150 Best Albums of 1966/’67

1966 and 1967, years in which I respectively turned six and seven years old, are often considered the time when rock’n’roll “grew up” and became “rock” thanks to the pointedly unrolling and perhaps theoretically conceptual nature of albums such as Pet Sounds and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band; when Elijah Wald named his often cluelessly maligned (and only occasionally clueless) 2009 “alternative history of American popular music” How the Beatles Destroyed Rock ‘N’ Roll, this is clearly the Beatles era he had in mind.

Sgt. Pepper’s he says, and George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue 43 years before as well, “were hailed not only for being different from the dance music of of their periods but also as signposts for the future.” For evidence he cites a London Times headline proclaiming that “The Beatles Revive Hopes of Progress in Pop Music,” and points out that no rock critics seemed to comprehend how James Brown might be more musically advanced than the Beatles, just like almost none heard how Chic might be more advanced than the Ramones or Bruce Springsteen a decade later. You could say (Wald doesn’t) that the musique-concrète sound montage of “I Am the Walrus” at least kind of anticipated Grandmaster Flash’s adventures on wheels of steel and other hip-hop mastermixing of that sort. But then so did John Cage.

Anyway, I should leave the Beatles alone; they’re the only artist with four albums in the countdown below, and rock’n’roll “dying” was hardly all their fault — or even the Beach Boys’, who drowned the three or so beautiful hymns on Pet Sounds amid atmospheric film-soundtrack schlock. By the tail end of 1967, when The Who Sell Out came out in the UK full of cutesy commercial parodies as tedious and punchline-free as any subsequent generation’s rap-music skits, less-than-the-sum-of-their-parts “concept albums” were clearly a thing of the present. With albums suddenly being conceived as artworks, it’s no coincidence that rock criticism itself more or less came to be at this same moment — Crawdaddy‘s first issue was dated February 1966.

Meanwhile, Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention and the Fugs (and even more so solo Fug Ed Sanders on the utterly gross coda of ESP-Disk’s aural underground newspaper East Village Other compilation) decided playing orgiastic perverts was the ultimate in transgressive freak bohemia. More wholesomely, the Byrds and Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd figured out how to treat rock as space exploration, just as Apollo missions were first getting off the ground; unidentifed-flying-rock idiot-savants (or at least future contrarian obscurantist cult heroes) like the Monks, Godz, Red Krayola and Hapshash and the Coloured Coat blasted off even further, setting controls for black holes deep inside their own brains. And after the Spring of 1966, when within just a couple months Bob Dylan (“Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands”), the Rolling Stones (“Goin’ Home”) and the Fugs (“Virgin Forest”) all closed albums with tracks that ran longer than 11 minutes, everybody from the Mothers (“The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet,” 12:22) to the Seeds (“Up in Her Room,” 14:27) to Love (“Revelation,” 18:57) took that as a permanent green light (as the Godz would say).

Well okay, not everybody. Not even close. The thing about this supposed surge in progressiveness is that, at least by the end of ’67, it had only affected a fraction of pop music out there. There was still plenty of absolutely unpretentious rock’n’roll for cleancut teenagers to dance to (Tommy Roe! the Monkees! Paul Revere and the Raiders! Tommy James and the Shondells!), even if increasing amounts of it (Electric Prunes, Chocolate Watchband, Strawberry Alarm Clock, not to mention Simon and Garfunkel’s dorky obsession with “feeling groovy”) did emit a certain absurd smoking-banana-peels-thinking-they’ll-stone-ya aroma. If Jefferson Airplane, the 13th Floor Elevators, Jimi Hendrix, Big Brother and the Holding Company and the like experimented with euphoria-inducers for real, their music still rolled regardless. And bros like Mitch Ryder, the Sonics, Downliners Sect, the Hombres, Standells, Shadows of Knight and so on still sound more like their chosen intoxicant was beer — in the Swingin’ Medallions’ case, several pony kegs of it. Heck, Hank Thompson (a country not rock guy but whatever) even actually credits beer in his album title!

It could even easily be argued that the predominant rock sound of ’66/’67 was blue-eyed soul absolutely oblivious to impending artistic self-consciousness or any psychedelic so-called Summer of Love: Mitch Ryder, Swingin’ Medallions, Animals, Them, Box Tops, Rascals, Soul Survivors, American Breed. If Van Morrison and Alex Chilton and even Ryder got more self-conscious later, and if the morose worldview of Eric Burdon (and maybe Sean Bonniwell of the Music Machine) helped make the world safe for the blow-hardiness of Jim Morrison (and ultimately Iggy and Ian Curtis and a million goths), well, you can’t fight ambition. Soul of the less blue-eyed variety was even more abundant, though maybe also less concerned with making albums you could enjoy from start to end — Though to be honest I’m not sure whether longplayers over this two-year stretch by the Bar-Kays, Bobby Bland, Dyke and the Blazers, the 4 Tops, the Isley Brothers, Robert Parker, Otis Redding, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Sam and Dave, Joe Tex, Dionne Warwick, Jackie Wilson and the like were actually more bogged down by filler, or whether I just prefer the kind of filler that bogs down dirty-white-boy garage-punk (not called that at the time by the way) LPs. I’m perfectly willing to concede the latter.

What I can say for sure is that, per the pre-Pepper’s norm dating back through the Beatles’ and Stones’ early albums via the Brill Building to Tin Pan Alley, most artists I’ve mentioned were still recording covers like crazy. My 12-year-old daughter: “Why are you playing so many different versions of ‘These Boots are Made for Walkin'”? Because they were there, that’s why. The Sonics do a surprisingly doo-wop-worthy take on the jazz-pop standard “Since I Fell For You,” and I love that Brenton “Oogum Boogum” Wood tried his beach-sanded hand at the Count Five’s “Psychotic Reaction.” I must also sadly report that the 4 Tops’ rendition of “Last Train to Clarksville” is every bit as embarrassing as Cassandra Wilson’s three decades down the line.

