A Consumer Guide to the Trailing Edge: October, 2013

Recycled Goods (#113)

by Tom Hull

This is the third of what promises to be an extensive (if not infinite) series of catch-up guides to records released in the 1960s. The first was back in May when I went through Spin's "Top 100 Alternative Albums of the 1960s" and tried to find the ones I hadn't previously heard. While scrounging around there, I wound up catching up with some more mainstream artists, and did a series on them in July. Artists in the July roundup included the Byrds, John Coltrane, Country Joe & the Fish, Cream, the Doors, Grateful Dead, the Hollies, Jefferson Airplane, the Lovin' Spoonful, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, the Temptations, the Who, and Stevie Wonder, plus scattered one-or-two-shot attempts. I didn't bother with artists I've heard everything by (obviously: the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Aretha Franklin, Miles Davis, Sly & the Family Stone). Some of the coverage is spotty given that I have previously rated records -- only took two to finish off the Byrds, and four for Coltrane. It also depends a lot on what's available on Rhapsody. I've decided to focus on original LPs. They provide a baseline that doesn't get moved by the bonus cuts and what-not that reissues add. Not many pristine reissues of original LPs exist, so I often have to tweak the play lists, and sometimes reconstruct them from scratch using compilations. (For Your Love, by the Yardbirds, is an example below.)

Late in the month as I was scratching my head over what to play next, I started consulting several "best albums of the 1960s" lists -- see the notes on the archive page. That steered me towards several albums (including the lamentable Simon & Garfunkle). I checked my grades against the list, and there's very little commonly rated in the top 100 that I haven't graded: the main omissions, which aren't available on Rhapsody, are the late-1960s Kinks albums (Face to Face, Something Else by the Kinks, The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society, Arthur (or the Decline and Fall of the English Empire, and in 1970 Lola vs. the Powerman and the Money-Go-Round) and the King Crimson debut, In the Court of the Crimson King.

The lists make clear that there is a lot more left to do, but also that it's not going to be easy to round them up. It's worth noting that the 1960s were a profoundly transitional decade in pop history -- one that for many purposes can be broken into thirds, and you can demarcate those periods by the decade's most influential group, the Beatles. First, there is the pre-Beatles era where you have a mix of doo-wop, dance-oriented teen pop, folk blues, leftover crooners, surf guitar, and so forth. The focus was on singles, and LPs were grab bags more for the label's benefit than for yours. There was also a tendency for labels to keep singles and LPs separate, as you'll see with Sam Cooke and Marvin Gaye below.

When the Beatles hit in 1963, they didn't change this so much as up the ante. Their early albums had a lot of cover filler but they also started to make sense as albums -- not that the habit of US labels jumbling up UK releases didn't obscure this for a while. And their albums got increasingly sophisticated, until 1967 when Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band lifted the LP from grabbag to concept. Of course, it wasn't just the Beatles. The Beach Boys, the Rolling Stones, the Kinks, and in his own way Bob Dylan, all paralleled this progression. From 1967 on albums came into their own. Jimi Hendrix's top singles charted {20, 52, 65}, but his three albums went {5, 3, 1}, with Are You Experienced quadruple-platinum.

Not sure whether I'll do another 1960s special, but I will pick up more records like this bit-by-bit. One review I wrote but held back was a Tina Brooks set from 1961, but I held it back because it wasn't actually released until 1999. I ran into several things like that, and they were common enough that I backed away from several jazz discographies -- Cecil Taylor's was one. It also occurs to me that while exploring the early LPs of the Beach Boys, Jan & Dean, Sam Cooke, and Marvin Gaye was interesting, a lot of artists from the first two-thirds of the 1960s really should be approached through compilations. Gene Chandler, for instance, was one I looked up. I didn't find any of his old albums, even though I once owned at least one, but he deserves a good compilation (with or without his big hit, "Duke of Earl," which is very much at home on various artist compilations of the decade's great singles). Indeed, most of the artists in my 1960s rock file that I haven't rated anything by are only represented by compilations.

By the way, I've run across another snag. The one computer I have with speakers has crapped out again, so for the time being I'm not able to get anything on Rhapsody. Not sure what to do: I built the computer six years ago, and the hardware is still fine, but I put Windows Vista on it -- cost a lot of money for really crappy software. And the boot procedure was trashed by an automatic software update -- maybe Bill Gates' idea of planned obsolescence? I know a lot about Linux but damn little about Windows, so I don't know where to begin in troubleshooting it. Moreover, it seems possible that a new computer would be faster and almost cheaper than trying to fix up this one. Or maybe I should move the speakers to one of several reliable Linux boxes I own? Always suspected I'd have trouble getting all the necessary proprietary drivers for playing music and videos there, but that's the only thing I ever use Windows for.

At any rate, the crash finally pushed me to cut this month short and post. Did, however, keep me from giving Jackson Frank a second spin.

Jackson C. Frank: Jackson C. Frank (1965, EMI Columbia): Singer-songwriter from Buffalo, was burned and scarred at age 11 when a furnace exploded at his school, killing 15 fellow students. He got an insurance check when he turned 21 and caught a boat to England, where he was befriended by a not-yet-famous folksinger named of Paul Simon, who produced Frank's one-and-only album. Just voice and guitar, songs seem strong at first but you gradually notice the cracks, the flaws that quickly undid him, and that's part of the interest although I haven't spent the time to figure it out. He had more tragedy. Had a son who died of cystic fibrosis. Spent time in institutions and on the street. A random shot from a pellet gun blinded him. He died at age 56. B+(**) [R]

Sonny & Cher: Look at Us (1965, Atco): Salvatore Bono, previously known as Phil Spector's percussion man, and Cherilyn Sarkisian, 11 years younger, a backup singer on Spector hits like "Be My Baby." They broke out with a huge hit here, "I Got You Babe" -- Reprise tried to cash in with an "and Friends" compilation combining their previous single, "Baby Don't Go," with cuts by others -- and this was their best-selling album, with filler drawn mostly from Spector, but also Smokey Robinson, Bo Diddley, a magnificent Bono original ("Just You"), and an offhand Bono rap ("It's Gonna Rain"). And while his homey voice is always a joke, all those triangles and chimes never fail to dazzle. I don't recall even knowing about the Spector connection when this was new, but looking back it's not only obvious -- the whole album is sort of an oblique tribute, and given the history a last hurrah. A- [R]

Briefly Noted

The Association: And Then . . . Along Comes the Association (1966, Valiant): Had some hits including "Along Comes Mary" and "Cherish" here but they don't hold up very well, either as nostalgia or as cheap thrills; basically a folkie group with choral harmonies, a varnish they applied to everything they touched. B- [R]

The Beach Boys: Surfin' Safari (1962, Capitol): "Surfin'," their first single in October 1961, was pure whitewashed doo-wop, a formula they repeated for their next three hit singles, including the title track here; nothing over 2:15 here, 12 songs in 24:53, including a "Summertime Blues" cover, an instrumental, and the first hint that Brian Wilson was going to turn out a little weird ("Cuckoo Clock"). B+(**) [R]

The Beach Boys: Surfin' U.S.A. (1963, Capitol): Hard up for another surfin' song, Brian slapped some new lyrics on Chuck Berry's "Sweet Little Sixteen" and got a hit but also sued; the writing slump only let up for one car song ("Shut Down") and the album was filled out (if you call 24:15 full) with five surf instrumentals (Bill Doggett, Dick Dale, Carl? -- by the way, who's really playing that guitar?). B- [R]

The Beach Boys: Surfer Girl (1963, Capitol): No lawsuits this time: the pilfered melodies came from Trad. (twice) and Stephen Foster, but this is also where Brian started to come to the fore, both writing and singing the title ballad and the deeply personal "In My Room"; Mike Love, on the other hand, stuck to formula, at best "Catch a Wave" and "Little Deuce Coupe." B+(***) [R]

The Beach Boys: Little Deuce Coupe (1962-63 [1963], Capitol): The car album, quickly cobbled together after the label compiled Shut Down with two Beach Boys songs padded out with tunes by Robert Mitchum, the Cheers, and the Super Stocks; this recycles three songs from previous albums, adds their latest hit ("Be True to Your School") and some more/less inspired hackwork -- "Spirit of America," named after Craig Breedlove's jet-powered world speed car, later became the title of their first "odds and sods" collection. B+(**) [R]

The Beach Boys: Shut Down Volume 2 (1964, Capitol): After three surf albums, a second wheels outing, starting with an audacious Chuck Berry rip ("Fun Fun Fun") followed by one of their greatest trademark harmony songs ("Don't Worry Baby"); so should we blame the law of averages for their 3:30 "spoken word" spat, or that Carl tried to justify the title by writing an instrumental called "Shut Down, Part II," or that they wound up covering "Louie Louie," or that they followed that with "Denny's Drums"? B+(*) [R]

