Notorious Byrd Brothers — Byrds
Their best record and the closest McGuinn ever got to synthesizing acid, country, folk and the Beatles. The Carole King covers are great, but my favorite is the (miscredited) Gene Clark song, “Get to You.” The bonus tracks are superfluous.
Black Vinyl Shoes – Shoes
15 perfect, bittersweet love songs recorded on 4-track in someone’s living room. Their subsequent major label fare (glossed up to make them sound like a Midwest version of The Cars) is also excellent, but this one is all melody and heart.
Long Slow Dance – Fresh & Onlys
Driving, hooky guitar pop not too far removed from early Church or even Moby Grape, though quite original in its own right. The auteur, one Tim Cohen, has a lot of songwriting smarts–he understands the virtues of simplicity–and most of these tunes stick immediately. Check out “Yes or No” and the title track.
Show World – Redd Kross
These guys had the looks, talent and tunes to blow up big, but were probably too irreverent to care. This record is something of a lost powerpop masterpiece, with monster hooks and great vox. “Girl God” and the Spectorish “My Secret Life” are classic.
Failer – Kathleen Edwards
Tough, tuneful Americana (Canadiana?) from a smart Ottawa broad who sounds like she’s spent a lot of time on a barstool. Oft compared to Lucinda Williams, though I think she’s better—more songful and less morose. Her recent devolution into AOR is much less interesting.
Town and County/As Safe as Yesterday – Humble Pie
Before they became a lumbering boogie band they were surprisingly rootsy/folksy, and this twofer is well worth your time. Steve Marriott is arguably the great White soul shouter (check out his “Silver Tongue”) and I always like Peter Frampton’s guitar, which is refreshingly free of blues cliches.
Superlungs- Terry Reid
Best known for turning down the vocalist spot in both Led Zep and Deep Purple, Reid was nonetheless a great R&B-influenced singer and interesting composer. “Without Expression” and “Speak Now” (later covered by Cheap Trick) are the standouts here; he also covers Sonny and Cher to great effect.