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The List – 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die – 1966

So here is 1966 and they can be heard on Spotify with the playlist that I have created for everyone to follow along.

Revolver The Beatles – Probably my favorite Beatles album. Definitely in my top 50. It’s the album that saw The Beatles come into their own as solid composers over songwriters. They are still great songwriters but the instrumentation grew, the production became more complex and their use of harmonic structure became much sweeter despite the darker content. It’s also the first album I felt The Beatles really stretching their celebrity muscle for change. “Taxman”, “Eleanor Rigby” and “Doctor Robert” were straight up social commentary at the very beginning of the hippie movement.

Pet Sounds The Beach Boys – What can be said about Pet Sounds that hasn’t already been said? Considered by most to be The Beach Boys and most specifically Brian Wilson’s “magnum opus”, it is undoubtedly the best representation of what The Beach Boys could manifest. The story is that Brian Wilson took over studio production for this album and it is often thought of as his solo album in all but name. He wrote, recorded and engineered all the backing tracks with The Wrecking Crew. When the boys came back from touring Today!, they were presented with a fully fleshed album that just required them to record the vocals. Regardless if you ever liked The Beach Boys, this is an album you should have in your collection.

Fred Neil Fred Neil – I only knew Fred Neil because he wrote “Everybody’s Talkin'” (included on this album) which was later covered by Harry Nilsson for the Midnight Cowboy soundtrack. Couldn’t find the original album on Spotify but the songs on this album are available on a compilation album. So, not sure why this was included in this list. He’s a hipper Andy Williams, Perry Como, etc. He writes his own songs which are pretty good and he has a pleasant voice but not hearing anything earth shattering on this album. “That’s The Bag I’m In” sounds a lot like “The Season of the Witch” by The Zombies. “Green Rocky Road” is a pretty cool tune. However, this album wouldn’t make my list but it’s on this one.

Fifth Dimension The Byrds – I thought I was a fan of The Byrds but after doing this exercise, I realized that I’m only a fan of their hits. This album is no exception. Fifth Dimension contains the hit “Eight Miles High” which could have landed this album on my list but the rest of the album is just unappealing to me. I prefer the Jimi Hendrix version of “Hey Joe”. So this wouldn’t make my 1001 but “Eight Miles High” is a fantastic song.

Blonde on Blonde Bob Dylan – Love the way this album starts out! “Rainy Day Women #12 & 35” (often referred to as “Everybody Must Get Stoned!”) gets you swingy with a woozy brass band. I didn’t know until later that Robbie Robertson and Al Kooper played on this album. What can I say, “Visions of Johanna” is a great lyrical tune; “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” forces the listener to pay attention; “Just Like A Woman” is a great story ride and “Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again” strikes a haunting familiarity with me. Great double album! Makes my list.

Black Monk Time The Monks – This album is cool! I thought it was like a “kooky” surfer like album (think “Beach Party Bingo”) but it was more like a pre-punk album. It’s just a raw punk garage band back beat with an organ (not you’re typical punk instrumentation) and a “loungey, boozy” lead singer with backing harmonies. Not sure how this slipped by me in past but I loved this record.

Face To Face The Kinks – Most of this album is good but nonetheless unremarkable. The whole album for me is one song, “Sunny Afternoon”. That song is in my top 500 songs of all time for me. It seems like Ray Davies – main songwriter for the Kinks – was really fascinated with the social structures around him. Songs like “Session Man”, “House In the Country” and “Most Exclusive Residence for Sale” have him playing around with characters in a whimsical yet stinging kind of way. I enjoyed revisiting this album but I wouldn’t put it in my 1001.

The Mamas & The Papas The Mama & The Papas – This is the followup album to their debut “If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears” and while the harmonies are stellar, their isn’t a “hit” on this record. The entire album is a great listen. Additionally, this album has nearly all the songs written in some part by John Phillips. “No Salt On Her Tail” and “Once Was A Time I Thought” are my favorite tunes here but all of these are really good but, for me, nothing left an imprint that I couldn’t live without.

Midnight Ride Paul Revere & The Raiders – Everyone remembers the first track, “Kicks” and they do a remake of the Boyce/Hart hit “I’m Not Your Stepping Stone” (best known for the version done by The Monkees. It’s worth a listen but I don’t see how it fits into the 1001 BYD.

Freak Out! Frank Zappa, The Mothers Of Invention – So much came out of this album! First off, I have tremendous respect for any artist who can convince a record company to allow the artist to produce a double album as their debut. It’s pretty rare. Secondly, this is Zappa – therefore not for the feint of heart. Zappa and the Mothers’ debut does slash out lyrically about many social and societal norms but the composition is just … insanely out of whack (yet in a good way). There was nothing like this before and other than Frank himself, very little like this afterwards. It defies genre and is equally appealing and appalling to the masses. It makes my 1001 but not sure I place it in the top 100.

