The Best Albums of 1966

The Byrds rapidly progressed from purely folk rock in 1966 with their single “Eight Miles High”, widely taken to be a reference to drug use.  Inspired by the British invasion, thousands of garage bands were extant in the US and Canada during the era and hundreds produced regional hits. Despite scores of bands being signed to major or large regional labels, most were commercial failures. It is generally agreed that garage rock peaked both commercially and artistically around 1966.  Also, in 1966, Bob Dylan spearheaded the Roots Rock movement when he went to Nashville to record the album Blonde on Blonde. This, and subsequent more clearly country-influenced albums, have been seen as creating the genre of country folk, a route pursued by a number of, largely acoustic, folk musicians. Here are all of 1966 albums ranked.

Relive the music of one of the most notable year of rock and roll. Click below and listen to the songs of 1966!

10. Ascension (John Coltrane)

“This is such a great free jazz album. It is such an amazing journey through all the solos and duets. I was never really into free jazz. But. Coleman’s “Free Jazz” and this album have really opened my mind to new forms of music. You can hear the people bounce off of each other. One does one thing and the others or other person gives feedback. It simply has to be heard. Plus you get the original take as well in this album.”

9. Face To Face (The Kinks)

“The album opens with one of the three jokey songs, “Party Line” which opens with a telephone ringing and being picked up (by one of their managers) and quickly settles into a foursquare beat song with lines like “Is she big, Is she small? Is she a she at all?” It has a Beatle-ish vibe. “Dandy”, a song about a skirt-chaser, is obviously about Ray’s brother Dave, who was known for his rowdy lifestyle and often preferred two girls at a time.”

8. The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators (13th Floor Elevators)

“Although the jug does nothing for me, the Elevators’ music is punchy and powerful. Each track on this album is a psychedelic/garage classic. The musicianship is superb, the songwriting brilliant and original. Production values are high and the album coheres as a collection of exemplary songs of the period, yet also transcending their era. This album stands with anything recorded in 1966; as John Savage says in his book 1966, this is “the real thing”.

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7. Parsley, Sage, Rosemary And Thyme (Simon & Garfunkel)

“This album is pretty cool to listen to, a bit mellow and melancholy in parts, but flawless vocals and music. Lyrics have always been more like poetry that just happens to sound great when put to music. I’d recommend buying all six of their albums (including the graduate soundtrack) they are a great duo that everyone should listen to. Great musicianship and Great performances.”

6. Sounds Of Silence (Simon & Garfunkel)

“This is one of my all time favorite albums. It always puts me in a good mood and leaves me in a calm state of being. Yet it also manages to make me feel deeply humbled to be alive and part of this world, no matter how horrible things may be sometimes. There is always hope.”

5. Freak Out! (The Mothers Of Invention)

“Brilliant social commentary, primo doo-wop, musically a first rate album, if you’re only in it for the tunes, you won’t be disappointed. If you have an intellect and a dim view of the state of the Republic and the world in general, you’ll love it.”

4. Aftermath (The Rolling Stones)

“There’s something so different about this album, something so different from anything the Stones have done before or since. There’s the freshness, of course, of young songwriters coming into the promise of their talent — Aftermath is the first Stones release where Jagger and Richards composed all the songs. And there’s Brian Jones, the stamp and signature of real musical genius already reaching with the experimentation of dulcimer, sitar and harpsichord and other unfamiliar instruments to the then exotic, arcane sounds of what would in time be dubbed World Music.”

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3. Blonde On Blonde (Bob Dylan)

“Dylan’s genius shines through on this album. His songs on this album are just beautiful and each song on this album speaks to you. I haven’t listened to Dylan much recently because the past 10 years I have been into a lot of black metal,death metal and progressive metal.”

2. Pet Sounds (The Beach Boys)

“Pet Sounds by The Beach Boys, who wouldn’t love this cd. It contains, truly, the very best of this band, at that time in their career Paul McCartney said that this album influenced him, and The Beatles to create the Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band album . Great memories and a great collection of songs. I Love It, and anyone else who remembers the 60’s will too. You can’t go wrong with cd in your collection.”

1. Revolver (The Beatles)

“One of my three absolute favorite Beatles records! Some highlights here include ‘Eleanor Rigby’, ‘I’m Only Sleeping’, Here, There and Everywhere’, ‘And Your Bird Can Sing’, ‘For No One’, ‘Got to Get You Into My Life’ and of course, the iconic ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’. The Beatles had already cemented a place as the greatest band of the sixties up to this point. But with ‘Revolver’, they were beginning to cement their place as the greatest band of all time.”