Music Madness ROUND 1: 1950’s-60s Bracket
Finally we’re making it to our final quadrant, and can vote the albums of the 1950’s and 60’s through to round 2! Polls for the 70’s and 80’s will also be open until Tuesday, March 19th as well, so go ahead and vote for them when you’re done this conference. These here are voteable until Friday morning. May the odds be ever in your favourite’s favour!
Kind of Blue – Miles Davis (1) vs. Otis Blue – Otis Redding (16)
And the tournament is off with no fooling around. This classic modal jazz album is the best selling Jazz record of all time, and is regularly found very high on best album lists from publications. The composition and performance on Kind of Blue has become one of the most influential jazz albums to ever be recorded, inspiring other musicians of nearly every genre.
Here’s another personal favourite that made it through the draw. Otis Redding’s gritty, soulful voice gives this record its heart, but it is stacked with musicians including Booker T & the M.G.’s, Isaac Hayes on the piano, and a horn section made up of members of The Mar Keys and The Memphis Horns. Otis Blue boasts 3 original Redding-composed songs, “RESPECT”, “Ole Man Trouble”, and “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long”, as well as covers of Sam Cooke, Smokey Robinson, and even The Rolling Stones.
Elvis Presley – Elvis Presley (8) vs. I Never Loved A Man the Way I Loved You – Aretha Franklin (9)
Elvis’ debut record was released in the UK as Elvis Presley Rock n’ Roll, and was the first rock album to make it to number 1 on the Billboard – then stayed there for 10 weeks. Even now, this album is regularly listed in the top 5 albums of the 1950’s, and is regularly in that list the one rock album in the midst of many jazz albums. Classics from this record include “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Blue Moon”.
Aretha squeaked in at #9, being both a favourite of readers and an incredibly successful album, listed in the top 100 albums ever by both Rolling Stone and Q Magazine. Rolling Stone also gave this album their #1 “Women Who Rock”… I don’t know exactly what that means, but it’s some form of high praise. If you’re interested, I have plenty to add regarding this album over here.
A Love Supreme – John Coltrane (5) vs. Astral Weeks – Van Morrison (12)
One of this great saxophonist’s greatest works, A Love Supreme is considered to be not only one of the greatest jazz albums of all-time, but is also included in many more general greatest albums ever lists, such as Q, Rolling Stone, Channel4, and NME. Instead of a collection of songs, A Love Supreme is actually a complete suite broken into 4 parts, “Acknowledgement”, “Resolution”, “Persuance”, and “Psalm”.
Although the album has never sold a ton of copies, Astral Weeks has achieved a sort of cult classic status and was always critically acclaimed. In 1997, Mojo named the album their 2nd favourite of all-time, and it continues to rank well on 60’s lists, and all-time lists. The song cycle is full of great Van Morrison classics, like “Beside You”, “Cypress Avenue”, and “Madame George”.
Revolver – The Beatles (4) vs. Time Out – The Dave Brubeck Quartet (13)
Revolver tends to signify the Beatles turning point into a more electric rock sound, and is regularly a favourite in best album lists. In 2002, a Rolling Stone readers’ poll voted this as the all-time favourite album, and in Rolling Stone’s own 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time, Revolver has the #3 spot behind only the #2 and #3 seeds of this conference’s bracket.
Named for its use of less usual time signatures (such as 5/4 in “Take Five”, or 9/8 as in “Blue Rondo A La Turk”), Time Out became one of the highest selling Jazz albums of all-time, and the first one to ever reach the 1 million copies mark. Certainly this Brubeck record makes nearly any top list of the 50’s, and sometimes shows up pretty high in best album lists too.
The Velvet Underground & Nico (Self-Titled) (6) vs. Are You Experienced? – The Jimi Hendrix Experience (12)
When first released, the debut album from The Velvet Underground collaborating with Nico was a flop, both critically and commercially, partially due to a ban that was issued because of its explicit and controversial content. Yet in hindsight it has become an absolute classic, influencing countless rock and roll artists since. Spin named it one of their “top 15 most influential albums of all-time”, and Rolling Stone placed it at #13 in their 500 Greatest.
Jimi Hendrix Experience’s debut record has been called the greatest guitar album ever by both Guitarist Magazine and Mojo, and regularly places on best album lists that do not specify instrumentation, such as Vibe, NME, and Rolling Stone. Unlike its competitor in these brackets, Are You Experienced? was an instant success, selling more copies in the US than any other album in 1967.
Pet Sounds – The Beach Boys (3) vs. Songs for Swinging Lovers – Frank Sinatra (14)
Not an initial success in terms of sales, Pet Sounds has gone on to be considered one of the best albums of the 60’s, and one of the most influential albums of all time. Several publications have even given the record their #1 spot in best album lists, including NME, The Times, and Mojo, leaving it to likely be the best reviewed album of the 60’s.
Songs for Swinging Lovers was a success from both a financial and critical point of view. The album was #1 in both the UK and the US, but made the brackets through a draw, and is the lone representation of traditional 50’s pop. This record boasts “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” which has become a Sinatra-sung favourite.
Highway 61 Revisited – Bob Dylan (7) vs. Abbey Road – The Beatles (10)
One of Dylan’s most acclaimed albums, Highway 61 Revisited is full of influential, iconic blues-rock tracks that have been covered and remade numerous times. 3 of the songs from this one album made Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time, with “Like A Rolling Stone” in their top spot, biased as that might have been.
Abbey Road nearly didn’t receive an automatic seed here, but was voted in by many fans. This is another album that was not so successful upon its initial release, receiving mixed reviews from critics in 1969, is now sometimes cited as critics all-time favourite. A Rolling Stone’s reader poll voted this as the favourite Beatles’ album.
Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club – The Beatles (2) vs. Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon & Garfunkel (15)
The iconic album, Sgt. Pepper’s has the #2 seed because it is the best selling record of the conference, from either the 50’s or 60’s, selling an estimated 32 million copies worldwide. It also regularly places high on greatest album lists, including being given the #1 spot in both Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest, and a poll conducted in 1997 called “Music of the Millenium”, which called upon some of the most acclaimed reviewers of the UK.
This album represents a bit of my goofing up. Since creating the brackets, I’ve realized that though Bridge Over Troubled Water was recorded primarily in 1968, the album wasn’t actually released until 1970. Still, for the purposes of this bracket, we’ll consider it a 60’s record if that’s alright. In 1971, this album cleaned up at the Grammy Awards, winning Best Album, Record of the Year and Song of the Year among others. It has also been included in the top 100 albums of all-time by both Time magazine and Rolling Stone.