Luminous Muse


Massachusetts, USA
September 20
Retired composer, music publisher and producer. Writer.
Manchester Music Library
My memoir "Escaping the Giant" and my thriller "You Can't Write About Me" are both finished and with an agent. If he can't sell them I will self-publish, so one way or another they will be available soon. This blog and my memoir have enjoyed a vibrant relationship: I've repurposed bits of the memoir, which have then found their way into later drafts of the book. I didn't plan it that way, but it's a nice way to work.


MAY 12, 2010 4:31PM

10 '60s Albums that Changed Everything

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1.Blonde on Blonde (Bob Dylan)

It’s soaked in what the master himself called “that wild mercury sound.” Reasons it’s stupendously great? “Visions of Johanna,” “Sad Eyed Lady,” “Just Like a Woman” – enough right there.  Oh yeah, and “Memphis Blues Again,” “I Want You,” “Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat”…

2. Blue (Joni Mitchell)*

OK, it came out in 1971, so sue me. Still a ‘60’s record. I’ve discussed this record in a previous post, here

3. Are You Experienced (Jimi Hendrix Experience) *

The most wrenching musical departure since Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring. The first time people heard the Stravinsky in Paris, they rioted. First time I heard Hendrix I was at someone’s house, he showed me this purple album cover with some really scary looking freaks and said, “Lay down on the floor, close your eyes…” When the music was over, I stood up, and music, life, the guitar, were never the same.

4. Rubber Soul (The Beatles) Ah, for the days when you could slap on a new record, frown at the cover trying to figure out what had their faces so oddly elongated, then hear “It’s Only Love.” “In My Life.” “Norwegian Wood.”  No, you say, you should have picked Revolver.  Fine.  But not Sgt. Pepper. Meet the Beatles, maybe,Beatles ’65 ….gotta stop, deciding is giving me a headache.

5.The Beach Boys Classics (The Beach Boys) Hey, that’s not an album, it’s a compilation! And what aboutPet Sounds? Ain’t that supposed to rule? No. Half of it is brilliant. The rest… just plain weird.  So sue me again.

6.After Bathing at Baxters (Jefferson Airplane) * A noble experiment in eclecticism, produced under heavy chemical duress, which improbably succeeded. Yes, they later made fools of themselves – they became Jefferson Starship!  But forgiveness is what it’s all about when it comes to ‘60’s bands. Do you hate “Here, There, and Everywhere” just because Paul went on to commit the sins he committed with Wings? Can you really hate Dylan just because of that Christmas Album?  (I haven’t heard it, but I’ve heard enough about it that I’m actually afraid to listen to it.) “I’ve got his arm, I’ve got his arm…I’ve had it for weeks!”  If that doesn’t take you back you need to go listen to it.

7.Live Dead (Grateful Dead) * Maybe I’m prejudiced towards this, because this cycle of songs was exactly what I heard them do the first time I saw them in the dark fall of 1969.  A musical…trip.  No, really.  “Turn on your lovelight…and leave it on!”

8. East-West (Butterfield Blues Band) * Forgotten today, they were the musicians’ musicians of the day. The same mood of exploration, of breaking down barriers that was transforming Jefferson Airplane is working here, taking them far from their native blue Chicago.

9. The Dionne Warwick Collection – Her All Time Greatest Hits (Dionne Warwick) These songs, all but two of which are by Bacharach/David, didn’t change anything - except for music. Mesmerized by loud guitars (see 3. above) we ignored these gentle bossa nova flavored things – at our musical peril.  There are more brilliant moments in every one of these songs than in whole careers of other artists. “Do you know the way to San Jose?” Wish I were there now.

10. Peter, Paul and Mary ** (Peter, Paul and Mary) Yeah, the ‘60’s are about Rock, High Rock, but the ‘60’s started with the “folk boom.”  Yes, these guys were there with M. L. King at the Lincoln Memorial, they introduced us to Dylan.  But it’s Mary’s voice, the crust on those angelic harmonies, so sweet and earnest and strong, that speaks the hope that ushered in the decade, and despite so much darkness, still shines in the heart of those that remember.

