The best of the 60sPosted: January 6, 2013
52 weeks and 52 albums. The 60s we’re a blast! Here are our favourite albums and songs from that decade.
1. Elvis Presley – From Elvis in Memphis
My only reference of Elvis was his singles and cheesy movie soundtracks. I had no idea how talented the man was. This album blew me away and has been on high rotation ever since.
2. Aretha Franklin – I Never Loved a Man the Way I Loved You
Sweet, sweet Aretha. There is something so earnest about this album. Lyrically it’s a little behind the times but that big voice makes up for it. It never ceases to amaze me how she goes from a tender croon to a wail in seconds.
3. Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band – Trout Mask Replica
I can’t exactly tell you why I like this album so much but it definitely got under my skin. Not the kind of album you can listen to a few tracks off, but taken as a whole in the right mood it’s phenomenal.
4. The Rolling Stones – Let It Bleed
The Stones were right on the mark with this album and there is not a dud track within. Not only is it good musically, they also had something to say. ‘Gimme Shelter’ and ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ are stellar tracks.
5. Leonard Cohen – The Songs of Leonard Cohen
Leonard Cohen, right where it all started. As a lover of poetry and fingerstyle guitar this album has to be here. Whenever I listen to Cohen I am sucked into the stories he tells. I love the simplicity and rawness on this album.
6. John Coltrane – A Love Supreme
This is the album that probably surprised me the most this year. As someone who has never been a fan of jazz I was delighted to discover jazz I liked. “A Love Supreme” almost feels like a confessional. I connected to this album in a way I did with no other this year.
7. Neil Young and Crazy Horse – Everybody Knows This is Nowhere
What a bloody cracker of an album. I instantly fell in love with Neil Young as I realised that he heavily influenced a lot of the bands I love.
8. Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited
I’ll always have a soft spot for Dylan. Opening with the instantly loveable ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ and ending with the epic ‘Desolation Row’. I can’t decide what I like more, the lyrics, his voice or the music.
9. Van Morrison – Astral Weeks
I’m still not exactly sure what “Astral Weeks” is about, but I don’t think it really matters. I’m instantly transported as soon as I hear the opening track. An album with a lot of light and shade.
10. The Zombies – Odessey and Oracle
This is the album I was waiting for all year, only to have it appear in the last week. An album of delectable pop. The catchiness of the songs find me singing them long after I finished listening to it.
1. Wearin’ That Loved on Look – Elvis Presley (From Elvis in Memphis)
Without a doubt my favourite song of the 60s. It’s the song that made me fall in love with Elvis and understand all of the adulation thrown at him. Not only that his band were kick arse to boot. And who doesn’t love a good shoop shoop?
2. Cinnamon Girl – Neil Young with Crazy Horse (Everybody Knows this is Nowhere)
From start to end, one of the strongest tracks of the 60s. The dissident guitars and layered vocals are glorious. The little ‘wooo’ at 2:10 kills me every time. And the last 20 seconds of ‘Cinnamon Girl’? I could live in that 20 seconds forever.
3. Piece of my Heart – Big Brother and the Holding Company (Cheap Thrills)
Janis Joplin holds a special place in my heart. She put every ounce of her being out there when she sang. And boy could the woman sang. The version here is a cover and it has been covered relentlessly since, but Janis will always own this song.
4. Baby, Baby, Baby – Aretha Franklin (I’ve Never Loved a Man the way I Loved You)
Written by Aretha and sister Coralyn, this is one of my favourite ballads of the year. A tender and beautiful love song that we can all relate to. The little vocal shrills at the end really showcase what set Aretha apart from the rest.
5. Hopelessly Hoping – Crosby, Stills & Nash (Crosby, Stills and Nash)
Fingerpicked guitar, three part vocal harmonies, poetry like lyrics. I couldn’t not put this song on this list. Gets me right in the feels every time.
