Profound Statement: None of the artists, vocalists, musicians, bands, composers, or musical genres on this list are new or original. Every vocal and beat derived from mankind’s early hip primal urge to express himself vocally and to sing along with the soul-resonating beat of a hand-clap or stick against a hollow log. Everyone knows monkeys pounded out “Louie, Louie”, “Mona”,”Smoke On The Water”, and “Sunshine Of Your Love” at some point, alone or in a group (band), over the eons. The only difference is that now all of those Tribal chants of yore are plugged in, amplified, and reinvented into Rock ‘n’ Roll!
On With The Show: Most “Best Of” lists for any decade rely on the obvious, usually represented by Billboard Top 100-type lists – therefore few non-commercial yet icomic albums are recognized.
While sales and popularity are important data, there is a level that is probably more relevant and true to the times. This level was in the places where the Groove set in, it hung out where true Rock and Inspiration shared a bowl, this was the level where the Counter-Culture’s Sub-Culture drove the Machine.
Although the Sub-Culture had regional Sub-Cultures, this is a personal list representative of one demographic of the Los Angeles and San Francisco and Beyond Sub-Culture. These were responsible, under the radar drug taking drug dealing, hard-working, knowledgeable about Rock and socio-political issues, amusing, seriously-fun Psychonauts whom existed deep in the Vibe.
00individual includes many iconic albums and leaves off as many – that’s the defintion of any Sub-Culture; to differentiate but retain founding principles – in this case, in the macro-micro universe, what was the Counter-Culture’s Sub-Culture groovin’ to? The answer is in this excruciatingly short list:
THE VENTURES IN SPACE – 1964
The Ventures were so inspired by the current interest in space exploration, science fiction, and the supernatural that they chose to make an entire album about those themes; a concept album that was as important to Instrumental Space Rock as the Beatles Sgt. Pepper’s was to Psychedelic Pop Rock.
And even more impressive, The Ventures slip cover states that “. . . all the unique, unworldly sounds featured in the album’s tracks were made with musical instruments, rather than with electronic devices.”
THEM (Here Comes the Night) – July 1965
This is one of the most bad-ass albums ever!
And way ahead of the curve – this record needs to be recognized for the absolute cool that it exudes.
THEM is a major groove throughout, and every cut is hip, strong, otherworldly, soulful, melancholy, and rocks harder than anyone at the time or in many cases, since.
HAVING A RAVE UP – November 20, 1965
Although many of the groups were covering blues classics, the Yardbirds were interpreting the blues not just as cover versions – but as a new form of Rock ‘n’ Roll; the first evidence of Hard Rock, Psychedelic Rock, and the bright embryonic flash of Heavy Metal – this was The Yardbirds.
LOVE – July 1966
While LOVE’s debut album was not a commercial success it was bursting with originality – and with only two covers; their hit, Bacharach’s “My Little Red Book” and Robert’s de-rigueur “Hey Joe” – Arthur Lee’s lyrics, arrangements, compositions and voice far surpassed any bands at that time.
Remember, other than Dylan, the Beatles, the Stones and the Seeds – Hendrix, the Doors, Buffalo Springfield, Spirit and many, many others surely were influenced by LOVE’s unique sound, blend of styles and attitude that was on display before any of their debut album releases.
The eponymous LOVE album was perfect as an introduction and high-water mark for all of the Hippie, Psychedelic, Rock, Folk Rock bands and albums that followed.
SUNSHINE SUPERMAN – September 1966
The spirit of Rock goes far deeper than volume and virtuosity; with Sunshine Superman, there is no question. Donovan certainly started out labeled as a Folk Rock Balladeer, and was being touted as the British Invasion’s answer to Bob Dylan; neither turned out to be true as Donovan carved-out his own niche in the Psychedelic Rock genre. But it was his linguistic ability with sublime lyrics that created something way more than a song; it is a portal to a place that is known, remembered, and a place that makes one feel homesick, yet joyous.
the DOORS – January 4, 1967
To hear the Doors debut album for the first time is an exhilarating experience for anyone – to hear the Doors’ debut album for the first time in 1967 was a life-changing experience. Their songs Rocked the hardest, yet were seductive and etheric with a mysterious vibe that cast a spell; a spell that empowered. All good Rock has the ability to empower but there was something otherworldly, spiritual and unique about the Doors’ music – and this album specifically.
