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Kevin Forest Moreau's Top 10 Albums of the 1960s

1. The Beatles: Meet the Beatles (Capitol, 1964)
Not the group's first album or necessarily its best. Not even the original version -- this is an Americanized copy of the UK album With the Beatles. But with the addition of "I Want to Hold Your Hand," this is the definitive benchmark of the group's early pop sound. Building on the foundation Chuck Berry laid, it's the blueprint for everything else to come after, from this group and all others.
 
2. Bob Dylan: Highway 61 Revisited (Columbia, 1965)
The scraggly folk-rock troubadour evolves into a surrealistic garage-rock shaman, without sacrificing his sharp observational eye or power to connect. A bridge from the young Guthrie disciple to the philosopher-king of today.
3. MC5: Kick Out the Jams (Elektra, 1969)
A spiritual forebear to the Clash, U2, Rage Against the Machine and pretty much the entire punk movement. A brightly burning document of rock's visceral punch and a testament to its power as a means of political expression.
 
4. The Rolling Stones: Let it Bleed (London, 1969)
Perfectly encapsulates the band's country-blues crackle and seething sexual swagger.
5. The Beatles: Revolver (Capitol, 1966)
Moves beyond the group's expertly rendered love songs, expanding pop's palette in the process. All the more remarkable given that it comes only three years after the group's recorded debut.
 
6. The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground & Nico (Verve, 1967)
Despite its Warhol-ian pop-art trappings and the superfluous presence of Nico, a landmark album whose impact is still felt today.
7. Johnny Cash: At San Quentin (Live) (CBS, 1969)
The Man in Black plays to an audience as hard-edged as himself. The combination is electric in its menace.
 
8. The Byrds: Sweetheart Of The Rodeo (Columbia, 1968)
Notable for forsaking the classic, chiming guitar and harmonies for which the band is so revered to detour into the back roads of Gram Parsons' Americana.
9. Creedence Clearwater Revival: Willy and the Poor Boys (Fantasy, 1969)
John Fogarty's distinctive, folksy cadences and poetic blue-collar populism helped make CCR's catalog a direct link to the proto-matter of rock and roll. Green River is edgier and arguably more substantive, but the presence of the blistering "Fortunate Son" makes this a lodestone.
 
10. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band: Safe As Milk (Buddha, 1966)
Twists the elemental magic of blues-inflected, early rock and roll into new primal forms.
 
Notable near misses:
 
  • The Band: The Band (Capitol, 1969)
  • The Doors: The Doors (Elektra, 1967)
  • Bob Dylan: Blonde On Blonde (Columbia, 1966)
  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Are You Experienced? (Reprise, 1967)
  • Neil Young: Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (Reprise, 1969)

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