Best Albums of 1967

1967 was probabaly the greatest year ever, mainly because it was the year I came into this world. As a result of being 0 years old I don’t remember any of these at the time but so many of them have endured over the years that it doesn’t matter that much. As with all my lists they are my opinion and there are no doubt records missing that you may think should be included, if so please do say so, I may have just forgotten them. Let’s go.

30 – A Fistful of Dollars – Ennio Morricone

Well, I love the films, I love the music, iconic as it is and I love the composer so this was a must for me. Growing up in the 70’s these spaghetti westerns were the big Saturday night films that were on TV and were an event. We would have a bag of sweets and some pop and settle in for the film. Of course, back then I had no clue about Morricone but that’s probabaly for the best. I loved everything about the movies.

29 – Disraeli Gears – Cream

I know that many people would excpect this to be listed much higher up but it was a record I never quite managed to conect with. Other than the first two tracks I don’t have that much interest in it, and ‘Sunshine of your Love’ I know mostly from Hendrix playing it. Truth is I’m not the biggest Clapton fan and often wonder what all the fuss was/is about, not that I can’t appreciate what he has done I just don’t see it as earth shattering stuff.

28 – Straight, No Chaser – Thelonius Monk

Well I do love a bit of Jazz and I’ve been meaning to pick up a copy of this for a while, perhaps now I actualy will. The album was recorded in New York City on November 14/15, 1966 & January 10, 1967 with Charlie Rouse (tenor sax), Larry Gales (bass) & Ben Riley(drums). I don’t think it is a particularly well known release from Monk, but it is well worth a listen.

27 – Scott – Scott Walker

I have always found the music of Scott Walker to be old fashioned, a throwback even, but I’ve recently been viewing that more as a positive than a negative and this album has grown on me with repeated listens. The music is beautifully produced and delivered. It makes me think that this is where Divine Comedy came from.

26 – Sings the Blues – Nina Simone

A brilliant album, of course it is, it’s Nina Simone, but in the context of 1967 there are many others that best represent the year and she had performed and released a number of these tracks before.

25 – Wave – Antonio Carlos Joabim

By the time this album was released, Antonio Carlos Jobim was already an international superstar. Having recently won a Grammy (1965) for “The Girl From Ipanema”, by 1967 all the big name stars from up north were breaking down his door to work with the new “Gershwin of Brazil.” In fact, Jobim had just finished working on an album with Frank Sinatra when he went into the studio to record this album. Recorded in 1967, Wave is actually one of the lesser known masterpieces of Brazilian music, and undoubtedly one of Jobim’s greatest. Here Jobim and the great Claus Ogerman lead a top-flight cast on hidden classics like Batidinha, Triste and Wave.

24 – Big Brother & The Holding Company – Big Brother & the Holding Company

Recorded in three days in mid-December of 1966 on a shoestring budget in Los Angeles at United Studios, Big Brother & The Holding Company has a sincere garage band simplicity that pervades the entire album and gives it a certain do-it-yourself sincerity not found on breakthrough release Cheap Thrills. Later releases added “Featuring Janis Joplin” but at this point they were a band and she was yet to be the superstar she was to become.

23 – Their Satanic Majesties Request – The Rolling Stones

Keith Richards probabaly said it best, ““none of us wanted to make [Satanic Majesties], but it was time for another Stones album, and Sgt. Pepper’s was coming out, so we thought basically we were doing a put-on”

22 – Goodbye And Hello -Tim Buckley

I’m sure many people discovered Tim Buckley via Jeff, I didn’t, I discovered him through This Mortal Coil who covered ‘Song to the SIren’ with Elizabeth Fraser on vocals back in 1984. The Buckley album that was taken from was ‘Starsailor’ released in 1970. This album, his second, is less folkey I suppose but contains some great tracks such as ‘Pleasant Street’, which you can hear beow.

21 – Days Of Future Passed – The Moody Blues

Yes, it’s the one with ‘Nights in White Satin’ on it, ‘Days of Future’ Passed is their second album and first concept album it is a fusion of orchestral and rock elements and has been cited as one of the first examples of progressive rock. I’d never listened to it all the way through before, it’s pretty good.