6. 21st Century Schitzoid Man – King Crimson (In the Court of the Crimson King)
This song is so freaking great and promised so much. Unfortunately the rest of the album was crap. This song though…. his song is killer. 7 minutes and 23 seconds of pure genius. I even liked the prog rock freak out in the middle.
7. Suzanne – Leonard Cohen (Songs of Leonard Cohen)
I love the imagery this song conveys. I love how Cohen always has beautiful backing vocals by beautiful women. Lyrically this song is as close to perfection as it gets. Musically and vocally it’s phenomenal.
8. Astral Weeks – Van Morrison (Astral Weeks)
Not only one of the greatest opening track of the year but also the greatest opening lyric, “If I ventured in the slipstream / Between the viaducts of your dream”. 7 minutes of pure pleasure.
9. Kick out the Jams – MC5 (Kick out the Jams)
“Kick out the jams motherfuckers”. 2 minutes and 45 seconds of raw power. They sounds like they are going to fall off the rails at any minute, the guitars are slightly out of tune and none of them can really sing. But that’s what makes it so awesome.
10. Be My Husband – Nina Simone (Pastel Blues)
Completely a Capella other than hand claps and a hi-hat. No other voice compares to Nina Simone and she is at her best here. The way she uses little weird vocal inflections to create fills in the song if brilliant.
1. The Who – Tommy
If you’re reading this, you read my review. You saw how I raved about this album. It was embarrassing. But nothing’s changed. The Who’s musicianship takes Tommy to a level above most, then add to it the fact it’s a rock opera telling a story, and I’m in rock heaven.
2. Led Zeppelin – Led Zeppelin
Speaking of rock heaven, it was excellent to hear where one of the greatest bands of all time started, and also how little Zeppelin’s style changed since their first album. But hey, if your first album sounded good as this, why would you change your style?
3. Pink Floyd –Piper At The Gates of Dawn
The undisputed kings of progressive rock also came to the attention of the world with a great debut album. Piper is definitely not to everyone’s taste, but it’s absolutely to my taste, with its nonsensical lyrics and free form no holds barred music. It is just crazy enough to work.
4. Elvis Presley – From Elvis In Memphis
Elvis was a bit of a curveball for me, and not many people would’ve guessed it would make my top ten. This whole album was pretty much sold to me on the back of “Wearing That Loved On Look”. It showed Elvis’ versatility, ranging from pop rock to slow ballads.
5. Neil Young with Crazy Horse – Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
A lock from the first time I heard it, this album helped me to see Neil Young for more than Heart Of Gold and Old Man. The title track and Cinnamon Girl are what I immediately remember, and what great songs they are. More people should know about this album.
6. Sly and the Family Stone – Stand!
Stand! contained copious amounts of big ol’ dirty funk, and big ol’ dirty funk is the way to my heart. Sly and The Family Stone were trying to deal with controversial issues like racism, and definitely got people’s attention with songs like Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey and Everyday People.
7. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Willy and the Poorboys
I grew up listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival and must’ve heard Willy And The Poorboys a hundred times in my life, yet still I haven’t tired of it. It’s got a good variety of classics and lesser known tracks, making great listening whether it’s your tenth or ten thousandth time.
8. The Beatles – Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
As far as I’m concerned, Sgt Pepper is the Beatles’ best album. The opening guitar riff on the first track is enough to get your attention, and hold it right through to the end of A Day In The Life. And who doesn’t love Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds?
9. The Rolling Stones – Let It Bleed
One of the all time great albums, it was tricky choosing a Stones album from the 60s, but Let It Bleed had some absolute ripper tracks. Gimme Shelter, Let It Bleed and You Can’t Always Get What You Want are timeless classics, and luckily they make up for Country Honk…
10. King Crimson – In The Court Of The Crimson King
Until we started this project I’d only heard of Crimson King, but now I’m glad we were forced to listen to it repeatedly. Prog rock is one of those “really love it or really hate it” things, and if you love it then In The Court is your prog nirvana.
