Pet Sounds Revolver Blonde on Blonde Love
Aftermath Face to Face Complete & Unbelievable Freak Out!

Each year of the late '60s seemed absolutely pivotal to the growing importance of pop music -- especially from the vantage point of the burgeoning teenage demographic. Still, 1966 was special. It was the year when the fusion of pop and rock crested, even if the music hadn't gone Technicolor just yet (as it would in 1967). Rock artists who had debuted at the beginning of the decade were reaching cultural apotheosis with their most innovative work: Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde, the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds and "Good Vibrations" single, the Beatles' Revolver, and the Rolling Stones' Aftermath, along with Phil Spector's epic production on Ike & Tina Turner's "River Deep - Mountain High." And for those who had taken their leads from those older artists -- bands like Jefferson Airplane, the Byrds, Simon & Garfunkel, Buffalo Springfield, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, Love, Pink Floyd -- pushing the boundaries became their primary obsession for years.

Meanwhile, Motown, the sound of Young America just a few years earlier, was having trouble equaling the incredible year it had in 1965. The last full year when the songwriting juggernaut of Holland-Dozier-Holland was working for the label, 1966 still produced many of the label's landmarks: "Ain't Too Proud to Beg" by the Temptations, "Reach Out I'll Be There" by the Four Tops, and two number one hits by the Supremes, "You Can't Hurry Love" and "You Keep Me Hangin' On." Stevie Wonder even found his early hitmaking groove with three Top Ten singles, including "Uptight (Everything's Alright)."

But the center of R&B gravity was heading south (and fast), closer to Dixie towns like Memphis, where Stax Records produced essential music by Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, Booker T. & the MG's, and Wilson Pickett. (Pickett recorded at Stax with its personnel, even though he was signed to Atlantic.) The new soul music was dark and earthy, presaging the direction that both R&B and rock headed several years later.

1966 was also the high-water mark for garage rock, the snarling younger brother to rock's original wave. Motivated by the sounds of the Stones, Beatles, and Dylan, thousands of teenagers set up gear in any available space and soon came an avalanche of killer sides, nearly all of them urgent and primitive. During 1966, Boston’s Remains even toured America with the Beatles, although the primary focus was on 45's, largely by here-and-gone bands with unforgettable names: Count Five, the Electric Prunes, the Chocolate Watchband, 13th Floor Elevators, the Seeds, the Standells, the Shadows of Knight, the Sonics, and dozens more.

Rock artists were also beginning to get recognition from the Grammys, who honored "Eleanor Rigby" by Paul McCartney [sic] and "Monday, Monday" by the Mamas & the Papas for best solo and group performance, respectively. Granted, the Grammy committee also stumbled into a howler that would haunt them for decades when they gave the award for Best Contemporary Recording of 1966 to the New Vaudeville Band for the decidedly square chart-topper "Winchester Cathedral."

On the margins, 1966 was the dawn of art rock. Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, the Velvet Underground, Captain Beefheart, Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, and the Fugs began producing an even more radical strain of experimentation, treating rock's new transatlantic superstars like the Beatles as if they were the fossils trapped in amber, instead of the usual conservative culprits (like SSgt. Barry Sadler, recording artist, who released the most popular single of the year in "The Ballad of the Green Berets").

Although traditional pop or vocal music was fading fast (at least from the singles charts), Frank Sinatra had a very good year. He released one of his best LPs in years (titled September of My Years, although his life was still in its July phase) and placed four singles in the Top 40, including one of the most popular of the year, "Strangers in the Night." (His daughter Nancy did him one better, with five Top 40 hits and three in the Top Ten.)

Finally, no survey of 1966 would be complete without mentioning the Monkees, a telegenic young band straight out of central casting (literally). After debuting on NBC-TV in September, the Pre-Fab Four ended their short year with two number one hits and a debut album that dominated the charts during the fall (over a dozen weeks at number one). Even while artists from all genres were gearing up to make 1967 another epochal year for innovative music, a new generation of entrepreneurs and song-pluggers was helping ensure that pop music stayed tasty and conventional for teenagers.


