· 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):
- Tomorrow Never Knows
- Eleanor Rigby
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.”
- Voodoo Chile
- Gypsy Eyes
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!
- Cold Rain And Snow
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.”
- Plastic Fantastic Lover
- 3/5 Of A Mile In 10 Seconds
#6 — 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.
- Ticket To Ride
- You Keep Me Hanging On
#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.
- Love, Peace And Happiness
- People Get Ready
#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.
- Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine
- Section 43
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!
- Soul Sacrifice (Santana)
- Freedom (Richie Havens)
#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.
- To Love Somebody
- New York Mining Disaster 1941
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.”
- You’re Gonna Miss Me
- Splash 1 (Now I’m Home)
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!