1965 – Breakout Year For Albums

1965 was one of those breaking years.  The music of the Beatles, Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan swamped the air waves and the listening public or at least the teenage population.  The baby-boomers were tuned almost exclusively to the new vibrant sounds and enjoying music which, with its rocky beat and infectious din, differentiated them from the staid older parental group.  Many remarkable and some not so remarkable albums were released and snapped up by young fans in their millions.  As usual 50 years after the event there are many diverse appreciations of what were the best albums and artists of 1965.

The Big Sellers

Before we check out the various “best of” selections, the greatest selling albums of 1965, taken from the small tome, “100 Best Albums of the 60s”, (Ed Gene Sculatti) lists the sales of albums derived from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) data.  The relative ranking for 1965 is:

Rank Sales Title Artist
94 500,000 Mary Poppins Soundtrack
93 500,000 Goldfinger Soundtrack
92 500,00 Roustabout Elvis Presley/Soundtrack
91 500,000 The Sound of Music Julie Andrews/Soundtrack
90 500,000 Dr Zhivago Soundtrack
75 1,000,000 Bringing it all back home Bob Dylan
74 1,000,000 Highway 61 Revisited Bob Dylan
73 1,000,000 Out of our heads Rolling Stones
72 1,000,000 My name is Barbra, Two…. Barbra Streisand
24 3,000,000 Help! Beatles
23 3,000,000 Beatles 65 Beatles
7 6,000,000 Rubber Soul Beatles

drzivhago  goldfinger help!

roustabout soundofmusic marypoppins_2

Let’s start with the selections at BestEverAlbum.com and look at the Top 20.  These albums have been voted on and debated by the team at BestEverAlbum.com and are subject to change as time passes and opinions change.  This is the state of play in December 2015.

Rank Title Artist
1 Highway 61 Revisited Bob Dylan
2 Rubber Soul Beatles
3 Bringing it all back home Bob Dylan
4 A Love Supreme John Coltrane
5 Help! Beatles
6 Otis Blue Otis Redding
7 My Generation The Who
8 Beach Boys Today! Beach Boys
9 Spiritual Reality Albert Ayler Trio
10 Mr Tambourine Man The Byrds
11 Here are the Sonics The Sonics
12 Pastel Blues Nina Simone
13 Out of our heads Rolling Stones
14 Live at the Regal B B King
15 A Charlie Brown Christmas Vince Guaraldi Trio
16 Jackson C Frank Jackson C Frank
17 Maiden Voyage Herbie Hancock
18 Bert Jansch Bert Jansch
19 Turn Turn Turn! The Byrds
20 I put a spell on you Nina Simone

220px-Bob_Dylan_-_Highway_61_Revisited Rubber_Soul Bob_Dylan_-_Bringing_It_All_Back_Home

A Few Surprises  – Who is Jackson C Frank?

There are a few surprises with jazzers, John Coltrane and Albert Ayler in the Top 10 and Nina Simone with two albums in the Top 20, along with piano maestro Herbie Hancock and the marvellous Maiden Voyage.  Vince Guaraldi’s Trio did well releasing A Charlie Brown Christmas album for the Christmas sales and Charlie Brown has had many Christmas outings over the years.  The music is light modern jazz but is not compelling listening nor for everyone.

But who is Jackson C Frank?  Probably very few mainstream music fans would have heard of him or his one and only album released in 1965, although the album was produced by Paul Simon.  His music has been covered by other artists including Counting Crows, Nick Drake, John Mayer and Marianne Faithfull and Jackson C Frank’s life story is depressingly sad.  His talents reflect his position of the BestEverAlbum chart.

jackson c Frank vince-guaraldi-a-charlie-brown-schristmas

The big new act from the US is the Byrds with two albums listed in the Top 20 – Mr Tambourine Man and Turn Turn Turn! – both great albums, the former probably their best ever for a debut album.  The Beach Boys make an appearance with an average album.  But the Beatles and Bob Dylan dominate the selection.  The Who are surprisingly high at #7 and although it is not a personal favourite album with its curious mix of rock, pop and blues, the kick arse song My Generation is one of the best.  The group also thought the production of the album was rushed and did not reflect their on-stage performance.  Rock critics have claimed that it is one of the best debut rock albums of all time.  Where have we heard that before?  The Who were a cult group always defying the odds

The Rolling Stones sit at #13 with their third album – Out of our Heads – a significant album in that the majority of tracks are penned by Jagger/Richards.