John Bush
The Alegre All-Stars - Way Out, Vol. IV
The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
The Beatles - Revolver
Buffalo Springfield - Buffalo Springfield
Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde
Astrud Gilberto - A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness
Tim Hardin - Tim Hardin 1
Lee Hazlewood - The Very Special World of Lee Hazlewood
Victor Jara - Victor Jara
Jefferson Airplane - Takes Off
The Kinks - Face to Face
Edu Lobo & Maria Bethânia - Edu e Bethânia
The Mamas & the Papas - If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears
Monks - Black Monk Time
The Mothers of Invention - Freak Out!
Willie Nelson - Country Favorites, Willie Nelson Style
Perrey-Kingsley - The In Sound from Way Out!
The Rolling Stones - Aftermath
Small Faces - Small Faces
The Walker Brothers - Portrait

Stevie Wonder - "Uptight (Everything's Alright)"
Love - "7 and 7 Is"
Paul Revere & the Raiders - "Kicks"
Jefferson Airplane - "Come Up the Years"
The Walker Brothers - "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore"
Neil Christian - "That's Nice" (YouTube)
France Gall - "Baby Pop"
Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band - "Diddy Wah Diddy"
George Jones - "I'm a People"
The Animals - "Don't Bring Me Down"
Willie Bobo - "Fried Neck Bones and Some Home Fries"
The Creation - "Making Time"
Herman's Hermits - "East West"
Keith - "Ain't Gonna Lie"
Astrud Gilberto - "So Nice (Summer Samba)"
The Beach Boys - "Good Vibrations"
Howard Tate - "Ain't Nobody Home"
The Association - "Cherish"
Billy Stewart - "Summertime"
Manfred Mann - "Pretty Flamingo"


Stephen Thomas Erlewine [Spotify]
1966 is one of those years that is impossible to summarize in a couple of tidy lists. Albums are a tad easier to whittle down than singles, primarily because the golden age of the rock album was just beginning to start via such classics as Revolver, Pet Sounds, Blonde on Blonde, and Aftermath. But '66 was also a banner year for soul, country, jazz, pop -- there's no shortage of masterpieces this year from any genre, arriving in the form of full-length LPs and a cascade of seven-inch wonders. Whittling down the singles to a simple list proved difficult for me so my spillover is available on a Spotify list containing 122 songs -- and I'm pretty sure I missed a lot of songs I love on that, too.

The Beatles - Revolver
Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde
The Kinks - Face to Face
The Rolling Stones - Aftermath
The Who - A Quick One
The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
The Yardbirds - Roger the Engineer
Merle Haggard & the Strangers - Swinging Doors and The Bottle Let Me Down
Lee Dorsey - The New Lee Dorsey
Lee Dorsey - Ride Your Pony
Monks - Black Monk Time
Love - Love
Cream - Fresh Cream
The Butterfield Blues Band - East-West
Red Simpson - Roll, Truck, Roll
The Monkees - The Monkees
The Byrds - Fifth Dimension
The Lovin' Spoonful - Hums of the Lovin' Spoonful
Hank Mobley - Straight No Filter
Dallas Frazier - Elvira
Hank Thompson - A Six Pack to Go
Buck Owens - Carnegie Hall Concert
Big John Patton - Got a Good Thing Goin'
Frank Sinatra - Sinatra at the Sands
The Everly Brothers - Two Yanks in England

? & the Mysterians - "96 Tears"
Lee Dorsey - "Working in the Coal Mine"
The Who - Substitute
The Kinks - Sunny Afternoon
The Beatles - "Paperback Writer"/"Rain"
Stevie Wonder - "Uptight (Everything's Alright)"
The Bobby Fuller Four - "I Fought the Law"
The Animals - "Don't Bring Me Down"
Lee Dorsey - "Holy Cow"
The Walker Brothers - "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore"
The 13th Floor Elevators - "You're Gonna Miss Me"
The Count Five - "Psychotic Reaction"
The Outsiders - "Time Won't Let Me"
Syndicate of Sound - "Little Girl"
Jerry Reed - "Guitar Man"
Robert Parker - "Barefootin'"
Love - "7 and 7 Is"
Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich - "Hold Tight"
The Yardbirds - "Over Under Sideways Down"
The Monkees - "Last Train to Clarksville"
JJ Jackson - "But It's Alright"
Neil Diamond - "Solitary Man"
Frank Sinatra - "Summer Wind"
Jeff Beck - "Beck's Bolero"
James & Bobby Purify - "I'm Your Puppet"
Roger Miller - "England Swings"
Paul Revere & the Raiders – "Kicks"
The Capitols - "Cool Jerk"
Los Bravos - "Black Is Black"
Crispian St. Peters - "The Pied Piper"


