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
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.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.