1. Pinball Wizard – The Who (Tommy)
My all time favourite karaoke song, I love Pinball Wizard from it’s opening guitar riff right down to the last note played. Mostly I love the imagery of a deaf, dumb and blind kid, not only playing pinball, but being the best at pinball. I even love Elton John’s version.
2. Communication Breakdown – Led Zeppelin (Led Zeppelin)
At only two and a half minutes long, Communication Breakdown comes in hard and fast and leaves just as quick, leaving you wanting more. Led Zeppelin’s stereotypical blues based hard rock is perfectly encapsulated in this short, succinct song, that wants nothing more than to be played loud, really loud.
3. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles (Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band)
Even shorter than Communication Breakdown, the opening track to the album features a jangly introductory guitar riff coming out of audience noise, and Paul McCartney almost screaming to introduce the fictional band Sgt Pepper was based around. It then ends by leading seamlessly into the next song on my list:
4. With A Little Help From My Friends – The Beatles (Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band)
Poor Ringo always cops a lot of crap for his singing, but there isn’t anything wrong with it at all on this track! The stand out for me here is the bass. The long clean notes McCartney plays is an almost perfect depiction of how to play a bass guitar.
5. Wearin’ That Loved On Look – Elvis Presley (From Elvis in Memphis)
This track is the standout from the album From Elvis In Memphis. The a capella introduction is beautiful, and when the band kicks in the song shifts up a gear. The arrangement is brilliant, but I’ll always remember it for the “shoop shoops” from the backing vocalists in the chorus.
6. Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival (Willy and the Poorboys)
Another ripping guitar intro that sticks in your brain forever, I couldn’t let a Creedence track go by. It’s the best example of one of Creedence’s fortes, the protest song. They really stick it to the man with this one, using some great hard rock to protest the Vietnam War.
7. Sunshine Of Your Love – Cream (Disraeli Gears)
It appears I really like guitar songs, and as far as guitar songs go, this is right up there. Cream had a knack for making all their songs sound like they were being played by much more than a three piece band, though an having Eric Clapton guitar solo helps.
8. Piece Of My Heart – Big Brother and the Holding Company (Cheap Thrills)
One a bit out of left field, Big Brother And The Holding Company certainly left an impression on me. I picked this song one hundred percent based on Janis Joplin’s absolutely ball tearing vocal performance. My word that chick could wail. It showed off her versatility and range, and, apparently, her lung capacity.
9. Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere – Neil Young with Crazy Horse (Everybody Knows this is Nowhere)
This is a song I wasn’t really familiar with until we listened to it this year. It walks the fine line between easy listening and rock perfectly, blending Neil Young’s excellent distorted guitar playing with mournful lyrics. The vocal harmonies are great, even the la la las in the chorus!
10. Down On The Corner – Creedence Clearwater Revival (Willy and the Poorboys)
Creedence jagged two songs in my top ten, but Willy And The Poorboys was a great album. I love John Fogerty’s vocals, even if you can’t always understand him. I defy anyone to listen to this song and not tap your feet. Besides, they tell you to in the song.
1. The Kinks – The Village Green Preservation Society
I said this one was a keeper, and I meant it! This album actually now has a permanent place in my iTunes library, and not only that but I recently introduced my dad, a child of the 60’s, to this album. How ironic! I still love the title track and find myself singing it constantly, the lyrics are so cute and memorable and the melody a catchy one.
2. The Rolling Stones – Let it Bleed
Probably the biggest and most pleasant surprise of the 60’s, Let it Bleed ended up being one of my favourites and also maintains a permanent place in my itunes library. I don’t know what I expected the Rolling Stones to be, but what I heard was not it. From the opening riffs of Gimme Shelter, I was hooked, transfixed by the musical complexities, rocking vibes, and social commentary that Let it Bleed delivered.
3. Dusty Springfield – Dusty in Memphis
My favourite solo album of the 60’s and the only one that made my top 10. It was the emotional conviction and vulnerability that Springfield portrayed in her music, that set her apart from the Aretha’s, the Otises and the Etta’s. When she sings, it’s like she’s not even trying, damn her! You really can see the legacy she left behind for modern artists like Duffy and Adele.