Heather Phares
The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
The Beatles - Revolver
The Byrds - Fifth Dimension
Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde
The Kinks - Face to Face
Love - Love
The Monkees - The Monkees
Monks - Black Monk Time
The Rolling Stones - Aftermath
The Who - A Quick One

The 13th Floor Elevators - "You're Gonna Miss Me"
? & the Mysterians - "96 Tears"
The Animals - "Don’t Bring Me Down"
The Beatles - "Paperback Writer"/"Rain"
The Capitols - "Cool Jerk"
The Count Five - "Psychotic Reaction"
Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich - "Hold Tight"
Lee Dorsey - "Working in the Coal Mine"
The Bobby Fuller Four - "I Fought the Law"
The Kinks - "Sunny Afternoon"
Love - "7 and 7 Is"
The Monkees - "Last Train to Clarksville"
The Outsiders - "Time Won't Let Me"
Robert Parker - "Barefootin’"
James & Bobby Purify - "I'm Your Puppet"
Syndicate of Sound - "Little Girl"
The Walker Brothers - "The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore"
The Who - "Substitute"
Stevie Wonder - "Uptight (Everything's Alright)"
The Yardbirds - "Over Under Sideways Down"


Tim Sendra
Whenever someone tries to put down the music of today and trots out that moldy old nonsense of "they don't make 'em like that anymore," I'm usually the first person yelling at them about how music is always good and there is genius out there if you look and you just aren't trying anymore and you're OLD! Gotta admit though....putting this list together was a real eye-opener. It's doesn't quite obliterate my anti-nostalgia, pro-now stance but it comes darn close. I'd put these ten albums up against ten from the rest of history combined and it would be a fair fight.

The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
The Beatles - Revolver
The Everly Brothers - Two Yanks in England
The Bobby Fuller Four - I Fought the Law
Tim Hardin - Tim Hardin 1
The Kinks - Face to Face
Love - Love
The Monkees - The Monkees
The Remains - The Remains
The 13th Floor Elevators - The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators


Chrysta Cherrie [Spotify]
The 13th Floor Elevators - The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators
The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
The Beatles - Revolver
Willie Bobo - Uno Dos Tres 1-2-3
The Butterfield Blues Band - East-West
Don Cherry - Symphony for Improvisers
Donovan - Sunshine Superman
Jacques Dutronc - Et Moi Et Moi Et Moi
Joe Harriott - Indo-Jazz Suite
Love - Love
Roscoe Mitchell - Sound
Monks - Black Monk Time
Otis Redding - Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul
Elis Regina - Elis
The Remains - The Remains
Archie Shepp - Mama Too Tight
The Sonics - Boom
The Shadows of Knight - Gloria
Cecil Taylor - Unit Structures
Larry Young - Of Love and Peace


Andy Kellman
The Beatles - Revolver
The Mothers of Invention - Freak Out!
Larry Young - Unity
John Coltrane - Ascension
Otis Redding - Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul
Wayne Shorter - Speak No Evil
The Cannonball Adderley Quintet - Mercy, Mercy, Mercy!
Cecil Taylor - Unit Structures
Bobby Hutcherson - Components
Sonny Rollins - East Broadway Run Down
Roscoe Mitchell Sextet - Sound
Ennio Morricone - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
The Rolling Stones - Aftermath
Joe Henderson - Mode for Joe
Archie Shepp - Mama Too Tight
The Byrds - Fifth Dimension
Love - Da Capo
Don Cherry - Complete Communion
Hank Mobley - Dippin'
The Supremes - I Hear a Symphony