And let’s just say that everybody interpreting each other’s material (because strategic publishing income perhaps) makes for at least as palpable a sense of pop-music community as the intermittently refreshing if usually inexplicable Haight-Ashbury utopianism that, after a Summer of Race Riots, would before long be supplanted by the dystopianism of early heavy metal and, well, There’s a Riot Goin’ On and so many backstab-forewarning ’70s soul successors. Say what you want about Zappa (never had much use for the guy myself) but at least his atypically unsarcastic “Trouble Every Day” on Freak Out! sounds in sync with what was really happening in the world. Pessimism (nihilism? or maybe I just mean lack of hippie-dippie naiveté?) doesn’t hurt the Velvet Underground or Doors, either. And maybe what helps make the Lovin’ Spoonful and Desmond Dekker so convincing when they’re optimistic and sunny (which is usually) is that in “Summer in the City” and “007 Shanty Town” they’re anything but.

I sort of alluded to this earlier, but seems to me one thing post-Pet Sounds/Pepper’s progressivism solidified was the idea of a young adult audience. In the ’50s when 45 and 33 1/3 rpm were new (they’d both been introduced to stores in 1948), record companies initially pitched LPs to grownups and singles to kids. But as young’uns weaned on (particularly early ’60s) rock’n’roll grew older, they matured into a new market. I’m guessing the primary precedent would have been the largely college-age folk-revival fans who pushed six Kingston Trio albums to Billboard‘s pinnacle for 50 weeks total between late 1958 and late 1960 — who were also probably Dylan’s first fans, and who by ’66 were no doubt merging with Beatles fans. Or something.

Or maybe I don’t know what I’m talking about. How old were most jazz fans who’d relied almost exclusively (and most Latin rhythm fans who’d relied at least heavily) on the album format from the start, and whose genres are generously represented among my ’66/’67 top 150 below? Cinema and theater soundtracks (I list one) and avant-garde compositions (John Cage and Amm) and Folkways-style musicology field recordings (two, including a colonialist-titled real-life Inuit precursor to the Residents’ 1979 hoax Eskimo) had likewise been longtime 33 1/3 standbys. On the other hand, the Beatles scored seven #1 Billboard albums themselves that first charted in 1964 and ’65 (total weeks in top spot: 60!), while Dylan didn’t top Billboard‘s album chart until Planet Waves (huh??) in 1974. And after Dylan and possibly the Lovin’ Spoonful or Byrds or Simon and Garfunkel (two albums apiece), the most famous folk-revivalist on my ’66/’67 list (since the Holy Modal Rounders and my Gold medal winners Kaleidoscope aren’t as famous as they should be) is Janis Ian, who at 16 years old was not quite a young adult herself yet when she released her unjustly ignored debut album in 1967. So what the heck do I know?

Well, to answer that, I have deduced that albums were a fresh enough commodity during this period that several couldn’t even decide what they were called, either being branded right off the bat with two different titles (often the two biggest hits), or changing titles as years trucked on or minds changed or foreign territories craved their own pressings. Also, despite LPs’ increasing prominence in the world of rock, many of the albums I include are by acts universally remembered, if they’re remembered at all, as singles artists — many of whose albums barely charted in the first place. Some, like say the American Breed, have to my knowledge no presence whatsoever in the annals of rock criticism; histiographically, it’s like they never existed. And as far as the 5 Americans and Jay & the Americans and the Association go, they still don’t — None of those groups made even my list. I’d love to know how many of these 150 records were out of print, say, a decade after their release. Quite a few, I’d wager. The streaming age seems to have rectified that somewhat, if anybody even cares anymore. Regardless, with or without the roll, rock still has a fickle memory.

