26 - 50 (1960-1965) of 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die

OwlEmpire's picks of the best albums of 26 to 50 out of the book 1001 albums You Must Hear Before You Die in chronological order. The list of the 25 albums is at the bottom of this article and the full list and explanation of the book can be found here.

Jimmy Smith - Back at the Chicken shack (1960)

Standout Tracks
Back At The Chicken Shop
On The Sunny Side of The Street

Created with introducing the masses to the electric organ Jimmy Smith, Jimmy spent a year couped with with his electric organ in a New York warehouse, and burst out into the world with a completely new Jazz sub-genre, Soul Jazz. Grooving and smooth organ playing with soulful sax work are complemented nicely with delicate and precise drumming. This is a great late night listener.


Ray Charles - Modern sounds in Country and Western (1962)

Standout Tracks
Bye, Bye Love
You Don’t Know Me
I Can’t Stop Loving You

This was the album the record companies didn’t want Ray Charles to make. The album seems to have a split personality, one half catchy and care free swing and the other soulful and heartfelt. Somehow the seemingly polar opposites gel in personal way. It is a roller coaster of a listen. A fun kind of roller coaster, not the kind of ride you feel like spewing after.


Booker T & the MG’s - Green Onions (1962)

Standout Tracks
Green Onions
Mo’ Onions
Behave Yourself

If your going to listen to one album within the first 100 of this list, make it this one. It is that good. The debut album from Booker T & the MG’s is a bloody ripper. An instrumental Soul record it took the early 1960’s by storm. From the opening track and single you can clearly hear the church musical influences in the soul music. Booker T & the MG’s started as a backup music band for other recording artists in Memphis Tennessee. Fooling around in-between takes the president of the record company heard the MG’s music, and thought it good enough to release a single Green Onions. The single shot to #33 on the charts, and an album with the same name followed. This album is laid back soul, with lots of heart and energy. The featured painting above of Booker T Available from here


Bob Dylan - The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963)

Standout Tracks
Blowin’ In The Wind
Masters of War
A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall
Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right

A hugely influential album, Bob Dylan spoke to the counterculture movement that was growing in the early 1960’s. This album spoke of social activism and protest in general. Dylan’s second album, he was still quite young with an untrained voice. This is part of the appeal. A sandpaper like voice with lone guitar, Dylan sings of civil rights, anti-war, money and equality. Many of these songs would go on to represent the 1960’s in it’s entirety. If you haven’t ever heard or ever got into Folk, give this album a go because if you don’t like this album you probably don’t like Folk music.


A Christmas Gift For You From Phil Spector (1963)

Standout Tracks
White Christmas
Frost The Snowman
Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)

Considered a holiday classic, if you have been into any store near Christmas time in the last 20 years you will know and love (or hate) these songs. It is jolly and happy as all holiday songs should be. The album uses Phil Spector’s recording technique called Wall of Sound which involves having lots of musicians play the same instrument, creating a more fuller sound. If your stuck for what to put on during that all important christmas dinner or lunch, put this on and get everyone into the festive mood.


Charles Mingus - The Black Saint And the Sinner Lady (1963)

Standout Tracks
Track A-Solo Dancer (Stop! Look! And Listen. Sinner Jim Whitney!)

A Jazz big band expert and a pioneer of Double Bass technique, The Black Saint is a technical and rewarding Jazz album. Some consider it the best Jazz album of all time. It is a hard listen if you haven’t listened to Jazz before but given enough time you will grow to love this album. Recorded with an eleven piece band, the sound it complex, layered and well thought out. Probably not the best choice if you are unfamiliar with Jazz, but if you are you really need to check out one of the greatest Jazz records of all time.


Stan Getz/Joao Gilberto - Getz/Gilberto (1962)

Standout Tracks
The Girl From Ipanema

Stan and Joao forged a new Jazz sub-genre on this album, Bossa Nova. It quickly gained huge popularity because It was smooth, easy to listen to Jazz. It is a quite simple arrangement, with Getz playing the saxophone that he is iconic for. Many artists would jump onto the Bossa Nova bandwagon, but Brazilians considered Getz music to be authentic Bossa Nova.


The Rolling Stones - The Rolling Stones (1964)

Standout Tracks
Route 66
Can I Get A Witness
You Can Make It If You Try

Everyone has heard of The Rolling Stones. But have you heard their old stuff? The first album from the Stones is awesome Blues Rock. This album rode the British invasion of the US in the mid 60’s. Being early in there career the only song they wrote themselves is Tell Me (You’re Coming Back to Me). The cover for the album features no writing, only the Decca logo and a picture of the band. This was the seed that went on create one of the biggest bands of modern times.


Jerry Lee Lewis - Live Star Club Hamburg (1965)

Standout Tracks
High School confidential
What’d I Say Pt1 & What’d I Say Pt2
Whole Lotta Of Shakin’ Goin’ On

Jerry Lee Lewis leads an interesting life. He is a pioneer of Rock n Roll, while also marrying his cousin. This live recording is wild,uncontrolled, and just like Rock n Roll should be. He believed he was playing devils music, and he plays like he is possessed. Hard, fast and crazy. It is easy to see why some call this the greatest Rock N Roll album of all time.


The Sonics - Here are the Sonics!! (1965)

Standout Tracks
The Witch
Have Love, Will Travel

One of the founding bands of the Garage Rock sound of Seattle, The Sonics plays fast, loud and unpolished. Recorded live, this album is coarse and most significantly it was Punk 20 years before Punk even existed. The Sonics are known to be apart of the Protopunk genre, Punk that existed before the genre existed. Even though not commercially that successful, this was music from the future.


Full List 

  1. Makeba, Miriam – Miriam Makeba
  2. Everly Brothers – A Date with the Everly Brothers
  3. Smith, Jimmy – Back at the Chicken Shack
  4. Muddy Waters – At Newport
  5. Evans, Bill – Sunday at the Village Vanguard (1961)
  6. Charles, Ray - Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music (1962)
  7. Booker T & the MGs – Green Onions
  8. Getz, Stan & Charlie Byrd – Jazz Samba
  9. Price, Ray – Night Life
  10. Beatles – With the Beatles (1963)
  11. Dylan, Bob – Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan
  12. Spector, Phil & Various Artists – A Christmas Gift for You
  13. Cooke, Sam – Live at the Harlem Square
  14. Mingus, Charles – Black Saint & the Sinner Lady
  15. Brown, James – Live at the Apollo
  16. Getz, Stan & João Gilberto – Getz/Gilberto
  17. Beatles – A Hard Day’s Night (1964)
  18. Brel, Jacques – Olympia 64
  19. Burke, Solomon – Rock ‘n’ Soul
  20. Springfield, Dusty - A Girl Called Dusty
  21. Rolling Stones – Rolling Stones
  22. Owens, Buck – I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail (1965)
  23. Lewis, Jerry Lee – Live at the Star Club, Hamburg
  24. Sonics – Here Are the Sonics
  25. Dylan, Bob – Bringing it All Back Home

References (click to view)


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