The Beach Boys: All Summer Long (1964, Capitol): Four winners lead off, the second side is bracketed by "Wendy" and "Don't Back Down," yet they still find a way to insert a cut of session patter and keep the length down to 25:10, perpetuating the era of intrinsically flawed albums for what might otherwise be the best pop band in America; maybe the Beatles will prod them to get their act together? or maybe drugs will break it apart? B+(***) [R]

The Beach Boys: The Beach Boys Today! (1965, Capitol): Still just 28:54 including yet another session patter track, "Bull Session with the 'Big Daddy'"; side one is bracketed with "Do You Wanna Dance?" and "Dance, Dance, Dance," with "When I Grow Up (to Be a Man)" and "Help Me, Ronda" along the way -- the latter the first Beach Boys song ever to break three minutes, and it's anything but bloated; but the second side is all filler. B+(***) [R]

The Beach Boys: Summer Days (and Summer Nights!!) (1965, Capitol): Reprises "Help Me, Rhonda" with its longer title and shorter time (it's the single version), ending side one while "California Girls" starts side two, so the peaks are in the middle, the first side winding up and the second down, but there are fine songs on both slopes, and the odd stuff on the ends is earned, for once -- especially "I'm Bugged at My Ol' Man." A- [R]

The Beach Boys: Beach Boys' Party! (1965, Capitol): Supposedly the label was crying for new product -- the previous one came out way back in July and Brian was working on the big artistic statement that became Pet Sounds, so they compromised and cut this cache of unplugged sing-along covers, songs like "Hully Gully" and "Alley Oop" and "Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow" plus a Dylan for the aesthetes, three Beatles songs for the bean counters, and a hillbilly medley of "I Get Around" and "Little Deuce Coupe"; got a single, too, when Dean dropped in to teach the Boys how to sing "Barbara Ann"; it's trash, but no other group in the 1960s trashed itself so gleefully. A- [R]

Paul Bley Quintet: Barrage (1964 [1965], ESP-Disk): Pianist, had a famous quintet c. 1958 until Ornette Coleman decided to go pianoless; here the horns belong to Marshall Allen (of Sun Ra fame) and Dewey Johnson (of no fame that I'm aware of), with Eddie Gomez on bass and Milford Graves hitting things; the result is a stand-off, although both Allen and Bley do interesting things when the other lays out. B+(**) [R]

The Ornette Coleman Quartet: This Is Our Music (1960 [1961], Atlantic): Fifth album, third on Atlantic with Charlie Haden on bass and Ed Blackwell on drums making the edgy interplay between the leader's alto sax and Don Cherry's trumpet seem like child's play -- which in a sense it is, not that anyone else can do it. A- [R]

Ornette Coleman: Ornette on Tenor (1961 [1962], Atlantic): The last of the Atlantics, with the leader on tenor instead of his usual alto sax, Don Cherry on pocket trumpet, Jimmy Garrison on bass, and Ed Blackwell on drums; the larger sax slows Coleman a bit, gives him less glide and more growl, making him sound more like John Coltrane -- cf. The Avant Garde with Coltrane and Cherry -- or Dewey Redman, who replaced Cherry and later rejoined Cherry in place of Coleman in Old and New Dreams. B+(***) [R]

Ornette Coleman: Love Call (1968, Blue Note): Second album from the two New York Is Now sessions, with Dewey Redman, Jimmy Garrison, Elvin Jones, and Coleman playing trumpet as well as alto sax; I can't dismiss these as leftovers, but there are spots that don't quite cohere, as well as blasts of the usual brilliance. B+(**) [R]

Sam Cooke: Hits of the 50's (1960, RCA): "Mona Lisa," "The Great Pretender," "Unchained Melody," "The Wayward Wind," "The Song From Moulin Rouge," "Cry," "Venus," five more -- perhaps the label's last effort to cast him as yet another Nat Cole wannabe, or Johnny Mathis -- not sure the arrangers know the difference. B- [R]

Sam Cooke: My Kind of Blues (1961, RCA): Crisp big band arrangements and songs that fit them -- "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," "Nobody Knows When You're Down and Out," "Exactly Like You," "Since I Met You Baby," "Trouble in Mind," "You're Always on My Mind," like that -- and the voice is one of the great ones, albeit a little creamy for the blues. B+(*) [R]

Sam Cooke: Twistin' the Night Away (1962, RCA): Seems like he's cashing in on the dance fad, as 5 of 12 songs have "twist" in the title, but his preternaturally young voice -- he was, after all, 28 when he sang "Only Sixteen" -- and fluid movement pushed his hit to the top of the twist pile; the band would rather swing than rock but they defined his hit sound and he manages to make even the most obvious filler sound like an essential part of his oeuvre -- aside from the title, the only other song I know well here is "Soothe Me," but all are instantly pegged. A- [R]

Sam Cooke: Night Beat (1963, RCA): All twisted out, a suddenly mature soul man focuses on ballads, blues, and mid-tempo fare with an unassuming but perfectly functional combo; only "Little Red Rooster" made the singles charts at a time when he was still hitting regularly, but this is as coherent an album as he ever released. A- [R]

Sam Cooke: Ain't That Good News (1964, RCA): And this is where RCA rolled up his late singles -- three charted 10-11 ("Another Saturday Night," "(Ain't That) Good News," and "Good Times"), two more 31-35 ("Tennessee Waltz" and the one that soon became his epitaph, "A Change Is Gonna Come"); second side slumps a little with some less-than-immortal ballads. A- [R]

Bo Diddley: Bo Diddley Is a Gunslinger (1960, Checker): The rhythm box never wears out, which makes me wonder why they resort to doo-wop or "Sixteen Tons" for filler when they can always rip out something like the instrumental "Diddling"; "Gunslinger," "Cadillac," and "Ride On Josephine" are what you expect. B+(**) [R]

Fairport Convention: Fairport Convention (1968, Polydor): A pioneering effort at British folk-rock, with Richard Thompson the driving force on guitar, Ian Matthews and Judy Dyble trading vocals, and occasional bits of mandolin, Jew's harp, jug, and fiddle; rocks harder than you'd expect, until it doesn't. B+(***) [R]

Four Tops: On Top (1966, Motown): The label's starchiest vocal group, not that their few great singles don't move even them, but even with their compilations shorter is better -- e.g., look for 1967's Greatest Hits over 1974's Anthology and 1997's The Ultimate Collection; this is the only one of their nine 1960s LPs on Rhapsody, with one side of Holland-Dozier-Holland magic and another of covers that would be funny if anyone involved had a sense of humor. B [R]

Marvin Gaye: The Soulful Moods of Marvin Gaye (1961, Tamla): First album, crooning standards backed by piano trio, what sounds to me like a failed Charles Brown move except he was probably aiming for Nat King Cole; ballads like "My Funny Valentine" are just awful, "Witchcraft" and "Love for Sale" little better, the exception the upbeat "Never Let You Go," which might have promised a way forward except Little Richard got there years ago. C [R]

Marvin Gaye: That Stubborn Kinda Fellow (1962, Tamla): For once, the band sounds like the outfits backing the Marvelettes at the time, and Gaye soars on their rhythm, especially on the three front-loaded singles -- "Pride and Joy" was his first top-ten hit -- all with Gaye co-credits; "Soldier's Plea" irritates me, but even the filler is near-miraculous compared to Gaye's other early albums. B+(***) [R]

Marvin Gaye: Hello Broadway (1964, Tamla): Fourth album, more show tunes -- "On the Street Where You Live," "My Kind of Town," "Days of Wine and Roses," "Hello Dolly" -- a little more grit in his voice but Jerry Long's string arrangements will make you seasick, and his Barbra Streisand impression on "People" is so far over the top I can imagine building a Marvin's Greatest Shit compilation around it. C- [R]

Marvin Gaye: How Sweet It Is to Be Loved by You (1965, Tamla): Named for Gaye's second top-ten single, a confection penned by Motown's A-Team (Holland-Dozier-Holland); nothing else that fine here, and his integration into the burgeoning hit factory isn't complete, but he sure can sing, and he's started to write a little. B+(***) [R]

Marvin Gaye: A Tribute to the Great Nat King Cole (1965, Tamla): Seems out of sequence, an early influence no doubt but not a necessary or even useful step in a career that had just started to find its footing; Wikipedia credits Gaye with all vocals and the Funk Brothers with all instrumentation but that's plainly wrong given the ripe orchestral treatments and choruses, more dreck than even Cole could have overcome. C+ [R]

Marvin Gaye: Moods of Marvin Gaye (1966, Tamla): Bagged his first two number one singles (on the r&b list, any way) -- "I'll Be Doggone" and "Ain't That Peculiar" -- but nothing very exciting, and some of the filler (like Willie Nelson's "Night Life") is downright moody. B+(**) [R]

Marvin Gaye/Kim Weston: Take Two (1964-66 [1966], Tamla): Gaye's second duet pairing after 1964's Together with Mary Wells; Weston was married to Motown A&R head/songwriter Mickey Stevenson, had a couple minor hits, and with Stevenson left the fold in 1967; the singers make a nice pair, and Stevenson in particular feeds them good songs, with "It Takes Two" a great one. B+(***) [R]

Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell: United (1967, Tamla): Gaye's third duet partner, the only one who would return for two more albums although her career was cut short by a brain tumor that killed her at age 24 (in 1970); nothing much stands out here, not so much due to any one fault but more likely just because Motown's magic had faded a bit, and its young stars weren't ready to pick up the slack. B+(*) [R]

Marvin Gaye: In the Groove (1968, Tamla): Soon reissued as I Heard It Through the Grapevine in honor of Gaye's first pop chart-topping single (he would wind up with three) -- that song soon got abducted by Creedence Clearwater Revival, but Gaye's cover of Goffin-King's "Some Kind of Wonderful" remains nonpareil; everything else is solid, but as a single he can't quite compete on songs you know from Motown's groups. B+(***) [R]

Marvin Gaye: M.P.G. (1969, Tamla): Front-loaded with singles although only "Too Busy Thinking About My Baby" is the only one that belongs on his career tape; everything else is first rate but he didn't write any of it and you keep hearing echoes of Motown's golden age, just enough glitz to tarnish his development as a future star. B+(***) [R]

Etta James: At Last! (1961, Argo): First LP, after a dozen 1955-59 singles on Modern Records worth checking out; first thing you notice in her Chess debut is the strings but it midway her singing overwhelms the lameness, both on her fierce "I Just Want to Make Love to You" and on the sublime title ballad. B+(***) [R]

Etta James: The Second Time Around (1961, Argo): Still mostly strings but there's never any doubt who's boss, and she's authoritative on standards like "One for My Baby" and "Don't Get Around Much Anymore," and all the more convincing on "Plum Nuts." A- [R]

Etta James: Etta James Rocks the House (1963 [1964], Argo): Live, picked from two nights at the New Era Club in Nashville backed by sax, organ, guitar, bass, drums; she establishes herself as a formidable blues shouter and maintains a pace where "What'd I Say" is the norm; later CD reissue adds more, which is more. A- [R]

Jan & Dean: Jan & Dean's Golden Hits (1959-62 [1962], Liberty): Half of this can be traced to singles, no other songs to their only previous LP (1960, on Dore), so this is a fake, and not just because none of the songs were hits (not for J&D, anyhow); a bit of doo wop, an occasional hint of their future comedy, a rough draft of "Barbara Ann" -- strictly prehistory. C+ [R]

Jan & Dean: Jan & Dean Take Linda Surfin' (1962, Liberty): Not much more to the surfing theme than two songs borrowed from the Beach Boys -- "Linda" is basic dop wop rhyming with "Let's Turkey Trot"; some covers are note perfect ("Walk Like a Man," some unfortunately so ("Walk Right In"), but sonically they were already ahead of the curve. B+(*) [R]

Jan & Dean: Surf City and Other Swingin' Cities (1963, Liberty): Memphis, Detroit, Kansas City, Philadelphia, "Way Down Yonder in New Orleans," "Talahassie Lassie," "I Left My Heart in San Francisco" with surf guitar, -- one hit, the only other song they're clearly awake for is "Honolulu Lulu" (another surfer). B- [R]

Jan & Dean: Drag City (1963, Liberty): This time the filler concept is cars, usually hot rods and drag strips but there's also a "Surfin' Hearse" and a "Popsicle Truck" and the immortal "Schlock Rod" -- a rare case where I'd recommend buying an album just for the gunk in the oil pan, although you also get the prophetic "Dead Man's Curve"; note that Rhapsody's version is re-ordered from the original, and that two hit songs later got their own (inferior) albums. A- [R]

Jan & Dean: Dead Man's Curve/The New Girl in School (1964, Liberty): Moves the hit operetta up to the lead spot, recovers "Linda," and tacks on more car songs -- "My Mighty GTO," "Three Window Coupe," "Rockin' Little Roadster," best of all "Bucket 'T'" -- and a couple school anthems; shameless profit taking and even more schlock. B [R]

Jan & Dean: The Little Old Lady From Pasadena (1964, Liberty): Surf and car fetishists with doo wop chops and Chuck Berry/Dick Dale licks, lately turned comics even if their big joke here concerns the hot rods and one-piece topless bathing suits of the Southern California grandmother set. A- [R]

Jan & Dean: Ride the Wild Surf (1964, Liberty): Aside from some skateboarding (aka "Sidewalk Surfin'"), all surf songs this time, ostensibly tied into a soundtrack (cover sez: "sing the original soundtrack recording of the title song from"), but it has the feel of a quickie commissioned by the bean counters and assembled from outtakes: was Chuck Berry too embarrassed to sue them for credit to "Down at Malibu Beach"? "The Submarine Races," in their best Smothers Brothers impression, is the odd song out. B [R]

Jan & Dean: Jan & Dean's Pop Symphony No. 1 (1966, Liberty): Their "12 hit movements," from "Baby Talk" to "Dead Man's Curve" and beyond (but no "Popsicle"), performed by the Bel-Aire Pops Orchestra, conducted by Jan Berry and George Tipton; no vocals, an extended joke without a single punch line -- unless you're the sort who thrills to the rush of piccolos on "Surf City." B- [R]

Jan & Dean: Folk 'n Roll (1966, Liberty): The times they are a changing, and if you can't beat 'em join 'em, and all the other clichés -- at least their old chum P.F. Sloan adapted well enough to churn out "Eve of Destruction," which towers over the Beatles and Dylan and Pete Seeger covers; still when Jan tried to write his own folk song, the best he could come up with was "Folk City" ("two girls for every body") -- at least better than the snarky, obnoxious "Universal Coward." C- [R]

Jan & Dean: Filet of Soul (1966 [1967], Liberty): "This was supposed to be a comedy album; the record company executives didn't get the humor . . . so they re-edited the album by taking off all the comedy"; didn't help that Jan had crashed his Corvette, spent two months in a coma, and emerged brain damaged and partially paralyzed; mostly live, the applause track reminiscent of the Beatles behind songs like "I Found a Girl" is sort of funny anyway. B- [R]

The Kinks: Kinks (1964, Pye): First album, the US version shorter and renamed for the one hit single, the grinding guitar of "You Really Got Me" -- one of five Ray Davies originals; the covers emphasize blues roots and rock and roll, with two Chuck Berry songs, one from Bo Diddley. A- [R]

The Kinks: Kinda Kinks (1965, Pye): Second UK album, rejiggered for the US after "Tired of Waiting for You" and "Come On" were rushed out on the US-only Kinks-Size -- much beloved by myself at the time, but looking back to their original sound rather than the daintier tunes Ray Davies started writing, this offering bits of both; the reissues, by the way, are annoying: the UK label didn't bother rolling singles up into albums, while CD reissues grab up everything in the neighborhood, so instead of integrating songs like "Who'll Be the Next in Line" and "A Well Respected Man" they wind up slapped in with the demos and outtakes. B+(**) [R]

The Kinks: The Kink Kontroversy (1965, Pye): Third UK album, jumping over Kinda Kinks -- and Kinks-Size in the US, much beloved by myself at the time -- with "Milk Cow Blues" and a batch of originals, where the raw blues guitar grind of the early albums gives way to Ray Davies' distinctly English accent and sensibility -- a resignation that produced one of the year's great songs ("Where Have All the Good Times Gone") and little more. B+(**) [R]

The Left Banke: Walk Away Renée/Pretty Ballerina (1967, Smash): Named for their two hit singles, dubbed "baroque pop" for Michael Brown's harpsichord, his father's guest violin, and Steve Martin-Caro's angelic vocals, although the banjo-driven "What Do You Know" (with Brown's vocal twang) suggests they could have gone into country rock, and then there's "Evening Gown" with its garage-boogie beat. B+(***) [R]

The Left Banke: The Left Banke Too (1968, Smash): Second (and last) album, stitched together from singles as the band personnel was churning -- Michael Brown split after two cuts, including the single "Desirée" which peaked at 98; the result is more consistent, the veneer more prog, and less interesting for that. B+(*) [R]

Love: Love (1966, Elektra): First album, Los Angeles band led by singer Arthur Lee; first impression is a hard-edged garage band, one reinforced with a ferocious "Hey Joe" on the backside, but they could also get artier (as in "Softly to Me") without getting wimpier; a remarkable debut. A- [R]

The Miracles: Cookin' With the Miracles (1961, Tamla): Second album for the Smokey Robinson vocal group, not under his name yet, perhaps because Berry Gordy, Jr. keeps a tight reign; Gordy gives them an old-fashioned R&B edge especially in the sax breaks, but Robinson's whoops and wails will astonish fans who discovered him later -- no big singles here (although "Shop Around" was on their debut), and this suffers when they slow it down at the end, but songs like "Mama" are eye-opening. B+(***) [R]

Joni Mitchell: Song to a Seagull (1968, Reprise): Singer-songwriter from Canada, came down to LA about the same time as Neil Young and hooked up with his pal David Crosby -- small world -- to produce this debut with its dense and intricate songs, nothing folkie or rockish about it -- sui generis, really. A- [R]