  1. Kaleidoscope Side Trips (Epic ’67)
  2. The Velvet Underground And Nico (Verve/Polygram ’67)
  3. Bob Dylan Blonde on Blonde (Columbia ’66)
  4. The Sonics Boom (Etiquette ’66)
  5. Duke Ellington Far East Suite  (RCA Victor ’67)
  6. Paul Revere and the Raiders Just Like Us! (Columbia ’66)
  7. Joe Cuba Sextet Wanted Dead or Alive/Bang! Bang! Push, Push, Push (Tico ’66)
  8. Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels Take a Ride (New Voice ’66)
  9. The Rolling Stones Aftermath (London ‘ 66)
  10. Desmond Dekker and the Aces 007 Shanty Town (Doctor Bird UK ’66)
  11. Jefferson Airplane Surrealistic Pillow (RCA ’67)
  12. The 13th Floor Elevators The Psychedelic Sounds Of (International Artists ’66)
  13. John Cage with David Tudor Variations IV (Everest ’66)
  14. Prince Buster Fabulous Greatest Hits (Fab UK ’67)
  15. Neil Diamond The Feel Of Neil Diamond (Bang ’66)
  16. Archie Shepp Mama Too Tight (Impulse! ’67)
  17. Jimmy Castor Hey Leroy (Smash ’66)
  18. The Rolling Stones Between the Buttons (London ’67)
  19. Tommy Roe Sweet Pea  (ABC-Paramount ’66)
  20. Count Five Psychotic Reaction (Double Shot ’66)
  21. Wayne Shorter Adam’s Apple (Blue Note ’66)
  22. Love Forever Changes (Elektra ’67)
  23. Thelonious Monk Straight No Chaser (Columbia ’67)
  24. The Electric Prunes The Electric Prunes (Reprise ’67)
  25. Jorge Ben From Brazil/O Bidú: Silêncio no Brooklin (4 Corners of the World ’67)
  26. John Coltrane Ascension (Impulse! ’66)
  27. The Seeds A Web of Sound (GNP Crescendo ’66)
  28. Jefferson Airplane Takes Off (RCA Victor ’66)
  29. The Music Machine Turn On (Original Sound ’66)
  30. Downliners Sect The Rock Sect’s In (Columbia UK ’66)
  31. Cecil Taylor Unit Structures (Blue Note ’66)
  32. Janis Ian Janis Ian (Verve ’67)
  33. Eric Dolphy Here and There (Prestige ’66)
  34. The Jimi Hendrix Experience Are You Experienced? (Reprise ’67)
  35. The Hombres Let It Out (Let It All Hang Out) (Verve Forecast ’67)
  36. The Litter Distortions (Warick ’67)
  37. Sonny Rollins Alfie (Impulse! ’66)
  38. The Monkees More of the Monkees (Colgems ’67)
  39. Aretha Franklin I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (Atlantic ’67)
  40. Mitch Ryder and the Detroit Wheels Breakout!!! (New Voice ’66)
  41. Big Brother & the Holding Company Big Brother & the Holding Company (Mainstream ’67)
  42. Sonny Rollins East Broadway Run Down (Impulse! ’66)
  43. Chocolate Watchband No Way Out (Tower ’67)
  44. Tommy James and the Shondells Hanky Panky (Roulette ’66)
  45. Hank Thompson A Six Pack to Go (Capitol ’66)
  46. Joe Cuba Sextet Estamos Hacienda Algo Bien!/We Must Be Doing Something Right! (Tico ’66)
  47. The Seeds The Seeds (GNP Crescendo ’66)
  48. Pharaoh Sanders Tauhid (Impulse! ’67)
  49. The Doors The Doors (Elektra ’67)
  50. The Byrds Fifth Dimension (Columbia ’66)
  51. Strawberry Alarm Clock Incense and Peppermints (UNI ’67)
  52. James Brown I Got You (I Feel Good) (King ’66)
  53. The Yardbirds Over Under Sideways Down/The Yardbirds (Epic ’66)
  54. Amm Ammmusic (Elektra UK ’67)
  55. Don Cherry Complete Communion (Blue Note ’66)
  56. The Wailers The Wailing Wailers (Studio One Jamaica ’66)
  57. The Holy Modal Rounders Indian War Whoop (ESP Disk ’67)
  58. Love Love (Elektra ’66)
  59. The Sonics Introducing the Sonics (Jerden ’67)
  60. Pink Floyd Piper at the Gates of Dawn (Tower ’67)
  61. Archie Shepp The Magic of Juju (Impulse! ’67)
  62. The Bobby Fuller Four I Fought the Law (Mustang ’66)
  63. The Standells Dirty Water (Tower ’66)
  64. Jefferson Airplane After Bathing At Baxter’s (RCA Victor ’67)
  65. Charles Mingus My Favorite Quintet, Vol. 1 (Jazz Workshop ’66)
  66. James Brown and the Famous Flames Cold Sweat (King ’67)
  67. Ornette Coleman Chappaqua Suite (Columbia UK ’67)
  68. The Beatles Revolver (Capitol ’66)
  69. Charlie Rich The Best Years (Smash ’66)
  70. Brenton Wood Oogum Boogum (Double Shot ’67)
  71. Syndicate of Sound Little Girl (Bell ’66)
  72. Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band Safe As Milk (Buddah ’67)
  73. The Supremes A Go Go (Motown ’66)
  74. The Beatles Yesterday…and Today (Capitol ’66)
  75. Love Da Capo (Elektra ’66)
  76. The Lovin’ Spoonful Hums Of (Kama Sutra ’66)
  77. The American Breed The American Breed (Acta ’67)
  78. Moby Grape Moby Grape (Columbia ’67)
  79. John Coltrane & Don Cherry The Avant-Garde (Atlantic ’66)
  80. Wilson Pickett The Wicked Pickett (Atlantic ’66)
  81. Hapshash and the Coloured Coat Featuring the Human Host and the Heavy Metal Kids (Minit UK ’67)
  82. The Soul Survivors When the Whistle Blows Anything Goes With (Crimson ’67)
  83. The Shadows of Knight Gloria (Dunwich ’66)
  84. The Monkees The Monkees (Colgems ’66)
  85. Miles Davis Miles Smiles (Columbia ’67)
  86. Gilberto Gil Louvação (Philips Brazil ’66)
  87. Sly and the Family Stone A Whole New Thing (Epic ’66)
  88. The Box Tops The Letter/Neon Rainbow (Bell ’67)
  89. Van Morrison Blowin’ Your Mind/T.B. Sheets (Bang ’67)
  90. Monks Black Monk Time (International Polydor Production Germany ’66)
  91. Cream Disraeli Gears (Atco ’67)
  92. The Troggs From Nowhere (Fontana UK ’66)
  93. The Kinks Face to Face (Reprise ’66)
  94. The Byrds Younger Than Yesterday (Columbia ’67)
  95. The Lovin’ Spoonful Daydream (Kama Sutra ’66)
  96. Big City Blues (International Polydor Production Germany ’66)
  97. Lee Dorsey Working in the Coal Mine/Holy Cow (Amy ’66)
  98. The Youngbloods The Youngbloods (RCA Victor ’67)
  99. Simon and Garfunkel Sounds of Silence (Columbia ’66)
  100. James Brown It’s a Man’s Man’s World: Soul Brother #1 (King ’66)
  101. Eddie Palmieri/Cal T’Jader Bamboleate (Tico ’67)
  102. Spirit Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus (Epic ’67)
  103. Procol Harum Procol Harum (Deram ’67)
  104. Terry Knight and the Pack Terry Knight and the Pack (Lucky Eleven ’66)
  105. Simon and Garfunkel Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (Columbia ’66)
  106. The Beach Boys Pet Sounds (Capitol ’66)
  107. The Rolling Stones Their Satanic Majesties Request (London ’67)
  108. Godz Godz 2 (ESP Disk ’67)
  109. The Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (Capitol ’67)
  110. Songs From the Out-Ports of Newfoundland (Folkways ’66)
  111. The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour (Capitol ’66)
  112. The Who A Quick One/Happy Jack (Reaction UK ’66/Decca ’67)
  113. The Jimi Hendrix Experience Axis: Bold As Love (Reprise ’67)
  114. The Shadows of Knight Back Door Men (Dunwich ’66)
  115. The Mothers of Invention Freak Out! (Verve ’66)
  116. The Animals Animalization (MGM ’66)
  117. Them Them Again (Parrot ’66)
  118. Traffic Mr. Fantasy/Heaven is in Your Mind/Coloured Rain/Reaping (Island UK/United Artists ’67)
  119. Roscoe Mitchell Sextet Sound (Delmark ’66)
  120. Eskimo Songs From Alaska (Folkways ’66)
  121. Slim Harpo Baby Scratch My Back (Excello ’66)
  122. 13th Floor Elevators Easter Everywhere (International Artists ’67)
  123. Merle Haggard and the Strangers Branded Man (Capitol ’67)
  124. The Turtles Happy Together (White Whale ’67)
  125. The Incredible String Band The 5000 Spirits or the Layers of the Onion (Elektra UK ’67)
  126. ? and the Mysterians 96 Tears (Cameo ’66)
  127. Loretta Lynn Don’t Come Home A Drinkin’ (With Lovin’ On Your Mind) (Decca ’67)
  128. Pearls Before Swine One Nation Underground (ESP Disk ’67)
  129. Bobbie Gentry Ode to Billie Joe (Capitol ’67)
  130. The Grass Roots Let’s Live for Today (Dunhill ’66)
  131. Merle Haggard and the Strangers Swinging Doors and the Bottle Let Me Down (Capitol ’66)
  132. Nancy Sinatra Boots (Reprise ’66)
  133. Albert Ayler/Don Cherry/John Tchichai/Roswell Rudd/Gary Peacock/Sonny Murray New York Eye and Ear Control (ESP Disk ’66)
  134. The Doors Strange Days (Elektra ’67)
  135. Otis Redding Live in Europe (Volt ’66)
  136. The Mothers of Invention Absolutely Free (Verve ’67)
  137. The Chambers Brothers The Time Has Come (CBS ’67)
  138. Cabaret: Original Broadway Cast (Columbia Masterworks ’66)
  139. The Red Crayola with the Familiar Ugly The Parable of Arable Land (International Artists ’66)
  140. Buffalo Springfield Again (Atco ’67)
  141. Mississippi John Hurt Today! (Vanguard ’66)
  142. Bob Dylan John Wesley Harding (Columbia ’67)
  143. John Fred and his Playboy Band Agnes English (Paula ’67)
  144. Donovan Sunshine Superman (Epic ’66)
  145. Dion and the Belmonts Together Again (ABC ’67)
  146. The Left Banke Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina (Smash ’67)
  147. Swingin’ Medallions Double Shot (of My Baby’s Love) (Smash ’66)
  148. Davie Allan and the Arrows Blues Theme (Tower ’66)
  149. The Young Rascals Groovin’ (Atlantic ’67)
  150. Lou Christie Lightnin’ Strikes (MGM ’66)

