The Most Significant Albums Of 1969

Jackson Sawa | September 5, 2019 7:19 pm

With the rise of the counterculture movement, the war in Vietnam, the assassination of numerous political leaders, and more, the 1960s proved to be an incredibly tumultuous decade. Yet, out of the chaos that was the 60s, one thing that does stand out is the music. At the time, music was undergoing radical changes, just like the times. This led artists to produce some of the most creative and memorable works of their career. The year 1969 was no exception, so here are the most notable albums from the year that closed out the sixties.

Abbey Road Was A Farewell From The Beatles

Abby Road cover
Apple Records
Apple Records

The eleventh studio album by the Beatles, Abbey Road was released on September 26, 1969. The recording sessions for the album were the last time all four Beatles participated and was the last album the band completed and released before their split-up in April 1970.

Abby Road immediately became a commercial success reaching No.1 in both the UK and the US. Although the album initially had mixed reviews from critics, over time, it has grown to be seen as one the band’s best works and one of the greatest albums of all time.

Green River Was Pure Rock And Roll

Green River cover
Fantasy
Fantasy

Green River is the second of three studio albums released by Creedence Clearwater Revival in 1969. After seeing first-hand the devastation that drugs and alcohol do to a band, John Fogerty and the other members decided to focus strictly on their music and write an album that was straight and to the point.

The result was Green River. The album features “Bad Moon Rising” and “Green River,” two of the band’s most popular tracks. In 2003 the album was ranked No.95 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Green River was well-received by critics with Fogerty admitting it’s his favorite of Creedence’s work.

The Band Was Considered Underrated By Many

The Band Cover
Capitol
Capitol

Also referred to as The Brown Album, the Band’s self-titled was their second studio album released on September 22, 1969. Supposedly, the album has been viewed by some as a concept album depicting an older version of Americana.

The album features numerous of the group’s most popular songs such as “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down,” a track that was named the 245th Greatest Song of All Time by Rolling Stone. The album made it onto numerous top album lists and rock critic Robert Christgau declared that it was better than Abbey Road.

Tommy Was Far More Than Just An Album

Tommy cover
Decca
Decca

A concept album, Tommy is a rock opera which follows Tommy Walker, a “deaf, dumb, and blind” kid, and his struggles as he navigates through life. Mostly composed by Pete Townshend, it was the fourth studio album by The Who and was released on May 17, 1969.

Eventually, the rock opera made its way into other mediums including a Seattle Opera production, a Broadway musical, and a film featuring the band with cameos from other famous musicians. Although the album has decreased in popularity over the years, many music writers still consider it one of the most influential albums in rock and roll history.

Stand! Was Released Just In Time

Stand cover
Epic
Epic

Regarded as the peak of the band’s musical career, Stand! was Sly & the Family Stone’s fourth studio album, released in May 1969. Luckily, the album was released shortly before the band’s iconic performance at Woodstock, which helped increase album sales and the band’s overall popularity.

The most well-received album of the band’s career, it went platinum the same year, becoming one of the most successful albums of the entire decade. In 2015, the album was selected for inclusion in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”

Santana Showed Everyone What They Were About

Santana cover
Columbia
Columbia

Released August 30, 1969, Santana is the debut album from the Latin rock group Santana. While the majority of the album was composed of strictly instrumental music by a free-form jam band, they included more traditional songs at the suggestion of their manager, Bill Graham.

The album was released after their famous performance at Woodstock, which aided in putting Santana on the map. The album landed in the No.4 spot on the Billboard 200 pop album chart and was named No.150 on Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

In The Court of the Crimson King Is A Progressive Rock Staple

In the Court of the Crimson King cover
Atlantic
Atlantic

The debut album for the English rock group King Crimson, In the Court of the Crimson King was released in October 1969 under Atlantic Records in the United States. The album is most notable for combining genres such as rock, jazz, classical, and symphonic, with many critics claiming it to be one of the first and most influential progressive rock albums of all time. The record reached No.5 on the UK Albums Chart and No. 28 on the Billboard 200, where it was certified as Gold.

Led Zeppelin II Showed How Heavy They Could Go

Zeppelin II cover
Atlantic
Atlantic

Described by many as Led Zeppelin’s hardest album ever released, Led Zeppelin II was released in October in the UK and April in the US, in 1969. Primarily produced by guitarist Jimmy Page, the band also welcomed Eddie Kramer as their engineer. The album showed the band’s transition to a more riff-based sound while still holding onto their blues-influenced sound.

The album was the group’s first to reach No.1 in the UK and the US with artists David Juniper nominated for a Grammy for Best Recording Package. A 12x Platinum record, the album is often cited by musicians, fans, and critics alike as one of the greatest rock albums of all time.

Let It Bleed Gave The Rolling Stones Some Of Their Most Popular Songs

Let It Bleed

The eighth studio album from the Rolling Stones, Let It Bleed was recorded during a difficult time for the band when Brian Jones had become unreliable and disruptive due to his substance addiction. He was subsequently fired in the middle of recording and replaced by Mick Taylor.

The album made the No.1 spot in the UK and No. 3 in the US although there were no chart-topping singles. However, many of the songs on the album such as “Gimme Shelter” and “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” went on to become some of the group’s staple tracks, still consistently played today.

Arthur Was Meant For A Television Show

Arthur cover
Pye/Reprise
Pye/Reprise

Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) was a concept album by the Kinks, written as the soundtrack to television show co-written by Joni Mitchell. However, the show was canceled and never produced but the album made it through. Released in October 1969, it was the Kinks’ seventh studio album, which was met with great acclaim.

