17 thoughts on “1967 Jazz & Pop Results

  1. Re the “Category” designations on the Jazz & Pop list, I figured out “MV” and “FV” pretty quickly, but what’s the full story on “PSG”? I’m hoping the “P” doesn’t denote “Progressive,” though I can imagine those landsliders for Sgt. Pepper thinking so.

  2. Some small surprises—Donovan so high, Mothers of Invention ahead of Jefferson Airplane, no Buffalo Springfield or Grateful Dead or Moby Grape—and one huge one: no Velvet Underground. (I checked the release date of the first LP: March 1967.) I knew the public ignored them, but I guess rock critics did too.

  3. Never got the sense that a lot of critics paid attention to the Velvets in the early days. I imagine that critics who did like them were quite vocal about it, but I’m thinking their numbers were quite small–but that’s based on I don’t know what, exactly, possibly something I read. Maybe someone who was there knows otherwise. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure Zappa made a big splash initially–he seemed to know how to get a lot of press, anyway, even showing up in Life magazine despite not selling many records and getting next to no commercial radio airplay. So I’m not surprised he comes out ahead of the Velvets, though not sure about Jefferson Airplane (might make a small difference that the poll is in a magazine that’s an offshoot of Downbeat, and Zappa had some credibility early on as a rock person who got jazz… or something).

  4. Also, maybe not an entirely insignificant marker: Zappa is cited 20 times in Aesthetics of Rock, and often delved into at length (despite Meltzer’s uneasy-at-best relationship to his music); the Velvets get half a dozen references, none (I don’t think) of which really indicate that they’re a significant frame of reference for RM. Sure, it’s just one guy–and yes, the Mothers had a one-year headstart on the Velvets with their record releases. Still, I think it might be at least a bit indicative of the critical interest in each at the time; I just think from the get-go critics, even those who hated him, felt they had to deal with Zappa. The Velvets took longer to bubble up to the surface. It’s a theory, anyway.

  5. Scott, this Zappa conundrum is what I was trying to get at with my question above about the definition of “PSG”. Note that except for Jimi Hendrix, all the black artists are consigned to the generic “Male Vocalist” or “Female Vocalist” categories, while the commanding PSG (“Progressive Serious Group”?) is almost exclusively white men. For any 1967 journalist about to cross over to pop from the high seriousness of jazz criticism, standards would have to be maintained — no time for fluff like the Velvet Underground with their “novelty” FD. And slumming high-seriousness critics of that day tended to be impressed with Zappa, because he was always so arrogant in his elitism — to hear him tell it, the Mothers were the sole worthwhile rebellion in pop, they were only in it for the (progressive) honey, after all. It’s criminal to me now that Love’s “Forever Changes” is nowhere on this list, but they might have had trouble making the “PSG” cut too.

  6. >>> “no time for fluff like the Velvet Underground with their ‘novelty’ FD”

    Okay, now I’m confused by “FD.” But in any event, Richard, is it accurate to suggest critics thought VU (Velvet Underground,just to be clear) were “fluff”?

  7. Michaelangelo: Thanks for translating “PSG” — the fact that most of the bands in this category actually had 3 to 6 members (in other words, a standard r’n’r-group lineup, not a “small” one) shows how far these heretofore jazz-oriented critics were reaching in trying to deal with the new pop. Also thanks for noting the period of releases covered in the voting; as “Forever Changes” didn’t come out until November 1967, it wouldn’t have been eligible anyway.
    Scott: I was riffing on Jazz & Pop’s generic-sounding categories, by defining Mo Tucker as a “Female Drummer,” a concept that might have been threatening enough to some old-school critics of the day to make them fluff- or maybe weird-out over the Velvets. Some jazz critics (e.g., Leonard Feather) discounted even the Beatles early on.

