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Ten essential albums of the 1960s

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If someone wanted to learn more about the sixties, but didn't know where to start, these are the albums we'd recommend. While they aren't necessarily the best selling, or the most critically acclaimed, they are certainly the ones that float to the surface all these years later, providing a rough blueprint of era. Narrowing it down to just ten of course leaves out quite a bit (apologies to Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, the Who, and pretty much the whole Motown catalogue), but this is a great starting point for anyone interested in what is perhaps the most important music decade of the 20th century.

See also: - Ten essential jazz albums if you know squat about jazz - Ten essential gangsta rap albums - The Beatles' Sgt Pepper inches toward the half-century mark - The Rolling Stones' Exile on Main Street turns 40 - The five best songs from the Summer of Love - The Jimi Hendrix Experience's Are You Experienced turns 45

Wouldn't It Be Nice by The Beach Boys on Grooveshark

1. The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds Challenging arrangements, complex vocal harmonies, psychedelic sound effects, existential, coming-of-age lyrics -- it has been said by many before us that Pet Sounds is the most essential album of the 1960s. Inspired by the Beatles' Rubber Soul, songsmith Brian Wilson set out to make "the greatest rock album of all time!" Wilson composed and recorded the arrangements for the album while his band-mates toured across Asia; and when they returned, Mike Love greeted Wilson's experimental, radio-unfriendly tunes as self-indulgent, druggy pap. This sentiment was shared by management, who put little promotion into the record, and record buyers, who failed to bring it to gold record status, greatly disappointing Wilson. Though across the pond Lennon and McCartney were far from disappointed, playing the album repeatedly for themselves and anyone who would listen, often citing it as a competitive influence on Sgt. Pepper. With treasured songs like "Wouldn't It Be Nice," "God Only Knows" and "Caroline, No" Brian Wilson created a template that would be emulated for decades to come, forever altering the emotional and sonic range of what could be done within a pop album.

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