Top 5 Albums Released In 1968

#5. The Pretty Things – S.F. Sorrow

prettythings_sfsorrowAnd the award for the first rock opera goes to… (*drum roll*)… The Pretty Things, ladies and gentlemen! I always knew they had it in them! Let’s see who dares to call them a second-rate version of The Rolling Stones any more! Actually, what these fellas really did, was just building their songs around a short story composed by their singer-guitarist, Phil May. There’s also some written linear notes on the album artwork, between each songs, that detail the supposed story. Even though being a “rock opera” only from a lyrical point of view (unlike ‘ Tommy’ whose format includes overtures, reprises and all sorts of specific things), this is still a highly original album. Plus, it’s entertaining as hell. You may or may not care for Sebastian F. Sorrow’s rather unique adventures, but you can’t deny the fact that the record’s filled with simply excellent rock music.

#4. The Beach Boys – Friends

The Beach Boys - Friends

Possibly one of the most underrated album of the whole 60’s if only for the reason that nobody ever talks about it. It’s such a modest little 25-minutes record that dismissing it may seem like no big deal. But it is though, as ‘Friends’ is a truly beautiful, relaxed and peaceful record. It may seem rather hurried and modest at first, but the more you listen to it the more you realize that nothing really needs to be added. The album is nearly perfect as it is, with bright melodic harmonies everywhere, more than fine lyrics and some immaculate vocal performances. But the last one goes without saying, of course. This is still The Beach Boys, after all.

#3. The Beatles – The White Album

The Beatles [White Album] (Dis

There is one big difficulty that many bands seem to meet with. What do you do, after you’ve just outdone yourself by accumulating everything you’ve ever learned and known and then putting it onto a rich, ambitious and demanding record? Some decide to try a relatively new approach, a more indulgent one, that doesn’t necessarily seek perfection. Differently put, they let it all hang out without giving a damn (Jefferson Airplane with ‘After Bathing and Baxter’s or Velvet Underground with ‘White Light/White Heat’). On the other hand, some simply go back to what they were before getting too heavily caught in the process of creating something really, really revolutionizing (Bob Dylan with ‘John Wesley Harding’ or The Who with ‘By Numbers’). The Beatles had to deal with the exact same problem, and their solution, ‘The White Album’, efficiently combines both of those mentalities with some pretty impressive results.

#2. The Kinks – Village Green Preservation Society

villagegreen1

Weird thing, this album. In a year when everybody was looking to the present and the present only, Mr. humble-unpretentious-guy Ray Davies wrote an album that celebrates past values. No wonder it was ignored by the the large audience crowd at the time. Thing is, even if it may have not been in trend with the times (or maybe because of that?) this record is truly and utterly timeless. The nostalgia that flows so naturally and smoothly from the first song to the last is so overwhelming, that it simply gets a hold of you no matter what. Even if you have never ever had a quiet and modest village life, this still works as an excellent lament to better and more peaceful past times, whatever and wherever those might be.

#1. The Zombies – Odessey and Oracle

The Zombies "Oddessey and Oracle" high res cover art

The Zombies were a nice little britpop band who came and went without getting many applauses (they had a few successful hits at the beginning of their career, but that’s all). Once they finished a proper, all self-written album, their fan base was already gone and it went as unnoticed as it could get. Their lose, ’cause ‘Odessey and Oracle’ as it was named, is a great, great record. I won’t label it as something bigger, like “masterpiece” or “top 5 albums of all-time”, because I really don’t want to add more to the already-created hype. It’s never good to set people’s expectations high. Then they will expect a spiritual, life-changing, unfelt-before experience, when, in reality, this is nothing but a set of 12 excellently written and performed pop/rock songs with smartly incorporated psychedelic and baroque influences. Isn’t that enough, though?

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Categories: Tops

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7 replies

  1. Great write-up, and I completely agree with all five choices. I just want to point out that The Zombies were more than a Britpop band with a couple of hits. Their sound was completely unique, especially their harmonies and the jazzy chords used by Rod Argent, and their earlier material is nearly as strong as Odessey And Oracle. The only difference is that with their swansong LP, they trimmed the fat and gave us a perfect collection from start to finish.

    Also, I’d like to give honorable mention to Jim Hendrix “Electric Ladyland,” Simon & Garfunkel “Bookends,” The Rolling Stones “Beggar’s Banquet,” The Band “Music From Big Pink,” Jeff Beck “Truth,” and some others I can’t recall right now. Choosing a Top 5 from ’68 is a tough task, but you did a great job.

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    • Thanks a lot for the comment. I fully agree about The Zombies’ influence and originality, even though I didn’t mention it. ‘Electric Ladyland’, ‘Bookends’ and ‘Beggar’s Banquet’ would’ve definitely made my top 10, along with others. I’ve never heard anything from The Band, but (like dozens of other bands), they’re on my wishlist. Never heard anything from Jeff Beck, either. What’s the album like, anything close to Cream?

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      • Jeff Beck’s “Truth” is a monumental album. As a lifelong Zeppelin fan, even I have to admit that Jimmy Page was influenced by this album when he was putting together the “New Yardbirds.” It’s heavy (in a late-60s way) and bluesy, and Rod Stewart’s vocals were a force of nature.

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        • Sounds great. I’ll give it a shot in the near future.

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        • Finally got around to hear the album Rich and you were right – it’s an amazing one. At the moment I would say that I like them more than Led Zep, though it might just be the fact that I’ve listened to the music of the latter way too many times. Are the rest of the Jeff Beck group albums as good as Truth?

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        • Glad you’ve been enjoying Jeff Beck’s “Truth” album. Although none of his subsequent albums packs quite the same punch, the follow-up (“Beck-Ola”) is excellent and well worth checking out. He went through various lineups over the next few years so there’s not a lot of consistency, but there’s not a bad album in the bunch. As a big jazz-fusion fan, I’m partial to the two mid-70s albums he did in that style, “Blow By Blow” and “Wired.”

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  2. No argument on the Kinks choice. In fact I agree 100%. Keep rock’n. Have to agree with the comment above about ‘Truth’. CB

    Liked by 1 person

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