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Aug. 22, 2017: Favorite Albums of the 1960s

Today Pitchfork released a list of their top 200 albums of the '60s. I'm not going to lie: their lists for the '70s, '80s, and '90s, all of which are over a decade old at this point, informed my middle- and high-school listening habits to a major degree; while I'm (hopefully) more knowledgeable and less impressionable now than I was then, and while Pitchfork is a very different entity than it was then, lists like this continue to pique my interest. As expected, Pitchfork's list tries to upset the baby-boomer '60s canon while appealing to modern tastes as well as, to an extent, the rockist Pitchfork of yore.

In their attempt to widen the canon, they ended up making some strange choices—representing certain artists by not-their-best albums, tokenizing non-mainstream genres with albums that perhaps aren't the best examples, etc. But the '60s were a weird time for LPs: the format didn't come into its own until the second half of the decade, with the first half characterized by LPs-as-promotional-tools-for-singles. What you had was well-liked artists putting out unending streams of LPs, many of which only had one to three good songs—or, not just good, but all-time classic. If an LP has two all-time classic tracks and eight mediocre ones, how does the album as a whole rate? It's tough to say.

Whatever. Here's my list, which is culled from an existing iTunes playlist, which means there's stuff missing: stuff in my iTunes I haven't added to it, stuff I have on vinyl and not on iTunes (mainly jazz and country), stuff I don't possess at all but have heard many times, etc. I've separated it into three tiers, rather than straight-up ranking the albums: tier 1 is my top 10, tier 2 is the next 50 (so, 11–60), and tier 3 is the next 100 (so, 61–160). Each tier is alphabetized by artist. Number 1 is probably White Light/White Heat, and yes, all three '60s VU albums are in the top 10. I'm not going to italicize the album titles in the list because no one really needs that.

Tier 1

Albert Ayler Trio – Spiritual Unity
The Beatles – Revolver
Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band – Trout Mask Replica
John Coltrane – A Love Supreme
John Fahey – The Transfiguration of Blind Joe Death
The Kinks – Are The Village Green Preservation Society
Scott Walker – Scott 4
The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground & Nico
The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground
The Velvet Underground – White Light/White Heat

Tier 2

The Band – The Band
The Band – Music from Big Pink
The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds
The Beatles – The Beatles
The Beatles – A Hard Day's Night
The Beatles – Rubber Soul
Bo Diddley – Have Guitar, Will Travel
Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde
Bob Dylan – Highway 61 Revisited
Bob Dylan – Nashville Skyline

Bob Dylan – John Wesley Harding
The Byrds – Notorious Byrd Brothers
The Byrds – Sweetheart of the Rodeo
Can – Monster Movie
Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band – Safe as Milk
Cecil Taylor – Unit Structures
Charles Mingus – The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady
Creedence Clearwater Revival – Willy and the Poor Boys
Fairport Convention – Unhalfbricking
The Flying Burrito Brothers – The Gilded Palace of Sin

The Fugs – The Fugs
James Brown – Live at the Apollo
Jerry Jeff Walker – Driftin' Way of Life
Jimi Hendrix – Electric Ladyland
John Coltrane – Ascension
John Fahey – Days Have Gone By
Leonard Cohen – Songs of Leonard Cohen
Love – Forever Changes
Neil Young – Everybody Knows This is Nowhere
Nick Drake – Five Leaves Left

Nico – The Marble Index
Nina Simone – Wild is the Wind
Otis Redding – Otis Blue: Otis Sings Soul
Peter Brötzmann Octet – Machine Gun
Pharoah Sanders – Karma
The Red Krayola – Parable of Arable Land
The Red Krayola – God Bless the Red Krayola and All Who Sail With It
The Rolling Stones – Beggars Banquet
The Rolling Stones – Between the Buttons
Scott Walker – Scott 3

Silver Apples – Silver Apples
Skip Spence – Oar
Sly & The Family Stone – Stand!
The Sonics – Here are the Sonics!!!
The Stooges – The Stooges
Terry Riley – A Rainbow in Curved Air
Tim Buckley – Happy Sad
Townes van Zandt – Townes van Zandt
Van Morrison – Astral Weeks
The Zombies – Odessey and Oracle

