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Laurence Station's Top 10 Albums of the 1960s

1. The Beatles: Revolver (Capitol, 1966)
Rubber Soul pointed the way, but this is the great creative and stylistic leap from accomplished pop quartet to innovative explorers of new (albeit hallucinogenic) soundscapes and globally-inspired tones.
2. Bob Dylan: Blonde On Blonde (Columbia, 1966)
"Inside the museums / Infinity goes up on trial." Dylan lashes out at his critics, but in a satiric, rather than caustic manner. Bold, expansive and as lyrically inventive as any album he ever released.
3. Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited (Columbia, 1965)
The folkie Dylan vanished forever and the new, harder rocking troubadour cast down a defiant gauntlet that would portend future masterworks.
4. The Beatles: Abbey Road (Apple, 1969)
Making up for the overproduced mess that was Let It Be, perhaps the group's strongest overall effort. A masterful parting shot from one of the most important bands in rock history.
5. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band: Trout Mask Replica (Reprise, 1969)
Desert-fried, reconstituted R&B, as channeled through the prismatic sphere that is Don Van Vliet's one-of-a-kind mind. Defiantly difficult upon the first hundred or so rotations, improving with each renewed listen. One of the unique creations in the history of popular music.
6. Van Morrison: Astral Weeks (Warner Bros., 1968)
Looking back at a time forever lost, a gentle, affected, deeply felt work from one of the great artists of modern music. The orchestration is top notch.
7. James Brown: Live at the Apollo (1962) (Polydor, 1963)
The great R&B live record. James Brown and backing band, The Flames, in their ideal element, rivaling the historic building in which this overpowering performance was captured.
8. Aretha Franklin: I Never Loved A Man The Way I Loved You (Atlantic, 1967)
Producer Jerry Wexler allowed Aretha to be Aretha and the result was one of the finest soul records ever recorded. Every note counts on this one. From start to finish, an absolute joy to hear.
9. The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground & Nico (Verve, 1967)
Nervous, edgy, and anxious, an unflinchingly tough look at the seduction and ugliness of drug addiction. Beyond that, as musically deft a release as any produced during the decade.
10. The Byrds: Sweetheart Of The Rodeo (Columbia, 1968)
Gram Parsons is the secret weapon on this country-rock landmark, and his influence, for better or worse, cast a long shadow during the coming decade, as rockers got in touch with their rural roots and respect was paid to a wealth of down home, nearly forgotten, musical ancestors.
Since the widely bootlegged Basement Tapes are ineligible, the above list will have to do. The first hint of Album Oriented Rock revealed itself during the '60s, as artists broadened their notions on what could and could not constitute a long playing record. The '70s would take this notion to bloated, nearly grotesque extremes, yet, thankfully, help spawn a punk backlash in the process. Here's the list of fine records that didn't make the elite ten:
  • The Band: Music From Big Pink (Capitol, 1968)
  • The Band: The Band (Capitol, 1969)
  • Beach Boys: Pet Sounds (Capitol, 1966)
  • The Beatles: A Hard Day's Night (Capitol, 1964)
  • The Beatles: Help! (Capitol, 1965)
  • The Beatles: Magical Mystery Tour (Capitol, 1967)
  • The Beatles: Rubber Soul (Capitol, 1965)
  • The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Capitol, 1967)
  • The Beatles: The Beatles [The White Album] (Capitol, 1968)
  • Buffalo Springfield: Buffalo Springfield Again (Atco, 1968)
  • Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band: Safe As Milk (Buddha, 1966)
  • Leonard Cohen: Songs Of Leonard Cohen (Columbia, 1968)
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival: Green River (Fantasy, 1969)
  • The Doors: The Doors (Elektra, 1967)
  • Bob Dylan: The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan (Columbia, 1963)
  • Bob Dylan: Another Side of Bob Dylan (Columbia, 1964)
  • Bob Dylan: Bringing It All Back Home (Columbia, 1965)
  • Bob Dylan: John Wesley Harding (Columbia, 1967)
  • The Flying Burrito Brothers: The Gilded Palace Of Sin (Reprise, 1969)
  • The Fugs: The Fugs (Fantasy, 1966)
  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Are You Experienced? (Reprise, 1967)
  • The Kinks: Face To Face (Reprise/ESM, 1966)
  • The Kinks: Something Else (Reprise, 1967)
  • Led Zeppelin II (Atlantic, 1969)
  • Love: Forever Changes (Elektra, 1968)
  • MC5: Kick Out The Jams (Elektra, 1969)
  • Fred Neil: Fred Neil (Capitol, 1967)
  • Pink Floyd: The Piper At the Gates Of Dawn (Columbia, 1967)
  • Otis Redding: Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul (Atco, 1966)
  • The Rolling Stones: Beggars Banquet (London/Abko, 1968)
  • The Rolling Stones: Let It Bleed (London, 1969)
  • The Shaggs: Philosophy of the World (RCA, 1969)
  • Sly And The Family Stone: Stand! (Epic, 1969)
  • Dusty Springfield: Dusty In Memphis (Atlantic, 1969)
  • The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground (Verve, 1969)
  • The Velvet Underground: White Light/White Heat (Verve, 1968)
  • Muddy Waters: At Newport (MCA/Chess, 1960)
  • The Who: The Who Sell Out (MCA, 1967)

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