5 Forgotten Albums from the 60s

5 Forgotten Albums from the 60s

Written By:

The Attic

Published:

April 14, 2018

There’s a reason why modern musicians are obsessed with resurrecting forgotten albums and strange genre combinations.

While eclecticism is present in almost any musical era, the '60s was when an infectious experimental attitude gave birth to probably hundreds of strangely beautiful albums in almost every genre.

Here are some of the today’s least celebrated masterpieces from one of modern music’s most famous eras.

2. Charles Mingus - Town Hall Concert (1964)

Town Hall Concert sounds like the ominous atmospheric soundtrack to a nonexistent silent film. It’s dark, surprising, and ultimately contemplative – an example of how pure jazz can command a diverse range of emotions and imagery. Town Hall Concert is also one of the first successful attempts at recording a live jazz album with a big band and an audience. This was a daring feat that came with its own challenges, as recalled in detail by The Village Voice. If you knew what it took for this album to push through to release, you’d really be surprised at how it ended up sounding so good.

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3. Tim Buckley - Happy Sad (1969)

Tim Buckley made a bunch of albums in the 60s, but only one album truly captured his progress as an artist. That album was Happy Sad. After honing his four-octave voice as a popular folk singer and songwriter, this album was when he really began experimenting with elements of jazz. It’s a sweet spot in Tim Buckley’s musical style – a harmonic era between his folk roots and the wild influences of his 70s albums Lorca and Starsailor. Sputnik Music said it best when they called Happy Sad, “the starting point of an artist coming into his own.” Love from Room 109 at the Islander is simply one of the most beautiful songs of all time.

4. Gary McFarland - America The Beautiful (1968)

This album is one of the first true attempts at rock ‘n’ roll opera. Downbeat in their review of the 1968 album called it “a thoughtful response to a country in turmoil.” Orchestral big band jazz meets rock, blues, rockabilly, funk and a bunch of other influences. America the Beautiful: An Account of Its Disappearance perfectly illustrates the madness of Gary McFarland, a man both revered and criticised for his then-unheard of boldness in combining world music, rock, and big band arrangement.

5. Ray Charles - Hallelujah I Love Her So (1962)

When it comes to brevity, soul, and overall influence, very few people can hold a candle to Ray Charles. His self-titled EP is a roaring example of how soul really has no tempo. The album opens with upbeat gospel rock via Ain’t That Love, followed by a series of smooth blues-rock and RnB songs reminiscent of old school Mississippi blues and 1940s film noir. Losing Hand was a brilliant blues song that so perfectly captured the feel of the noir era that PartyPoker calls it one of the greatest poker songs of all time. Ray Charles may be a household name, but it is still worth checking out his albums to find hidden gems.

6. The Tony Williams Lifetime - Emergency! (1969)

Some argue that this album gave birth to jazz fusion. It was the first time John McLaughlin experimented with combining rock and jazz, with no less than legendary drummer Tony Williams and organ player Larry Young at his side. In many ways, Emergency! sounds like the hustling experiments that were necessary in order for McLaughlin to arrive at his sound in Mahavishnu Orchestra’s 1971 The Inner Mounting Flame – a harmonic masterpiece revered in the halls of jazz fusion. Emergency! secures its own place in those halls by being one of the rawest, most violent, and yet still harmonic clashes between three masters of improvisation.

We at The Attic understand that listening to everything is an impossible task, so we’ll leave you with these five albums. Hopefully, they’re a fair representation of how the 60s was an insanely brave and glorious era for new music.

*main photo credits: Grant Gouldon, CC BY-SA 2.0

About the Author

Dragoș Rusu

Co-founder and editor in chief of The Attic, as well as artistic director of Outernational Days festival in Bucharest, and allround music adventurer.

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