Approach: I'm not strong on the technical details of music. But I do think I have a feeling for what's special about the music of the 1960s and early 1970s. I make up for my inadequacies by looking at the psychology of the listener. My own perspective upon music seems to agree with George Starostin's essay at (http://starling.rinet.ru/music/essay1.htm ) -- only I tend to go further and argue that the musical high moments of that era were also the culmination of Keynesian economics, and that the current era of monetarist elitism hasn't produced anything comparable in terms of great musical innovation. In short, I'm arguing that the society that based itself upon consumer optimism, the supporting doctrine of Keynesian economics, also produced the most innovative musicians. Or at least I'm exploring the possibility that there might be a connection between economics and music, since I've made the connection between economics and psychology.
I'm also a partisan of the politicized music of the 1980s, of the short list in my review of Jackson Browne's World In Motion. The 1980s were indeed a period of Keynesian economics, but they were a period of upper-middle-class economics, of $72,000/ year jobs building bombs in San Diego, and so the sum effect of such an economics was to maintain the global supremacy of the dollar while pooling the money in Wall Street. See http://www.prospect.org/print/V6/22/wolff-e.html and http://www.panix.com/~dhenwood/Wealth_distrib.html . Those who knew what was going on at the time produced music of often violent critical energy, though at the same time I'm resisting the 1980s fad of bad synthesizers that permeates some of those albums.
My own perspective upon the mainstream political scene and its effect upon music tends to be more supportive of such perspectives as they are advocated in "classic rock," more specifically "classic folk-rock" (although I do like Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix) rather than punk (although I do stand in solidarity with groups such as Crass), and is given in greatest intensity in my review of Joni Mitchell's Ladies Of The Canyon. In Starostin's argument, the fusion of 'serious' music and mass culture is what distinguishes the music of the 1960s: I also see that the 1960s inaugured the popularization of (pretechnological) "folk music" under the conditions of technological ("mass") society. In such a history, people such as Pete Seeger stand out -- Seeger was a scholar of music and a reinventor and synthesizer of global "folk traditions," esp. through his quartet The Weavers. This trend continues under post-1960s conditions through the synthesis of "world beat," the incorporation of new types of "folk" and their music, through musicians like Peter Gabriel and David Byrne and Paul Simon, Bob Marley and Tish Hinojosa and Youssou N'Dour and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. I love that name, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan.
I guess that someday I would like to review my more complex musical superheroes, but I don't really feel competent to say what it is they really do, esp. as concerns the later John Coltrane, whose stuff is beyond reproach. I would give all the albums 9's or 10's, and my explanations would be such nonsense that people would buy the albums and then blame me because they didn't understand what it was that makes pieces like "First Meditations" and "Stellar Regions" so incredible. This doubtless applies to all of the classics of jazz, from Charlie ("Bird") Parker to Miles Davis to Eric Dolphy to stuff like Roland Kirk's Volunteered Slavery. These efforts are, for the most part, from guess when? That's right, they're from the 1960s, though Bird's peak period was the '50s and Miles' Kind Of Blue was from 1959. I'm just not good enough yet.