4. Fairport Convention – Liege and Lief
In my opinion, the greatest segway from folk to rock that the world has seen, and one of the most underrated albums of the 60’s. I loved Sandy Denny’s beautiful tone to her voice, and the mix of fiddle and electric guitar. It just worked, and more importantly, paved the way for many folk-rock bands to come.
5. Creedence Clearwater Revival – Willy and the Poor Boys
One of the easiest listens of the 60’s and certainly one of the more familiar albums I listened to in 2012. This album just goes from strength to strength with many of its hits considered classics. Willy and the Poor boys provided an insight into the social climate in 1969 while bridging the gap between country and rock styles, and thus inspiring generations of bands afterwards. Still my preferred road trip album of the 60’s.
6. The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds
Pet Sounds totally destroyed any pre-conceived ideas I had of the Beach Boys. I thought they were all about beach babes and holidays, but I quickly learnt that they were so much more than that, in fact they were hugely influential in the psychedlic genre. Highlights of this one were the instrumental experimentation, crystal clear vocal harmonies and the bangin’ percussion (pun intended).
7. Crosby, Stills & Nash – Crosby, Stills & Nash
One of my favourite albums of all time so of course it had to make my top 10. It was funny to learn that I’ve been listening to a shortened version of the album, thinking my whole life that it only had 6 tracks (thanks for the heads up, Clay)! What makes this album is the undeniable musicianship and the absolutely beautiful vocal harmonies, paired with counter melodies.
8. The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
I’ve always been a bit of a heathen when it comes to the Beatles. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Sergeant Peppers had a great cross-section of themes and styles, the songs are simple and sweet, and easy to listen to. Although I’m pretty certain the Beatles were feeling the pressure to release something great, they ended up with a musical masterpiece that competed with some of the greatest albums of the 60’s which were being recorded at the same time as Sgt Pepper’s. The whole thing seems really effortless which is also an indication of the genius behind the band. Consider me converted.
9. Frank Sinatra – The September of my Years
I’m a sucker for crooners, in particular ol’ blue eyes. This was a beautiful reminiscent album dripping with melancholy and warmth. To me, it is a musically complex and virtually perfect album, the orchestration imbues a Hollywood feel but somehow fails to be contrived. An album that just made me stop and listen and overall had an overwhelming peacefulness to it.
10. Flying Burrito Brothers – Gilded Palace of Sin
This album served as a refreshing delight to listen to. It was the perfect blend of country and rock. Although some of the songs were annoying (eg unnecessary experimentation with psychedelic elements), overall I enjoyed the country rock fusion that the Burrito Brothers achieved, and their use of juxtaposition by laying down sarcastic and nasty lyrics with sweet-sounding musical accompaniment. I still hate the band name though.
1. The Village Green Preservation Society – The Kinks (The Kinks are the Village Green Preservation Society)
This song seems to constantly keep popping up in my brain and getting stuck there and I’m always singing it. It’s just a really cute song about preserving the greater things in life. My favourite line in the whole song is ‘God save little shops, china cups and virginity’. Amen to that!
2. Come All Ye – Fairport Convention (Liege & Lief)
To me, ‘Come all Ye’ is a call to arms, and makes for a great opening track on “Liege and Lief”. It just captured my attention straight away and remained my steadfast favourite of the album, with Sandy Denny’s intoxicating and beautiful voice, the build of the song, the toe-tapping base line, and the addition of the fiddle. I don’t know why I love it so much, but it gives me goosebumps and makes my heart swell, so there’s something that strikes a chord within me!
3. Fortunate Son – Creedence Clearwater Revival (Willy and the Poor Boys)
This song rocks on so many levels, I freaking love it! A song that sticks the finger to the man, speaking out about inequalities during the Vietnam War, and really struck a chord within me. It builds so well from the opening riffs and simple drum beat. Fogarty completely rocks out with his high-pitched delivery, the band is tight and the production non-fussy. What more could you want in a classic rock song!?
4. Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones (Let it Bleed)
I hadn’t actually heard this song before we covered “Let it bleed”. Gimme Shelter is -a song that epitomises the political and social climate at the time, speaking of anarchy, war and more. And it features a groovy rhythm guitar melody to boot. It was the perfect choice as an album opener, as it really kicks the album off and gives it momentum from the get go.
5. Son of a Preacher Man – Dusty Springfield (Dusty in Memphis)
There’s something about this song that is just so chilled-out and cool. Dusty seems blasé and sings the words with ease, she doesn’t oversing it like other artists did. It’s a really simple clean mix and has a really gradual and organic build to the chorus. I prefer this version to any other that I might have heard in the past.
6. You Can’t Always Get What You Want – The Rolling Stones (Let it Bleed)
A song that speaks to the spoilt brat in all of us! The reason I like this song is because of all the different elements that shouldn’t have worked but somehow did, especially the use of the London Bach Choir, and also the message the song portrays through the lyrics. I think the rhythm piano in this one sounds very similar to that of the 1968 song ‘Feelin’ Allright’ by Traffic, released 1 year earlier. Anyone with me?
7. Helplessly Hoping – Crosby, Stills & Nash (Crosby, Stills & Nash)
Helplessly Hoping will always be one of my favourite songs of all time. It’s the honest and vulnerable vocal harmonies that really make this song for me. The lyrics, flowery, poetic and full of clever alliteration, are equally as beautiful as the vocal. If you like this song, I still recommend you check out Taxiride’s cover from 1999. Truly magic.
8. I Know There’s an Answer – The Beach Boys (Pet Sounds)
It’s the syncopated drum beat and the bold and brash percussion in this song that sucked me in. The vocal hook is also really catchy. The dissonance at the start is a bit off-putting but if you persevere it eventually makes sense. It also is a great example of the Beach Boys’s instrumental experimentation, featuring both a bass harmonica and a banjo among others. Love everything about it.
9. Sweet Thing – Van Morrison (Astral Weeks)
I wasn’t a big fan of Astral Weeks, but I absolutely love the song Sweet Thing. It’s a pretty song, with the lyrics centred around Morrison looking forward to reuniting with his lover in the near future, after a long period of separation. The song imbues emotions that we all feel when we first discover a new love and look forward to a bright future with that person. It’s got a naivity and vulnerability to it that I can relate to.
10. Embryonic Journey – Jefferson Airplane (Surrealistic Pillow)
Surrealistic Pillow was another 60’s surprise, with its quiet tender moments and acoustic instrumental bits. Embryonic Journey is the latter. I liked it because it was a nice interlude, a pleasant change of scenery from all of the chaos of the music we listened to in the 60’s. Although it is a simple guitar instrumental, it has a nice mellow warmth to it and I now listen to it quite frequently.
1. The Flying Burrito Brothers – The Gilded Palace of Sin
This album was the biggest surprise for me. I didn’t expect to like it at all, but I dug every track. Four songs in and I was hooked. Nothing else throughout the year came close for sheer enjoyment. For me, this record was all killer, no filler.
2. King Crimson – In The Court of the Crimson King
As bloated and pretentious as this record might be to some, I found it endlessly listenable. My expectations were for a fairly heavy album, and I didn’t think there would be so many musical textures. Eclectic and bold.
3. The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Electric Ladyland
I’ve owned this album for years but never really delved into it. After a few spins, it really left its mark on my brain. I dug the genre-hopping from soul to blues to rock to pop and back again.
4. Jefferson Airplane – Surrealistic Pillow
I was first introduced to this album when I was about 16, and I’ve been fond of it ever since. It was wonderful to be able listen to it again and fall further in love with it this year. Oh, and ‘White Rabbit’, people!
5. The Kinks – The Kinks Are The Village Green Preservation Society
I went through a bit of a Kinks phase a few years back, but this album took a little while to grab me. Once it did, it never let go. There are so many great songs showcasing Ray Davies’ superb observational songwriting skills.
