The United States of AmericaCloud NineAcidElectric Ladyland
LifeIn Search of the Lost ChordFilles de KilimanjaroOdessey and Oracle

John Bush
Nearly everyone's second favorite year for music in the '60s (after 1967), 1968 wasn't just the soundtrack to a revolution, with a Beatles/Stones/Hendrix triumvirate of apocalyptic madness threatening to tear the fabric of culture. It was the year when psychedelia reached every corner of music culture, usually in bizarre ways -- ranging from soul (Sly & the Family Stone) to folk (Incredible String Band) to Latin music (Ray Barretto's Acid) to world music (Gilberto Gil's self-titled album) to New Orleans R&B (Dr. John's Gris-Gris). It was the year when the Summer of Love ripened and rotted, often intriguingly, soundtracked by material like Nancy & Lee's "Some Velvet Morning" and Richard Harris' "MacArthur Park." It was the year when the LP-as-artistic-statement fully matured, furnishing us with some of the best rock albums of all time -- Astral Weeks, Beggars Banquet, The Village Green Preservation Society, Odessey and Oracle.

So when you think of 1968, don't think of all the records that year from the Best Albums of All Time list; think of the exciting detours and fusions and collisions that occurred. Don't think of the country-rock shibboleth Sweetheart of the Rodeo, think of the vastly superior Dillard & Clark album. If you think the Beatles were pioneering tape experiments in rock music, look into Os Mutantes or the United States of America or Fifty Foot Hose. And if you can only think of 1968 as the year when students were brutally batoned in the streets everywhere from Prague to Chicago, then set your mind adrift and try to think of a time when lines like the following were actually heard on the radio every day, lines like "Someone left the cake out in the rain" and "Some velvet morning when I'm straight, I'm gonna open up your gate / And maybe tell you 'bout Phaedra."

Van Dyke Parks - Song Cycle
Marcos Valle - Samba '68
Miles Davis - Filles de Kilimanjaro
The Kinks - The Village Green Preservation Society
Bee Gees - Idea
The Incredible String Band - The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter
The Move - The Move
Os Mutantes - Os Mutantes
Dr. John - Gris-Gris
Ray Barretto - Acid
The Zombies - Odessey and Oracle
Simon & Garfunkel - Bookends
The Beach Boys - Friends
Harry Nilsson - Aerial Ballet
Dillard & Clark - The Fantastic Expedition of Dillard & Clark
Gordon Lightfoot - Did She Mention My Name
The Rolling Stones - Beggars Banquet
The Beatles - The Beatles
The Soft Machine - The Soft Machine
Traffic - Traffic
Van Morrison - Astral Weeks
Gilberto Gil - Gilberto Gil
Sly & the Family Stone - Life

Biff Rose - "Fill Your Heart"
Harry Nilsson - "Don't Leave Me"
Mortimer - "Singing to the Sunshine"
Nancy & Lee - "Some Velvet Morning"
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown - "Fire"
Small Faces - "Lazy Sunday"
Gilberto Gil - "Domingo No Parque"
Marcos Valle - "Crickets Sing for Anamaria"
Spanky & Our Gang - "Like to Get to Know You"
Smokey Robinson & the Miracles - "If You Can Want"
Sly & the Family Stone - "Dance to the Music"
Gene Chandler - "There Was a Time"
Barbara Acklin - "Love Makes a Woman"
Creedence Clearwater Revival - "Suzie Q"
The Rationals - "I Need You"
Taj Mahal - "She Caught the Katy (And Left Me a Mule to Ride)"
Merle Haggard - "I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am"
Brigitte Bardot & Serge Gainsbourg - "Bonnie and Clyde"
Engelbert Humperdinck - "Quando Quando Quando"

Stephen Thomas Erlewine
1968: Jumping Queues and Making Haste
The necessary disclaimer that a list is a mere snapshot of a particular person's taste in a particular point in time is doubly true in a year like 1968, when there is simply too much great stuff to be distilled into a mere list. Even if the lists ran as long as 100, 200 singles, there would still be plenty of great stuff left behind -- and the same could also be said about LPs in '68, as that's when the long-player truly gelled as an artistic medium for rock bands. But to say that '68 was only about album-oriented, often psychedelic, rock is completely wrong: this was a golden age for soul singles, jazz LPs, progressive country, and the birth of bubblegum, among many other things -- too many to list in one sentence, or in two lists of singles and LPs.

