Art is how we decorate space, Music is how we decorate time

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Drive Year : 1962


Ray Charles – Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music
Popular country (and pop) songs of the day, done in a great blended style of soul, country, and (mostly) pop. I can only imagine what a brainbuster this was in the deep-racism days of 1962. Listening now, I can’t help remark how tame and watery everything feels….

Aretha Franklin – The Electrifying Aretha Franklin
Lovely pop-R&B on just Aretha’s second studio album. While not yet really incorporating her classic gospel influences, the album does capture the power and dynamism of her amazing voice. You can definitely hear the stardom coming.
(Another album where I’m stunned at the dry and clinical-sounding pop treatments)

Booker T. & the M.G.’s – Green Onions
Incredible musicianship pours out of these classic instrumentals. While sounding like fun jam sessions (without tight structural bounds), they are definitely recorded to be super clean and could use at least a LITTLE adventure.

Beach Boys – Surfin’ Safari
The Beach Boys debut album sets the bar as the definition of California surf pop to this day. While it lacks (basically) all of the sonic adventure that is to come from Brian Wilson, et al it is clearly obvious that the talent is there in the song craft. (The fact that the recording is a bit ‘dirty’ and underproduced makes is sounds all the better…)

Elvis Presley – Pot Luck
The last album before Elvis just started throwing everything at the wall (releasing nearly 30 albums in the next 10 years), this is a great showcase of his great voice – both in texture and application. Nonetheless it absolutely sounds like a band playing, and a guy singing – not like a harmonious unit.
(another 1962 album that shocks me with it’s purposefully vanilla sound)

Bob Dylan – Bob Dylan
An interesting debut album full of (mostly) traditional folk tunes. It’s easy (in retrospect) to see the budding genius, but this album pales compared to most of his catalog.

Charles Mingus – Tijuana Moods
Passionate and complex jazz outing. The sometimes tame-sounding moments are quickly enveloped by well-balanced complexity – the castanets are a blast.

Esquivel – More of Other Sounds Other Worlds
Weirdo super-stereo exotica. A crazy mix of latin beats, obscure instruments and left-field progressions. Maybe not the best of the “Space age bachelor pad music”, but a fun one…

Willie Nelson – … And Then I Wrote
The debut record for the notorious outlaw of country, this is a collection of really great songs, given an of-the-times milquetoast production. That said, the non-conformity reaches right out and grabs the listener. A very neat slice of time.

Aretha Franklin – The Tender, the Moving, the Swinging Aretha Franklin
In the category of the “Wow!” Aretha albums, her remarkable voice and rhythmic talent shine like a lighthouse. With very jazzy and swinging musical compositions behind her Aretha really shines. There is plenty of greatness to come, but this very early album is worth staying in rotation.

Dick Dale & His Del-Tones – Surfer’s Choice
The genesis of the “surf rock” sound, as launched by DD’s unique guitar sound. This is the first album from ’62 that I’ve re-listened to that has any real adventure and ‘reaching’.

Stevie Wonder – The Jazz Soul of Little Stevie
I wonder (sic) how the career of this 12-year-old composing prodigy will turn out?
A fun jazzy album that provides a little glimpse into the future, but never really let’s on just how mercurial SW’s career will be. No vox is a pretty strange choice (I guess you have to start somewhere…)

The Supremes – Meet the Supremes
The brain hears “The Supremes” and a sound is imagined. This album is not that sound. Another debut album, another underwhelming approach.

Ray Price – Night Life
Midway between old honky-tonk country and a newer (and tamer) “Nashville style”. Good songs, great pedal steel, and mostly ho-hum arrangements.

Patsy Cline – Sentimentally Yours
Amazing voice wrapped around tales of heartbreak and loss. Lots of great personality on display. Sadly her last studio album before her untimely death.

Stan Getz & Charlie Bird – Jazz Samba
The start of the Brazilian jazz/samba music craze in the ’60s, this is a wonderful and rich album. (Perhaps the best thing on this list…)



Not listened to, despite best intentions….

Grant Green – Feelin’ the Spirit
Dexter Gordon – Go
Grant Green – The Latin Bit
Oscar Peterson Trio – Night Train


Notes: With a few (jazz) exceptions, the entirety of the album selection was done via Billboard (et al) charts. Overall, I was amazed at (and surprised by) the level of “pre-rock” in these albums. They are almost exclusively plays on the “American songbook” and similar “traditional” sounds. This Drive Year gave me a real appreciation for how revolutionary the late 60s were.


Drive Year: 1962 happened in August 2019





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