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14 Years on Sput/mx: Top Albums of the 1960s

Missed my actual date, which was three days ago (24-Sep), after another list prompted me to check and see when exactly it was. Can't believe it has been 14 years - first joined mxtabs when I started learning guitar (I was 16 back then) and have since used the site on-and-off as a music reference. Not until my bony ass finally got a Spotify account at the beginning of 2019 did I start seriously logging and tracking everything I've listened to, but it has been fun revisiting classics and old favorites and chatting about them with greater frequency now. And I've also run into some pretty cool fellow film-bros, too. In honor of this occasion, here are my (current) Top 10 albums of the 1960s, with five honorable mentions.
15Van Morrison
Astral Weeks

HONORABLE MENTION: An album I don't revisit often, yet whenever I do, I end up asking myself why I don't listen to it more. I might prefer 'Moondance' by a hair, bur Morrison's voice is at its peak here, and the long ensembles are too easy to simply fall into. Great album.

Favorite Track: "Beside You"
14The 13th Floor Elevators
The Psychedelic Sounds Of...

HONORABLE MENTION: Love the way this bounces effortlessly between anxious rock, jangly pop, and zonked-out psychedelia. Like the Kinks pick, here's an album with essentially no weak spots - can't recall a time I listened to just a track or two. I always end up playing the whole thing.

Favorite Track: "You're Gonna Miss Me"
13The Rolling Stones
Let It Bleed

HONORABLE MENTION: Admittedly not a huge Stones guy, but I still have a hard time denying this album's greatness, especially when it contains one of the greatest opener/closer combinations in all of rock music. The songs in the middle ain't too bad, either.

Favorite Track: "Gimme Shelter"
12Nick Drake
Five Leaves Left

HONORABLE MENTION: My favorite Drake, and while I love all of his "big three", I find the others (esp. 'Pink Moon') just a *touch* too pared-down and/or removed for me to claim as my favorite. Here, everything is aligned perfectly: The music, the melodies, the lyrics, the sentiment.

Favorite Track: "Fruit Tree"
11Bob Dylan
Highway 61 Revisited

HONORABLE MENTION: I tend to be touch and go on Mr. Dylan, but this is the one album I have found getting better and better with age. There was a time in my life when I'd claim "Like a Rolling Stone" was my favorite song of all time. Can't say that still holds true today, but it'd probably crack the Top 10. One hell of a way to open an album. (And "Desolation Row" is one hell of a way to close, too.)

Favorite Track: "Like a Rolling Stone"
10The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Axis: Bold as Love

Another pick I catch devious glances for, but it's true: I prefer this to both 'Electric Ladyland' (great, but a tad too improvisational and strung out for me to love) and 'Are You Experienced' (great, but a tad too rough around the edges and sloppy for me to truly embrace). This strikes a perfect balance between dawdling, spaced-out Jimi and musical genius Jimi, and I love every second of it.

Favorite Track: "If 6 Was 9"
Forever Changes

Such a smooth, warm, buttery album that seems so carefree and whimsical while you're listening to it, only to retroactively thrust all of its weight into your skull once it's over. Lost count of the times I've listened to this album and completely zoned out as if nothing else mattered for about 40 minutes. *Chef's kiss*.

Favorite Track: "You Set the Scene"
8Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band
Trout Mask Replica

What can be said about this singular piece of art that hasn't been said already, good or bad? A double album that absolutely shouldn't work, but totally does, loaded with a particular chaos and avant-garde energy that I haven't been able to find anywhere else (esp. in the 60s!). Even down to the strange album cover, which miraculously personifies the nauseating surrealist vibes of the music. (And I mean that in the best way possible.)

Favorite Track: "Frownland"
7Charles Mingus
The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady

Not a huge jazz guy (not to say I don't like it - I love (most of) it, actually - but I'm comparatively inexperienced in the genre, to say the least) but this is one of the few (along with Davis's 'Bitches Brew' and Coltrane's 'A Love Supreme') that I find myself constantly revisiting. The neat thing is that I'm always finding something new, a little quirk or ephemeral note or something that catches me completely off-guard and completely restores my love of the album.

Favorite Track: "Track B - Duet Solo Dancers"
6The Velvet Underground
The Velvet Underground

Always get weird looks when I tell people this is my favorite Velvet Underground album. Even weirder looks when I say that 'The Velvet Underground & Nico' and 'White Light/White Heat' are merely "good" (maybe even "just okay"). It's true, though - something about their sound had never completed jelled with me until I heard their self-titled (non-Nico-conjoined) release. A little poppier, more mellow, brighter, etc. I guess that's just what I needed.

Favorite Track: "Pale Blue Eyes"
5The Kinks
The Village Green Preservation Society

Another great and overlooked (even if mostly appreciated) pop album from the 60s: There isn't a single song here that isn't catchy in some way, either lyrically or melodically, and it's incredibly rare to find a 15-track album without some kind of sag. Had a hard time picking a favorite, probably the hardest time. The whole album operates on an uber-consistent level of quality.

Favorite Track: "Do You Remember Walter?"
4Miles Davis
In a Silent Way

My favorite Davis has always been "Bitches Brew" (which isn't eligible for this list) but hot damn, I've been recently thinking about what this would look like atop that list. It's more ubiquitous, for sure, and contains one of my favorite moments in all of music (when the drums bust in around 13:10 on the title track). Post-rock before such a thing existed; the build-ups, the energetic releases, the enigmatic quality of it all, the fluidity...Such a masterful piece of work.

Favorite Track: "In a Silent Way / It's About That Time"
3King Crimson
In the Court of the Crimson King

Maybe a cliche pick nowadays (is it?) but I can't deny my love of the Crimson. Personal favorite is 'Red' (obviously doesn't qualify here) but 'Court' is the album that introduced me to the band and led me down the rabbit hole many years ago. In fact, my first exposure to them might've been hearing "Moonlight" in the film BUFFALO '66, which remains one of my favorite film scenes of all time. A watershed album, and a masterpiece.

Favorite Track: "Epitaph"
2The Zombies
Odessey and Oracle

Easily one of the greatest early pop records of the 1960s (or, I guess, *ever*, for that matter), and the whole debacle behind that album's release only makes it richer. To think that people didn't like this upon release is baffling, even with a glaring typo in its name, but I'm forever grateful this eventually saw the light of day and continued to keep its head above water long enough for later generations to have and cherish it.

Favorite Track: "Care of Cell 44"
1The Beatles
Rubber Soul

Maybe a weird pick for a favorite Beatles album, but there's something about 'Rubber Soul' that just feels completely untouchable to me. One of those rare "perfect" albums, not a single skippable track. One of the few albums to make me cry (namely "In My Life"). One of those albums that seemed way ahead of it's time - it's still almost unfathomable that this was released in 1965.

Favorite Track: "In My Life"
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