"50 Years On: The Albums Of 1963 That You Should Have In Your Collection" by Lisa Plumtree
1963 was a simply great year for music lovers. Automatically, our thoughts might turn towards some of the more well known records of the time – particularly the Fab Four’s album “Please Please Me” (more on that later), but alongside this release, as important as it was, it was a musical year of great contrasts and interests. You may be someone who was brought up in the era, who knows and loves the sounds, but equally you may be someone who is coming to the music as a youngster, with a keen ear and willingness to learn. Here are just a few of the wonderful albums released during that year and why you should have them in your collection.
Dave Brubeck Quartet – Live At The Carnegie Hall
Undoubtedly the live setting suited Brubeck and his musicians more than a studio one. This album showcases the best of their sound and is unusual in that it is a full and complete recording of an entire concert, in one take, with hardly any edits applied afterwards. The band were worried that no-one would turn out to see them play. There had been a newspaper strike in New York so advertising for the concert was few and far between. The fears never came to fruition as the hall was packed and this performance rewards the listener with a taste of pure jazz that’s hard to beat.
Davy Graham – The Guitar Player
This virtuoso guitarist and folk hero is someone that everyone who loves to tinker on the guitar or play more seriously should add to their collection. This album is a prime example of a shining talent. Worth it just for the glorious sound of “Anji” alone, Graham’s technique is something that many musos aspire to and his mastery of the folk guitar is rarely equalled or bettered.
Lee Hazelwood – Trouble Is A Lonesome Town
This is included due to the recent reworking of the songs for an album entitled “Thriftstore Masterpiece Presents Lee Hazelwood’s Trouble Is A Lonesome Town” which includes many new acts recreating his original country masterpiece (albeit in a more modern style) from 1963. The original record though was Hazelwood’s first solo effort and came to fruition after a partnership with Duane Eddy and work with Nancy Sinatra was completed. It’s a record of stories and tales rich in folk history, containing many meandering ambles through dark subject matter, but one that should be a great collectible intro to country music for anyone that is not sure or doesn't know where to start. A worthy peer of Johnny Cash, but a musician who rarely gets mentioned.
The Beatles – Please Please Me
An album that still sounds as fresh today as it ever did; this is an astonishing work, full of energy and vibrancy. The original works show how the Fab Four took simple ideas and made them sound complex, whilst the cover versions inject a raw rockiness to the proceedings. Coincidentally, this album is now proving to be a hugely coveted collectible item, particularly in vinyl. For any lover of the band it would make a great collectible gift or present, though be prepared to stump up as much as $4,000 for a copy in stereo sound, whilst a mono copy of the album will still be worth $1,200! Copies of the record with a gold and black label on them are also sought after by fanatics. This is because they were pressed shortly before Parlophone records changed their branding to different colors. After these initial pressings, the labels were changed to yellow and black, therefore earlier ones are always going to be worth much more.
Never Grow Old – The Maytals
Ska was a genre that had found its roots in Jamaica during the 1950s and The Maytals capitalized on a US market’s increasing thirst for it during the 1960s. “Never Grow Old” is a worthy addition to your collection – with lyrics written by the legendary Toots Hibbert and back up from The Skatalites, this is worth it alone for the wonderful “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Cry (Over You)”. Many favour The Wailers over The Maytals, but they shouldn’t be forgotten.
The Beach Boys – Surfin’ USA
Surf-rock, a genre that intrinsically makes you think of The Beach Boys and this album, a collection of twelve all-American songs inspires nothing but thoughts of hot sunshine, good friends and wonderful times. It’s notable for it’s unique use of harmonies and the use of a technique called Double Tracking, which made the vocals sound all the more rich and varied. At the time of its release it spent seventy eight weeks in the Billboard chart and is still regarded by many music critics as one of the greatest albums of all time.
It truth, this is all about loving music of an era that produced so much rich and varied talents, genres and styles. Starting or adding to your collection is something that can give a great amount of joy, with treasured memories being rekindled and forgotten sounds remembered.