July 10: The Beatles released A Hard Day’s Night in 1964

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We were different. We were older. We knew each other on all kinds of levels that we didn’t when we were teenagers. The early stuff – the Hard Day’s Night period, I call it – was the sexual equivalent of the beginning hysteria of a relationship. And the Sgt Pepper-Abbey Road period was the mature part of the relationship.”
– John Lennon (1980)

A Hard Day’s Night is the third album by The Beatles; it was released on July 10, 1964. The album is a soundtrack to the A Hard Day’s Night film, starring the Beatles. The American version of the album was released two weeks earlier, on 26 June 1964 by United Artists Records, with a different track listing. This is the first Beatles album to be recorded entirely on four-track tape, allowing for good stereo mixes.

HDN

In 2000, Q placed A Hard Day’s Night at number 5 in its list of the 100 Greatest British Albums Ever. In 2003, the album was ranked number 388 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

The soundtrack songs were recorded in late February, and the non-soundtrack songs were recorded in June. The title song itself was recorded on April 16.

…but A Hard Day’s Night is perhaps the band’s most straightforward album: You notice the catchiness first, and you can wonder how they got it later.

The best example of this is the title track– the clang of that opening chord to put everyone on notice, two burning minutes thick with percussion (including a hammering cowbell!) thanks to the new four-track machines George Martin was using, and then the song spiraling out with a guitar figure as abstractedly lovely as anything the group had recorded.”
– Tom Ewing, Pitchfork

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50 years ago today Nick Drake released “Five Leaves Left” – July 3, 1969

Said she hadn’t heard the news
Hadn’t had the time to choose
A way to lose
But she believes.

Going to see the river man
Going to tell him all I can
About the plan
For lilac time.
(River Man)

Nick Drake’s debut album is as gentle as the singer-songwriter himself. Sensitively plucked acoustic guitar and pensive lyrics make for a deeply resonant, emotionally effecting album. At turns haunting (‘River Man’) and quietly confident (‘Cello Song’), it’s Brit folk at its best.
-NME: 20 best folk music albums of all time

River Man:

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July 3: Muddy Waters At Newport was recorded in 1960

muddy waters at newport 1960

For many back in the early ’60s, this was their first exposure to live recorded blues, and it’s still pretty damn impressive some 40-plus years down the line. Muddy, with a band featuring Otis Spann, James Cotton, and guitarist Pat Hare, lays it down tough and cool with a set that literally had ’em dancing in the aisles by the set closer, a rippling version of “Got My Mojo Working,” reprised again in a short encore version.
~Cub Koda (allmusic.com)

A stomping live document of the period when Waters’ Chicago blues started reaching a wider pop audience. Newport has his classics – “Hoochie Coochie Man,” a torrid “Got My Mojo Working” – delivered by a tough, tight band anchored by harp genius James Cotton.
~rollingstone.com

Got My Mojo Working (part 1 & 2)

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July 2: Elvis Costello released “Imperial Bedroom” in 1982

It may not have been a commercial blockbuster, but it certainly earned the respect of legions of musicians and critics who would have previously disdained such a punk rocker. And, perhaps, that’s also the reason that he abandoned this immaculately crafted style of work on his next album, Punch the Clock.
-Stephen Thomas Erlewine (allmusic.com)

Elvis Costello’s Imperial Bedroom is really a mansion, each of whose rooms is decorated with painstaking care and detail by the artist. In every aspect of this masterfully wrought, conceptually audacious project, he’s managed to bulwark his emotional directness with vision and clarity — and to make an album that lingers and haunts long after the last note has died out. Like a long, episodic novel — or a long, episodic relationship — you can look back when it’s over and measure how far you’ve traveled.
-Parke Puterbaugh (rollingstone.com)

Man Out of Time:

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July 1: The Band Released “Music From Big Pink” in 1968

This album was recorded in approximately two weeks. There are people who will work their lives away in vain and not touch it.
-Al kooper

Bob Dylan contributed “I Shall Be Released” and co-wrote two other tunes. But it was the rustic beauty of the Band’s music and the drama of their own reflections on family and obligations, on songs such as “The Weight,” that made Big Pink an instant homespun classic.
rollingstone.com

Over time, Music from Big Pink came to be regarded as a watershed work in the history of rock, one that introduced new tones and approaches to the constantly evolving genre.
allmusic.com

..the debut album from the Band made roots music sound as impressionistic and idiosyncratic as any other kind of rock’n’roll. It was revolutionary.
pitchfork

The Weight:

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October 25: Electric Ladyland by The Jimi Hendrix Experience was released in 1968

hendrix-electric-ladyland

undoubtedly a rock album, albeit rock on the point of evolving into something else.
– David Stubbs

one of the greatest double-albums in rock.
– John Perry

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Electric Ladyland is the third and final album of new material by the Jimi Hendrix Experience, released in October 1968 on Reprise Records. It is the only Hendrix studio album professionally produced under his supervision. It topped the Billboard 200 album chart for two weeks in November 1968.

Released October 25, 1968 (some sources says October 16…worth celebrating anyhow)
Recorded Olympic Studios, London and Record Plant Studios, New York, July and December 1967, January 1968, April–August 1968
Genre Psychedelic rock, blues rock, acid rock, hard rock
Length 75:47
Label Reprise, Track, Barclay, Polydor
Producer Jimi Hendrix

 

All along the watchtower, the best Dylan cover of all time!:

This is a perfect Hendrix album. It is poppy and funky and original at the same time, and what a great soul singer Hendrix was! I also think it is very inventive, sonically speaking. Jimi Hendrix really searched for “new sounds” on this record, he produced an album that has stood the test of time marvelously.

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