Joni Mitchell: Clouds (1969, Reprise): Second album, paving the way to her pop future by simplifying, and establishing herself as a songwriter with a few songs that can be done profitably by others -- "Both Sides Now" will become a genuine standard -- but at this point the payoffs are still meager. B+(**) [R]

Van Morrison: Blowin' Your Mind (1967, Bang): First post-Them LP, eight cuts I know best from the 1973 reissue (T.B. Sheets -- they were probably trying to relaunch the 9:44 title blues on FM) and again from the 18-cut 1991 CD Bang Masters, or you can go for the 1998 Epic/Legacy reissue with five alternate takes repeating the second side, just that much more of one of the heaviest records ever by one of rock's most indelible singers; starts with "Brown Eyed Girl" -- as perfect a single as was ever released. A [R]

Laura Nyro: Eli and the Thirteenth Confession (1968, Columbia): Second album, shows how when she oversings they call it gospel; barely cracked Billboard's 200, but spawned two top-10 hits for relatively insipid groups, giving her a sort of backlash cred but the album's such an overarching mess it's hard to find any genius to it. B [R]

Laura Nyro: New York Tendaberry (1969, Columbia): Third album, sold well, widely considered her masterpiece, but the over-singing is complemented by over-everything -- not that I don't hear a faint echo of Joni Mitchell, but she's basically a sponge, soaking up influences, spitting them out amplified, like the clichés in "Save the Country." C+ [R]

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles: Going to a Go-Go (1965, Tamla): The Miracles go back to 1961, but this was the first album to credit Robinson as the leader, and is one of the few 1960s Motown albums to enjoy a reputation as an album; of course, it got there by leading with its singles -- four straight went top-20, led by "The Tracks of My Tears" -- but they leave you craving more and Robinson's falsetto and the band's easy groove never lets you down. A- [R]

Sonny Rollins: What's New? (1962, RCA): Second album, after The Bridge, after the tenor sax great's 3-year hiatus, two tracks with Candido for extra percussion, three with guitarist Jim Hall (eventually reissued on CD as The Quartets); not sure who sings on the closing calypso, "Brown Skin Girl," but when the sax takes over there can be no doubt. A- [R]

Sonny Rollins: Our Man in Jazz (1962, RCA): Original album had three tracks, with "Dearly Beloved" bracketed by a 25:26 "Oleo" and a 15:17 "Doxy" -- basically a blowing session, with Don Cherry's cornet squaring off a quartet with Bob Cranshaw and Billy Higgins; the cornet adds a little dissonance to the sax, but mostly gives way to Rollins' titanic improvisations. A- [R]

Sonny Rollins: Now's the Time (1964, RCA): A set of familiar bebop standards from Parker, Gillespie, Golson, Monk (twice), Lewis, Davis, and Rollins (3:53 of "St. Thomas"), with Herbie Hancock on three tracks, Thad Jones on one, otherwise just bass and drums. B+(***) [R]

Sonny Rollins: The Standard Sonny Rollins (1964, RCA): Ten standards, things like "Night and Day" and "Trav'lin' Light" and "Long Ago (and Far Away)," backed by various bassists and drummers, often with Jim Hall on guitar or Herbie Hancock on piano, played with consummate authority but Rollins never breaks loose to astonish you, which by now is the least we expect. B+(**) [R]

The Ronettes: Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica (1964, Philles): Girl group, led by Veronica (aka Ronnie) Bennett but overshadowed by producer Phil Spector and his "wall of sound"; only album, 9 of 12 songs on their 18-track 2011 best-of (includes later singles but not earlier ones for Colpix); one of the era's greatest singles ("Be My Baby"), several credible echoes (titles like "Baby, I Love You" and "You, Baby"), down to filler like a "Chapel of Love" that could sub for the hit and a live "What'd I Say" that couldn't. B+(***) [R]

The Shangri-Las: The Leader of the Pack (1965, Red Bird): Girl group from Queens, originally two pairs of sisters, with singer Mary Weiss and producer Shadow Morton inspiring future bands from the New York Dolls to the Oblivians; leads off with two classics, "Give Him a Great Big Kiss" and the title song, adds a couple minor hits, and for filler goes with ravers ("Shout," "Twist and Shout," "You Can't Sit Down") and classics ("Maybe"). B+(***) [R]

Simon & Garfunkel: Wednesday Morning, 3AM (1964, Columbia): Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, initially a folkie duo fond of the Everly Brothers, only four originals for the writer (Simon) here, compared to three songs by trad. (like "Go Tell It on the Mountain") and one by Bob Dylan ("The Times They Are a-Changin'"); their breakthrough hit "The Sound of Silence" retains its charm, but lesser fare was starting to annoy. B [R]

Simon & Garfunkel: Sounds of Silence (1966, Columbia): Repeats last album's hit, the rest of the album Simon originals, ending with a second hit, "I Am a Rock," bookends that planted the seed in my mind that Simon was an antisocial nerd -- a trait that I shared at the time but as I struggled to put my own life back together I became ever more resentful of him; Garfunkel, as usual, just pretties the harmonies up. B [R]

Simon & Garfunkel: Bookends (1968, Columbia): "Voices of Old People" is an unsettling effect, as disruptive as the Beach Boys' studio hi-jinks cuts minus the humor, and leading in to "Old Friends" -- so awful I find myself wishing Simon were a rock; baited with middling singles like "Fakin' It" and "A Hazy Shade of Winter," and a big hit ("Mrs. Robinson"). C+ [R]

Sonny & Cher: The Wondrous World of Sonny & Cher (1966, Atco): Bono wrote 3 of 12 songs, including his solo debut "Laugh at Me" -- the top single here, peaking at 10 -- but covers like "Summer Time" and "Bring It On Home to Me" mark them as hardened show biz pros, the Spectorisms more muted but production is still king, and with Sonny singing more you have to figure he thinks he is too. B+(**) [R]

Sonny & Cher: In Case You're in Love (1967, Atco): A second huge hit, "The Beat Goes On," and a wide range of, uh, stuff: a Spectorized "Stand by Me" and a Spector original, a cover of "A Groovy Kind of Love" that shames the original, singles that misfire, spurious fiddle on the dreadful "Living for You," a vaudeville shtick called "Podunk." B+(*) [R]

Booker T. & the M.G.s: Green Onions (1962, Stax): The Memphis label's house band, with Booker T. Jones on organ, Steve Cropper on guitar, Lewis Steinberg (in 1965 replaced by Donald "Duck" Dunn) on bass, and Al Jackson on drums; no vocals, just funk tracks a little straighter than the organ-driven soul jazz of the period, but catchy enough to turn the title cut into a freak hit B+(***) [R]

Traffic: Mr. Fantasy (1967, Island): British group with Stevie Winwood (ex-Spencer Davis Group), Dave Mason, Jim Capaldi, and Chris Wood; UK release, 8 track retained and 4 ordered for the US debut Heaven Is in Your Mind; aims between psychedelia and prog, with sitar as the bridge from blues to nowhere, and flute -- which I suppose is charming if you're a snake. B [R]

Traffic: Last Exit (1969, Island): Third album, a bit of a hash with one studio side and one live side after Dave Mason split, making Stevie Winwood the dominant figure; his songwriting has clarified from the murk of the first album, so this is catchier, but also less interesting. B [R]

The Yardbirds: Five Live Yardbirds (1964, Columbia): First album, not released in the US until 1972 when it was attributed to "Eric Clapton and the Yardbirds," although their second US album, Rave-Up, constructed its second side from the best cuts here -- covers of Howlin' Wolf, Bo Diddley, and the Isley Brothers -- hard to express what a turn-on those then-unfamiliar songs were when I bought the album as a teenager; they're still impressive, even knowing the originals, but the remainder, less so. B+(***) [R]

The Yardbirds: For Your Love (1965, Epic): Like most British Invasion bands, they started out playing American blues and rock and roll standards in UK clubs, and even with Jeff Beck replacing Eric Clapton they had few peers, but they needed something original to crack the charts, and got their first big hit here with the Graham Gouldman-penned title track; only problem is the back side flails on "Sweet Music" and never recovers. B+(**) [R]

The Yardbirds: Yardbirds/Roger the Engineer (1966, Columbia): US version, with minor changes, was renamed for the group's last hit, Over Under Sideways Down; UK version was informally known as Roger the Engineer, and eventually reissued under that title; all group originals (Jeff Beck was the guitarist), seems like a move to formalize the group's sound but not much sticks. B+(*) [R]

The Yardbirds: Little Games (1967, Epic): The group's fourth (and last) studio album, introducing the third of their serial guitar legends, Jimmy Page; offers some amusing psychedelic touches, but the best thing here is an old jug band blues they've turned into a stoned singalong. B+(*) [R]