  8. “The white youth of today have begun to react to the fact that the ‘American Way of Life’ is a fossil of history. What do they care if their old baldheaded and crew-cut elders don’t dig their caveman mops? They couldn’t care less about the old stiffassed honkies who don’t like their new dances: Frug, Monkey, Jerk, Swim, Watusi. All they know is that it feels good to swing to way-out body-rhythms instead of dragassing across the dance floor like zombies to the dead beat of mind-smothered Mickey Mouse music.”

    –Eldridge Cleaver, Soul on Ice, p.82 (thanx to John Wojtowicz for fwding)

  9. Thanks for that, Don. You may not know the answer given that the quote was sent to you, but would you (or anyone) know if that’s from the same section of Soul on Ice (which I read about 30 years ago) wherein Cleaver writes a bit about the Beatles? Lost my copy of the book ages ago, and was trying to find that quote through Amazon, with no luck. And I’m pretty sure I didn’t imagine it. It was something along the lines of what you quote–how the Beatles made white kids feel alive in their bodies for the first time… or something, I’m sure I’m badly paraphrasing, but it strikes me as an important quote. (Will re-buy the book eventually.)

  10. John W has done us a solid:

    “Here it is, Don (but the entire essay is worth seeking out); by all means, you guys should post the entire quote online:

    … The bargain which seems to have been struck is that the whites have had to turn to the blacks for a clue on how to swing with the Body, while the blacks have had to turn to the whites for the secret of the Mind. It was Chubby Checker’s mission, bearing the Twist as good news, to teach the whites, whom history had taught to forget, how to shake their asses again. It is a skill they surely must once have possessed but which they abandoned for puritanical dreams of escaping the corruption of the flesh, by leaving the terrors of the Body to the blacks.

    In the swift, fierce years since the 1954 school desegregation decision, a rash of seemingly unrelated mass phenomena has appeared on the American scene – deviating radically from the prevailing Hot-Dog-and-Malted-Milk norm of the bloodless, square, superficial, faceless Sunday-Morning atmosphere that was sufficating the nation’s soul. And all of this in a nation where the so-called molders of public opinion, the writers, politicians, teachers, and cab drivers, are willful, euphoric liars or zip-dam ostriches and owls, a clique of undercover ghosts, a bunch of Walter Jenkinses, a lot of coffee-drinking, cigarette-smoking, sly-sluck-assing, status-seeking, cheating, nervous, dry-balled, tranquilizer-gulched, countdown-minded, out-of-style, slithering snakes. No wonder that many ‘innocent people,’ the manipulated and the stipulated, some of whom were game for a reasonable amount of mystery and even adventure, had their minds scrambled. These observers were not equipped to either feel or know that a radical break, a revolutionary leap out of their sight, had taken place in the secret parts of this nation’s soul. It was as if a driverless vehicle were speeding through the American night down an unlighted street toward a stone wall and was boarded on the fly by a stealthy ghost with a drooling leer on his face, who, at the last detour before chaos and disaster, careened the vehicle down a smooth highway that leads to the future and life; and to ask these Americans to understand that they were the passengers on this driverless vehicle and that the lascivious ghost was the Saturday-night crotchfunk of the Twist, or the ‘Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!’ which the Beatles highjacked from Ray Charles, to ask these Calvinistic profligates to see the logical and reciprocal links is more cruel than asking a hope-to-die Okie Music buff to cop the sounds of John Coltrane.

    So Elvis Presley came; strumming a weird guitar and wagging his tail across the continent, ripping off fame and fortune as he scrunched his way, and, like a latter-day Johnny Appleseed, sowing seeds of a new rhythm and style in the white souls of the white youth of America, whose inner hunger and need was no longer satisfied with the antiseptic white shoes and whiter songs of Pat Boone. ‘You can do anything,’ sant Elvis to Pat Boone’s white shoes, ‘but don’t you step on my Blue Suede Shoes!’