SURREALISTIC PILLOW – February 1, 1967
Surrealistic Pillow, was like a greatest hits album, every track excellent and memorable, and was the first album to perfectly combine all of the San Francisco Hippie Goodness of Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll and the love that was felt universally into one immensely popular epic landmark of Psychedelic Rock.
BOB DYLAN’S GREATEST HITS – March 27, 1967
Volumes have been written about Dylan by writers and historians with dedicated intense insightful detail, so all 00individual can add is that through his exceptional music he provided the spirit and window into the world that a young teen needed at just the right time to become an individual.
The JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE
ARE YOU EXPERIENCED – May 12, 1967
Up until 1966, Rock ‘n’ Roll even in it’s most outlandish state had unspoken parameters.
With this 1967 album there were none – Hendrix created an art form.
DISRAELI GEARS – November 2, 1967
Disraeli Gears was an immediate hit with all Hippies and Counter-Culturists as it was powerful, mind-bending Rock that conjured up a “Strange Brew” of “Tales of Brave Ulysses” on a journey of acid-laced “Swalbr”, all bathed in the “Sunshine of Your Love” – that’s right, Cream were Far Out, way Far Out!
The MOODY BLUES
DAYS OF FUTURE PASSED – November 10, 1967
They weren’t Rock, not Pop, not even the Progressive genre they originated, nor the seminal explorers of Classical Rock that emerged within the Prog-Rock era of the ‘late 60s and early-to-mid ’70s – The Moody Blues were and are an enigma in Rock, and Pop, and Prog and . . ..
FOREVER CHANGES – November 1967
There are very few bands, let alone single songs, that reach this level of intimacy – and here we have a solid album – every single track is honest, beautiful, truly unique and Rocks harder on a deeper level of psychedelic reality. Here’s the Acid Test: one listen to this album and it could be heard as the next best Album of the Year, of any year, in the past or the future.
Although a time stamp of a specific era, it delivers a timeless yet highly unique sound.
Traffic contained a special magick of wonder, and psychedelic imagery with a sound that really fit and amplified the feelings that the Counter-Culture were experiencing – that everyday thrill and anticipation of a time when just being alive was enough to insure yet another day of exciting potential.
“Heaven Is In Your Mind” for US release and “Mr. Fantasy” for UK release – both titles/tracks evoke the sign of the times.
REALIZATION – January 1968
Although never promoted as such, “Realization”, was a mellow psychedelic concept album; the songs had segued ambient music/sounds that led into the next song and sometimes reflected the songs’ themes. Each song was very select and each were able to touch your soul.
Many albums had tracks that dealt with the deeper side of psychedelics and self-realization; but other than the Moody Blues no one achieved this perfect of a introspective album. Thank you Johnny!
SPIRIT – January 22, 1968
Dig early sophisticated garage / jazz-fusion / heavy metal / ballad / psychedelic Rock: Spirit’s first album was/is a landmark of the creativity and vision of a band who carved-out a special unique place in Rock History and serve as a stone music time-capsule of a pivotal-point in the era of sex, drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll!
DR. JOHN, THE NIGHT TRIPPER
GRIS-GRIS – January 22, 1968
Some albums just reach right down into your basic primal needs and grab a hold of a part of you and never let go. This album is one of those – it was cool, mystically invigorating and kicked spooky voudou ass!
The whole album created a mystical mood of twilight in the Bayou that conjured-up images of people seen and heard through the silhouetted trees as they danced around a fire, of clandestine meetings where spirits were contacted, of spells cast under the full moon, of skulduggery afoot, of romance and lust writhing through it all, and of drums and chants that seem to echo throughout the Bayou.