11 comments

  1. Great list and write-up, as usual. Champing at the bit for the 1973 list; I think I know what the top 2 will be – MUST be – and my brains are preemptively scrambling about what order they’ll be in.

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    1. Okay, I’ve got two more years (well, one year and one two-year period) slated for next and next-after-that, but I’ll start thinking of 1973 not long after those! Pretty sure I know the top 2 you’re thinking of; let’s just say they’re both definitely in the running (and maybe even have the best shots), but at least 11 other albums are in the running as well!

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  2. John Wesley Harding has played itself in my headbox since its release; I made some more notes on it a few minutes ago. It’s the first and best of his truly weird albums—still wrapping my brain around it—yet it’s always made sense: it fits with his and many people’s alienation from AmeriKKKan go-along-to-get-along traditions in Thee Sick 60s, but never in a stand-pat, too-on-the-nose way, and it just slips around and around in my head, hooky and atmospheric and slippery—a preemptive strike against too-easy Americana and rootsism (also against himself, esp. re the forthcoming Self-Portrait, which he later said was pushback against the pressure to write JWH heh. JWH is about conflict incl. of the self, so, it’s an appropriate alibi, and what would *you* do if you were tagged as Boy Genius of the 60s? AIEEEE) The Velvet Underground & Nico plays itself a lot too, though mainly the Nico tracks. I used to think Pepper’s wasn’t as *cool* as Revolver, but it settled into my head a few years ago (it’s not just about hearing ’em, it’s also about thinking,”That makes sense, that works, that rules, in its way.”). Mynd you, my head adds “Blue Jay Way” in the middle, and follows “A Day In The Life” with “Tomorrow Never Knows,” “Tax Man,” and “I Am The Walrus,” one of my faves evah—GOO GOO GA JOOB. Wiki sez Tauhid is Sonny Sharrock’s first appearance on record—thought it was Marzette Watts’ ESP-DISK from—earlier in the year? Either way, this is astonishingly better: he fits perfectly, incl. as bee-beep the roadrunner to Pharoah’s enraged water buffalo at one point, bumrushing a paen to the sun. After Bathing At Baxter’s was the first album I heard that sounded like those reproduced posters and layouts of lightshows on giant pages of Life Magazine looked.Also lots of groovy lyrics, of hearts and minds (incl. brains) in flight. The remastered late 90s CD brought out the layers of sound a little too much, on top of Jack Casady’s bass. Also luv Sonics and Monks, and Shepp’s “Mama Too Tight” (haven’t heard the rest of the album) .

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  3. via facebook:

    Jake Alrich
    Your Beatles-to-Beach-Boys ratio and rankings for this period are completely out of whack.

    Chuck Eddy
    Why thank you! I have always vastly preferred pre-Pet Songs Beach Boys, for what it’s worth. (With the Beatles, I’m way more waffly, era-wise.)

    Jake Alrich
    Chuck Eddy You are opening a can of worms with me my friend

    Chuck Eddy
    But wait, you don’t think Revolver is the best Beatles album on the list?? (I kind of assumed that was fairly unanimous by now. Went back and forth on whether Yesterday & Today should qualify, but nobody’s complained so far.)