The record was described as “The Kinks’ finest hour,” and “the best British album of 1969”. Today, the record is still highly regarded with Allmusic noting that Arthur was, “one of the most effective concept albums in rock history, as well as one of the best and most influential British pop records of its era.”

Crosby, Stills, & Nash Demonstrated The Potential Of Folk-Rock

Crosby Stills And Nash cover
Atlantic
Atlantic

Crosby, Stills, & Nash was a folk-rock supergroup made up of David Crosby, Stephen Stills, and Graham Nash. Their debut album was their self-titled album released in May 1969, which helped launch the group into stardom, turning people’s attention away from hard rock and more towards folk and blues.

The album resulted in two Top 40 hits for “Marrakesh Express” and “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” with the album as a whole peaking at No.6 on the Billboard Top Pop Albums chart. It went on to go four times platinum for selling over 4,200,000 records.

The Stooges Proved to be Highly Influential

The Stooges cover
Elektra
Elektra

Released on August 5, 1969, The Stooges was the debut album for the band of the same name. Considered to be a cornerstone album of the proto-punk movement, few people understood that at the time.

Although the album was initially shunned for the most part after its release, over time, it was acknowledged as a hugely influential album, opening the doors for the upcoming punk scene. Mark Deming described the album as “ahead of their time and entirely out of their time, all at once.”

Five Leaves Left Eventually Got The Credit It Deserves

Five Leaves Left cover
Island
Island

Although relatively unknown at the time, on July 3, 1969, English folk musician Nick Drake released his debut album, Fives Leaves Left. Upon its release, the album received mixed reviews with many commending him on his obvious talent, but his lack of ability to really drive songs home.

Five Leaves Lost and the rest of Drake’s music remained ignored for the most part until the 1990s. It was then that he began to receive attention even though he passed away in 1974. Today, Five Leaves Left can be found on numerous greatest albums of all time lists, and is considered to be his finest work by many.

Trout Mask Replica Was As Experimental As It Gets

Trout Mask Replica
Straight
Straight

The third album from Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band, Trout Mask Replica was released as a double album on June 6, 1969. Regarded as experimental music and art rock, the album is an interesting combination of garage rock, R&B, blues, spoken word, and much more. Produced by Frank Zappa, the album was not greeted with open arms upon its release in the United States where it failed to make it onto any charts.

However, in the UK, it reached No.21 on the UK Albums Chart. Over the years, it has grown to be considered the masterpiece of Van Vliet’s career and an essential album at the start of the experimental genre.

Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere Is Classic Neil Young

Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere cover
Reprise
Reprise

Released in May 1969, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere is Neil Young’s second studio album. Backed by his long-time band Crazy Horse, the album peaked at No. 34 on the Billboard 200 where it stayed on the chart for 98 weeks.

The album is featured on the list of 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die and was named No. 208 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. Several songs on the album, such as “Cinnamon Girl” and “Down by the River” ended up becoming staple songs in Young’s arsenal.

And Then Play On Showed Fleetwood Mac’s Diversity

And Then Play On cover
Reprise
Reprise

The third studio album by Fleetwood Mac, And Then Play On was the first of their albums to feature Danny Kirwan as well as the last to have Peter Green. Released in September 1969, after their sudden success, the album demonstrates the band’s stylistic range other than what they had put out in their first two albums.

The band landed the No.6 spot in the UK charts making it their third album to reach the Top 10. While the record had mixed reviews at the beginning, today, it’s held in high regard.

Dusty In Memphis Grew To Become Popular

Dusty in Memphis cover
Atlantic
Atlantic

Traveling across the pond to record in Memphis, Tennessee, Dusty in Memphis is English singer Dusty Springfield’s fifth studio album. She took a different route with this album, working with a team that included Jerry Wexler, Tom Dowd, The Sweet Inspirations, Reggie Young, and more.

Although the track “Son of a Preacher Man” was a hit in the UK, the album sold poorly overall. However, since its release, it is considered to be her best work, one of the best records of all time, and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Chicago Transit Authority Was An Astounding Debut

Self titled album cover
Columbia/CBS
Columbia/CBS

Initially a self-titled album before Chicago Transit Authority started going by Chicago, the record Chicago Transit Authority was released on April 28, 1969. Being a debut record, it did extremely well, staying on the Billboard 200 for 171 weeks, and setting the record for the longest time on the chart by a rock album.

The year of its release, the band was nominated for a Grammy for the Best New Artist of the Year and has since been certified platinum. In 2014, the album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Kick Out The Jams Was Ahead Of Its Time

Kick Out The Jams cover
Elektra
Elektra

Kick Out the Jams was recorded live at Detroit’s Grande Ballroom over Halloween’s Eve and Halloween in 1968. Released by protopunk group MC5 in February 1969, the LP did relatively well, peaking at No.30 on the Billboard 200 and No.82 on the Hot 100.

Considering the style of music, it wasn’t all that shocking when Rolling Stone wrote a less-than-enthusiastic review about the album when compared to the band’s contemporaries. However, eventually, the band became recognized as a pioneer in the punk genre and has been commended for their work.

Joni Mitchell – Clouds

Clouds cover
Reprise
Reprise

After Joni Mitchell’s debut album helped her rise in popularity, she decided to record her second album, Clouds, at A&M studios in Hollywood. She then released the album on May 1, 1969, with the album cover featuring a painted self-portrait. In the United States, the song peaked at No.31 on the Billboard 200 and went on to win the Grammy Award for Best Folk Performance.

Although some critics had negative things to say about it, there was a general consensus that the album was necessary in order for Mitchell’s career to move forward.