This in MY list, and I’m sure you don’t agree.  So bring it on. (With Peace and Love, of course.)

*I was privileged to hear these great musicians live in the ‘60’s.

** I finally heard them 7 years ago.  Mary’s voice was long past its prime, but her spirit was still there. It’s not fair that she and so many of the others above should have given so much and be gone.

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Where's The Velvet Underground and Nico?
"Femme Fatale" certainly hit me at the time, but they were never quite my thing. Though looking at your blog, we might share a great deal between your taste in movies and mine in books - I spent much of the '70's and '80's reading just about every horror book written, the good (Peter Straub and the better Stephen King) as well as the awful (much of it, which is why the genre has almost disappeared.)
Nice list!
I like these type of lists because they're fum to pick over and discuss.

I totally agree with "After Bathing at Baxters" which I've always felt was one of their better albums. And "Live/Dead" is just sick--live rock music as if it had been born from the DNA of John Coltrane and TS Eliot on the far side of Alpha Centauri.
And it's nice to see East/West included on a list like this--they're often ignored (even though Mike Bloomfield was one of the greatest guitarists of that era--and that's saying something!)

I like the Warwick pick, as it's something I would not have included on this type of list. Yet, it's totally deserving. Nice pick.

I would have said The Beach Boys "Pet Sounds" (which is so totally NOT weird) and The Beatles "Revolver", but I see where you're coming from.
And while Blonde on Blonde is my favorite Dylan album too, I'd argue that "Bringing it All Back Home" was ultimately more influential--especially for the development of what we know of as Rock music (as opposed to rock n roll).
Disagree with the PPM, but that's just me.

As far as other albums that changed music in the 60s, might I add:
James Brown: Live at the Apollo
Love: Forever Changes
Velvet Underground and Nico
Sly and the Family Stone: Stand!
Rolling Stones: Beggar's Banquet
Ray Charles: Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music
The Zombies: Odyssey and Oracle
13th Floor Elevators
The Band: Music From the Big Pink
Oh, and welcome!
Thank you! I recently put Love Forever Changes on my ipod and it holds up quite well. (Too bad about Arthur Lee.) I hemmed and hawed about the Stones, Beggar's Banquet, Let It Bleed...actually should have gone with High Tide and Green Grass. And There's What's goin' on - I'll be posting in the future about my five hour interview with Jerry Garcia (I was a minor part of the Festival Express) also perhaps a full account of that first concert I saw...
Did you just say: "I'll be posting in the future about my five hour interview with Jerry Garcia (I was a minor part of the Festival Express)" ?

Wow. I have no words for that kind of awesomeness!
Oh, and "What's Goin' On" was 1970 I believe--so no foul.
Your #1 is number #1 with me too. Yes.
It's a pretty US-oriented list. No Rolling Stones, Kinks (forerunners of the punk/new wave sound), Who, Pink Floyd, Cream, or Yardbirds/Led Zepplin.

I'd quibble a bit with the Dylan selection (Bringing It All back Home, he goes electric, would be my choice) and I'd go for Sgt Pepper's for the Beatles.

These are fun topics and I'm sure I've come off as more critical than I mean. You make a pretty good case for almost all of them but did anything really change with Dionne Warwick?
Thank you, Scarlett. With a name like that I have to check your blog out.

Abrawang - You're right about the Brits, even though they're "not my cuppa tea."

But Dionne is on there because Bacharach's music is arguably the best of the era (which I will argue in a future post.)

And of course everyone gets their own list - that's part of the everything that chnged in the '60's!
Great list, especially the first 5. I had a similar experience with Hendrix. Also love the Butterfield Blues Band -- they were truly musicians' musicians. High Tide and Green Grass, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely hearts Club Band and yes, Peter, Paul and Mary were some other greats. I also loved Joan Baez and Joni's Both Sides Now.

You lost me at Rubber Soul.
#1 changed eeverything.

after that, the more things changed, the more they stayed the same.
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