7 Best 1960s Vinyl Albums To Own, According To Audiophiles

7 Best 1960s Vinyl Albums To Own, According To Audiophiles

The 1960s were a transformative decade for music, with iconic albums that continue to resonate with listeners today. From the British Invasion to the rise of psychedelic rock, the 1960s saw a diverse range of genres and styles emerge that have since become timeless classics. So much so that we decided to track down some of the best 1960s vinyl albums that are essential additions to any vinyl collection. These albums not only capture the spirit of the era but also showcase the incredible talent and innovation of the artists who created them. Whether you’re a seasoned vinyl collector or a newcomer to the format, these albums are sure to provide a rich listening experience that transports you back to a time of artistic revolution and cultural exploration. So dust off your turntable, sit back, and immerse yourself in the sounds of a bygone era that continues to inspire and influence musicians to this day.

Of course, there are some records that emerged from this era that are more iconic than others, which is what we at StudyFinds decided to explore today. To find out what albums have stood the test of time, we have taken the time to research across multiple expert sources to find the top seven best 1960s vinyl albums to own. Of course, there is an entire decade of iconic music and only seven spots, so if you feel we missed out on a good suggestion, no worries! We would love to hear from you in the comments down below. Now, onto the ranking!

➡️ How Our “Best Of The Best” Lists Are Created

StudyFinds’ “Best of the Best” articles are put together with the idea of taking the work out of common consumer research. Ever find yourself searching for a product or service on Google and reading multiple reviews to find items listed across many of them? Our Best of the Best lists are created with that process in mind, with each item ranked by how frequently it appears on expert reviews or lists. With Best of the Best, you are getting consensus picks — making them truly the best of the best!

black vinyl record on black vinyl record
Vinyl Records (Photo by Eric Krull on Unsplash)

The List: Best 1960s Vinyl Albums To Own, Per Music Fans

1. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by The Beatles (1967)

The Beatles – “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” (1967)

The first album that is a must-have is “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” by none other than The Beatles, and in terms of studio methods, this record was “revolutionary at the time,” says Vacation Vinyl. The innovative use of orchestration, production effects, and songwriting on “Sgt. Pepper’s” set a new standard for the music industry and solidified The Beatles’ status as one of the greatest bands of all time.

Paste Magazine goes as far as to say that “no record quite encapsulates” what the Beatles stood for more than “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” does. The album’s iconic cover art and concept of a fictional band allowed The Beatles to experiment with new sounds and styles, creating a masterpiece that continues to stand the test of time. The album’s songs, such as “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” and “A Day in the Life,” showcase the band’s musical evolution and creativity, further solidifying their place in music history.

For young people in the 1960s, as Vinyl Virgins describes, the Beatles were a crucial part of making sense of the cultural transformation that characterized the era. Their music served as a soundtrack for the social changes happening around them, providing a voice for a generation seeking to break free from societal norms. With this album, The Beatles truly embodied the spirit of the 1960s, capturing the essence of an era marked by revolution and self-discovery.

2. “Pet Sounds” by The Beach Boys (1966)

The Beach Boys – “Pet Sounds” (1966)

The next album to take up rank on our list is “Pet Sounds” by the Beach Boys. Up until the point of the “Pet Sounds” release, the Beach Boys were widely known for their surf rock aesthetic, but “all that changed with the release of ‘Pet Sounds,’” Paste Magazine explains. Though the album was initially not successful, it has grown in popularity, becoming one of the band’s best.

Oshoom even goes as far as to write that it is “one of the greatest albums of all time” and a “visionary work of art.” “Pet Sounds” is often credited with influencing the direction of popular music with its innovative production techniques and introspective lyrics. The album’s lush orchestration and complex vocal harmonies set it apart from the Beach Boys’ earlier work, showcasing a new level of musical sophistication.

Pitchfork notes that with this album, “Brian Wilson invented the modern pop auteur.” His creative genius truly shines on “Pet Sounds,” solidifying its status as a timeless classic in the history of music. Its impact on the music industry is undeniable, as it pushed boundaries and paved the way for future artists to explore new sonic possibilities. Brian Wilson’s vision and talent as a songwriter and producer are on full display on this record, continuing to inspire and captivate listeners and proving its enduring legacy in the world of music.

3. “The Velvet Underground & Nico” by The Velvet Underground (1967)

The Velvet Underground – “The Velvet Underground & Nico” (1967)

The next album that should be taking up a spot on your turntable is “The Velvet Underground” by, well, The Velvet Underground & Nico. As Pitchfork put it, they “invented a whole new kind of cool” with this record. This album, released in 1967, was a groundbreaking mix of art rock, avant-garde, and proto-punk that pushed the boundaries of what rock music could be. With songs like “Heroin” and “I’m Waiting for the Man,” The Velvet Underground & Nico delivered a raw and gritty sound that still resonates with listeners today.

Treblezine notes that of the many things that make this album great, the thing “that stands out is its range.” From the hauntingly beautiful vocals of Nico on “Femme Fatale” to the chaotic and discordant instrumentation on “European Son,” this album showcases a wide range of emotions and sounds. The Velvet Underground & Nico broke away from the conventions of the time, both lyrically and musically, and paved the way for countless artists to follow in their footsteps.

