The Best Albums of 1964

British rock broke through to mainstream popularity in the United States in January 1964 with the success of the Beatles. “I Want to Hold Your Hand” was the band’s first No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, starting the British Invasion of the American music charts.  The song entered the chart on January 18, 1964, at No. 45 before it became the No. 1 single for 7 weeks and went on to last a total of 15 weeks in the chart. Female newcomers, Connie Smith was among the most successful, as her breakthrough hit, “Once a Day” spent eight weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in late 1964 and early 1965, the longest-running chart-topper for nearly 50 years. In July 1964, Jim Reeves lost his life while piloting a plane near Brentwood, Tennessee. Ira Louvin (one half of the Louvin Brothers) was killed in a car accident in 1965.   The Girl From Ipanema, released in 1964, became the first Bossa Nova song to achieve international acclaim. Here are all of the 1964 albums ranked.

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10. Folk Singer (Muddy Waters)

“The single most important thing to recognize while listening to “Folk Singer” is that by 1964, the entire American music industry treated Muddy Waters as a has-been while in actuality, he was pointing the way to the future. The electric blues movement, which Muddy Waters himself was largely responsible for, had changed the entire dynamic of the genre, generating sparks of interest among a younger white audience that would eventually burst into flame, particularly in England. This album is a gorgeous oddity, as it captures Waters deliberately avoiding his electric sound, playing much as he did before his Chicago relocation.”

9. Where Did Our Love Go (The Supremes)

“This is an album that is a must for fans of the Supremes, especially during their early period. “Where Did Our Love Go” charted at number two in 1964 and was the LP that introduced the Supremes to many young Americans. Several of the tracks went on to become top-selling singles for the group. The sound on this Japanese import is crisp and clear and this stereo version is wonderful, especially when listening with a good set of headphones.”

8. Kinks (The Kinks)

“Definitely revolves around “You Really Got Me”, which was hugely influential in creating the hard rock sound. But there are a lot of great “forgotten” songs here, most notably Stop Sobbing and I Took My Baby Home. The cover of Beautiful Delilah is insanely sped up and heavy for its time.”

See more: Conway Twitty Albums Ranked

7. Presenting The Fabulous Ronettes Featuring Veronica (The Ronettes)

“This is simply the best album of all the girl groups. When you hear the name The Ronettes, most music lovers can think of four great songs by these girls. What they don’t know is they all come from their first release. The remaining tracks are not just fillers, but great tracks as well. Every vinyl lover or music lover at most should have this in their collection.”

6. Another Side Of Bob Dylan (Bob Dylan)

” The exuberance in the arrangements, in his voice and in the material itself makes this disc noteworthy and a must-have. Listen to the enthusiasm with which he sings “All I Really Want To Do” or the passion in “The Chimes of Freedom” or the scorn in his “It Ain’t Me, Babe” and you will easily see that he was at the summit of the early portion of his multi-textured career when he wrote and recorded this material. I recall how confused his “fans” were as he shifted phases, always true to the essence of himself. It was the changing form that confounded listeners, those who could not or would not recognize that in back of the form, the artist was always consistent to his essence–the “I am” that he is.”

5. Out To Lunch! (Eric Dolphy)

“Dolphy’s innovative music has held up over time and sounds as fresh and innovative today as it did when new. I guess that’s part of the definition of a classic recording. This one is challenging to listen to and draws the listener in with it’s unique rhythm and unusual instrumentation. One of the best free jazz recordings on a par with those of Ornette Coleman and Coltrane. If that style floats your boat don’t skip this one.”

4. Beatles For Sale (The Beatles)

“Anyone of these songs could have been a single. They are all expressive, powerful and mesmerizing. If the Beatles had released only one album during their brief career, this would have epitomized their talent and been an open and shut case. There are NO explanations or apologies to be made whatsoever on Beatles for Sale!”

See more: Freddie Mercury Albums Ranked

3. The Times They Are A-Changin’ (Bob Dylan)

“This disc, along with “Another Side” and ”Freewheelin” are all representative of the brilliant then-young poet/composer that we all know and appreciate to this day. The songs here are all audio snapshots of their time… protest and civil rights songs that were/are thought provoking and masterfully rendered by an amazingly young artist of the time. Subsequent cover versions of these songs by Joan Baez, the Byrds, and other artists in the folk genre of the 60s serve as testament to just how good they were and remain to this day. This is another ‘must have’ Dylan disc for those who cherish thought provoking, intelligent compositions that give one pause to reflect on injustice, prejudice, and the unfairness that life metes out to many at any period of time.”

2. Getz/Gilberto (Stan Getz & João Gilberto)

“So easy to listen to and so brilliant. A classic Jazz album with Bossa Nova rhythms, laid back, dreamy vocals and the smooth innovations of Stan Getz on saxophone and Antonio Carlos Jobim on piano. Includes arguably the best ever version of “The Girl From Ipanema. Jose Gilberto’s vocals and those of his wife Astrud are warm and inviting.”

1. A Hard Day’s Night (The Beatles)

“Arguably the best of The Beatles first four albums (though I would pick PLEASE PLEASE ME), A HARD DAY’s NIGHT is a fine pop rock album. This is more than just a period piece. There are some great, snappy songs here. Some of the best are the lesser known: “I’m Happy Just to Dance With You,” “Any Time At All,” and “You Can’t Do That.” And all the hit songs from the movie sound even better when listened to on a good stereo without the pictures. As far as I’m concerned, most Beatle albums rate five stars. This one certainly does.”