    Jaz Jacobi
    I don’t like PET SOUNDS as much as their prior stuff, and I don’t like much of anything past PET SOUNDS, either. They peaked early.

    Jaz Jacobi
    But so did the Beatles–I’ll take everything before REVOLVER over everything after, easy

    Chuck Eddy
    I’m not quite so absolute. But given a choice, I’d still take their early stuff.

    Jake Alrich
    Chuck Eddy Rubber Soul is my favorite Beatles record but I think consensus has formed around that and Revolver as the top two. I think Yesterday & Today is okay as long as it’s also okay to include SMiLE (i.e. if you can include an album with material … See More

    Chuck Eddy
    Nah, that’d go on a compilation/reissue list I’ll get around to one of these years. Except given my personal Beach Boys proclivities, it probably won’t!

    Jake Alrich
    Okay then. I still think you should have included Wild Honey and ranked it above the Magical Mystery Tour at least. And Pet Sounds should rank ahead of them all.

    Chuck Eddy
    To be honest, I was surprised by how much I kind of liked (or just didn’t dislike?) Magical Mystery Tour. As the list makes clear, it doesn’t sound much worse than Sgt. Pepper’s to me. Didn’t expect it on the list at all. Admittedly didn’t (re?)-visit Wild Honey, but wow, Dec. 18, 1967: Just under the wire!

    Jake Alrich
    Chuck Eddy One day after my birthday! (Or eight years and 365 days before the actual day of my birth depending.)

    Chuck Eddy
    Listening to Magical Mystery Tour with Redd Kross ears helps a lot.

    Jake Alrich
    Chuck Eddy You should really see a doctor for that. I mean, you have that great VA insurance, right?

    Chuck Eddy
    I’ll have to make sure it’s covered, but yeah — good idea.
    ·
    Jaz Jacobi
    I’d technically call the U.S. MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR a compilation too, or at least the first “EP with bonus tracks”! [But I guess if you’re gonna play that way, ALL the pre-PEPPER U.S. Beatles LPs could be “compilations” in somebody’s mind. That way lies madness.]

    Jaz Jacobi
    [I still can’t figure out if THE MODERN LOVERS counts as a “studio album” vs. a compilation? 🙂 ]

    Jaz Jacobi
    Perhaps I’ll take that back, I guess MAGICAL MYSTERY TOUR, as something that half collects a recent stack of 45s, isn’t a much different model than what I suspect is the timeline of many ’50s rock ‘n’ roll LPs, like maybe HERE’S LITTLE RICHARD or THE “CHIRPING” CRICKETS.

    Chuck Eddy
    ,Exactly. All sorts of albums are preceded by their singles — nothing unusual there at all. As for Modern Lovers, I not only included it on my 1976 list (which didn’t include, say, Changesonebowie), I explained why. Which should also make clear why the Beatles’ MMT and Y&T qualify. One album I’m still on the fence on is Kinks Kronikles for 1972 — Any opinions welcome.

    Jaz Jacobi
    KINKS KRONIKLES, because it featured a large degree of previously non-LP tracks?

    Chuck Eddy
    Yep. Previously non-LP in the US anyway. What, 50% of the album maybe?
    ·
    Chuck Eddy
    I had no qualms at all about, say, E. Costello’s Taking Liberties in 1980.

    Jaz Jacobi
    I don’t stay up nights about these issues or anything, but on a certain level when it gathers stuff that was previously issued over a 3 or 4 year span in scattershot form, I tend to lean “compilation.”

    Jaz Jacobi
    Something like The Cure’s BOYS DON’T CRY, vs. in THREE IMAGINARY BOYS form, I might accept as an “album” pretty quickly, though. [It’s also by far their best LP!]

    Jaz Jacobi
    And we may never know how many Prince releases consisted of material that had been lying around “in the can” for years!

    Chuck Eddy
    Oh yeah, nothing else the Cure did even came close. It’s honestly the only album by them I’ve ever cared about. Hmmm…Singles Going Steady, though? (As for Prince, I don’t care about his outtakes any more than I care about anybody else’s. And most of them would be decades old now anyway.)

    Chuck Eddy
    Oh wait, that’s not what you meant. I stop caring about Prince around 1988, so none of his albums I love could’ve been lying around *that* long.

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  4. via facebook:

    Jaz Jacobi
    “Some, like say the American Breed, have to my knowledge no presence whatsoever in the annals of rock criticism; histiographically, it’s like they never existed.”
    I’m the proud owner of an American Breed three-CD set.

    Chuck Eddy
    So, would *you* take them over the 5 Americans or Jay & the Americans?

    Jaz Jacobi
    I love the Five Americans best-of I have, and I would accept more music from them if available–maybe over American Breed, 5A have more “garage” in with their “bubblegum.” I continue to struggle to keep Jay & the Americans distinct in my mind from Jay & the Techniques, but I would take A.Breed over Jay+A easy. I like all the above, though.

    Chuck Eddy
    The two 5 Americans LPs I checked out (one on vinyl, one streamed) both struck me as fairly thin, beyond the immortal “Western Union.” I barely remember Jay & the Americans beyond “Come a Little Bit Closer,” which is excellent. Had completely forgotten that Jay & the Techniques ever existed!

    Jaz Jacobi
    I think the Five Americans spun that immortal moment into a half-dozen-ish other “mode of communication”-themed tunes like “Zip Code”!

    ————————

    Jaz Jacobi
    This introductory essay confirms SO many of my biases about a 1960s that I shouldn’t make assumptions about since I wasn’t born yet

    Chuck Eddy
    …such as? (I’d barely been born myself, so my own assumptions might well be suspect. Which I pretty much say in the introductory essay, I think.)

    Jaz Jacobi
    “…the Beach Boys’, who drowned the three or so beautiful hymns on Pet Sounds amid atmospheric film-soundtrack schlock.”

    Jaz Jacobi
    “…Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention and the Fugs …decided playing orgiastic perverts was the ultimate in transgressive freak bohemia.” I’m surprised the backwards sexual politics of ’60s “progressives” doesn’t get called out more often.