6. The Mothers of Invention – Freak Out!
Again, I am quite thankful that I heard this album a few times before starting my afyccim adventures. In the months between my first ever listen and writing the main review I had developed a much higher appreciation for this amazing debut. Yay, Zappa!
7. Neil Young with Crazy Horse – Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere
Not my favourite album of his, but I’m sentimental about it because of Danny Whitten. The lengthy guitar work-outs on ‘Down By The River’ and ‘Cowgirl In The Sand’ are classic slices of Neil Young too. Yay, Neil!
8. The Zombies – Odessey and Oracle
This was a fabulous album to end the 60’s on. From the opening track ‘Care of Cell 44’ I was bopping and humming along. Great to hear ‘Time of the Season’ again too; it’s got a fab keyboard solo.
9. Jerry Lee Lewis – Live at the Star Club, Hamburg
Another album that surprised me. I was expecting to hear Lewis roll out the hits, but not in such a frenzied manner. I was quite taken by his charismatic, if slightly egocentric, performance and marvelled at the Nashville Teens trying so hard to keep up with him.
10. Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band – Trout Mask Replica
Still not sure whether I liked this album or not, but I can’t shake the feelings those first few listens gave me. I don’t think there’s anything else you can compare it with, and I admire the tenacity it takes to create such a record.
1. Do Right Woman – The Flying Burrito Brothers (The Gilded Palace of Sin)
This song was a revelation for me. As much as I enjoyed Aretha Franklin’s version of it (‘Do Right Woman, Do Right Man’), this arrangement knocked me out. Such a mournful, late-night feel with a twist of waltz for good measure.
2. A Day In The Life – The Beatles (Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band)
I prefer other Beatles albums over “Sgt. Pepper’s…”, but this is one of my favourite Beatles songs. I love Paul’s middle section and how the orchestra members make their way up the scale. John’s verses are also fabulously rich with imagery.
3. Desolation Row – Bob Dylan (Highway 61 Revisited)
Again, there are other Dylan albums I prefer to “Highway…”, but his eleven minute epic closes it wonderfully. It’s sparsely arranged and full of Dylan’s trademark lyrics that manage to be both beautiful and baffling. I love it.
4. I Want To Take You Higher – Sly & the Family Stone (Stand!)
One of the contenders for best dance party anthem of all time. You can’t help but move to it. Although this whole album wasn’t brilliant, I spun it more than any other this year, possibly because of this song.
5. Bike – Pink Floyd (The Piper at the Gates of Dawn)
The Syd Barrett era of Pink Floyd is a little harder to enjoy if you’ve been brought up on “Dark Side…” and “Wish You Were Here”. However, this quirky pop gem has been a favourite of mine for years, and continues to be.
6. I Shall Be Released – The Band (Music From Big Pink)
Richard Manuel’s vocal on this track slays me. It’s amazingly high and so full of emotion. His voice has been described as having a tear in it, and this performance of Dylan’s classic song certainly shows that; it’s goosebump material.
7. The Court of the Crimson King – King Crimson (In The Court of the Crimson King)
I’ve been intrigued by this song since I saw Children of Men in 2007. It fit the sequence it was used in perfectly, and hearing the full nine minute plus version just made me love it even more. Grandiose in structure and production.
8. Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Seen – Sam Cooke (Night Beat)
I enjoyed this album a lot, but it was the opening song that I now remember most fondly. Setting the tone for the rest of the album, this song presents Cooke to us in all of his majestic, sweet-voiced glory.
9. In The Ghetto – Elvis Presley (From Elvis in Memphis)
Here’s another song that never fails to give me goosebumps. The plight of the central character and the circle of violence that threatens to repeat itself just makes this one of the most heartbreaking songs ever recorded.
10. Crazy – Patsy Cline (Showcase)
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this album too, and this song in particular. Cline’s sweet vocals are awash with despair, but it’s still so pretty. Although it was written by Willie Nelson, the song belongs to her.