zz top's first album

ZZ Top: ZZ Top’s First Album (1971)

Day 20 of the #mayvinylchallenge asks for an unpopular album by a popular band. It’s crazy that as popular as ZZ Top, are there’s not a lot of talk about their debut, wonderfully titled ZZ Top’s First Album, as if they were certain there would be more. One listen to that singular guitar tone and I can understand why. There may not have been a huge hit on the album (their second, Rio Grande Mud, would kick off with “Francine” and “Just Got Paid”) but you can already hear that Gibbons’s tone is there, and the rough and tumble electric blues they would come to dominate for decades was fleshed out if not fully formed from a songwriting perspective from the get-go.

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mainhorse

Mainhorse: Mainhorse (1971)

Day 16 of the #mayvinylchallenge celebrates the halfway point of the endeavor and asks for a random pick from your collection. I shuffled through my recent acquisitions and came upon Mainhorse, whose sole eponymous album from 1971 begs a certain question: there are so many lost or forgotten bands out there, are all of these band lost gems, or is there a reason they’re buried? Is this really as good as a lot of the more successful and popular prog rock bands out there, or is it that I’ve heard the popular stuff so much that something relatively obscure sounds like a diamond? I think with Mainhorse the answer is a little of both.

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coven - witchcraft

Coven: Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls (1969)

Day 13 of the #mayvinylchanllenge asks for an album evoking the supernatural and the spooky. I’m sure I could have dug through a ton of metal albums that would conceivably fit the bill, but I wanted something that really evoked the spirit of the ask, and there’s no better album in my collection than the “mighty” Coven, whose 1969 album Witchcraft Destroys Minds and Reaps Souls desperately tries to be sinister and mysterious, but can’t help but be slightly silly, very charming, and a lot of fun to boot.

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bob dylan - blood on the tracks

Bob Dylan: Blood On The Tracks (1975)

Day 6 of the #mayvinylchallenge asks for records that go together, whether on a mixtape or just complement each other. This one may need a revisit down the road, because how do you talk about one of your favorite albums of all time, especially an album as acclaimed and steeped in mythology as Blood On The Tracks, the fifteenth album by Bob Dylan without resorting to cliché and hyperbole? What can you say that hasn’t already been said? Probably nothing, so rather than try I’ll make this one brief and talk about the impressions going through my mind as I take another listen to an album I’ll never get tired listening to.

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zappa - hot rats

Frank Zappa: Hot Rats (1969)

We’re back with the #mayvinylchallenge, and Day 1 is all about introducing yourself. And while there were plenty of artists and albums that made me love music, the first artist whose music made me obsessive about it was definitely Frank Zappa. A deep dive on his music has been a long time coming, and I still plan on it (between vinyl, CDs and box sets I’m over 70 albums) but if I were to introduce myself by way of a record, there’s no better artist. And even though Hot Rats wasn’t my first exposure to Zappa (that was Apostrophe (‘)) over time it’s become one of my favorite and most listened to records, regardless of artists or genre. So let get to it.

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uriah heep - magician's birthday

Uriah Heep: The Magician’s Birthday (1972)

I’m as surprised as you. Well, maybe not so surprised: it’s a late Friday night, I’m already a few whiskeys in, and listening to the great HiFi Dream Machine. It was inevitable Uriah Heep was going to come back up. A few months back I picked up from my local record shop the final entry in the band’s trilogy of great records from 1971-1972 The Magician’s Birthday, so what better time than now to complete my Heep triumvirate? Follow me down the rabbit hole as I go track by track, drinking more whiskey than I ought and reveling in the sounds of the 70s. Who’s with me?

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