Neil Young: Neil Young (1968, Reprise): Folkie singer-songwriter from Canada, moved to California and became the most striking figure in Buffalo Springfield and the only one in Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young; first solo album, starts with an instrumental ("The Emperor of Wyoming"), ends in tragedy after trekking across a psychic wilderness. B+(**) [R]

The Young Rascals: The Young Rascals (1966, Warner Brothers): New Jersey band trying to figure out what works, with a pretty good garage take on Larry Williams' "Slow Down," a clownish "Like a Rolling Stone," and a tepid "In the Midnight Hour," but their exuberant pop remake of "Good Lovin'" -- an old doo-wop tune from the Olympics -- was the one that hit. B+(*) [R]

The Young Rascals: Collections (1967, Warner Brothers): Half originals this time, half covers, a mix where the dance novelties ("Mickey's Monkey," "Land of a Thousand Dances") complement their garage sound better than the ballads ("Since I Fell for You," "Turn On Your Love Light") illustrate "blue-eyed soul" -- I'd figure them for brown eyes, at least. B+(**) [R]

The Young Rascals: Groovin' (1967, Warner Brothers): More originals, the two covers (especially "A Place in the Sun") do more than show off their record collections, "A Girl Like You" hits Motown's sweet spot (with horns, no less), "Find Somebody" adds a unique guitar twist, and the title cut floats effortlessly to the top of the charts. A- [R]

Legend: B+ records are divided into three levels, where more * is better. [R] indicates record was reviewed using a stream from Rhapsody ([X] is some other identified stream source; otherwise assume a CD). The biggest caveat there is that the packaging and documentation hasn't been inspected or considered, and documentation is especially important for reissues. But also my exposure to streamed records is briefer and more limited, so I'm more prone to snap judgments -- although that's always a risk.

For this column and the previous 112, see the archive. Total records reviewed: 3949 (3505 + 444).

Additional Consumer News

Previously rated 1960s albums by artists reviewed here:

  • The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds (1966, Capitol) A+
  • The Beach Boys: Smiley Smile (1967, Capitol) B+
  • The Beach Boys: Wild Honey (1967, Capitol) A
  • The Beach Boys: Friends (1968, Capitol) B-
  • The Beach Boys: 20/20 (1969, Capitol) B+
  • Paul Bley: Closer (1965, ESP-Disk) A-
  • Paul Bley: Touching (1966, Black Lion) B+
  • Ornette Coleman: Free Jazz (1960, Atlantic) A-
  • Ornette Coleman: Ornette! (1961, Atlantic) A-
  • Ornette Coleman: Town Hall, 1962 (1962, ESP-Disk) B+
  • Ornette Coleman: Chappaqua Suite (1965, Columbia) B+
  • Ornette Coleman: At the Golden Circle, Stockholm: Volume 1 (1965, Blue Note) A
  • Ornette Coleman: At the Golden Circle, Stockholm: Volume 2 (1965, Blue Note) A-
  • Ornette Coleman: New York Is Now (1968, Blue Note) A-
  • Sam Cooke: Sam Cooke at the Copa (1964, RCA) A-
  • Fairport Convention: Unhalfbricking (1969, Hannibal) B+
  • Etta James: Tell Mama (1968, Cadet) A-
  • The Kinks: Kinks-Size (1965, Reprise) A-
  • Love: Forever Changes (1967, Elektra) A-
  • Sonny Rollins: The Bridge (1962, RCA) B+
  • Sonny Rollins/Coleman Hawkins: Sonny Meets Hawk! (1963, RCA) A-
  • Sonny Rollins: Alternatives (1964, RCA) A-
  • Sonny Rollins: On Impulse! (1965, Impulse) A
  • Sonny Rollins: East Broadway Run Down (1966, Impulse) B
  • Sonny Rollins: Alfie (1966, Impulse) A
  • Simon & Garfunkel: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (1966, Columbia) B-
  • Traffic: Traffic (1968, Island) B+
  • The Yardbirds: Having a Rave-Up With the Yardbirds (1966, Epic) A
  • Neil Young: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969, Reprise) A


Consulted Paste's The 60 Best Albums of the 1960s (my grades in brackets):

  1. The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) {9,1,3} [A]
  2. Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited (1965) {5,4,7} [A]
  3. The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds (1966) {2,2,6} [A+]
  4. The Rolling Stones: Let It Bleed (1969) {12,15,13} [A+]
  5. The Beatles: Revolver (1966) {4,3,1} [A]
  6. Bob Dylan: Blonde on Blonde (1966) {7,7,9} [A-]
  7. The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Are You Experienced? (1967) {10,6,12} [A-]
  8. Johnny Cash: At Folsom Prison (1968) {65,102,39} [B+]
  9. James Brown: Live at the Apollo (1963) {53,9,66} [A]
  10. John Coltrane: A Love Supreme (1965) {23,,23} [A+]
  11. The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground & Nico (1967) {1,17,5} [A+]
  12. The Band: Music From Big Pink (1968) {62,32,38} [A]
  13. The Zombies: Odessey and Oracle (1968) {8,61,22} [A-]
  14. The Beatles: Abbey Road (1969) {6,8,2} [B]
  15. The Band: The Band (1969) {37,21,30} [A+]
  16. Van Morrison: Astral Weeks (1968) {15,27,15} [A]
  17. Sly & the Family Stone: Stand! (1969) {19,29,68} [A]
  18. The Kinks: The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society (1968) {16,84,27} []
  19. Bob Dylan: The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (1963) {31,23,28} [A-]
  20. Love: Forever Changes (1967) {11,52,16} [A-]
  21. Neil Young: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (1969) {30,58,41} [A]
  22. King Crimson: In the Court of the Crimson King (1969) {29,30,18} []
  23. The Who: Tommy (1969) {32,10,24} [A-]
  24. Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin II (1969) {24,12,12} [B+]
  25. Otis Redding: Otis Blue (1965) {36,24,46} [A+]
  26. Miles Davis: Sketches of Spain (1960) {58,,64} [**]
  27. Leonard Cohen: Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967) {17,,37} [A]
  28. Crosby, Stills & Nash: Crosby, Stills & Nash (1969) {,40,50} [B-]
  29. Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin (1969) {54,19,14} [A-]
  30. Aretha Franklin: I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967) {59,16,63} [A]
  31. Otis Redding: The Dock of the Bay (1968) {,67,227} [A-]
  32. Miles Davis: In a Silent Way (1969) {,,55} [A]
  33. Jefferson Airplane: Surrealistic Pillow (1967) {77,31,43} [B+]
  34. The Rolling Stones: Beggars Banquet (1968) {13,28,21} [A]
  35. The Byrds: Sweetheart of the Rodeo (1968) {,36,75} [A]
  36. Sam Cooke: Night Beat (1963) {,,138} [A-]
  37. The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Electric Ladyland (1968) {20,18,17} [A]
  38. Etta James: At Last! (1961) {,33,144} [***]
  39. The Who: The Who Sell Out (1967) {38,43,49} [B+]
  40. The Beach Boys: Wild Honey (1967) {,111,118} [A]
  41. The Stooges: The Stooges (1969) {,68,51} [A-]
  42. Aretha Franklin: Lady Soul (1968) {34,,72} [A]
  43. Captain Beefheart: Trout Mask Replica (1969) {70,50,29} [A-]
  44. Nick Drake: Five Leaves Left (1969) {24,100,40} [B]
  45. Cream: Disraeli Gears (1967) {,26,35}[A-]
  46. The Shangri-Las: The Leader of the Pack (1965) [***]
  47. The Ronettes: Presenting the Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica (1964) {,,200} [***]
  48. The Doors: The Doors (1967) {18,13,10} [A-]
  49. The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground (1969) {22,105,25} [A+]
  50. Simon & Garfunkel: Sounds of Silence (1966) {74,,65} [B]
  51. Dusty Springfield: Dusty in Memphis (1969) {34,51,71} [A-]
  52. Howlin' Wolf: Howlin' Wolf (1962) {84,,154} [A+]
  53. The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Axis: Bold as Love (1967) {47,25,36} [A-]
  54. David Bowie: Space Oddity (1969) {,,80} [B+]
  55. The Velvet Underground: White Light/White Heat (1968) {33,128,31} [A]
  56. Marvin Gaye: In the Groove/I Heard It Through the Grapevine (1968) [***]
  57. MC5: Kick Out the Jams (1969) {,41,105} [B+]
  58. 13th Floor Elevators: The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators (1966) {76,,111} [A-]
  59. Big Brother and the Holding Company: Cheap Thrills (1968) {,49,99} [A]
  60. Booket T. & the M.G.s: Green Onions (1962) {94,69,234} [***]

A top 100 poll reported on The Old Acclaimed Music Forum adds the following:

