1. The Jimi Hendrix Experience, “Purple Haze”. Known for his guitar playing and showmanship, but his singing and songwriting were just as good. The video link is to something different from the usual Monterey/Woodstock material.
2. Donovan, “Wear Your Love Like Heaven”. Donovan recorded a lot of albums in the 60s. He’s remembered as a folkie who became a blissed-out hippie (the latter exemplified by this song), but he was not always bland. He cut some innovative music that felt very England to me in the States, and “Season of the Witch” is great.
3. Magic Sam, “Sweet Home Chicago”. From a great album (West Side Soul) by a great bluesman who died of a heart attack at 32.
4. Laura Nyro, “Wedding Bell Blues”. There has always been disagreement about her performance at the Monterey Pop Festival. She sounds fine in the excerpts here, without evidence that she was “booed off the stage”.
5. Buffalo Springfield, “Broken Arrow”. One of the earliest examples of Neil Young’s experimental side. Reminds me of 1967 as much as any song on this list.
6. Jefferson Airplane, “rejoyce”. Surrealistic Pillow defines the Summer of Love for me. It made #3 on the charts, and included two top-ten singles. The follow-up, After Bathing at Baxter’s, emphasized the psychedelic over the folk-rock of its predecessor. It made #17 on the charts and had no top-ten singles. No top-twenty singles, for that matter. “rejoyce” may not be as well-known as Grace Slick’s hit contributions to Pillow, but it is fascinating.
7. Albert King, “Born Under a Bad Sign”. Arguably even more influential with British blooze guitarists than was B.B.
8. Big Brother and the Holding Company, “Coo Coo”. In the spring of 1967, before the first album had been released (and a few months before Monterey), Big Brother and the Holding Company were featured in a special on the San Francisco public television station, KQED. They did short interviews, and played several songs, one of which, “Ball and Chain”, was often played on FM radio (again, this was before Monterey, and more than a year before Cheap Thrills would give the world the version of “Ball and Chain” best remembered today). But in some ways, I think “Coo Coo” better represents the San Francisco Sound in 1967. The psychedelic bands came out of folk music more than they did out of the blues. “The Cuckoo” is an old English folk song that was featured in Harry Smith’s seminal Anthology of American Folk Music, sung by Clarence Ashley. It was sung by Ramblin’ Jack Elliott and Joan Baez, Bob Dylan and the Holy Modal Rounders, Tom Rush and Peter Paul and Mary. Big Brother did what most of the SF psychedelic bands did: sped up the tempo and added lengthy guitar solos. They recorded a studio version for their debut album in 1967, but that version wasn’t released until it came out as a single in ‘68. The video, at least, is from ‘67.
9. Phil Ochs, “Outside of a Small Circle of Friends”. Ochs deserves a post of his own. No, a book of his own, a movie of his own. Some of these already exist. Christgau wrote a fine obituary after Ochs hung himself at 35. This was probably his most popular song, although he never sold many records … his 1970 album, Greatest Hits, which was all new material, had a picture of Ochs, Elvis-style, in gold lamé on the cover, while the back cover proclaimed, “Fifty Phil Ochs Fans Can't Be Wrong!”
10. Judy Collins, “Since You Asked”. The first concert I ever attended was Judy Collins at the Berkeley Community Theater on March 4, 1967. She was touring behind In My Life … Wildflowers didn’t come out until later in the year. I was 13, she was 27 (this was a couple of years before “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”). I remember I needed new glasses at the time, and I spent much of the concert thinking she was really beautiful, even though I couldn’t see her very well. “Since You Asked” marked the first time she recorded a song she had written.