’s So Fine” is pretty great. Axis isn’t the pioneer its predecessor was, nor the grand artistic statement its follower would be, but it may be The Experience’s most consistently great L.P.

9. After Bathing at Baxter’s by Jefferson Airplane (11/30/67)

Surrealistic Pillow was a major commercial success, but it didn’t represent how Jefferson Airplane really sounded in 1967. On that record they were a lightweight folk/rock group. Live they were a five-headed monster: jazzy but growly bass, stinging guitar, stormy drums, and the most gloriously undisciplined three-part harmonies in Rock. No doubt RCA Records expected the Airplane to follow up their breakthrough smash with a similar album. The label certainly didn’t expect the band to spend five months (an unusually long time back then) recording the psychotic After Bathing at Baxter’s, their first record to capture their live sound and completely take advantage of the studio techniques Sgt. Pepper’s made possible. This is a free-floating mix of heavy rock, avant garde improvisation, menacing jazz, spidery folk, and pounding blues assembled as a series of loose suites. While the suites are little more than an editing gimmick, the individual songs are the best on any Airplane record. “Martha”, “The Ballad of You & Me & Pooneil”, “The Last Wall of the Castle”, “Watch Her Ride”, and “Wild Tyme” are all classics. Grace Slick’s “rejoice”, which does for James Joyce what “White Rabbit” did for Lewis Carroll, is The Airplane’s best and scariest undiscovered gem. After Bathing at Baxter’s was nowhere near the hit Surrealistic Pillow was, but it pummels its predecessor to pieces.

8. Small Faces by Small Faces (6/67)

Maybe Small Faces felt like a totally reborn band after moving from Decca Records to Immediate. Or maybe they were just so happy with their name and the title of their debut album that they decided to call their second one Small Faces too. This would be a lot more confusing if the group didn’t sound so different this time around. Steve Marriott still shouts with the same wrenching fury, and there is a strong current of R&B running though these songs, but there is also a superior level of songwriting and playing, as well as a noticeable thread of hard psychedelia. Small Faces augment their down-and-dirty guitar/bass/drums/organ line-up with percussion, Mellotron, and horns, but the trippier strain in their music has more to do with delivery than arrangement. “Green Circles”, “Things are Gonna Get Better”, and “Feeling Lonely” are dulcet pop pieces quite unlike anything the band had tried yet. Small Faces play with greater subtlety too, which is good because these excellent songs deserve to breathe. “Tell Me (Have You Ever Seen Me)”, “My Way of Giving”, “Get Yourself Together”, “Talk to You”, and “Happy Boys Happy” pack major wallops even as the band executes them with more sensitive dynamics. Small Faces flaunts Small Faces’ ability to progress without ever sounding pretentious, a skill that would make their next release one of the best concept albums ever made.

7. A Whiter Shade of Pale / Procol Harum by Procol Harum (9/1967)

Procol Harum invented what would become known as “Goth rock” with their debut album. Funereal dirges are matched with Rock & Roll for the first time here, as is a serious obsession with death. Lyricist Keith Reid, who was considered an official member of the band, imbues his songs with death, both literally and figuratively. The lazy blues “Something Following Me” is a surreal tragic/comic tale about a man who keeps encountering his own tombstone. “Conquistador” views the death of a conqueror past his prime through the eyes of a disillusioned onlooker. The ironically titled “Salad Days (Are Here Again)” mourns a relationship. Even the goofy music hall throwaway “Mabel” begins with the grotesque lyric, “Don’t eat green meat, it ain’t good for you. Killed your brother, killed your sister, too.” Procol Harum’s line-up was just as unique in 1967 as its gloomy fixations, with the emphasis on majestic keyboards rather than shrieking guitar—ironic considering that Robin Trower would soon establish himself as an ace Hendrix impersonator. Gary Brooker’s Ray Charles-style croon keeps the band soulful and their pretensions in check. Procol Harum were dissatisfied with their debut, which they were rushed into the studio to make in order to capitalize on their hit single “A Whiter Shade of Pale” (which served as the album’s title track in the U.S. but didn’t make the eponymous U.K. album released in 1968) The elaborate arrangement of “Conquistador” on the Procol Harum Live with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra album may indicate what the band had in mind for their debut. Perhaps they were better off with fewer resources, because the simplicity of this album gives it a raw strength that may have been diluted by superfluous orchestrations. So much of the music released in the post-Pepper days 1967 was presented in self-conscious Technicolor. A Whiter Shade of Pale/Procol Harum is more reminiscent of the high-contrast black and white Mario Bava used in Black Sunday.

6. Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones, LTD. by The Monkees (11/6/67)

Whether the hip press wanted to admit it or not, Headquarters proved once and for all that The Monkees were a real band. But with a schedule filled to the brim with live appearances, TV show filming, and getting baked, they didn’t have the time to slog through more recording sessions as a band. And as terrific as Headquarters turned out, the sessions were a slog. Only Peter Tork really wanted The Monkees to carry on as a band. The other guys were content to welcome studio musicians like drummer “Fast” Eddie Hoe back into the fold. Consequently, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones, LTD. struck the perfect balance between Monkee musicians and studio pros. Mike Nesmith dominates more than ever, even though he has relatively few songwriting credits. Nevertheless, he has more lead vocals on this album than any other. There isn’t a trace of bubblegum cutesiness in the dry twang he lends to “Salesman”, a wry putdown of drug pushers; “Love Is Only Sleeping”, a tough psych number with a haunting riff in 7/8 time; the joyous “What Am I Doing Hangin’ ‘Round?”; and the transcendent folk-rocker “The Door Into Summer”, which this writer believes to be the finest thing The Monkees ever recorded. Pisces is also notable as the first pop album to feature the newly-invented Moog Synthesizer, which adds sci-fi blips and bleeps to Nesmith’s “Daily Nightly”, a surreal poem about the Sunset Strip riots with a killer bass hook, and “Star Collector”, a slam at groupies. That cynical edge recurs throughout the record on the bitter love song “Words”, which features excellent dialoging between Dolenz and Tork, “Cuddly Toy”, (a Harry Nillsson song about a “Hell’s Angels gang bang” made more subversive by its cutesy-pie delivery), and the monumental hit “Pleasant Valley Sunday”. Not everything on the album is stellar, but the best tracks are as great as anything The Monkees’ peers made in ’67. While Headquarters may be remembered more fondly because of the way it was made, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones, LTD. is The Monkees’ grooviest record.

5. Forever Changes by Love (11/67)

Da Capo pushed Love’s hard rock as far as it could go. They could never make a wilder recording than “7 and 7 Is” or a more indulgent one than “Revelations”. The pendulum swung far from their second record when they made their third one. Forever Changes is one of the year’s quietest Rock records. Even when electric guitars whip up a gale on “A House Is Not a Motel”, the results are not nearly as unhinged as most of Da Capo. Acoustic guitars, whispered vocals, and elegant string arrangements dominate Forever Changes. Under these dulcet sounds, fury and terror percolate. In 1967, Arthur Lee became obsessed with the idea he’d die soon, and his lyrics are morbid, often twisted, sometimes hostile. “Oh, the snot has caked against my pants; it has turned into crystal. There’s a bluebird sitting on a branch; I guess I’ll take my pistol. I’ve got it in my hand, because he’s on my land.” These are not your usual post-Pepper flower-power sentiments. The hippie gentility of the music creates an ironic and disturbing counterpoint. Forever Changes is largely Lee’s show, but Bryan MacLean supplies its most famous and infectious song, “Alone Again, Or”. It is a sumptuous opening chapter to a gorgeous and troubling record that reveals new mysteries and quandaries with every spin.