  1. The Beatles: The Beatles (1968) {11,4} [B+]
  2. The Beatles: Rubber Soul (1965) {5,8} [A]
  3. Bob Dylan: Bringing It All Back Home (1965) {14,20} [A]
  4. The Beatles: Magical Mystery Tour (1967) {39,19} [A-]
  5. The Kinks: Something Else by the Kinks (1967) {38,47} []
  6. Charles Mingus: The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady (1963) {,34} [A-]
  7. The Beatles: A Hard Day's Night (1964) {22,23} [A-]
  8. Simon and Garfunkel: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme (1966) {70,67} [B-]
  9. The Byrds: The Notorious Byrd Brothers (1968) {147,79} [A-]
  10. Os Mutantes: Os Mutantes (1968) {141} [B+]
  11. Nina Simone: Pastel Blues (1965) {,192} [B+]
  12. The Millennium: Begin (1968) []
  13. The United States of America: The United States of America (1968) {,,91} [B]
  14. Simon & Garfunkel: Bookends (1968) {64,53} [C+]
  15. The Rolling Stones: Aftermath (1966) {63,57} [A]
  16. Pink Floyd: The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (1967) {47,26} [A]
  17. The Mothers of Invention: We're Only in It for the Money (1968) {53,52} [B-]
  18. The Beatles: Help! (1965) {55,32} [A+]
  19. John Coltrane: My Favorite Things (1961) {,87} [A-]
  20. Scott Walker: Scott 4 (1969) {,89} []
  21. The Byrds: Mr. Tambourine Man (1965) {45,124} [A-]
  22. Pharoah Sanders: Karma (1969) {112} [B]
  23. Ennio Morricone: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly [Il buono, il bruto, il cattivo] (1966) {,201} []
  24. Jacques Brel: Ces gens-là (1965) []
  25. The Monks: Black Monk Time (1966) {,86} [*]
  26. Bob Dylan: John Wesley Harding (1967) {110,69} [A]
  27. The Who: My Generation (1965) {56,62} [**]
  28. Georges Brassens: No 7 (1960) []
  29. John Coltrane: Giant Steps (1960) {,78} [A-]
  30. Jacques Brel: Jacques Brel (1962) []
  31. Stan Getz & João Gilberto: Getz/Gilberto (1964) {,81} [A-]
  32. Eric Dolphy: Out to Lunch! (1964) {,85} [A-]
  33. The Beach Boys: Today! (1965) {78,88} [***]
  34. Oscar Brown Jr.: Sin & Soul (1960) [A-]
  35. Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band: Safe as Milk (1967) {,56} [A-]
  36. Bob Dylan: The Times They Are A-Changin' (1964) {60} [B+]
  37. Bill Evans Trio: Sunday at the Village Vanguard (1961) {,182} [A]
  38. Bobby Bland: Two Steps From the Blues (1961) {,258} [A-]
  39. Otis Redding: Complete and Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul (1966) {91,,363} [A]
  40. The Mothers of Invention: Freak Out! (1966) {62,58} [B]
  41. The Kinks: Face to Face (1966) {42,97} []
  42. The Beatles: With the Beatles (1963) {46,,83} [A]
  43. The Mama's and the Papa's: If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears (1966) {76,92} [*]
  44. The Sonics: Here Are the Sonics!!! (1965) {129} []
  45. The Rolling Stones: Out of Our Heads (1965) {83,131} [A]
  46. Françoise Hardy: Tous les garçons et les filles (1962) []
  47. Jackson C. Frank: Jackson C. Frank (1965) {,,202} [**]
  48. The Byrds: Fifth Dimension (1966) {127,172} [B+]
  49. Bill Evans Trio: Waltz for Debby (1961) {,173} [A-]
  50. Horace Silver Quintet: Song for My Father (1965) {,267} [A-]
  51. A Christmas Gift for You (1963) {,191} [B]
  52. Wes Montgomery: Incredible Jazz Guitar (1960) {254} [A-]
  53. West Side Story [Original Soundtrack] (1961) []
  54. Ray Charles: Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music (1963) {101,116} [A]
  55. Bob Dylan: Another Side of Bob Dylan (1964) {,100} [A-]
  56. John Mayall: Blues Breakers With Eric Clapton (1966) {85,188} [B+]

Then there's a list of 100 (actually 200) rock albums at Digital Dream Door, adding:

  1. The Beatles: Please, Please Me (1963) {48} [A]
  2. Creedence Clearwater Revival: Green River (1969) {61} [A-]
  3. The Moody Blues: Days of Future Passed (1967) {54} [C-]
  4. Jeff Beck: Truth (1968) {146} [B]
  5. Cream: Wheels of Fire (1968) {104} [*]
  6. Iron Butterfly: In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida (1968) {166} []
  7. Cream: Fresh Cream (1966) {123} [**]
  8. Blind Faith: Blind Faith (1969) {76} [B+]
  9. Santana: Santana (1969) {115} [B]
  10. Buffalo Springfield: Buffalo Springfield Again (1967) {156} [B+]
  11. Pretty Things: S.F. Sorrow (1967) {110} [B]
  12. Elvis Presley: From Elvis in Memphis (1969) {122} []
  13. The Flying Burrito Brothers: The Gilded Palace of Sin (1969) {114} [A+]
  14. Chicago: Chicago Transit Authority (1969) {125} [B]
  15. The Doors: Strange Days (1967) {42} [B+]
  16. Jethro Tull: Stand Up (1969) {133} []
  17. The Byrds: Younger Than Yesterday (1967) {90} [C+]
  18. The Temptations: The Temptations Sing Smokey (1965) [***]
  19. Smokey Robinson and the Miracles: Going to a Go-Go (1965) [A-]
  20. The Supremes: Love Child (1968) []
  21. Grateful Dead: Live/Dead (1969) {98} [A-]
  22. Quicksilver Messenger Service: Happy Trails (1969) {222} [B+]
  23. The Yardbirds: Having a Rave Up With the Yardbirds (1966) {377} [A]
  24. Moby Grape: Moby Grape (1967) {135} []
  25. Jefferson Airplane: Volunteers (1969) {180} [B+]
  26. Creedence Clearwater Revival: Willy and the Poor Boys (1969) {70} [A]
  27. The Who: A Quick One (Happy Jack) (1966) {157} [***]
  28. Blood, Sweat & Tears: Blood, Sweat & Tears (1969) {149} [B+]
  29. The Moody Blues: On the Threshold of a Dream (1969) {177} []
  30. Vanilla Fudge: Vanilla Fudge (1967) {390} []
  31. Grateful Dead: Anthem of the Sun (1968) {196} [B]
  32. Traffic: Mr. Fantasy (1967) {132} [B]
  33. Steppenwolf: Steppenwolf (1968) {374} []
  34. Frank Zappa: Hot Rats (1969) {44} [B+]
  35. Bob Dylan: Bob Dylan (1962) {199} [B+]
  36. Wilson Pickett: The Wicked Pickett (1966) [**]
  37. Creedence Clearwater Revival: Bayou Country (1969) {117} [A]
  38. Joe Cocker: With a Little Help From My Friends (1969) {309} [B]
  39. Deep Purple: Shades of Deep Purple (1968) []
  40. Elvis Presley: Elvis Is Back (1960) {216} [B+]
  41. Blue Cheer: Vincebus Eruptum (1968) [*]
  42. Creedence Clearwater Revival: Creedence Clearwater Revival (1968) {161} [A]
  43. Bo Diddley: Bo Diddley Is a Gunslinger (1960) [**]
  44. Spirit: Spirit (1968) {273} []
  45. Jeff Beck Group: Beck-Ola (1969) {394} [C+]
  46. The Yardbirds: The Yardbirds [aka Roger the Engineer (1966) {208} [*]
  47. Simon and Garfunkel: Wednesday Morning 3 AM (1965) {220} [B]
  48. It's a Beautiful Day: It's a Beautiful Day (1969) {283} []
  49. Love: Love (1966) {294} [A-]
  50. The Allman Brothers Band: The Allman Brothers Band (1969) {121} [B+]
  51. The Mamas and the Papas: California Dreamin' (1966) []
  52. The Kinks: Arthur, or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire {45} (1969) []
  53. Cream: Goodbye (1969) {347} [*]
  54. Jethro Tull: This Was (1968) []
  55. The Temptations: Meet The Temptations (1964) [A-]
  56. Iron Butterfly: Heavy (1968) []
  57. Stevie Wonder: The 12 Year Old Genius (1963) []
  58. Country Joe & the Fish: Electric Music for the Mind and Body (1967) {185} [*]
  59. Chuck Berry: St. Louis to Liverpool (1964) {297} []
  60. Ten Years After: Ssssh (1969) {375} []
  61. The Byrds: Turn! Turn! Turn! (1965) {195} [B]
  62. The Lovin' Spoonful: Do You Believe in Magic? (1965) [A-]
  63. The Small Faces: Ogdens' Nut Gone Flake (1968) {145} [B]
  64. The Doors: The Soft Parade (1969) {143} [B-]
  65. Roy Orbison: In Dreams (1963) [**]
  66. The Beach Boys: Surfin' USA (1963) [B-]
  67. Grand Funk Railroad: Grand Funk (1969) []
  68. Jefferson Airplane: Takes Off (1966) [A-]
  69. Traffic: Traffic (1968) {255} [B+]
  70. The Soft Machine: The Soft Machine (1968) {225} [B+]
  71. The Young Rascals: Groovin' (1967) [A-]
  72. The Pretty Things: The Pretty Things (1965) []
  73. The Surfaris: Wipe Out (1963) []
  74. Yes: Yes (1969) {393} []
  75. Ike and Tina Turner: River Deep Mountain High (1966) {296} []
  76. Bee Gees: Bee Gees 1st (1967) {214} []
  77. The Everly Brothers: It's Everly Time (1960) []
  78. Stevie Wonder: Up-Tight (1966) [B]
  79. Buffalo Springfield: Buffalo Springfield (1966) {159} [A-]
  80. The Moody Blues: In Search of the Lost Chord (1968) {130} []
  81. The Impressions: People Get Ready (1965) []
  82. The Young Rascals: The Young Rascals (1966) [*]
  83. The Rolling Stones: Between The Buttons (1967) {96} [A]
  84. Steve Miller Band: Sailor (1968) []
  85. Deep Purple: Book of Taliesyn (1968) []
  86. Count Five: Psychotic Reaction (1966) []
  87. Quicksilver Messenger Service: Quicksilver Messenger Service (1968) {298} []
  88. Buddy Holly: The Buddy Holly Story, Volume 2 (1960) []
  89. Procol Harum: A Whiter Shade of Pale (1968) []
  90. The Rolling Stones: Flowers (1967) {288} [A-]
  91. Jefferson Airplane: Crown of Creation (1968) {252} [*]
  92. Country Joe & the Fish: I Feel Like I'm Fixin' to Die (1967) [*]
  93. Spirit: Family That Plays Together (1969) []
  94. Donovan: Sunshine Superman (1966) {176} []
  95. Lee Michaels: Lee Michaels (1969) []
  96. Free: Tons of Sobs (1968) []
  97. Manfred Mann: The Manfred Mann Album (1964) []
  98. Donovan: Hurdy Gurdy Man (1968) []
  99. The Kinks: The Kink Kontroversy (1966) {274} [**]
  100. Them: Here Comes the Night (1965) []
  101. Steve Miller Band: Children of the Future (1968) []
  102. Fairport Convention: Liege & Lief (1969) {103} [B+]
  103. The Beach Boys: Little Deuce Coupe (1963) [**]
  104. Jefferson Airplane: After Bathing at Baxter's (1967) {127} [**]
  105. Chambers Brothers: Time Has Come (1967) []
  106. Electric Flag: Electric Flag (1968) []
  107. Pink Floyd: A Saucerful of Secrets (1968) {82} [A-]
  108. Mitch Ryder & the Detroit Wheels: Sock It to Me! (1967) []
  109. The Youngbloods: Elephant Mountain (1969) []
  110. Jan & Dean: The Little Old Lady From Pasadena (1964) [A-]
  111. Tommy James & the Shondells: Crimson and Clover (1969) []
  112. Amboy Dukes: Journey to the Center of the Mind (1968) []
  113. Sir Douglas Quintet: Mendocino (1969) []
  114. Eric Burdon & the Animals: Winds of Change (1967) []
  115. The Turtles: It Ain't Me Babe (1965) []
  116. Roy Orbison: Crying (1962) [B]
  117. Fleetwood Mac: Then Play On (1969) {160} [B+]
  118. Procol Harum: Shine On Brightly (1968) {257} []
  119. Steppenwolf: The Second (1968) []
  120. ? & the Mysterians: Action (1966) []
  121. 13th Floor Elevators: Easter Everywhere (1967) {165} [A-]
  122. Chuck Berry: Rockin' at the Hops (1960) []
  123. Love: Da Capo (1969) {126} []
  124. The Troggs: From Nowhere - the Troggs (1966) {399} []
  125. The Standells: Dirty Water (1966) []
  126. Savoy Brown: Getting to the Point (1968) []

