· By Steffen Smith

The 10 Greatest Psychedelic Albums of the ’60s

The ’60s psychedelic era was an exciting time for music. Artists were having their doors blown wide open by yes, drugs, but also a new spirit of what could be done with their instruments. Artists from the Beatles to Hendrix experimented with feedback and incorporated sounds from other cultures, particularly the Middle East (sitars, for example). They were also pushing the envelope in the studio with audio tricks like looping and back masking.

With that in mind, these are some of the psychedelic records that have stood the test of time (in our humble opinion):

The Beatles Revolver Album

#10 — The Beatles

The record that launched the genre —1966 and The Beatles drop Revolver. In particular, one song. It’s the final track, and it’s a mindblower. The Beatles fire the first shot with “Tomorrow Never Knows …,” singing “Turn off your mind / Relax and float downstream …”
Standout tracks:
  • Tomorrow Never Knows
  • Eleanor Rigby
Jimi Hendrix Electric Ladyland album

#9 — Jimi Hendrix
Electric Ladyland

Axis Bold Is Love is a solidly trippy album. But this one gets the vote for the most psychedelic Hendrix album, with sonic gems like “1983 A Merman I Should Turn To Be.”

Standout tracks: 

  • Voodoo Chile
  • Gypsy Eyes



The Grateful Dead album

#8 — The Grateful Dead
The Grateful Dead

The album that started the whole long, strange trip! The Dead’s 1967 debut sets the stage for what’s to come with a one-of-a-kind mix of rock, folk, blues and country. Hey now!

Standout tracks:

  • Cold Rain And Snow


  • New, New Minglewood Blues

    Jefferson Airplane Surrealistic Pillow album

    #7 — Jefferson Airplane
    Surrealistic Pillow

    The second album from the other great San Francisco band is the first to feature vocalist Grace Slick, who brought two chart-topping songs to the band: “White Rabbit” and “Somebody To Love.”

    Standout tracks: 

    • Plastic Fantastic Lover
    • 3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds


    Vanilla Fudge album

    #6 — Vanilla Fudge
    Vanilla Fudge

    The Fudge is the missing link between psychedelia and what would become heavy metal. Everything slowed down, half speed. Very heavy, very trippy.

    Standout tracks: 

    • Ticket To Ride
    • You Keep Me Hanging On


    The Chambers Brothers Love, Peace and Happiness

    #5 — The Chambers Brothers
    Love, Peace And Happiness

    These guys were kind of the psychedelic soul brothers. This masterpiece was recorded live at the Fillmore East. And the title track is a gorgeous jam that takes up all of side two.

    Standout tracks:

    • Love, Peace And Happiness
    • People Get Ready
    Country Joe and the Fish, Electric Music for the Mind and Body

    #4 Country Joe & The Fish
    Electric Music For The Mind And Body

    This was really the first psychedelic album to come out of San Francisco in 1967, and if you were going to put an album in an exhibit on the ’60s in the Smithsonian, this one would be it.

    Standout tracks:

    • Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine
    • Section 43


     Original Soundtrack Woodstock
    #3 — Woodstock (Original Soundtrack)

    A musical time capsule of the psychedelic era. You’ve got Jimi Hendrix unleashing “The Star Spangled Banner,” you’ve got the crowd chants, and even the stage announcements about the bad brown acid!

    Standout tracks:

    • Soul Sacrifice (Santana)
    • Freedom (Richie Havens)
    The Bee Gees Bee Gee’s 1st

    #2 — The Bee Gees
    Bee Gee’s 1st

    A surprise find from the same brothers who brought us “Staying Alive” and “You Should Be Dancing.” Absolutely a classic of psychedelic pop. Parts of it sound very much like the Beatles, circa Revolver.

    Standout tracks: 

    • To Love Somebody
    • New York Mining Disaster 1941


     The 13th Floor Elevators The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators

    #1 — The 13th Floor Elevators
    The Psychedelic Sounds Of The 13th Floor Elevators

    Forget about San Francisco. The capital of psychedelic rock in 1966 was without a doubt Austin, Texas — home to one of the wildest, rawest, hands-down trippiest bands of the era. The 13th Floor Elevators were the trailblazers — and were actually the first band to refer to their music as “psychedelic rock.” 

    Standout tracks: 

    • You’re Gonna Miss Me
    • Splash 1 (Now I’m Home)

    Whaddya Think?

    Well, that’s what I’ve got. What do you think? I’m sure you have some other suggestions for this list that I left out … let’s hear ’em!

    1 comment

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