1964: Seven Must Hear Albums

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These seven “must hear” albums from 1964 will give you a better idea of what the musical landscape of that year was like. It didn’t only include the “British Invasion” of The Beatles & The Rolling Stones (although they are featured here as well.) The musical landscape also featured great jazz music and the likes of Bob Dylan & The Beach Boys.

#1 Charles Mingus’s Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus Mingus. Yes you are reading that album title correctly, it really is Mingus X 5. This is a great album if you like jazz. But if you don’t like jazz I doubt this is the album that will get you into it. But hopefully I am wrong. This is a very highly rated album on the Rate Your Music website where it currently (as of this writing) ranks #4 of all albums released in 1964.

#2 John Coltrane’s Coltrane’s Sound. This is a very cool Coltrane album. I really enjoy the somewhat strange “Night Has a Thousand Eyes.” “Equinox” is another great track. If you are looking to get into jazz then John Coltrane and Miles Davis are probably a good place to start.

#3 The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night. This was The Beatles 3rd album and in my opinion, it was their first great album. Their first two albums contained six cover songs each. This one was all John Lennon/Paul McCartney originals. In fact this is The only Beatles album to only contain Lennon/McCartney originals (as later on George Harrison would be contributing songs to their albums too.) The title track, “Can’t Buy Me Love,” “Things We Said Today,” “And I Love Her,” & “If I Fell” are among the album’s standout tracks.

#4 The Beatles’ Beatles For Sale. The Beatles’ fourth album was definitely not as good as their third (A Hard Day’s Night) but it was also a bit better than most people give it credit for and I certainly believe it is one of the top seven albums of 1964. The album features the #1 hit single “Eight Days a Week” as well as “I’m a Loser,” “No Reply,” “Baby’s In Black,” “I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party,” “I’ll Follow The Sun,” & “What You’re Doing” which are all cool songs. Where the album falters is with the covers that they include which are almost entirely forgettable.

#5 Bob Dylan’s Another Side of Bob Dylan. Have you noticed that a lot of these albums have the artist’s name in the album title? I find that sort of strange. This album seems to be Dylan moving away from “protest songs” and more towards personal songs. “All I Really Want to Do,” “Chimes of Freedom,” “My Back Pages,” “It Ain’t Me Babe,” & “To Ramona” are among the album’s many highlights.

#6 The Beach Boys’ All Summer Long. This album includes “I Get Around” which is one of my favorite early Beach Boys songs. It also includes the title track which is pretty good. Certainly this is no Pet Sounds but it’s still worth a listen if you are into the early Beach Boys sound.

#7 The Rolling Stones’ 12 X 5. This early Stones album┬á showed that Mick Jagger & company were starting to find their own sound and identity. The most notable track is “Time Is on My Side.” The album also contains five original songs which shows that they were starting to get more serious about writing their own material. If you are a Stones fan this is an interesting document of their early sound that I do recommend checking out.

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