    Jaz Jacobi
    “The thing about this supposed surge in progressiveness is that, at least by the end of ’67, it had only affected a fraction of pop music out there. There was still plenty of absolutely unpretentious rock’n’roll for cleancut teenagers to dance to.”
    The popular narrative of “progress” often goes that it A] wipes out everything that preceded it, and B] suddenly became the only game in town. I always figured the Britney/Backstreet/Spice Girls teen pop moment’s occupation of the post-grunge landscape must have seemed reminiscent to older folks of the post-’67 Buddah Records boom presenting pre-adults with alternatives to post-PEPPER moody bluesing.

    ———————–

    Mike Freedberg
    I wasn’t much of an album buyer back then. This should be a mind blowing list to check out

    Mike Freedberg
    You’re right : I bought jazz albums — starting in 1959, actually. There were no jazz 45s.(not since jazz was THE hit music. 1950 and earlier)
    A lot to unpack in that list.
    I have seen almost every one of the jazz artists you list.
    Best observation : cover versions as emblem of music community. Truly original, I had never thought of those ubiquitous & mostly awful covers as anything but an annoyance. Great observation by you !

    Mike Freedberg
    Obviously my list would differ. But not by that much, as I start remembering back that far … I’d probably have The Doors but not two album’s by Joe Cuba. I’d have more Otis and probably some Little Milton (“Grits ain’t Groceries” period) the impressions and some gospel And definitely the Velvets album, one of my all time favorites.
    The Who for sure, the James Briwn’s, the John Fred, the Desmond Dekker, the Count Five, the Mitch Ryder,, and the 13th Floors — another total favorite.
    That said, singles then provided at least 4/5 of my music. Think for example of all the wonderful Philly soul stuff on Sue, Arctic, and dionn and innumerable treats on Chess and Checker, Stax and VeeJay and 100 tiny labels whose names I have forgotten

    Chuck Eddy
    I had actually considered writing something in that intro about all the minor (not only soul) labels on those albums (and I’m sure exponentially more on 45s as you say) that I know absolutely nothing about: Crimson, Double Shot, White Whale, Etiquette, New Voice, Warick, Jerden, Acta, Dunwich, Amy, on and on. Were these major label subsidiaries, fleeting trunk-of-the-car indies, what? Were any records self-released by artists themselves? I have no idea.

    Mike Freedberg
    Some of them were specialty subsidiaries of big labels. (MoonShot was one such : I have a superb song on that label by Chicago’s Vontastics.) I think most were not. Billy Dahl will know that stuff. Maybe Todd Everett
    I forgot Excello : a great swamp
    Blues label.
    Jukebox-only singles persisted in the Deep South well
    Into the 1990s. Fir all I know they’re still a thing there

    Chuck Eddy
    Yeah, that Big City Blues (International Polydor Production Germany ’66) comp I list is mostly Excello cuts. And of course I’ve got Slim Harpo on there as well. I was still ordering jukebox-only 45s of new hits from a mail-order distributor in the ’90s. If they *are* still being pressed, that’d be amazing.

    Mike Freedberg
    Chuck Eddy — agreed. But I haven’t road tripped south of DC since 1992, so don’t know.
    Even the hardcore Southern Soul folks (Roy C, Denise Lasalle, Marvin Sease etc) have gone all CD album format.

    Chuck Eddy
    Oh definitely. I did a Southern Soul roundup for the Voice 11 years ago, and even then all the labels I was aware of were entirely CD-oriented. Now they’re probably even more likely to mostly digital, like everybody else is.

    https://vvstaging.villagevoice.com/2011/03/09/southern-soul-guide-sweet-angel-mel-waiters-and-luther-lackey/?fbclid=IwAR3sBIPEIRyiWo5IhhLzpY3TJoP2tHcPTXj7HuG86xU0DCo-DQWIOsk8r2U

    ———-

    Mike Freedberg
    When I first saw Thelonious Monk — abd I saw his quartet A LOT – in 1959 I had the same kind of reaction you ascribe to Sargent Pepper : it contradicted everything rock n roll that I had lived by ; it was head music, where r n r was music from The waist down.
    Only in the last ten years hsve I realized how much Monk owed to early Count Basie. Listen to Basie’s first big recording session (“Evening, “Oh Lady Be Good”) and that piano solo intro ? “Omg that’s Monk !!”
    And so are Lester Young’s solos on those numbers ! Total Monk
    Of course Monk eliminated the crashing Walter Page-Jo Jones rhythm section. No foot stomping music in Monk’s introspective mind !
    I hear the tracks on Brilliant Corners now and I envision Monk humming all those Basie and Young solos to himself, in his study, and then fiddling with them like a kid with a Lego set…

    Mike Freedberg
    And then come the big jazz critics saying “wow— he put a B flat run into an E sharp major melody !” And I am saying “no, shithead, that is NOT what he’s doing. It’s the RESULT of what he’s doing.”
    I can’t stand most jazz criticism…

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  5. via facebook:

    Scott Seward
    i don’t think i saw it on your list but the one and only album by The Remains would probably make a top ten of ’66 rock albums for me. though there are a lot to choose from. i love every song on it pretty much. wait, did i not see the moby grape debut on your list? that might make a top 10 of ’67 for me. also strange days. i love that album. but i am way goth. oh wait okay i see moby grape on your list.

    Chuck Eddy
    I was always meh on the Remains, at least as ’60s garage bands go. They always struck me as generic. But maybe I just mean their hit? Greil wrote once it’s impossible to do a bad song called “Don’t Look Back” (something like that — while writing about Fine Young Cannibals I think) but it sure is possible to do a forgettable one. (Unless I forgot Remains’ hit’s actual title.)
    ·
    Scott Seward
    Chuck Eddy try them again! or at least listen to this which isn’t on the album. Garage Rock 101. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g-bD82R_stY

    Scott Seward
    the one and only album by The Creation came out in 1967 but only in Germany and Denmark. so most people have never heard the LP and just know comps. the only covers are hey joe, cool jerk, and like a rolling stone. but now that i think of it i’d probably just pick a singles comp over the album anyway so forget i said anything.