Stevie Wonder - "Uptight (Everything's Alright)"
The Supremes - "You Keep Me Hangin' On"
Ike & Tina Turner - "River Deep - Mountain High"
Four Tops - "Reach Out I'll Be There"
The Byrds - "Eight Miles High"
Eddie Floyd - "Knock on Wood"
Sam & Dave - "Hold On, I'm Comin'"
The Temptations - "Get Ready"
Them - "Gloria"
Lee Dorsey - "Working in the Coal Mine"
The Animals - "Inside - Looking Out"
The Creation - "Making Time"
The Velvet Underground & Nico - "All Tomorrow's Parties"
Love - "7 and 7 Is"
The Mamas and the Papas - "California Dreamin'"
The Rolling Stones - "Paint It, Black"
The Walker Brothers - "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore"
The Left Banke - "Walk Away Renee"
Simon & Garfunkel - "Hazy Shade of Winter"
The Elgins - "Darling Baby"


Jason Lymangrover
The 13th Floor Elevators - The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators
Astrud Gilberto - A Certain Smile, A Certain Sadness
The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
The Beatles - Revolver
Chick Corea - Tones for Joan's Bones
Donovan - Sunshine Superman
Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde
Eddie Harris - Mean Greens
Lee Hazlewood - The Very Special World of Lee Hazlewood
The Hollies - For Certain Because...
The Impressions - Ridin' High
The Kinks - Face to Face
Love - Love
The Mamas & the Papas - If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears
The Monkees - The Monkees
Monks - Black Monk Time
The Mothers of Invention - Freak Out!
The Rolling Stones - Aftermath
Simon & Garfunkel - Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme
Allan Sherman - Allan Sherman: Live!!! (Hoping You Are the Same)


James Christopher Monger
The Beatles - Revolver
The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
The Mothers of Invention - Freak Out!
The Kinks - Face to Face
Monks - Black Monk Time
Simon & Garfunkel - Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme
The Rolling Stones - Aftermath
Bert Jansch - Jack Orion
The Byrds - Fifth Dimension
Simon & Garfunkel - Sounds of Silence
The 13th Floor Elevators - The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators
Donovan - Sunshine Superman
Ken Nordine - Colors
Astrud Gilberto - Look to the Rainbow
Gordon Lightfoot - Lightfoot!
The Incredible String Band - The Incredible String Band
Martin Carthy - Second Album
Merle Haggard & the Strangers - Swinging Doors and The Bottle Let Me Down
Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 - Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66
Wilson Pickett - The Exciting Wilson Pickett

The Four Tops - "Reach Out I'll Be There"
Love - "Little Red Book"
The Spencer Davis Group - "Gimme Some Lovin'"
The Standells - "Dirty Water"
The Left Banke - "Walk Away Renee"
The Who - "A Quick One While He's Away"
The Easybeats - "Friday on My Mind"
The Count Five - "Psychotic Reaction"
? & the Mysterians - "96 Tears"
The Monkees - "I'm a Believer"
Neil Diamond - "Solitary Man"
Hank Thompson - "Six Pack to Go"
Ennio Morricone - "Navajo Joe"
The Barbarians - "Moulty"
The Cyrkle - "Red Rubber Ball"
Hamish Imlach - "Cod Liver Oil and Orange Juice"
The Walker Brothers - "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore"
Paul Revere & the Raiders - "Kicks"
Ike & Tina Turner - "River Deep - Mountain High"
The Hollies/Peter Sellers - "After the Fox"


Sean Westergaard
The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
The Beatles - Revolver
Hal Blaine - Drums! Drums! A Go Go
Johnny Cash - Everybody Loves a Nut
Charles River Valley Boys - Beatle Country
The Don Ellis Orchestra - Live in 3 and 2/3/4 Time
The Don Ellis Orchestra - Live at Monterey
The Joe Harriott Double Quintet - Indo-Jazz Suite
Charles Lloyd Quartet - Dream Weaver
Joe Maphis - King of the Strings
Ken Nordine - Colors
Perrey-Kingsley - The In Sound from Way Out!
? & the Mysterians - 96 Tears
Sun Ra - Monorails and Satellites
Pharoah Sanders - Tauhid
The Supremes - Supremes A' Go-Go
Gabor Szabo - Spellbinder
Porter Wagoner & the Wagonmasters - Confessions of a Broken Man
The Yardbirds - Over Under Sideways Down
The Mothers of Invention - Freak Out!