    Then, as the verbal revolt of the black masses soared to a cacophonous peak – the Body, the Black Amazons and Super-masculine Menials, becoming conscious, shouting, in a thousand different ways, ‘I’ve got a Mind of my own!’; and as the senator from Massachusetts was saving the nation from the Strangelove grasp of Dirty Dick, injecting, as he emerged victorious, a new and vivacious spirit into the people with the style of his smile and his wife’s hairdo; then, as if a signal had been given, as if the Mind had shouted to the Body, ‘I’m ready!’ – the Twist, superseding the Hula Hoop, burst upon the scene like a nuclear explosion, sending its fallout of rhythm into the Minds and Bodies of the people. The fallout: the Hully Gully, the Pashed Potato, the Dog, the Smashed Banana, the Watusi, the Frug, the Swim. The Twist was a guided missile, launched from the ghetto into the very heart of suburbia. The Twist succeeded, as politics, religion, and law could never do, in writing in the heart and soul what the Supreme Court could only write on the books. The Twist was a form of therapy for a convelescing nation…

    … and even through the opposition, gorging on Hot Dogs and Malted Milk, with blood now splattered over the white shoes, would still strike out in the dark against the manifestations of the turning, showing the protocol of Southern Hospitality reserved for Niggers and Nigger Lovers – SCHWERNER-CHANEY-GOODMAN – it was still too late. For not only had Luci Baines Johnson danced the Watusi in public with Killer Joe, but the Beatles were on the scene, injecting Negritude by the ton into the whites, in the post-Elvis Presley-beatnik era of ferment.
    Before we toss the Beatles a homosexual kiss – saying, ‘If a man be ass enough to reach for the bitch in them, that man will kiss a man, and if a woman reaches for the stud in them, that woman will kiss a woman’ –let us marvel at the genius of their image, which comforts the owls and ostriches in the one spot where Elvis Presley bummed their kick: Elvis, with his unfunky (yet mechanical, alienated) bumpgrinding, was still too much Body (too soon) for the strained collapsing psyches of the Omnipotent Administrators and Ultrafeminines; whereas the Beatles, affecting the caucasoid crown of femininity and ignoring the Body on the visual plane (while their music on the contrary being full of Body), assuaged the doubts of the owls and ostriches by presenting an incorporeal, cerebral image.

    The less sophisticated (but no less Body-based) popular music of urban Negros – which was known as Rhythm and Blues before the whites appropriated and distilled it into a product they called Rock ‘n’ Roll – is the basic ingredient, the core, of the gaudy, cacophonous hymns with which the Beatles of Liverpool drive their hordes of Ultrafeminine fans into catatonia and hysteria. For Beatle fans, having been alienated from their own Bodies so long and so deeply, the effect of these potent, erotic rhythms is electric. Into this music, the Negro projected — as it were, drained off, as pus from a sore – a powerful sensuality, his pain and lust; his love and his hate, his ambition and his despair. The Negro projected itno his music his very Body. The Beatles, the four long-haired lads from Liverpool, are offering up as their gift the Negro’s Body, and in so doing establish a rhythmic communication between the listener’s own Mind and Body.
    Enter the Beatles – soul by proxy, middlemen between the Mind and the Body. A long way from Pat Boone’s White Shoes. A way station on a slow route traveled with all deliberate speed.”

    –Eldridge Cleaver, selections from “Convalescence”, in part 4 of Soul On Ice

  11. And I like Leroi Jones on the Stones, quoting his friend: “At least they sound like English crooks.” (Italics around “English.”) Exactly! That was the initial appeal: Beatles were chirpy cheeky excitable schoolboys, with shining morning faces for the girls; the Stones were us zit-ridden parking lot punks, or extentions of same: ello dollin.

  12. Thanks, Don (and John), The stuff on the Beatles was revelatory to 17- or 18-year old me. And his stuff on “The Twist” might be even better.

  13. I know this thread is old, but any chance anyone could provide me with the Jazz & Pop Critics’ Poll results from 1968, 1969, And 1970? I can’t seem to find it on the internet, and I don’t want to spend money buying the issues. It would be a great help if someone could get them for me ASAP.

  14. ^Right. The results from 1968, ‘69, And ‘70 should be posted if anyone has them.

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