Tier 3

AMM – AMMMusic
Amon Düül II – Phallus Dei
Anthony Braxton – For Alto
Asylum Choir – Look Inside the Asylum Choir
The Beach Boys – Wild Honey
The Beatles – Abbey Road
The Beatles – Beatles for Sale
The Beatles – Magical Mystery Tour
Bill Evans – Sunday at the Village Vanguard
Bo Anders Persson – Love is Here to Stay

Bob Dylan – Bringing It All Back Home
Bob Dylan – The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan
Booker T. & The MGs – Green Onions
Brigitte Fontaine – Comme À La Radio
Buck Owens – I've Got a Tiger By The Tail
The Byrds – Fifth Dimension
Canned Heat – Boogie with Canned Heat
Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band – Strictly Personal
Creedence Clearwater Revival – Green River
Cromagnon – Orgasm

Dean Martin – Dino: Italian Love Songs
The Dells – There Is
Dillard & Clark – The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard & Clark
Dionne Warwick – Make Way for Dionne Warwick
Don Cherry – Eternal Rhythm
Duke Ellington, Charles Mingus, and Max Roach – Money Jungle
Elvis Presley – Elvis is Back!
Eric Dolphy – Out to Lunch
Fairport Convention – Liege & Lief
Fairport Convention – What We Did on Our Holidays

The Godz – Contact High with the Godz
Grateful Dead – Live/Dead
Harry Nilsson – Aerial Ballet
Henry Flynt & The Insurrections – I Don't Wanna
Ike & Tina Turner – River Deep, Mountain High
The Impressions – Keep On Pushing
The Incredible String Band – The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter
The Index – The Index
The International Submarine Band – Safe at Home
Isaac Hayes – Hot Buttered Sould

Jackson C. Frank – Jackson C. Frank
Jim Ford – Harlan County
The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Are You Experienced?
Jimmy Giuffre – Free Fall
Joe Byrd & The Field Hippies – The American Metaphysical Circus
John Coltrane – Giant Steps
John Fahey – Death Chants, Breakdowns, and Military Waltzes
John Fahey – Requia
Johnny Cash – At Folsom Prison
Karen Dalton – It's So Hard to Tell Who's Going to Love You the Most

The Kinks – Arthur
The Kinks – Face to Face
The Kinks – Something Else by The Kinks
Krzysztof Komeda – Knife in the Water
La Monte Young – The Black Album
Led Zeppelin – I
Lee Dorsey – Ya Ya
Lee Hazlewood – Lee Hazlewoodism: Its Cause and Cure
The Louvin Brothers – Satan is Real
Merle Haggard – I'm a Lonesome Fugitive

Merle Haggard – Mama Tried
Michael Chapman – Rainmaker
Miles Davis – In a Silent Way
Miles Davis – Sketches of Spain
Moby Grape – Moby Grape
The Monks – Black Monk Time
Moondog – Moondog
The Mothers of Invention – Freak Out!
The Mothers of Invention – Absolutely Free
Nancy Sinatra & Lee Hazlewood – Nancy & Lee

Nico – Chelsea Girl
Nina Simone – Pastel Blues
Ornette Coleman – Change of the Century
Pärson Sound – Pärson Sound
Paul Revere & The Raiders – Just Like Us
Pentangle – The Pentangle
Peter Brötzmann Sextet – Nipples
Ran Blake – Plays Solo Piano
Robbie Basho – Venus in Cancer
The Rolling Stones – Let it Bleed

The Rolling Stones – Their Satanic Majesties Request
Roscoe Mitchell – Sound
Sam Cooke – Night Beat
Sandy Bull – E Pluribus Unum
Scott Walker – Scott 2
Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin – Jane Birkin et Serge Gainsbourg
The Shaggs – Philosophy of the World
Simon & Garfunkel – Bookends
The Soft Machine – The Soft Machine
The Staple Singers – Soul Folk in Action

Sun Ra – The Heliocentric Worlds
Thelonious Monk Quartet – Monk's Dream
Tim Buckley – Goodbye and Hello
Tim Buckley – Tim Buckley
Tim Hardin – Tim Hardin 1
Townes van Zandt – Our Mother the Mountain
Van Dyke Parks – Song Cycle
White Noise – An Electric Storm
Yusef Lateef – Eastern Sounds
The 13th Floor Elevators – The Psychedelic Sounds of The 13th Floor Elevators

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