James Wilkinson
The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
The Beatles - Revolver
Bob Dylan - Blonde on Blonde
Buffalo Springfield - Buffalo Springfield
The Kinks - Face to Face
The Byrds - Fifth Dimension
Love - Love
The Lovin' Spoonful - Daydream
Donovan - Sunshine Superman
The Monkees - The Monkees
Bert Jansch - Jack Orion
The Watersons - The Watersons
The Music Machine - (Turn On) The Music Machine
The Standells - Dirty Water
Lee Hazlewood - The Very Special World of Lee Hazlewood
Simon & Garfunkel - Sounds of Silence
Small Faces - Small Faces
The Rolling Stones - Aftermath
The Mamas & the Papas - If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears
The Seeds - The Seeds

The Hollies - "Bus Stop"
The Easybeats - "Friday on My Mind
Small Faces - "All or Nothing"
The Beach Boys - "Good Vibrations"
The Kinks - "Dead End Street"
The Beatles - "Paperback Writer"/"Rain"
The Hollies - "I Can't Let Go"
The Elgins - "Heaven Must Have Sent You"
Ike & Tina Turner - "River Deep - Mountain High"
The Lovin' Spoonful - "Summer in the City"
Bob Lind - "Elusive Butterfly"
The Walker Brothers - "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore"
Bobby Hebb - "Sunny"
The Monkees - "I'm a Believer"/"I'm Not Your Steppin' Stone"
The Fleurs de Lys - "Circles"
The Isley Brothers - "This Old Heart of Mine (Is Weak for You)"
Kim Weston - "Helpless"
The Dovers - "She's Not Just Anybody"
The Capitols - "Cool Jerk"
The Turtles - "Outside Chance"


Matthew Garbutt [Spotify]
Astrud Gilberto - Look to the Rainbow
Carla Thomas - Carla
Cliff Bennett & the Rebel Rousers - Drivin' You Wild
The Count Five - Psychotic Reaction
Eddie Palmieri & Cal Tjader - Bamboleate
Herbie Goins & The Nightimers - No.1 in Your Heart
Horace Silver - The Jody Grind
James Brown - I Got You (I Feel Good)
Marvin Gaye - Moods of Marvin Gaye
Otis Redding - Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul
Sam & Dave - Hold On, I'm Comin'
Sergio Mendes & Brasil '66 - Herb Alpert Presents
The 13th Floor Elevators - The Psychedelic World of the 13th Floor Elevators
The Animals - Animalization
The Kinks - Face to Face
The Rolling Stones - Aftermath
The Supremes - A-Go-Go
The Temptations - Gettin' Ready
The Young Rascals - The Young Rascals
Wilson Pickett - The Exciting Wilson Pickett

? & the Mysterians - "96 Tears"
Cecil Washington & The Group - "I Don't Like to Lose"
David Bowie & the Lower Third - "Can't Help Thinking About Me"
Frankie & Johnny - "I'll Hold You"
Jackie Lee - "The Shotgun and the Duck"
Junior Walker & the All-Stars - "(I'm A) Road Runner"
Les Fleur de Lys - "Circles"
Little Anthony & the Imperials - "Better Use Your Head"
The Creation - "Making Time"
The Exciters - "Blowin' Up My Mind"
The Four Tops - "Reach Out I'll Be There"
The Haunted - "1-2-5"
The Impressions - "You've Been Cheatin'"
The Invitations - "Skiing in the Snow"
The Pretty Things - "Midnight to Six Man"
Small Faces - "All or Nothing"
The Sonics - "Cinderella"
The Turtles - "Outside Chance"
The Velvet Underground and Nico - "All Tomorrow's Parties"
Truly Smith - "My Smile Is Just a Frown (Turned Upside Down)"


Aneet Nijjar
Ennio Morricone - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly
Simon & Garfunkel - Sounds of Silence
The 13th Floor Elevators - The Psychedelic Sounds of the 13th Floor Elevators
The Mamas & the Papas - If You Can Believe Your Eyes and Ears
Ike & Tina Turner - River Deep Mountain High
Astrud Gilberto -
Look to the Rainbow
Eddie Palmieri & Cal Tjader - Bamboleate
The Supremes - A-Go-Go
Otis Redding - Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul
James Brown - I Got You (I Feel Good)
The Count Five - Psychotic Reaction
Mrs. Miller - Mrs. Miller's Greatest Hits
The Beatles - Revolver


Previously
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