So, even though there's a lot here, there's a lot here that's missing, from Dr. Lonnie Smith's Think to Otis Redding's "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay." Why aren’t they here? Well, when I think of 1968, these are the the 20 albums I can't live without and the 40 songs I wanted to hear right away… at least that's how I felt the moment I compiled the list. I'm sure it would change a bit six months from now.

The Band - Music from Big Pink
The Beatles - The Beatles
Jeff Beck - Truth
Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart - I Wonder What She's Doing Tonite?
The Byrds - Sweetheart of the Rodeo
Cream - Wheels of Fire
The Everly Brothers - Roots
The Kinks - The Village Green Preservation Society
The International Submarine Band - Safe at Home
Magic Sam - Black Magic
The Move - The Move
Randy Newman - Randy Newman
The Rolling Stones - Beggars Banquet
The Bob Seger System - Ramblin' Gamblin' Man
Simon & Garfunkel - Bookends
Small Faces - Ogden's Nut Gone Flake
Joe South - Introspect
Scott Walker - Scott 2
The Velvet Underground - White Light/White Heat
Zombies - Odessey and Oracle

40 singles for the golden age of Top 40
(Caveat emptor: not all 40 singles reached the Top 40)
Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart - "I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight"
The Rolling Stones - "Jumpin' Jack Flash"
Nazz - "Open My Eyes"
Merle Haggard & the Strangers - "Mama Tried"
Waylon Jennings - "Only Daddy That'll Walk the Line"
Manfred Mann - "Mighty Quinn (Quinn the Eskimo)"
Archie Bell & the Drells - "Tighten Up"
Donovan - "Hurdy Gurdy Man"
Deep Purple - "Hush"
The Fireballs - "Bottle of Wine"
The Grass Roots - "Midnight Confessions"
The Human Beinz - "Nobody But Me"
Small Faces - "Itchycoo Park"
The Who - "Dogs"
The Crazy World of Arthur Brown - "Fire"
The Chambers Brothers - "Time Has Come Today"
Henson Cargill - "Skip a Rope"
Smokey Robinson & the Miracles - "I Second That Emotion"
Glen Campbell - "By the Time I Get to Phoenix"
The American Breed - "Bend Me, Shape Me"
The Box Tops - "Cry Like a Baby"
Elvis Presley - "Guitar Man"
The Rolling Stones - "Street Fighting Man"
Kenny Rogers & the First Edition - "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)"
Jerry Lee Lewis - "Another Place, Another Time"
Aretha Franklin - "Think"
Small Faces - "Tin Soldier"
Steppenwolf - "Magic Carpet Ride"
Stevie Wonder - "For Once in My Life"
The Bob Seger System - "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man"
Marvin Gaye - "I Heard It Through the Grapevine"
Etta James - "Tell Mama"
The Move - "Fire Brigade"
Johnnie Taylor - "Who's Making Love?"
Jerry Lee Lewis - "She Still Comes Around (To Love What's Left of Me)"
Glen Campbell - "Gentle on My Mind"
Hank Thompson - "On Tap, in the Can, or in the Bottle"
The Beatles - "Lady Madonna"
The Lemon Pipers - "Green Tambourine"
Elvis Presley - "U.S. Male"

Thom Jurek
I was ten in 1968, but I'd been buying my own records for about four years at that point -- seeing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan turned me on for life. I was able to purchase them for 59 cents at the Singer Sewing Machine Store in Downtown Detroit with allowance money I'd saved. Below are singles from 1968 that I actually bought, and I still had to trim 20 or so titles off! (I got two dollars a week for yard and housework.) It's a very commercial list, but it is a testament to the power of AM radio in Detroit from stations like WKNR and Windsor's mega-giant CKLW.