It’s always twilight or a dark moonlit night, thrills and intrigue are around every corner, anything is possible. The main streets are alive with people celebrating life. There’s a shanty village on the outskirts of town where an occult ceremony is taking place, deeper in the woods is a path that leads to an inviting ivy-covered archway and you know you must enter and step off into the cosmos, for you must be able to say, “I Walk On Guilded Splinters” with the King of the Zulu.
CARNIVAL OF LIFE – 1968
Lee Michaels is at the top of the list of Rock’s Unsung Heroes. A Blues Rocker whose live concert Hammaond organ mastery and volume was legendary and who had one of Rock’s Best “blue-eyed” Soul voices.
1968 was a heavy year; 1967’s Psychedelic Rock still reigned, but it was in a cosmic growth spurt. The days of incense and peppermints gave way to a stranger brew; with Pink Floyd’s second album A Saucerful Of Secrets the psychedelic sound barrier was broken and Rock ventured out into space.
This would be the only Pink Floyd studio album with all five members’ involvement and would mark founder Syd Barrett’s exit and baton pass to his art school friend David Gilmour as Syd’s LSD-triggered eccentricities and episodes became detrimental to himself and the band.
The Cheap Thrills are Janis at her best with a band at its rawest best which is why this is considered the classic it is – it represents exactly the way Rockers, Hippies, and the Counter-Culture all felt; new, adventurous and unafraid to be who they were and to explore life uninhibited, spontaneous and unrefined.
The excitement of this album begins immediately with the live sounds of movement on the stage and Bill Graham’s announcement, “Four gentlemen and one great, great broad, Big Brother and the Holding Company” which then explodes into “Combination of the Two” – and the rest is history.
Jeff Beck, straight from another top favorite band, the Yardbirds, stepped-up and electrified-in-stone his place in Rock with “Truth” which began a highly successful life-long career as a True Guitar God and a proven innovator and genre-fusing solo artist.
Every track on “Truth” is perfect and together make one of the most important historic and classic Hard Rock Blues albums of all time!
The CRAZY WORLD of ARTHUR BROWN
Fifty years ago, Arthur Brown’s Crazy World collided with Earth and brought forth a really great Psychedelic Shock Rock album filled with insane lyrics and high drama, cool tunes, a crazy wildman with his hair-on-fire, classic Hammond organ, and all the loveliness, thrills and chills of a band that created one of the most memorable Rock imprints of the Psychedelic era: I am the God of Hellfire, and I bring you, FIRE!
. . . and there they were, witnessing the birth of Electric Ladyland. In late ’68 Rockers and Psychonauts were chosen to connect to a higher level of Sophisticated Psychedelic Sounds. Shit got primal with deep emotion as Hendrix carved arcane history with his Supernatural Ax.
Not-so-strangely, Electric Ladyland served as an actual place, a safe harbor, a place one could call home.
The sounds struck spiritually-soothing chords within – the first true excursions into Psychedelic Soul – Hendrix was the original, Hendrix was the best.
Van Morrison has cast a dominant creative shadow down through musical history that cannot be denied. Astral Weeks is tranquil, yet brooding, spiritual yet instantly memorable, with rhythms, passages, lyrics, instrumentals, hooks, and that Voice; pure and hip, that could Rock better than anyone and croon on a Sinatra level. This album is as strong and influential now than nearly all the albums released since, it is truly otherworldly music in the best sense and revealed the emergence of true genius and a blessed inspiration to music lovers and music artists then, now and forever.
LED ZEPPELIN – January 12, 1969
This album created a huge impact – Led Zeppelin blew the roof off the ceiling of Electric Blues Rock – and delivered world-class Hard Rock with seminal Heavy Metal archetypes. The album’s timing on the scene was perfectly lysergic – this was music Psychonauts were waiting for; over the top Rock that matched the virility of the times.
To commemorate the Last Summer of the Decade, Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle and Keith Moon released the historical double album; TOMMY. For Who fans this was a treasure trove of exciting new tracks in a newly-minted, masterfully-composed and performed Rock Opera genre. For others it was their introduction to the heights that Rock could achieve.
