Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Revisiting My Favorite Albums of The 1960s

Hey, it's that time of year again. Every year (starting--and probably ending--in 2010) I've kicked off Spring by revisiting my favorite albums of the decade lists. As I did before, I'll count down my favorites from the '90s then the '80s then the '70s then the '60s then, finally and counterintuitively, the '00s. Why? you ask. Because not only are my tastes constantly changing a little--I'm getting more or less mature (not sure which), more or less knowledgeable, etc.--but also I'm always hearing new (old) music.

The lists will be presented in one serving (a.k.a. post) and counted down from #90 to #1. When compared to the original lists, albums that are completely new to the lists will be listed in blue. Albums that have moved up ten or more spots will be in green, and albums that have moved down ten or more will be in red. I will choose to write blurbs about random albums that are listed in these colored fonts. The write-ups will be in grey. It will be awesome. Hopefully. It might be confusing.

I'm done with the (long) faux-nostalgic write-ups; all I'm going to say is: the '60s were the beginning--I know rock n' roll and even electronic were bubbling up in the '50s, but the '60s were the first decade in which the rock album figured prominently in culture and in which experimental music, soul, rock, pop, etc. all started to intertwine. (The first editions of the list are here, here, and here.)

Here are my 90 favorite albums of the 1960s:

90. Lothar And The Hand People--Presenting Lothar And The Hand People
89. Herbie Hancock--Fat Albert Rotunda
88. The Rolling Stones--Let It Bleed
87. Skip Spence--Oar
86. Cromagnon--Orgasm
85. Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood--Nancy & Lee
84. Serge Gainsbourg--Songs On Page One
83. The Soft Machine--The Soft Machine
82. Yusef Lateef--Eastern Sounds
81. Bobby Hutcherson--Dialogue
As is the trend with all these revisions, albums at the bottom have gotten pushed back because of new additions. Such is life.

80. Ike Turner & The Kings Of Rhythm--A Black Man's Soul
79. Bill Evans--Sunday At The Village Vanguard
78. The Beatles--With The Beatles
My penultimate Beatles album (Let It Be came into my life after), With The Beatles is another great batch of pre-writing-all-their-own-stuff Beatles songs. While it's not quite as good as most of their other efforts, it's still full of great, very fun rock n' roll.
77. Scott Walker--Scott
76. Duke Ellington--Money Jungle
75. The Beach Boys--Wild Honey
74. Silver Apples--Contact
73. The Byrds--Sweetheart Of The Rodeo
72. The Beatles--Help!
71. John Coltrane--My Favorite Things

70. Sun Ra--Heliocentric Worlds, Pt. 1
69. Johnny Cash--Live At Folsom Prison
68. The Kinks--Are The Village Green Preservation Society
67. The Beatles--Beatles For Sale
66. Frank Zappa--Hot Rats
65. John Fahey--Requia
64. Isaac Hayes--Hot Buttered Soul
63. Anthony Braxton--3 Compositions Of New Jazz
62. The Beatles--Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
61. The Sonics--Boom

60. Nico--Chelsea Girl
Who knew that girl from the VU album could make good music on her own? Well, a lot of people did. And know I do, too. Chelsea Girl is a really great rock/pop/folk album anchored by one of the best songs of all time: "These Days".
59. Leonard Cohen--Songs From A Room
58. Cecil Taylor--Unit Structures
This is another addition to my growing collection of free jazz, and it's a truly awesome album. Cecil Taylor proves himself to be one of the best pianists around with his manic, loud ivory tickling. Unit Structures is surprisingly aggressive for a jazz album, and also surprisingly good.
57. Scott Walker-- Scott 3
56. The Beatles--Please Please Me
55. The Band--The Band
54. Terry Riley--A Rainbow In Curved Air
53. Eric Dolphy--Out To Lunch
52. Creedence Clearwater Revival--Willy And The Poor Boys
Nothing against CCR, I just lost a little appreciation for Willy. It's a great album--it's just not their best. It's a little too...something. And I still need to get Green River, so I'm saving room on the list.
51. Scott Walker--Scott 2