The Amboy Dukes - "Journey to the Center of the Mind"
The Band - "The Weight"
The Beatles - "Lady Madonna"
The Beatles - "Revolution"
James Brown - "Say It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)"
Glen Campbell - "By the Time I Get to Phoenix”
Glen Campbell - "Wichita Lineman"
Johnny Cash - "Folsom Prison Blues"
Creedence Clearwater Revival - "Suzie Q"
Deep Purple - "Hush"
The Delfonics - "La-La (Means I Love You)"
Dion & the Belmonts - "Abraham, Martin and John"
Donovan - "Hurdy Gurdy Man"
Georgie Fame - "Bonnie & Clyde"
The Fifth Dimension - "Stoned Soul Picnic"
The Four Tops - "Walk Away Renee"
Aretha Franklin - "I Say a Little Prayer for You"
Marvin Gaye - "I Heard It Through the Grapevine"
The Jimi Hendrix Experience - "All Along the Watchtower"
Hugh Masekela - "Grazing in the Grass”
Jimmy McGriff - "The Worm"
Sergio Mendes - "The Fool on the Hill"
The Steve Miller Band - "Living in the U.S.A."
Hugo Montenegro - "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly"
Wes Montgomery - "Windy"
Johnny Nash - "Hold Me Tight"
The Rascals - "People Got to Be Free"
Otis Redding - "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay"
Smokey Robinson & the Miracles - "I Second That Emotion"
The Rolling Stones - "Jumpin' Jack Flash"
The Rolling Stones - "She's a Rainbow"
Diana Ross & the Supremes - "Love Child"
Simon & Garfunkel - "Mrs. Robinson"
Sly & the Family Stone - "Dance to the Music"
Small Faces - "Itchycoo Park"
The Soulful Strings - "Burning Spear"
Steppenwolf - "Born to Be Wild"
The Stone Poneys - "Different Drum"
The Temptations - "I Wish It Would Rain"
The Temptations - "Cloud Nine"
Stevie Wonder - "For Once in My Life"

Andy Kellman
Dorothy Ashby - Afro-Harping
David Axelrod - Song of Innocence
Albert Ayler - New Grass
Ray Barretto - Acid
Jerry Butler - The Iceman Cometh
The Byrds - The Notorious Byrd Brothers
Alice Coltrane - A Monastic Trio
Miles Davis - Filles de Kilimanjaro
Gilberto Gil - Gilberto Gil
Eddie Harris - Silver Cycles
The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland
The Mothers of Invention - We're Only in It for the Money
Pink Floyd - A Saucerful of Secrets
Silver Apples - Silver Apples
The Soft Machine - The Soft Machine
The United States of America - The United States of America
Caetano Veloso - Caetano Veloso
The Velvet Underground - White Light/White Heat
Scott Walker - Scott 2
The Zombies - Odessey and Oracle

James Brown - "I Got the Feelin'"
Eric Burdon & the Animals - "Sky Pilot"
Cream - "White Room"
The Delfonics - "La-La (Means I Love You)"
The Dells - "Stay in My Corner"
Aretha Franklin - "Chain of Fools"
Marvin Gaye - "I Heard It Through the Grapevine"
The Impressions - "Fool for You"
The Impressions - "We're a Winner"
Hugh Masekela - "Grazing in the Grass"
MC5 - "Looking at You"
The Steve Miller Band - "Living in the U.S.A."
The Moody Blues - "Tuesday Afternoon (Forever Afternoon)"
Nancy & Lee - "Some Velvet Morning"
Diana Ross & the Supremes - "Love Child"
The Bob Seger System - "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man" YouTube
Sly & the Family Stone - "Dance to the Music"
The Soulful Strings - "Burning Spear"
The Temptations - "Cloud Nine"
Vanilla Fudge - "You Keep Me Hangin' On"

Uncle Dave Lewis
Albert Ayler - New Grass
Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band - Strictly Personal
Ornette Coleman - New York Is Now!
The Jazz Composer's Orchestra - Communications
Gary McFarland - America the Beautiful
The Monkees - Head
The Moody Blues - In Search of the Lost Chord
The Red Krayola - God Bless the Red Krayola and All Who Sail with It
Lalo Schifrin - There's a Whole Lalo Schifrin Goin' On
Silver Apples - Silver Apples
Spanky & Our Gang - Like to Get to Know You
The United States of America - The United States of America
The Mothers of Invention - We're Only in It for the Money
Lothar & the Hand People - Presenting... Lothar & the Hand People
Morton Subotnick - Silver Apples of the Moon
Terry Riley - Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band: All Night Flight, Vol. 1
AMM - The Crypt, 12th June 1968: The Complete Session
The Velvet Underground - White Light/White Heat
The Beatles - The Beatles
Strawberry Alarm Clock - Wake Up... It's Tomorrow

