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Top Rock Albums of 1969

February 11, 2019

Music professor Dyne Eifertsen teaches "The History of Rock and Roll" at ARC. Eifertsen here shares his thoughts on the best rock albums of 1969 - 50 years ago!

1. The Beatles: Abbey Road

The last material recorded by the band and some of their finest work. They took the gloves off, got George Martin back in to produce, and the b-side was brilliantly executed by stringing bits of songs together to form a suite. Arguably the most iconic album cover, ever.

2. Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin I

Zep's first album was quickly recorded (a little over a month) after the disbanding of the Yardbirds lead by Jimmy Page. A mix of originals (with lots of "borrowed" material) and covers, the album is raw and bluesy featuring their concert mainstay "Dazed and Confused."

3. The Band: The Band

Canadian-American band, The Band, started out backing Bob Dylan and on their 2nd album (The Brown Album) the defined the sound of Americana with "Up on Cripple Creek" and "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down."

4. Led Zeppelin: Led Zeppelin II

Zeppelin gets "Heavy" on this album featuring "Whole Lotta Love" that involves a free-form middle section that several radio stations edited out to save time for commercials. It was recorded on the road at several studios during their world tour.

5. The Who: Tommy

The first "Rock Opera" concept album was the brainchild of guitarist Pete Townshend and told the story of a "deaf, dumb, and blind" kid (Tommy) who witnesses a murder by his father. He is brainwashed by his mother to lose all of his senses except for touch. Thus, becomes a great pinball player through vibration and "sense of smell." The album was set in several different mediums including opera, Broadway, film, and staged on tour.

6. Crosby, Stills & Nash: Crosby, Stills & Nash

After splitting from several famous bands, CSN supposedly met and sang for the first time at either Mama Cass' (Mama's and the Papa's) or Joni Mitchel (depending on who you ask in CSN). Their 2nd gig was Woodstock and their first album renders the incredibly intricate harmonies that became their trademark.

7. The Rolling Stones: Let It Bleed

The last album to feature founding member, Brian Jones, who was fired due to intoxication and being unreliable (he died a month later) and was replaced by Mick Taylor on guitar. The album contains "Gimme Shelter" and "You Can't Always Get What You Want," supported by the London Bach Choir. This was a gritty album bred from a tumultuous period in the Stones history.

8. Santana: Santana

Released a few days after their Woodstock performance, "Santana" was their debut album and contained "Evil Ways," "Jingo," and "Soul Sacrifice." The unique fusion of Latino, blues, and Rock rose from the melting pot of San Francisco. The album utilized top musicians including drummer Michael Shrieve at the tender age of 20 (the youngest musician to play Woodstock) and featured as half instrumental and half vocal numbers.

9. Sly and the Family Stone: Stand

"Stand" was the 4th album from Sly Stone and considered their artistic peak containing songs such as "Stand," "Sing a Simple Song," "Everyday People," and "I Wanna Take You Higher".

10. Chicago Transit Authority: Chicago Transit Authority

Their debut album was unique in a sea of hard rock with a band featuring horns (trombone, sax, and trumpet) mixing brass and soul with soft rock. A double album featuring hits such as "Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?" and "Beginnings," it stayed on the Billboard top 200 for 171 weeks.

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