4. The Piper at the Gates of Dawn by Pink Floyd (8/4/67)

At the same time The Beatles were recording Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band , Pink Floyd were down the hall, translating the bizarre sounds and pictures pirouetting around Syd Barrett’s mind to tape. As wonderful as Sgt. Pepper’s is, it is self-conscious in a way that most psychedelic albums are. There’s nothing self-conscious about The Piper at the Gates of Dawn. It is well known that Syd Barrett was not only an acid-enthusiast but may have been schizophrenic as well. The bizarro images and demented sounds that permeate Piper seem to have sprung naturally from the whimsical wellsprings of Barrett’s head. Sadly, fans have over romanticized Barrett’s mental problems. Gladly, there is genuine brilliance in the Wonderland word play and exotic reverberations he created before these problems manifested. The Piper at the Gates of Dawn is not a depressing portrait of a guy losing his grip on reality, as it is sometimes thought; it’s the work of a fantastically imaginative artist indulging in his every fanciful impulse—and receiving tremendous support from a cracking band. Rick Wright’s keyboard work is exceptional throughout the album, and although Roger Waters’s one composition is the weakest, his bass playing is his best on record. Pink Floyd pulled off jazz as well as any of their rock contemporaries, as “Pow R. Toc. H” testifies, and they never noodle around without purpose on Piper. “Interstellar Overdrive” verges on committing such a crime, but just as the mid-song improvisation starts wearing out its welcome, the opening riff returns, more punishingly than ever. The fact that this is the only Pink Floyd album to which Syd Barrett made significant contributions is tragic. The Piper at the Gates of Dawn is all the more precious for that reason.

3. Something Else by The Kinks by The Kinks (9/15/67)

The Kinks continued their quiet progression toward perfection on Something Else by the Kinks, which betters Face to Face with clearer sound due to Shel Talmy’s ousting from the producer’s chair and stronger songs (there isn’t a “You’re Lookin’ Fine” in the bunch). Ray Davies’s vignettes had never been so poignant, meticulously crafted, or varied. The emphasis is still on expert character sketches, and Something Else stars a cast of Davies’s most memorable creations: swinging Sybilla and her frumpy sister Priscilla, the jaunty Tin Soldier Man, harangued Johnny and his meddling mother-in-law, a doomed chorus of nicotine addicts. The real protagonists of these songs are often unnamed observers. Golden Boy David Watts is far less compelling than the narrator who so covets his status. The reclusive singer of “Waterloo Sunset” is more complexly drawn than carefree Terry and Julie. The few love songs are similarly complex: paranoid (“No Return”), melancholically nostalgic (“Afternoon Tea”), utterly mysterious (“Funny Face”). The latter song is one of three examples of Dave Davies’s emergence as a writer to rival his older brother. “Death of a Clown” reveals Dave’s Dylan fixation and the allure of his strangled voice. Dave is not Ray’s only family member who contributes to the ethereal beauty of Something Else; his wife, Rasa, lends her haunting soprano to several of the tracks. The Kinks prove they can still pummel on “Love Me Till the Sun Shines”, but the playing consistently veers more toward the delicate, even on ostensible rockers like “Situation Vacant” and “David Watts”. Robert Chistgau of The Village Voice famously christened “Waterloo Sunset” “the most beautiful song in the English language.” Something Else by the Kinks is one of the most beautiful albums in any language.

2. Their Satanic Majesties Request by The Rolling Stones (12/8/67)

Their Satanic Majesties Request is The Rolling Stones’ most controversial album, even though it was inevitable that Rock’s biggest fad-hoppers would contribute to the post-Sgt. Pepper “my art is artier than your art” pissing contest. Yes, Satanic Majesties would never have been made without The Beatles’ psych-monolith. That’s inarguable. However, I contend that the Stones’ album is infinitely more beguiling than The Beatles’, and despite its obvious pretensions, it’s a perfect encapsulation and a perfect critique of psychedelia. While every other band copped The Beatles’ colorful whimsy, no one but The Stones could have created a record that so grippingly captured the alienation, terror, and mystery of the psychedelic experience. “Sing This All Together (See What Happens)” seems an indulgent mess on first listen. Try listening with the lights off. It is terrifying. The same goes for the extended improvisation on “Gomper”, the Fritz-Lang future-shock heavy rock of “Citadel”, and the album’s masterpiece, “2000 Light Years From Home”, which is as funky, creative, and foreboding as anything the funky, creative, and foreboding Rolling Stones ever conjured. The moments of hippie-dippy sloganeering come off as mocking parodies when placed amongst such nasty material, yet these moments like the lovely “She’s a Rainbow” remain wonderful at face value. “Sing This All Together” has silly pseudo-mystical lyrics, but it also features the most mesmerizing improvisation on the record. The “Touch of the Arabian Nights” Brian Jones contributed deepens the album’s enchantment. His crafty hand is apparent in so much of the sitars, Mellotrons, marimbas, bells, whistles, clangs, and bangs that augment the basic Rock backdrop. Keith Richards’s guitar work is consistently dirty and bluesy. Tortured riffing invades pieces like “Citadel”, “The Lantern”, and “Sing This All Together (See What Happens)”, keeping the album rooted in Rock and blues. Charlie Watts lays down powerful beats on “She’s a Rainbow” and “Citadel”, provides “2000 Light Years From Home” with its shuffling funk, and trips up the fluid folk opening of “2000 Man” with one of his most intricate rhythms. The obscure occult references in Mick Jagger’s lyrics indicate he's done his homework. Even Bill Wyman distinguishes himself with his first and only songwriting contribution to a Stones album, and “In Another Land” is as visual, dreamy, and gritty as any of the album’s other sideshows. No amount of praise will force listeners who cannot accept The Rolling Stones as anything but purveyors of earthy blues rock to succumb to the bounteous allures of Their Satanic Majesties Request. Those with more open minds may revere it as Rock’s greatest demonic carnival— each song a visit into a tent where something charming, decadent, freaky, frightening, or mystifying is invariably happening.