50. The Beatles--Rubber Soul
49. Roscoe Mitchell--Sound
48. Simon & Garfunkel--Bookends
47. The Jimi Hendrix Experience--Electric Ladyland
46. Sam Cooke--Night Beat
I've always loved Sam Cooke; his voice is arguably the greatest I've ever heard. But I never knew that he had made an amazing studio album--that is, until I heard Night Beat. It's a rare album in that it's an early '60s soul album not full of filler. It's full of classic songs.
45. Peter Brotzmann--Machine Gun
44. Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band--Safe As Milk
43. Bob Dylan--Highway 61 Revisited
42. King Crimson--In The Court Of The Crimson King
41. Nick Drake--Five Leaves Left

40. Miles Davis--Sketches Of Spain
39. The Mothers Of Invention--Freak Out!
38. Pink Floyd--Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
I was never too keen on Pink Floyd until I heard this one. Sure I respected them for doing whatever it was that they did. But none of the music is truly exciting to me except for that on Piper. (It might have something to do with Syd Barrett.) Nevertheless, Piper is a wild, psychedelic rock album that isn't pretentious like Floyd's later work; it's just good, weird rock n' roll.
37. The Beatles--A Hard Day's Night
36. John Coltrane--Giant Steps
35. The Zombies--Odessey and Oracle
34. Pharoah Sanders--Karma
33. The Rolling Stones--Beggars Banquet
32. White Noise--An Electric Storm
This album is certainly one of the most important in the history of electronic music due to its technological innovations, but it is also full of genuinely great (experimental) pop music. While some examples of early electronic are messy bits of sound, White Noise mixes technology with great hooks and great textures that assemble to create great actual songs.
31. Charles Mingus--The Black Saint and The Sinner Lady

30. Van Dyke Parks--Song Cycle
29. The Mothers Of Invention--We're Only In It For The Money
28. Anthony Braxton--For Alto
27. The Monks--Black Monk Time
26. Otis Redding--Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul
25. Terry Riley--In C
24. Miles Davis--In A Silent Way
23. The Sonics--Here Are The Sonics!!!
22. Can--Monster Movie
21. Bob Dylan--Blonde On Blonde

20. Scott Walker--Scott 4
19. John Fahey--The Transfiguration Of Blind Joe Death
My love for these two grew exponentially over the last few months--not that the two above albums have anything to do with each other musically or culturally. Scott 4 is without a doubt Walker's masterpiece; it's darker, stranger, richer, and better written than anything else in his '60s canon, and still better written than any of his later work. (It certainly isn't stranger than The Drift.) Transfiguration, like Scott 4, is an opus. Over the last few months, I've been listening to copious amounts of John Fahey (and followers/contemporaries of his like Leo Kottke, Peter Walker, and Jack Rose), and I like his music more and more each time I listen. I know a few of his albums now, but none are quite as amazing as Transfiguration. It's the right amount of fun and challenging, traditional and experimental.
18. John Coltrane--Ascension
17. The Beatles--Abbey Road
16. Sly & The Family Stone--Stand!
15. The Jimi Hendrix Experience--Are You Experienced?
14. The Beatles--Magical Mystery Tour
13. Leonard Cohen--Songs Of Leonard Cohen
12. Albert Ayler Trio--Spiritual Unity
11. The Velvet Underground--The Velvet Underground

10. James Brown--Live At The Apollo
9. John Coltrane--A Love Supreme
8. The Stooges--The Stooges
7. Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band--Trout Mask Replica
6. The Beach Boys--Pet Sounds
5. Love--Forever Changes
4. The Beatles--The Beatles (The White Album)
3. The Velvet Underground--White Light/White Heat
2. The Beatles--Revolver
1. The Velvet Underground--The Velvet Underground & Nico
Well, there was only one small change in the top 15: switching The Stooges and A Love Supreme. So there.

That's what I think. Best of the '00s won't come out for a bit--I need more time to reflect.

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