#5. The Velvet Underground – The Velvet Underground
The leaving of the avant-gardist John Cale and the arriving of Doug Yule, a multi-instrumentalist who’s even got a sweet little voice, caused the sound of The Velvet Underground to suffer a radical change. From the nightmarish distorted vision of ‘White Light/White Heat’ to the much more accessible and quietly pleasant aura that surrounds this third album of theirs. True, there is some craziness still left in the can (as proved by the 9th track), but this is mostly a rather introspective collection of charming ballads and grabby rockers.
#4. The Who – Tommy
The year 1969 saw The Who’s metamorphosis into a classic band finally complete. The rhythm section (Keith Moon and John Entwistle) get more and more chances to shine throughout this double album and manage to achieve some jaw-dropping results each time, while Daltrey is finally able to put some feelings into his singing as he identifies with poor Tommy. If you have any doubts about the latter, just watch him perform ‘See Mee, Feel Me’ — Tommy’s prayer — live around the time. And…what else? Oh right, then there’s the other guy, the guitarist, who basically wrote the whole album, except two songs, on his acoustic. Pretty impressive, huh?
#3. King Crimson – In The Court Of The Crimson King
Bombast, grandiosity, melancholia, mysticism, avant-gardism, psychedelia, flutes, mellotrones, spooky vocal effects or abstract lyrics; all those are to be found in this 43-minutes mixed bag that truly represents the beginning of the progressive rock as a genre. Well, maybe it’s not the exact first effort, as I’m sure people have come close to creating something “progressive” before, but it surely is the most exemplar one to date, being neither pretentious, nor inaccessible. Just simply excellent, with pleasing musical ideas greeting you from every corner.
#2. The Kinks – Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)
Whoa, now where did this come from? Is this the same band that gave us that pastoral, nostalgic, peaceful, under-3-minutes songs record? And look at them, one year and a few skipped haircuts later, pulling off things like multi-part songs or guitar-driven jams. And what’s even more important, they seem absolutely comfortable and at ease while doing them. But of course, everything that made them famous before is still here : cleverly written character-study lyrics, more than fine and catchy melodies, good playing, diversity, and a bit of a concept here and there, yet not too overbearing or pretentious. So, technically speaking, this is a pretty darn perfect album, for it takes the old values and incorporates the new sound along them. Plus, The Kinks truly rock their asses off here. Ah, how I wish they would’ve made their next album in the same vein as this one.
#1. The Beatles – Abbey Road
On the verge of breaking up, with McCartney’s tendencies of being fully in charge of the band, Lennon’s almost non-existent interest in continuing as a part of The Beatles and ‘Let It Be’ getting shelved after some excruciating sessions, the things hardly indicated that there was any hope for a complete album, let alone a good one. Yet, the release of ‘Abbey Road’ proved the world that they actually can leave all those problems behind, and put their heads together towards one last fresh, breathtaking masterpiece. The album works so incredibly well as a whole, with each and every member getting his highlighted moments, that it’s really sad to think that the dream would soon be over. Good thing that they ended it all on a high note, though.