Finally, I consulted the 1960s list at Best Ever Albums, adding these (skipping most compilations and some classical music, stopping at 400):

  1. Robert Johnson: King of the Delta Blues Singers (1961) [A-]
  2. The Beatles: Beatles for Sale (1964) [A]
  3. Nico: Chelsea Girl (1967) [B+]
  4. The Doors: Waiting for the Sun (1968) [B]
  5. Bob Dylan: Nashville Skyline (1969) [A-]
  6. Tim Buckley: Goodbye and Hello (1967) []
  7. Isaac Hayes: Hot Buttered Soul (1969) [B]
  8. Leonard Cohen: Songs From a Room (1969) [**]
  9. John Coltrane: Ascension (1966) [B+]
  10. Johnny Cash: At San Quentin (1969) [A-]
  11. The Rolling Stones: Their Satanic Majesties Request (1967) [A-]
  12. The Red Crayola: Parable of Arable Land (1967) [A-]
  13. Nico: The Marble Index (1968) [**]
  14. Albert Ayler: Spiritual Unity (1965) [A]
  15. Pink Floyd: Ummagumma (1969) [B]
  16. The Beach Boys: Friends (1968) [B-]
  17. Fairport Convention: Unhalfbricking (1969) [B+]
  18. Fleetwood Mac: Fleetwood Mac (1968) []
  19. Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention: Absolutely Free (1967) []
  20. Silver Apples: Silver Apples (1968) [B+]
  21. B.B. King: Live at the Regal (1965) [A-]
  22. Cecil Taylor: Unit Structures (1966) [B+]
  23. Jan Johansson: Jazz På Svenska (1964) []
  24. The Beatles: Meet the Beatles! (1964) []
  25. Ewa Demarczyk: Ewa Demarczyk Spiewa Piosenki Zygmunta Koniecznego (1967) []
  26. Townes Van Zandt: Townes Van Zandt (1969) []
  27. Procol Harum: Procol Harum (1967) []
  28. The Beach Boys: Smiley Smile (1967) [B+]
  29. The Moody Blues: To Our Children's Children's Children (1969) []
  30. Van Dyke Parks: Song Cycle (1968) [C+]
  31. Laura Nyro: Eli & the Thirteenth Confession (1968) [B]
  32. Otis Redding: Pain in My Heart (1964) [A]
  33. Alexander Spence: Oar (1969) [*]
  34. Tim Buckley: Happy Sad (1969) []
  35. Frank Zappa & the Mothers of Invention: Uncle Meat (1969) []
  36. Procol Harum: A Salty Dog (1969) [**]
  37. Scott Walker: Scott 2 (1968) [C+]
  38. Dr. John the Night Tripper: Gris-Gris (1968) [B]
  39. The Incredible String Band: The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter (1968) [C]
  40. Caetano Veloso: Caetano Veloso (1968) []
  41. Muddy Waters: Folk Singer (1964) [A-]
  42. Sun Ra: Atlantis (1969) [B]
  43. Vince Guaraldi Trio: A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965) []
  44. Can: Monster Movie (1969) [A-]
  45. Jerry Lee Lewis: Live at the Star Club, Hamburg (1964) [A]
  46. The Beatles: Yellow Submarine (1969) [B-]
  47. Charles Mingus: Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus (1963) [A-]
  48. Laura Nyro: New York Tendaberry (1969) [C+]
  49. Joan Baez: Joan Baez (1960) []
  50. The Beach Boys: All Summer Long (1964) [***]
  51. The Rolling Stones: The Rolling Stones (1964) [A]
  52. Albert King: Born Under a Bad Sign (1967) [A-]
  53. Terry Riley: A Rainbow in Curved Air (1969) [A-]
  54. Pentangle: Basket of Light (1969) [**]
  55. Peter Brötzmann: Machine Gun (1968) [B+]
  56. Joni Mitchell: Clouds (1969) [**]
  57. Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood: Nancy & Lee (1968) []
  58. Charles Mingus: Blues & Roots (1960) [A]
  59. Sam Cooke: Ain't That Good News (1964) [A-]
  60. The Kinks: Kinks (1964) [A-]
  61. Joni Mitchell: Song to a Seagull (1968) [A-]
  62. Herbie Hancock: Maiden Voyage (1965) [A]
  63. Ornette Coleman Double Quartet: Free Jazz: A Collective Improvisation (1961) [A-]
  64. Frank Sinatra: Frank Sinatra and Antonio Carlos Jobim (1967) [B-]
  65. Bert Jansch: Bert Jansch (1965) []
  66. Almendra: Almendra (1969) []
  67. Ella Fitzgerald: Ella in Berlin (1960) [B+]
  68. The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World (1969) [B-]
  69. The Kinks: Kinda Kinks (1965) [**]
  70. Blood, Sweat & Tears: Child Is Father to the Man (1968) []
  71. The Monkees: Headquarters (1967) []
  72. Violeta Parra: Las Últimas Composiciones (1968) []
  73. Andrew Hill: Point of Departure (1964) [A-]
  74. Krzysztof Komeda: Astigmatic (1966) [A]
  75. The Animals: The Animals (1964) []
  76. Neil Young: Neil Young (1968) [**]
  77. Nina Simone: I Put a Spell on You (1965) []
  78. Tim Buckley: Tim Buckley (1965) []
  79. Janis Joplin: I Got Dem Ol' Kozmic Blues Again Mama! (1969) [B+]
  80. The Monkees: Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. (1967) []
  81. Grateful Dead: Grateful Dead (l1967) [A-]
  82. John Coltrane Quartet: Ballads (1962) [A]
  83. The Monkees: Head (1968) []
  84. Frank Sinatra: September of My Years (1965) []
  85. The Everly Brothers: The Fabulous Style of the Everly Brothers (1960) []
  86. Jack Bruce: Songs for a Tailor (1969) []
  87. Oscar Peterson Trio: Night Train (1962) [A-]
  88. Muddy Waters: At Newport 1960 (1960) [A-]
  89. Townes Van Zandt: Our Mother the Mountain (1969) []
  90. Sly and the Family Stone: Dance to the Music (1968) [B]
  91. John Coltrane: Olé Coltrane (1962) [A]
  92. The Beach Boys: Surfer Girl (1963) [***]
  93. The Hollies: Butterfly (1967) []
  94. The Supremes: Where Did Our Love Go (1964) []
  95. Pink Floyd: More (1965) [B-]
  96. Thelonious Monk: Monk's Dream (1963) [A-]
  97. John Fahey: The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death (1965) [A-]
  98. Brigitte Fontaine: Comme à la Radio (1969) [***]
  99. Bee Gees: Odessa (1969) []
  100. Tim Hardin: Tim Hardin 1 (1966) []
  101. The Easybeats: Friday on My Mind (1967) []
  102. John Mayall: The Turning Point (1969) []
  103. Django Reinhardt: The Best of Django Reinhardt (1960) []
  104. John Coltrane: Interstellar Space (1967) [A-]
  105. Etta James: Tell Mama (1968) [A-]
  106. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band: The Paul Butterfield Blues Band (1965) [B+]
  107. Charlie Haden: Liberation Music Orchestra (1969) [B+]