20 – Easter Everywhere – 13th Floor Elevators

Hailing from Austin, Texas, the members of 13th Floor Elevators were quite possibly the first artists to describe their music as psychedelic. Their lyrics and sleeve notes openly and religiously endorsed the use of drugs (particularly LSD) to alter human consciousness for the better. I first came acccross them via the B-Side of ‘World Shut Your Mouth’ by Julian Cope, where he does a cover of the song ‘I’ve Got Levitation’.

19 – Smiley Smile – The Beach Boys

Following Pet Sounds, group songwriter and producer Brian Wilson attempted a more light-hearted approach for Smile, an album that was to be released in 1967, but instead would sit on the shelf for over 40 years, to eventually become The Beach Boys’ first Grammy-winning project as a box set. The grandiose productions of both Pet Sounds and Smile began to seem extraneous to Brian Wilson at the time, and despite the lead single, ‘Good Vibrations’, being the biggest hit in the band’s oeuvre, Wilson left its production ethic behind and moved toward minimalism in order to finish what would become Smiley Smile.

18 – Songs Of Leonard Cohen – Leonard Cohen

Having just re-listened to this album I feel that I probabaly should have put it a little higher, songs like ‘Sisters Of Mercy’, ‘Suzanne’ and ‘So long, Marianne” really stand out, ahh well, maybe ill change it later when nobody is looking.

17 – Soul Men – Sam & Dave

I would expect almost everybody to know the track ‘Soul Man’ but there is more here than just the one song. With the help of Isaac Hayes and Booker T and the M.G.s here is an absolute scorcher of a record.

16 – Bee Gees – 1st Bee Gees

Long before the disco hits of Saturday Night Fever the Bee Gees were no strangers to the charts, although to be honest, before 1977 I’d never heard of them. Apparently, when played on US radio they were repeatedly mistaken for The Beatles, which is understandable I guess. I really enjoyed the songs on this album.

15 – John Wesley Harding – Bob Dylan

Tricky one this as on some days it would most likely be higher up, it does have I Dreamed I Saw St. Augustine, All Along The Watchtower and The Ballad Of Frankie Lee And Judas Priest, I’m slightly regretting my decision.

14 – Miles Smiles – Miles Davis

At this point in his career, Davis had been through his number of hardships, from overcoming a destructive heroin addiction, to encountering the brutal effects of racism on the American music industry, to undergoing larynx surgery that left him with his characteristic raspy voice. Miles’ “prince of darkness” persona—his quick temper, his quiet intensity, his perceived existential aloofness—was perhaps a psychological defence mechanism to combat the plethora of troubles in his life.

The quintet embraced the liberating principles of post-bop, a subgenre that featured the virtuosity of bebop, the independence of free jazz and the unwavering commitment to rhythmic and melodic development that runs throughout the many tributaries of the music. It is quite an uplifting album.

13 – Strange Days – The Doors

The second studio album from The Doors that spawned two hit singles, ‘People Are Strange’ and ‘Love Me Two Times’. The album received high praise from the rock press but the listening public was not quite as convinced, particularly in the UK where the album was largely ignored. It is a consistently good set of songs, except ‘Horse Latitudes’ which is shit.

12 – Buffalo Springfield Again – Buffalo Springfield

This, their 2nd release, took notably longer to record than their debut, not least because Neil Young had quit and rejoined the group on several occasions, notably absent for the band’s appearance at the famed Monterey Pop Festival where David Crosby substituted in his place at the request of guitarist Stephen Stills. If you’ve never heard the albums opening track ‘Mr. Soul’ give it a listen and tell me if it reminds you of any other song (that was released the following year).

11 – Piper At The Gates Of Dawn – Pink Floyd

There was a period in time when I couldn’t reconcile early Pink Floyd with later Pink Floyd and I do still tens to think of them as two different groups, although their earlier incarnation was necessary to inform what came later. Nowadays I really rather like all the experimental weirdness they were putting out, it is of its time, but that’s a good thing.

10 – Forever Changes – Love

when I first heard ‘Alone Again, Or’ I didn’t realise I’d heard it before or where I’d heard it, but I most certainly had. maybe it was on the radio as we drove through the valleys and across the mountains of Wales, but somewhere in my head it has sat waiting for me to find it again. Nowadays the album is lauded as one of the most perfect and influential albums of all-time, however, on its release it was a flop. Part of the reason for this may be that it is at times a little odd and it doesn’t really fit in with the other music that was being created in 60’s California.