Aftermath The Rolling Stones – The Stones’ 6th album and possibly their first great one. It is the first album that the Glimmer Twins wrote all the songs. Looking outside the hits, “Paint It Black” and “Under My Thumb”, the album is rock solid. It is an early glimpse into the way Jagger & Richards are working on being the great chameleons of rock music, making them relevant in every decade. Take “Stupid Girl” in contrast to “Lady Jane” offering the 1966 listener with dance-able track and a folky Elizabethan ballad next to each other. Still very rooted in the blues that came out of Chicago’s Chess records but definitely the band hitting it’s stride. I like this album very much but then I like most of the Stones albums.

Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme Simon & Garfunkel – Probably the first Simon & Garfunkel album I latched onto. So many great songs on this album. “Scarborough Fair”, “Homeward Bound”, “The 59th Street Bridge Song” are the hits but “Patterns”, “The Dangling Conversation”. The whole album is really solid and showcases what Paul and Art could do with harmonies and the writing of Paul Simon. Absolutely in my 1001, probably in my top 500…maybe even higher.

The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators The 13th Floor Elevators – So first introduced to this band when watching the documentary, You’re Gonna Miss MeThis is a rock and roll JUG band. That’s right, Tommy Hall plays the jug on this album. This whole band is Roky Erickson for me. I heard Roky’s screaming as best described as “he opens his mouth and you could swear he’s going to shoot a tonsil on the back wall!” “You’re Gonna Miss Me” is the bona-fide hit on this album but this is a great example of some underground psychedelic music being produced at this time. Great stuff. I own it and couldn’t see myself giving it up. Definitely makes the 1001 but might not crack the 500.

Bluesbreakers John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers – Otis Rush once said when asked about the strength and influence of this album alone, “If Eric Clapton never made another album, he would be in the blues hall of fame.” I have to agree. This album is straight up blues in the vein of Otis, B.B. King, Sonny Boy Williamson, Big Bill Broonzy and Howlin’ Wolf – great stuff. Just after the Yardbirds and right before the formation of Cream, “Beano” (as it’s known by Clapton fans) shows why Clapton left the Yardbirds in pursuit of a much more roots sound and songs. I could see this in my 1001.

Roger the Engineer The Yardbirds – So with the departure of Clapton, Jimmy Page (who was playing bass off and on with Paul Samwell-Smith in the Yardbirds at this time) quickly brought in Jeff Beck to step into the guitar role. As with the previous Yardbirds albums, this one doesn’t hold up to the success of the single “Over, Under, Sideways, Down”. It feels somewhat transitional as there are some very blues rooted songs (“Lost Woman”, “Rack My Mind”, “What Do You Want” & “He’s Always There”) and some others in the rock almost psychedelic genre (“Hot House of Omargarashid”, “Turn into Earth” and “The Nazz Are Blue”). Then there is “Jeff’s Boogie” which is pretty underwhelming having followed Beck throughout his career. Weird note, this apparently the first recording that Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones recorded together (three years prior to the release of Led Zeppelin I. Cool album but it would be a stretch to include in my 1001 and probably not a deserted island album for me either.

Wild Is The Wind Nina Simone – Hadn’t heard of Nina Simone prior to this adventure but she became a bit of an obsession once I did. This album is as undefinable as her remarkable vocal ability. She sort of makes a “Nina Simone genre”. No one does what Nina could do and anyone who tries is usually falls short or becomes an imitator. I think this is due to her as a person as much as it has to do with her ability. As early as 1954, she set out to make a living as a musician (very difficult to do in anytime but especially hard in the late 50’s as a woman of color). Signed a contract with Colpix Records in 1959. By 1964, she was picked up by Philips and shifted her music from being jazz standard interpretations to focusing on the civil rights struggle. “Four Women”, “Wild Is The Wind”, “Break Down And Let It All Out” and “Black Is The Color Of My True Love’s Hair” are some of the examples on this record. Her ability to interpret songs and make them her own is uncanny. I own this record and would include it in the 1001 if for nothing else than everyone needs to be exposed to talent like this.

Beach Samba Astrud Gilberto – I love samba but rarely reach for it when I want to listen to something. Astrud Gilberto is, for me, the “female voice of samba.” She is best known for her vocals on “The Girl from Impanena” recorded on her husband’s album, Getz/Gilberto. Her vocal plays tricks in my mind, making think of Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffany’s – soft, sensual and inviting. This album isn’t particularly remarkable to me other than it was a fun listen. “Stay”, “Oba,Oba”, “Canoeiro” and “You Didn’t Have To Be So Nice” are the high points for me. Not one I would include in the 1001 but I might not have any samba albums in my 1001 despite my love for samba.

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