Dig! describes the band’s debut album as a “dark counterpoint to hippie idealism” and stands as easily one of the most “influential” records of all time. The Velvet Underground’s fearless exploration of taboo subjects and their willingness to push boundaries set them apart from their contemporaries. Their legacy continues to inspire and influence generations of musicians, solidifying “The Velvet Underground” as one of the best albums of all time. 

4. “A Love Supreme” by John Coltrane (1965)

John Coltrane – “A Love Supreme” (1965)

Next up is “A Love Supreme” by John Coltrane. Featuring pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison, and drummer Elvin Jones, Pitchfork notes, the quartet hit the “pinnacle” of their magic with this recording. The album, recorded in December 1964, is considered a masterpiece of spiritual jazz and showcases Coltrane’s deep devotion to his faith. With its powerful performances and improvisational brilliance, “A Love Supreme” is a timeless classic that continues to inspire and move listeners to this day.

WhatHiFi describes this album as a “must” for jazz collectors and non-collectors alike. “A Love Supreme’s” impact on the world of jazz and beyond is immeasurable, and its influence can still be heard in the music of contemporary artists today. In short, this album is a timeless masterpiece that will continue to inspire and captivate listeners for generations to come.

Treblezine reports that the process of recording this album was “five days of writing and one day of studio sessions.” John Coltrane’s spiritual journey and musical exploration are evident in every note of “A Love Supreme,” making it a deeply personal and profound listening experience. The quartet’s chemistry and improvisational skills are showcased throughout the album, creating a cohesive and dynamic sound that has stood the test of time. The emotional depth and raw energy present in Coltrane’s saxophone playing, along with McCoy Tyner’s piano, Jimmy Garrison’s bass, and Elvin Jones’ drums, make “A Love Supreme” a groundbreaking work of art that continues to resonate with audiences of all ages. 

5. “Highway 61 Revisited” by Bob Dylan (1965)

Bob Dylan – “Highway 61 Revisited” (1965)

The number five pick is Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited.” Described as “genre-defining for folk and blues music” by Vacation Vinyl, this album showcases Dylan’s lyrical prowess and musical innovation. Its raw energy and social commentary continue to resonate with listeners today, making it a timeless classic in the world of music.

Paste Magazine adds that “Highway 61 Revisited” “is Bob Dylan’s path to the stratosphere” and a logical next step in his path as a musician at the time. The album’s influence can still be heard in the work of countless artists across different genres. Dylan’s ability to blend storytelling with poetic lyrics and powerful instrumentation is on full display in “Highway 61 Revisited.” It truly remains a must-listen for any music enthusiast looking to dive into the rich tapestry of American folk and blues music.

The album has an iconic opener, as noted by Oshoom. The track “Like a Rolling Stone” propelled Dylan to new heights as a popular songwriter, while “Desolation Row” highlighted his talent for moving narratives. Overall, “Highway 61 Revisited” solidified Bob Dylan’s status as a musical icon and pioneer in the industry. The album’s impact is undeniable and continues to resonate with listeners today, showcasing Dylan’s unparalleled ability to capture the essence of American music and culture.

6. “Let It Bleed” by The Rolling Stones (1969)

The Rolling Stones – “Let It Bleed” (1969)

Of course, the Stones were going to make an appearance; after all, it was the 1960s, and their must-have vinyl is none other than “Let It Bleed.” As WhatHiFi describes it, it truly is one of their “best albums ever.” The raw energy and emotion captured in each track truly showcase the band’s musical prowess and ability to transcend generations. 

Oshoom adds that “Let It Bleed” was a groundbreaking album at the time. The Rolling Stones’ ability to push boundaries in music was truly exemplified in this record. The combination of blues, rock, and country influences in the songs on “Let It Bleed” created a unique and unforgettable sound that has truly stood the test of time.

Paste Magazine specifically notes “Gimme Shelter” as an infamous opener that sets the tone for the entire album with its haunting vocals and powerful instrumentation. From the gritty blues of “Midnight Rambler” to the country twang of “Country Honk,” the album is a testament to the band’s versatility and creativity. “Let It Bleed” is not only a musical masterpiece but also a cultural landmark that solidified the Rolling Stones’ place in rock ‘n’ roll history.

7. “Revolver” by The Beatles (1966)

The Beatles – “Revolver” (1966)

Yes, another Beatles album, but this Fab Four undeniably ruled the decade and thus deserved another spot on our list, which brings us to our last pick, “Revolver.” Paste Magazine goes as far as to say that this album is their “favorite child” in terms of Beatles records, making it a must-own. With innovative tracks, “Revolver” showcases the band’s evolution and experimentation with new sounds and styles. The album’s impact on music history is undeniable, solidifying The Beatles as one of the greatest bands of all time.

Treblezine reports “Revolver” as the band’s most “artistically elegant,” with every track being more outstanding than the next. The intricate production and songwriting on “Revolver” set a new standard for the music industry, inspiring countless artists to push the boundaries of creativity in their own work. It’s no wonder that this album remains a timeless classic, beloved by fans and critics alike for its bold innovation and lasting impact on the world of music.

WhatHiFi mentions the notable tracks on “Revolver” as being “Eleanor Rigby” and, of course, the famous “Yellow Submarine.” The emotional depth of “Eleanor Rigby” and the playful charm of “Yellow Submarine” demonstrate the band’s versatility and range as musicians. With “Revolver,” The Beatles proved that they were not only capable of creating catchy pop hits but also of producing complex, thought-provoking music that never fades in the realm of musical genius.

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