A STEP FURTHER – July 1969
The whole side one was a Blues Rock Killer, and side two was full-on Savoy Brown Boogie “live” with a rousing medley – a really classic all-around great album that was nearly drowned in the wake of the sheer volume of highly creative, highly popular and prolific artists’ and bands’ album releases of 1969, 1970 and 1971. The stone Rock Boogie Blues of Savoy Brown permeated the air to create a heartfelt unique blend: Introspective Rebellious Soulful Hard Rock Blues: “And I’m not gonna try to please, Eyes that just don’t see. If I get myself together, You’ll have the blues, not me.”
Ten Years After were always there – from their first self-titled album with “I Can’t Keep from Crying, Sometimes“, Undead “Live“, Stonedhenge “Going to Try” and all the way up past Ssssh to Cricklewood Green “Love Like A Man” and beyond – Watt “The Band With No Name“, A Space in Time “One Of These Days“, TYA served as a core sound that was in the air throughout those psychedelic years. With Ssssh, TYA delivered the sound Rockers’ bodies and minds demanded – this was a true Energetic Hard Rock Psychedelic Blues Stoner Album.
Alvin Lee and Co. Rocked the Blues!
THEN PLAY ON – September 9, 1969
This is the Blues album that the Rock ‘n’ Roll Fates brought “The Mac” together for – it is beyond belief. Drop the needle anywhere on any track on this album and you will experience a super-reality of the Blues, of Rock, of Music. One of those albums that never ever gets old – simply the Best!
ABBEY ROAD – September 26, 1969
The Abbey Road album rocked throughout That winter 00individual was nineteen, had his own place, a bitchen art department job, a car, a motorcycle, two girlfriends, a cool group of fellow stoners, classic concerts to attend, and classic Rock album releases to enjoy and all the drugs he wanted – Sex, Drugs and Rock ‘n’ Roll in the best environment – and Abbey Road provided the perfect soundtrack music for the Psychedelic Winter of ’69 – across America, Europe and around the world. Historic! Classic!
This album would be more important than known at the time, as this would be the Beatles official unofficial “Farewell Album”.
IN THE COURT OF THE CRIMSON KING
October 10, 1969
King Crimson’s debut album, “In The Court Of The Crimson King” was revolutionary!
The term “Progressive Rock” had yet to enter the general Rock Lexicon, so like most of the music that was creatively flooding the airwaves, we just appreciated it without categorizing it. It was Rock ‘n’ Roll – ever evolving, and it was good.
Every track and sound on the album was magical and mesmerizing and dramatic – remember, we had never heard anything like this before – this album was a perfect example of the high we were on with new kinds of music like this being invented every day.
On the Righteous Road of Rock History a definitive Iconic Landmark is emblazoned on the signpost up ahead, it reads:
King Crimson’s “In The Court Of The Crimson King”:
The MOODY BLUES
TO OUR CHILDRENS’ CHILDRENS’ CHILDREN
November 21, 1969
This is one of the absolute best lyrically written and sung, musically composed and performed albums of all time – it is a true gem among gems, an exquisite album that has so much beauty, feeling and transcendent power that it is in a category all its own.The Moody’s concepts have always dealt with feelings of spiritual and psychedelic themes; they opened a door to awareness that was set to irresistible music and lyrics.
The ROLLING STONES
LET IT BLEED – December 5, 1969
There never has been or ever will be another Rock ‘n’ Roll Band that can rightfully claim the title of The World’s Greatest Rock ‘n’ Roll Band.
And with Beggar’s Banquet, Let It Bleed and their following two releases – Sticky Fingers and Exile On Main Street – The Stones were historically sculpted in Solid Stone in a place at the very top of Mount Rockmore.
For 00individual, and millions of other Counter-Culture Rockers, anytime any track from this album is heard, a level of Rock Perfection is released and a Pavlovian response triggers a time when the Stones’ were hitting the heights; as were the Youth, Pop Culture, and History, across all levels of life.
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