    Chuck Eddy
    I’ve always confused the Creation with the Litter (who are on the list).

    Scott Seward
    and that small faces debut on decca would definitely make my top ten of ’66. if i had such a top ten. i’m not saying i do. and i’m not saying i don’t.

    Scott Seward
    that u.k. freakbeat drum & bass undercarriage is kinda unbeatable. you had to go to soul and jazz for that same heaviness here. there needed to be a shel talmy clone in the states. or more people from Jamaica. what the heck was Shel doing over there anyway! nobody needs to answer that. its too late now. there is nothing to be done. they got the guitars here – though the recording of acoustic guitars superior in the u.k. as well from the beatles to bauhaus – and the fuzz and atmospherics and the studios in the u.s. were great both big and small. but there is nothing from ’66 here that sounds like that small faces record. (though plenty of big sound mono rock records – often the 45 is the way to go to hear it though not lp. but, again, i can’t stress this enough, there is SERIOUS bass on a dave clark 5 record.

    Chuck Eddy
    Confession: I honestly still have no clue what “freakbeat” even is.

    Scott Seward
    british garage rock/psych from about 66 to 68.

    Chuck Eddy
    Why does it need a separate name (from decades later I bet) though?

    Scott Seward
    yeah its a later thing. maybe just to differentiate it from u.s. stuff. that second nuggets box probably has a long explanation. or the rubble boxes. or greg shaw could have told you about it. or mike stax. the best of it does tend to have either a heaviness or a cosmic-ness that you wouldn’t find from, say, the byrds or whatever. its rooted in blues rock and not folk and surf and pop which a lot of u.s. groups came from. there was no wimple winch in the united states. there was no pretty things here either.

    Chuck Eddy
    I always considered that box the “fake Nuggets” — milking a good concept, or stretching it past the point where it meant anything. But I’m a grump.

    Chuck Eddy
    Also, seems to me plenty of US groups (Sonics, Shadows of Knight, Detroit Wheels, Seger System, etc., not to mention Blue Cheer and Steppenwolf and Black Pearl if they’re not too late) *were* rooted in blues rock! But maybe it just wasn’t the *right* blues rock? Or maybe I’m just Anglophobic.

    Scott Seward
    you are such a grump that second nuggets box has AMAZING stuff on it. american groups like that got their blues rock from the brits. detroit is its own thing. its own universe. there was just a driving beat built into the place apparently. revving engines. everyone was heavy by 68/69. Them were heavy in 65. pretty things and animals too. they were the templates for so much post-66 american garage rock. did people outside the pacific northwest even know who the sonics were? i don’t actually know. they didn’t break out like the raiders did. or merrilee rush! haha. she was awesome. raiders didn’t get heavy until 66. was *just like us* all covers? that’s your kind of frat rock. terry melcher made them gods. he’s my hero. byrds and raiders. that’s all you really need.

    Scott Seward
    merrilee was the stuff!

    Scott Seward
    p.s. i am just making all this up.

    Scott Seward

    Chuck Eddy
    Merilee’s great! #38 on this list.

    150 Best Albums of 1968/’69

    AND #36 on this list.

    My 50 Favorite Songs Ever

    Chuck Eddy
    And yeah, I get the idea the Sonics were unknowns outside the Northwest Corridor. Never made the Top 100 singles or Billboard 200 albums nationally. Though — I didn’t know this til now — they apparently made #21 on Billboard’s Heatseekers chart with a comeback album in 2015, ha!…And the Raiders’ Just Like Us was *not* all covers — side-openers are “Steppin’ Out” and “Just Like Me”; last song is their Where The Action Is theme. Though they do cover “Doggone,” “Baby Please Don’t Go,” “Night Train,” “Catch the Wind,” “Satisfaction” and “New Orleans.” My kinda frat rock for sure.

    Scott Seward
    terry melcher did what he could.
    come to think of it, pre-freakout era was heavier here. who produced The Marketts? the person responsible for producing their Out Of Limits should have been on call more. this country definitely won the cold war when it came to handclaps and echo in the early 60s. maybe they just started producing things to sound good on an iphone i mean a transistor radio later.

    Scott Seward
    (u.k. post-punk production also superior in the d&b area as well with some obvious exceptions. there was no john loder here. or martin hannett. though u.s. hardcore circa 1980-1983 gave it the old college try. then everything went to hell. but from 1964 to 1984 the brits ruled the roost in rock production as far as i’m concerned. after that they invented uk funky and betty boo and it was all kinda bad production-wise even for electronic music. except for maybe my dying bride albums. but who knows they probably recorded those in finland or something.)

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  6. via facebook:

    Kevin Bozelka
    You have a spelling error. So I’ll wait to comment further as you delete this post five times.
    ·
    Chuck Eddy
    Why are you always so OCDphobic? Anyway, I only do that with comments, not actual posts. Usually. Also I still haven’t found the error yet.

    Kevin Bozelka
    Chuck Eddy “I had so much so listen to…”

    Chuck Eddy
    Fixed. Without deleting!!

    ——————

    Phil Dellio
    That Soul Survivors’ LP was in the big and very random collection my parents kept in the basement–I loved reading about their big car accident in the liner notes.

    Chuck Eddy
    Author
    My older brother had it. They look like total sweat-hogs on the cover!
    ·
    Graham Ashmore
    MOBY GRAPE: only one song over 3:21 and two songs over 2:44; none reaches even 4:20.

    Chuck Eddy
    People will say I underrated that one, but I really don’t think so.

    Graham Ashmore
    Because of the bottom end?

    Chuck Eddy
    Because “Fall On You” is the only song on it that has ever killed me.

    Graham Ashmore
    Ah! I like all of it; about half kills me.

    Chuck Eddy
    The rest is fine. I’ve always hoped more of it would bowl me over.

