Back in the States, the best musicians weren't making acid rock either. Instead, there were early experiments with funk (Sly Stone; the Isley Brothers), punk (the Velvet Underground), jazz-gospel-folk-rock fusion (Roberta Flack), and country-rock (Poco). The Band perfected its unique blend of down-home Americana, Dylan himself succeeded with a pure country-western record, and Leonard Cohen was one of many lyrically ambitious folk singers riding on Bob Dylan's coattails. The feel-good, smoothly-harmonized, semi-acoustic Laurel Canyon sound was invented by CSN, and Neil Young had easily made the transition to being a solo act. And Frank Zappa continued to dabble entertainingly with modernized classical music.
With all of this experimentation going on, a lot of artists ended up with mud on their faces. George Harrison indulged himself with a tossoff instrumental album. Genesis showed just how unlistenably bad a British concept album could be. Steve Marriott and Peter Frampton struck out with their new supergroup Humble Pie in more ways than one. The Byrds and Doors were pale shadows of their earlier selves. Bay Area hippies like Quicksilver Messenger Service had taken self-indulgent jamming to an extreme. Tim Hardin cut a forgettable blues album. And the biggest loser was Motown, which just didn't know how to adapt; most of the groups in their stable, including the Supremes and the Temptations, tried and failed to use Sly Stone as a role model. (JA)