1. The Who Sell Out by The Who (12/15/67)

Americans didn’t know how good they had it in the ‘60s: a wealth of radio programming covering all genres. In Britain, the stodgy old BBC was less varied, so hip music listeners had to rely on illegal off-shore signals to hear groovy DJs and groovier music. When the Beeb wiped out the pirates for good in 1967, Pete Townshend conceived The Who Sell Out, a tribute that used fake adverts and promos to link dazzling songs. Too much is made of this gimmick, and even more is made of the fact that it isn’t used between every song on Side B (which always rang true to me, because the radio shows I used to listen to always featured “rock blocks” of uninterrupted songs). Yes, the adverts are clever and fun. Fabulously, some of the full-length songs are actually extended ads, such as the glorious deodorant commercial “Odorono”. But the real draw of The Who Sell Out is the quality of Pete Townshend’s songs and the band’s unusually thoughtful performances. The Who etch out a sound that is dense and ethereal. This is beautiful music, even as The Who retain their wise-ass humor through much of it. “Odorono”, the flamencofied “Mary Anne With the Shaky Hands” (a lovely song about getting jerked off), the otherworldly coming-of-age tale “Tattoo”, and John Entwistle’s Edwardian chant “Silas Stingy” are as funny as they are bewitching. Jokiness is dropped on the most romantic songs Townshend ever wrote (“I Can’t Reach You”, “Our Love Was”, and his jazzy solo piece “Sunrise”); lush beauty is not. For those who prefer The Who at their more incendiary, there’s the thrashing mid-section of “Relax” and the thunderous “I Can See For Miles”, which was the group’s biggest hit in the States (although Townshend always remembers the song as his worst commercial failure, and the fact that it didn’t hit number one in his home country irked him for years). On the enigmatic “Rael”, The Who continue experimenting with fusing Rock & Roll and operatic narrative, and Townshend would recycle its climactic passages as “Sparks” and “Underture” on Tommy . He’d also reuse the mid-section of “Sunrise” and the “see, feel, or hear you” refrain of “I Can’t Reach You” on Tommy. Such pieces hardly needed to be salvaged. They'd already found perfect homes on an album not as well-known as Tommy but much more timeless. The Who would never strike such a flawless balance of supernatural splendor, brutality, cartoon comedy, and stark romanticism as they did on The Who Sell Out, the most wonderful album released in the most wonderful half of Rock’s most wonderful year.

Eleven More Great Post-Pepper Albums
Blowin’ Your Mind! by Van Morrison (9/67)
Butterfly by The Hollies (11/67)
Disraeli Gears by Cream (11/67)
Magical Mystery Tour by The Beatles (12/8/67)
Mr. Fantasy by Traffic (12/67)
Pandemonium Shadow Show by Harry Nilsson (12/67)
Safe as Milk by Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band (9/67)
Try It by The Standells (10/67)
We Are Ever So Clean by Blossom Toes (10/67)
We Are Paintermen by The Creation (autumn 1967)
Wild Honey by The Beach Boys (12/18/67)

See the Twelve Greatest Pre-Pepper Albums of 1967...

...and the greatest Pepper album of 1967.
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