Oh, the snot has caked against my pants
It has turned into crystal
There’s a bluebird sitting on a branch
I guess I’ll take my pistol
I’ve got it in my hand
Because he’s on my land

(From ‘Live and Let Live)

9 – Absolutely Free – The Mothers of Invention

More weirdness and an acquired taste. Usually, when Frank Zappa was involved the resulting music was at the very least left of centre and sometimes so far left it was right. The music is often complex but still rooted in R&B and the subject matter political and humorous at times. It’s good to be different.

8 – Surrealistic Pillow – Jefferson Airplane

This album is so evocative of the time period that it had to be here, but not only becasue of that, but because it has really great songs from the well known ‘White Rabbit’ and ‘Somebody to Love’ to the instrumental ‘Embryonic Jorney’, which has some really lovely guitar playing. and the blues of ‘In The Morning’. With different vocalists and styles it is a bit all over the place, but better for it.

7 – London Conversation – John Martyn

The first release from one of my faviourite artists ever and becasue it led to so many, many good later releases I have it here becasue I can, although it is still a good album. Folkier than later releases and with a cleaner vocal that pre-dates the more slurred later performances, it shows where he came from, but not really where he was going.

6 – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – The Beatles

This may well be a contentious placing for some people, however, while I appreciate the importance of the album, I don’t like all of it. ‘When I’m Sixty Four and ‘Lovely Rita’ I can do without and I’m not that keen on ‘Getting Better’ or ‘Fixing a hole’ and don’t like their version of ‘With a Little Help From My Friends’ (I like Joe Cockers version better). I did put it at number 1 initially, because everybody does but then I got to thinking about which albums I would actually sit down and listen to, all they way through, and moved this down a few places becasue I never listen to it all the way through.

5 – Axis: Bold As Love – Jimi Hendrix Experience

The second album from Hendrix, and the second in the same year. He had a little more time to craft his own songs for this album but still much of the soloing was all first take. Songs like ‘Little Wing’ are beautifully crafted, ‘Castles Made of Sand’, ‘Spanish Castle Magic’ and ‘If 6 were 9’ are fablous tracks and the consistency of the entire album is good from staert to finish.

4 – Velvet Underground And Nico – The Velvet Underground

When I listen to this album it almost always comes as a suprise that there are so many tracks on it that are so very good. While I had heard many of the songs here and there it was in 1993 for what I remember as a Pireli advert, but that was actually Dunlop, where I first heard ‘Venus in Furs’ and just loved both the advert and the music, it was the weirdest advert on TV at the time and possibly ever.

Add to this the other tracks such as ‘Sunday Morning’, ‘I’m Waiting for the Man’, ‘Al Tommorrows Parties’ and more and you have a truly brillian set of songs.

3 – The Doors – The Doors

Here we are at the top 3 of 1967 and the Doors again. It used to be quite te norm to release a coupke of albums a year wheras today the money is not in pysical product so much but in playing live, at least until the current pandemic hit. Of the two album releases in ’67 it is this, the second, where I think they really it their stride with ‘Break on Through’ and ‘Light My Fire’ but add to that ‘The Crystal Ship’, ‘The End’ and the rest and you have an album that helped define the era.

2 – The Beatles – Magical Mystery Tour

Continuing the controversty, possibly, you may agree with me, but given a choice of sitting down and listening to Sgt. Peppers or Maical Mystery Tour I would choose the latter every time. There are less tracks that I would drop from the running order:

Magical Mystery Tour
The Fool On The Hill
Flying
Blue Jay Way
Your Mother Should Know
I Am The Walrus
Hello Goodbye
Strawberry Fields Forever
Penny Lane
Baby You’re A Rich Man
All You Need Is Love

Is it technically a soundtrack? I’m not sure but it has some of my favourite Beatles songs on it.

1 – Are You Experienced – Jimi Hendrix Experience

Now it may be fair to say that if you aren’t a fan of Hendirx then this choice as the best album released in 1967 may not sit well with you, but I am a fan and this is a fantastic debut album, opening with ‘Foxy Lady’ and ending with the title track, everything inbetween is just brilliant, ‘Red House’, ‘Fire’, it is just, for me, the encapsulation of the music of the late 60’s.

I loved playing what I could of ‘Foxy Lady’ on the guitar, it is a joy to play and sounds great. As a guitarist who could only achieve average proficiancy there is so very much to admire in playing of Hendrix, but with the addition of Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding, what a three piece! An absolute powerhouse.

Here is a playlist that has a track from each of the albums above in descending order: