#5. The Pretty Things – S.F. Sorrow
And 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
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
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
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 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?