J. Scott McClintock
From the beginnings of the British underground (Soft Machine, Caravan), to the faux-hippie psychedelia making inroads on Top 40 radio (the Lemon Pipers' "Green Tambourine"), to the burgeoning electronic movement (Wendy Carlos, Jean-Jacques Perrey, Silver Apples, Bruce Haack), to notable debuts from some heavy hitting singer/songwriters (Randy Newman, Neil Diamond, Leonard Cohen), 1968 was a formidable year. Here are some of the least obvious (no White Album, Electric Ladyland, or Beggars Banquet) gems from that year -- ones that seem to give out maximum joy but generally receive only a little bit of love.

Bonzo Dog Band - The Doughnut in Granny's Greenhouse
Caravan - Caravan
Chad Stuart & Jeremy - The Ark
Neil Diamond - Velvet Gloves and Spit
The Family Tree - Miss Butters
Vince Guaraldi - Oh Good Grief!
John Hartford - Gentle on My Mind and Other Originals
The Idle Race - The Birthday Party
The Monkees - Head
The Moody Blues - In Search of the Lost Chord
Dudley Moore - Bedazzled
The Move - The Move
Nazz - Nazz
Randy Newman - Randy Newman
Harry Nilsson - Aerial Ballet
Laura Nyro - Eli and the Thirteenth Confession
Silver Apples - Silver Apples
The Soft Machine - The Soft Machine
Scott Walker - Scott 2
The Mothers of Invention - We're Only in It for the Money
The Zombies - Odessey and Oracle
Jean-Jacques Perrey - The Amazing New Electronic Pop Sound of Jean-Jacques Perrey
Roger Nichols & the Small Circle of Friends - Roger Nichols & the Small Circle of Friends
Wendy Carlos - Switched-On Bach
Bruce Haack - The Way-Out Album for Children

A few no-contest, perfect pop singles that are holding up pretty darn well -- 40 years down the road.
Eternity's Children - "Mrs. Bluebird"
Classics IV - "Spooky"
The Lemon Pipers - "Green Tambourine"
The Rascals - "A Beautiful Morning"
The Turtles - "Elenore"

(Eternity's Children keyboardist/vocalist Bruce Blackman and lead guitarist Johnny Walker later went on to form Starbuck in the '70s, making a smash with their marimba-heavy hit "Moonlight Feels Right" -- possibly the first yacht-rock song ever.)

James Christopher Monger
Scott Walker - Scott 2
The Everly Brothers - Roots
Neil Diamond - Velvet Gloves and Spit
Pentangle - Sweet Child
The Moody Blues - In Search of the Lost Chord
Randy Newman - Randy Newman
Shirley Collins - The Power of the True Love Knot
Caetano Veloso - Caetano Veloso
The Temptations - Wish It Would Rain
Donovan - The Hurdy Gurdy Man
Bee Gees - Idea
The Kinks - The Village Green Preservation Society
The Incredible String Band - The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter
The Mothers of Invention - We're Only in It for the Money
The Zombies - Odessey and Oracle
Os Mutantes - Os Mutantes
The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland
Glen Campbell - Wichita Lineman
Pink Floyd - A Saucerful of Secrets
The Beatles - The Beatles

Heather Phares
The Beatles - The Beatles
The Byrds - Sweetheart of the Rodeo
Wendy Carlos - Switched-On Bach
Leonard Cohen - The Songs of Leonard Cohen
Bruce Haack - The Way-Out Album for Children
The Kinks - The Village Green Preservation Society
The Moody Blues - In Search of the Lost Chord
The Rolling Stones - Beggars Banquet
Silver Apples - Silver Apples
The United States of America - The United States of America
The Velvet Underground - White Light/White Heat
The Who - Magic Bus
The Zombies - Odessey and Oracle