    Kevin Bozelka
    Chuck Eddy, yeah, it’s a solid A-minus, no more.

    Edd Hurt
    A damn A on Moby Grape. Jeezus what a bunch of nitpickers…ha.

    Kevin Bozelka
    Edd Hurt, it’s kinda thin, no? Doesn’t really rock out in a gargantuan manner like Big Brother did or Zep would do soon.

    Chuck Eddy
    Honestly, that wouldn’t bother me much if I thought the songs were there.

    Edd Hurt
    All bounced down in the mix, right, like “Safe as Milk.” A bane of early rock recording.

    Edd Hurt
    The songs are great!

    Michael Biggs
    Moby Grape is an A. An A+ if you ignore the mix.

    William Boyd
    I don’t really get the love for Moby Grape. You had to be there and you had to be high, I guess.

    Edd Hurt
    Merely one of the greatest rock bands ever. Basic shit.

    William Boyd
    Edd Hurt I bought the remastered debut album after Xgau wrote about it, but it just doesn’t reach me.

    Chuck Eddy
    Thing is, they’re not even particularly psychedelic. Judging from their debut (don’t know the later stuff), they’re basically a roots/country rock band.

    Chuck Eddy
    And for alleged “had to be high” guys, they sure did have short songs!

    Edd Hurt
    Moby Grape helped invent country rock. Their later stuff is a version of country rock except they hit it in a way that isn’t retro at all, at their best both harbingers of retro and futuristic rockers.

    Chuck Eddy
    So…like the Byrds, I guess? Thing about “inventing” country rock though, is that rock’n’roll obviously had plenty of country in it in the first place!

    Edd Hurt
    I could make a case for the 1967 Stax album “Live in London” as the most significant record of the era. Black music wasn’t seen correctly then for sure, partly because soul and R&B albums had lotsa filler, from Sam and Dave to Eddie Floyd. Stax goes to Europe, Hendrix goes there in ’66 to make it…similar.

    Chuck Eddy
    Yeah, I mention Black music filler (and rock filler) in my intro. But I probably could just have easily talked about country filler (see: Loretta, Merle, etc.)

    Edd Hurt
    Byrds and Grape glommed onto the subject matter of country, which I think is more to the point. But the Grape was more indirect about it.

    ———-

    Steve Pick
    Of all the lists you’ve put together so far, this strikes me as the one that would be the most fun to spend a couple months doing immersive listening. Not that there isn’t plenty of joy to be found in your other lists, but by picking albums that mostly felt like a collection of singles just at the time when singles were becoming adjuncts to “albums,” you arrive at the rock’n’roll aesthetic I bought into back when I first discovered Punk and New Wave. Fuck art, let’s dance. (But, let’s talk about the art, too.)

    Steve Pick
    Kaleidoscope at number one – I fell in love with that compilation CD they put out some 30 years back, and never really connected with the albums from which those songs were culled. I have always liked David Lindley, though.

    Phil Dellio
    Definitely disagree about the fake ads on The Who Sell Out, most of which I love.

    Chuck Eddy
    Figured I’d get pushback on that one. I’m not too big on its songs, either.

    Phil Dellio
    It’s close to a perfect album for me. The only song I really dislike is “Silas Stingy”…and lukewarm about “Sunrise.”

    Chuck Eddy
    “Silas Stingy” is awful. I vaguely remember you loving “Armenia City in the Sky” — if that’s right, no idea where you said so. Saw somebody on here call it their favorite Who album recently. I’m clearly missing something; oh well.

    Phil Dellio
    The last time I did a real list of my favourite albums (not a Facebook one-a-day thing) was in Tapeworm 30 years ago, and Sell Out was on there–probably there. I’m actually listening to the vinyl right now!

    Edd Hurt
    Side 1 is amazing. My favorite Who by…miles and miles.

    Phil Dellio
    Definitely like the first side better–though my favourite song, “I Can’t Reach You,” starts the flip side.

    ——

    Edd Hurt
    Howard Tate’s “Get It While You Can,” Verve ’67. One of the greatest soul albums.

    Edd Hurt
    I’m also a big fan of “The Serpent Power” (Vanguard ’67), which I like more than the Incredible String Band album Chuck picks (which is their best).

    Chuck Eddy
    Author
    Hmm; I always figured The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter was their best.

    Edd Hurt
    “5000” has “First Girl I Loved” and “Way Back in the 1960s.” The latter being their best song, I always thought.

    Michael Biggs
    Love, Aretha, JImi Hendrix, Them are all top 10

    Sara Quell

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      1. Yeah, that’s one downside of not being on facebook, maybe — I really haven’t figured out yet how to get people to read the comments that people post directly on the blog. Or how to get more people to post directly on the blog period, for that matter. But Don, I super appreciate that you and a couple others have! Your comment is really interesting, too — I just don’t know what to say about it, except that to my ears John Wesley Harding is way *less* weird than several Dylan albums that came before it, Jahweh reference (which I’d admittedly never noticed before) or no…

        Like

      2. Ha ha, thanks! Yeah, once again it’s the wages ov not being on Fecebook; maybe I’ll do it yet. Maybe JWH (hadn’t noticed the Jahweh bit!!) seems weirder because it’s also his most penetrating social-personal critique: the realness (as they say in Paris Is Burning) of the weirdness and vice-versa (although Desolation Row starts with what could be references to the Duluth Lynching, as pointed out in an archived Minnesota Public Radio post: before his time, but he was born there and says in Chronicles used to stay there with his Granny when parents needed a break, so he might have come across the info, like he also says in Chronicles that he used to read very old newspapers in The New York Public Library, and had a sense of people writing around things, bad things, judging by the sense of effort to avoid…and certainly, say, “Visions of Johanna” is alienated and wired and remorseful in a crowded apartment—-but JWH is f)ixated in a different way, different deep focus—-I should relisten to earlier Dylan albums, though, also to many of those on your list that I just don’t remember cleary enough to comment on (which is most of ’em). Intrigued by Michael F.’s Monk comments too…

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