  108. Hair (1968) []
  109. Miles Davis: Miles Smiles (1967) [A-]
  110. T. Rex: My People Were Fair and Had Sky in Their Hair but Now They're Content to Wear Stars on Their Brows (1968) []
  111. The Beatles: "Yesterday" . . . and Today (1966) []
  112. Gandalf: Gandalf (1969) []
  113. The Hollies: Evolution (1967) [A-]
  114. The Jazz Composer's Orchestra: The Jazz Composer's Orchestra (1968) []
  115. Donovan: The Hurdy Gurdy Man (1968) []
  116. Wayne Shorter: Speak No Evil (1965) [B+]
  117. Scott Walker: Scott 3 (1968) []
  118. Fairport Convention: What We Did on Our Holidays (1969) []
  119. Patsy Cline: Showcase (1961) []
  120. Aretha Franklin: Aretha Now (1968) [A]
  121. Grant Green: Idle Moments (1964) [A-]
  122. Judy Garland: Judy at Carnegie Hall (1961) []
  123. Dillard and Clark: The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard & Clark (1968) []
  124. Antonio Carlos Jobim: Wave (1967) [A-]
  125. Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs: Foggy Mountain Banjo (1961) []
  126. Bloomfield/Kooper/Stills: Super Session (1968) []
  127. Amon Düül II: Phallus Dei (1969) [***]
  128. Roy Orbison: Lonely and Blue (1961) [B]
  129. Nina Simone: Sings the Blues (1967) [B]
  130. John Coltrane: John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman (1963) [B+]
  131. Duke Ellington: Far East Suite (1967) [A+]
  132. Dexter Gordon: Go (1962) [B+]
  133. Charles Mingus: Tijuana Moods (1962) [A-]
  134. The Crickets: In Style With the Crickets (1960) []
  135. The Seeds: The Seeds (1966) [A-]
  136. Jimmy Smith: Back at the Chicken Shack (1963) [A-]
  137. Glenn Gould: The Two and Three-Part Inventions (1964) []
  138. Peter, Paul and Mary: Peter, Paul and Mary (1962) []
  139. The Turtles: Happy Together (1967) []
  140. Tropicália ou Panis et Circencis (1968) [A]
  141. The Monkees: More of the Monkees (1967) []
  142. The Beach Boys: Summer Days (and Summer Nights) (1965) [A-]
  143. Victor Jara: Pongo en Tus Manos Abiertas (1969) []
  144. Smokey Robinson and the Miracles: Make It Happen (1967) []
  145. Roy Harper: Folkjokeopus (1969) []
  146. Eric Dolphy: Out There (1960) []
  147. The Red Krayola: God Bless the Red Krayola and All Who Sail With It (1968) [B]
  148. Moondog: Moondog (1969) []
  149. White Noise: An Electric Storm (1969) []
  150. The Incredible String Band: Wee Tarn and the Big Huge (1968) []
  151. Gal Costa: Gal Costa (327) []
  152. The Animals: Animalism (1966) []
  153. The Yardbirds: Little Games (1967) [*]
  154. The Zombies: Begin Here (1965) []
  155. Nina Simone: Wild Is the Wind (1966) []
  156. The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band: Part One (1967) []
  157. Anthony Braxton: Three Compositions of New Jazz (1968) [B]
  158. Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington: The Great Summit: The Master Takes (1961) [A]
  159. The Animals: Animalization (1966) []
  160. The Ventures: Walk Don't Run (1960) []
  161. David Peel: Have a Marijuana (1969) []
  162. Doc Watson: Southbound (1966) []
  163. Soft Machine: Volume Two (1969) []
  164. Steve Miller Band: Children of the Future (1968) []
  165. Serge Gainsbourg: Jane Birkin/Serge Gainsbourg (1969) []
  166. John Phillips: John, the Wolf King of L.A. (1969) [**]
  167. Donovan: A Gift From a Flower to a Garden (1967) []
  168. Steve Miller Band: (1968) []
  169. Patsy Cline: Sentimentally Yours (1962) []
  170. 13th Floor Elevators: Bull of the Woods (1969) [**]
  171. Bubble Puppy: A Gathering of Promises (1969) []
  172. Free: Tons of Sobs (1969) []
  173. John Coltrane: Coltrane's Sound (1964) [A-]
  174. Fred Neil: Fred Neil (1966) [A-]
  175. Taj Mahal: Taj Mahal (1968) []
  176. Arthur Brown: The Crazy World of Arthur Brown (1968) []
  177. Chuck Berry: Rockin' at the Hops (1960) []
  178. Thelonious Monk: Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane (1961) [A-]
  179. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band: East-West (1966) [B+]
  180. Sagittarius: Present Tense (1968) []
  181. Don Cherry: Eternal Rhythm (1969) []
  182. The Impressions: The Impressions (1963) []
  183. B.B. King: Lucille (1968) []
  184. The West Coast Pop Art Expermental Band: Volume 3: A Child's Guide to Good and Evil (1968) []
  185. Phil Ochs: All the News That's Fit to Sing (1964) []
  186. Donovan: Fairytale (1965) []
  187. Lambert, Hendricks & Ross: Lambert, Hendricks & Ross! (1960) []
  188. Tiny Tim: God Bless Tiny Tim (1968) []
  189. Family: Music in a Doll's House (1968) []
  190. Børt Erik Thoresen & Åse Thoresen: Viser Ved Peisen (1968) []
  191. Tim Hardin: Tim Hardin 2 (1967) []
  192. Chico Buarque: Chico Buarque De Hollanda Vol. 1 (1966) []
  193. Small Faces: Autumn Stone (1969) []
  194. Frank Sinatra: Sinatra at the Sands (1966) []
  195. Junior Wells: Hoodoo Man Blues (1965) [A-]
  196. The Mamas and the Papas: Deliver (1967) []
  197. Prudy: Zvonte Zvonky (1969) []
  198. Jacques Brel: Olympia 64 (1964) []
  199. Jimmy Cliff: Jimmy Cliff (1969) []
  200. Karlheinz Stockhausen: Kontakte (1960) []
  201. Pentangle: Sweet Child (1968) []
  202. Magic Sam: West Side Soul (1967) [A-]
  203. Miles Davis: Someday My Prince Will Come (1961) [B]
  204. Nina Simone: To Love Somebody (1969) []
  205. Steve Miller Band: Your Saving Grace (1969) []
  206. The Move: Move (1968) []
  207. Lou Rawls: Live! (1966) []
  208. The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band: The Doughnut in Granny's Greenhouse (1968) []
  209. John Coltrane: Meditations (1965) [B]
  210. The Everly Brothers: A Date With the Everly Brothers (1961) []
  211. The Left Banke: Walk Away Renee/Pretty Ballerina (1967) [***]
  212. Sun Ra: The Magic City (1966) []
  213. Deep Purple: Deep Purple (1969) []

Copyright © 2013 Tom Hull.