Archie Bell & the Drells - "Tighten Up"
Glen Campbell - "Wichita Lineman"
Henson Cargill - "Skip a Rope"
The Chambers Brothers - "Time Has Come Today"
The Delfonics - "La-La (Means I Love You)"
Donovan - "Jennifer Juniper"
The Equals - "Baby, Come Back"
Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell - "You're All I Need to Get By"
The Jimi Hendrix Experience - "All Along the Watchtower"
Manfred Mann - "Mighty Quinn (Quinn the Eskimo)"
The Moody Blues - "Tuesday Afternoon (Forever Afternoon)"
Kenny Rogers & the First Edition - "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)"
The Rolling Stones - "Jumpin' Jack Flash"
The Rolling Stones - "She's a Rainbow"
The Rolling Stones - "Street Fighting Man"
Diana Ross & the Supremes - "Love Child"
Sly & the Family Stone - "Dance to the Music"
Small Faces - "Itchycoo Park"
The Temptations - "Cloud Nine"
Stevie Wonder - "For Once in My Life"
Tammy Wynette - "Stand by Your Man"

Tim Sendra
1968 was indeed notable for revolution. The bubblegum revolution. You can take your Zappa, your White Album, your Scott Walker, and toss them all away. All hail the Kasenetz-Katz machine! Three cheers for faceless groups like the Ohio Express, the 1910 Fruitgum Company, and the Archies, the operators like Andy Kim and Paul Revere, and the washed-up garage rockers like the Shadows of Knight! Give it up for the decidedly non-rocking Cowsills and the mighty, mighty rock of the Equals (easily the most underrated band of the 1960s)! And never ever ever forget the Banana Splits!! I admit, grudgingly, that there is a place for experimentation, but let's not forget the utterly stupid, juvenile, and thrilling kick these songs provide, even forty years later. These are the 20 bubblegum platters that mattered in 1968!

The Archies - "Bang-Shang-A-Lang"
The Banana Splits - "The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana)"
Boyce & Hart - "I Wonder What She's Doing Tonite"
The Cowsills - "We Can Fly"
The Equals - "Baby Come Back"
Fun & Games - "Elephant Candy"
Tommy James & the Shondells - "Do Something to Me"
Jay & the Techniques - "Strawberry Shortcake"
Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus - "Quick Joey Small (Run Joey Run)"
Andy Kim - "How'd We Ever Get This Way"
The Lemon Pipers - "Green Tambourine"
The 1910 Fruitgum Company - "1, 2, 3, Red Light"
The 1910 Fruitgum Company - "Goody Goody Gumdrops"
The 1910 Fruitgum Company - "May I Take a Giant Step (Into Your Heart)"
The 1910 Fruitgum Company - "Simon Says"
Ohio Express - "Yummy Yummy Yummy"
Ohio Express - "Chewy Chewy"
Ohio Express - "Down at Lulu's"
Paul Revere & the Raiders - "Cinderella Sunshine"
The Shadows of Knight - "Shake"

Sean Westergaard
Wow. 1968 was a really great year for rock, jazz, blues, and just plain weirdness. I'd bet that I've played something from every album on this list in the last year or two on my radio show and/or at home. Special mention has to go to the two Mothers of Invention albums. I recorded them both onto an 8-track courtesy of a friend's older brother in about 4th grade and it was my favorite tape for years. Cruising with Ruben & the Jets is a lot of fun, but We're Only in It for the Money is an undisputed masterpiece that truly helped shape my cynical outlook. Do I lose cool points for listing classic-rock albums?

The Beatles - The Beatles
Bloomfield/Kooper/Stills - Super Session
Sandy Bull - E Pluribus Unum
Dr. John - Gris-Gris
Don Ellis & His Orchestra - Autumn
Booker Ervin - The In Between
John Fahey - The Voice of the Turtle
Buddy Guy - A Man and the Blues
Harumi - Harumi
The Jimi Hendrix Experience - Electric Ladyland
J.B. Hutto & His Hawks - Hawk Squat
Skip James - Devil Got My Woman
Magic Sam Blues Band - Black Magic
The Moving Sidewalks - Flash
Os Mutantes - Os Mutantes
Terry Riley - Poppy Nogood and the Phantom Band: All Night Flight, Vol. 1
The Rolling Stones - Beggars Banquet
The United States of America - The United States of America
The Mothers of Invention - We're Only in It for the Money
The Mothers of Invention - Cruising with Ruben & the Jets

Although a few songs in these lists were released in 1967, they peaked in the U.S. in 1968.

Previously
AllMusic Loves 1977
AllMusic Loves 1984
AllMusic Loves 1999