Black artists Otis Redding (born 1941) and B B King (born 1925) representing soul and blues appear at #6 and #14.  Otis Blue was Redding’s third album release comprising self-penned songs, songs composed by Sam Cooke and also Jagger/Richards.  B B King is the grand daddy of them all.

otis-blue bbking-live-at-the-regal out-of-our-heads

Overall the BestEverAlbums selections pretty much hit on what one would think is a good balance.  One mystery album resides at #11 by a virtually unknown US Group The Sonics with their debut album Here come the Sonics.  The album did not chart on its early release but the garage rock approach has been reappraised over the years and sits just outside the Top 10 with in all probability very slim sales – even after 50 years.  The album has all the repecharge of the Kingsmen and Louie Louie.  Play on.

The 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die

And the Sonics also appear in Robert Dimery’s 1001 Albums You must hear before you die.  So surprise surprise we need to pay attention.  Garage Rock Rules.  Here is the 1001 list:

Title Artist
I’ve got a tiger by the tail Buck Owens and His Buckeroos
Live at the Star Club Jerry Lee Lewis
Here are the Sonics The Sonics
Bringing it all back home Bob Dylan
Otis Blue Otis Redding
The Beach Boys Today! Beach Boys
A Love Supreme John Coltrane
Live at the Regal B B King
Rubber Soul Beatles
Bert Jansch Bert Jansch
Mr Tambourine Man The Byrds
Highway 61 Revisited Bob Dylan
My Generation The Who

buck-owens-ive-got-a-tiger Live_at_the_Star_Club,_Hamburg here-are-the-sonics

In 1001 Albums there is no obvious pecking order and there is an amazing correlation with the BestEverAlbums list.  Only two additional albums appear – Buck Owens and His Buckeroos and I’ve got a tiger by the tail and rebel rocker Jerry Lee Lewis, the bad boy of family relations, Live at the Star Club.  I’ve got a tiger by the tail reached #1 in the Country Charts and #43 in the Pop Album Charts.  Owens was essentially a country artist and released 39 glorious albums, none of which can be quickly recalled.  Say no more.  Well one more thing – Buck Owens’ cowboy sound is not one that sits easily with the new music of the sixties, but someone bought his album.

Rolling Stone – Greatest 500 ETC

Rolling Stone magazine can always be depended upon to reflect a contemporary perspective in the modern rock music scene.  Their seminal publication Rolling Stone – The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time (that’s where we’ve heard it before) (2005) lends some balance to any Buck Owens considerations.  Their selections, voted by respected reviewers and musicians, pretty much follows our first two lists with a few differences.  Fifteen albums from 1965 feature in the Rolling Stone 500.  Here is the list which includes four albums not previously mentioned:

Rank Title Artist
4 Highway 61 Revisited Bob Dylan
5 Rubber Soul Beatles
31 Bringing it all back home Bob Dylan
47 A Love Supreme John Coltrane
75 Otis Blue Otis Redding
116 Out of our heads Rolling Stones
141 Live at the Regal B B King
179 The Rolling Stones Now! Rolling Stones
228 Mr Tambourine Man The Byrds
232 My Generation The Who
267 The Beach Boys Today! Beach Boys
268 Going to a Go-Go Smokey Robinson & the Miracles
328 Help! Beatles
349 Having a rave up  with the Yardbirds Yardbirds
468 The Paul Butterfield Blues Pand Paul Butterfield Blues Band

Note:  In the latest online version of Rolling Stone’s Greatest 500 there are some minor variations to rankings in the 2005 print version.

Byrds-MrTambourineMan Rollingstonesnow paul-butterfield-band

My-Generation--2 Miraclesgoingtoagogo Havingaraveup

The Rolling Stones are in there with The Rolling Stones, Now! their third US release a mix of soul and blues and a great album.  Motown heroes Smokey Robinson & the Miracles feature with Going to a Go-Go a US #1 R&B album and #8 in the Billboard Top 200 albums.  This album had three hit singles on the US Billboard charts which elevated Smokey Robinson to stardom.

The other two albums listed in the 500 include British Band, the Yardbirds, and their second album – Having a rave up with the Yardbirds, a mix of blues rock and early psychedelica – not a great album, but with a few good tracks; and at #468 the fantastic Paul Butterfield Blues Band with a solid line up – Paul Butterfield, singer and harmonica, Michael Bloomfield on lead guitar, Elvin Bishop – guitar, Mark Naftain – organ, Jerome Arnold on bass and Sam Lay –drums – and a cool bluesy album simply titled The Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

Billboard Top of the Toppermost

Generally speaking a trend appears to be emerging.  This trend is defied, however, when you look at the Billboard top albums for 1965 which comprises nine albums, five of which are soundtracks.  Elvis, bless him, is listed at #1 with the soundtrack of the film, Roustabout – he obviously still had his 50,000,000 fans in 1965.  The list of albums reflects the biggest sellers and/or those albums that spent longest on the Billboard charts at elevated spots.  And the list should not surprise as much as you think.  Since 1957 through to 1965 the top popular album for the Billboard Charts has been a soundtrack or a musical, so why not Mary Poppins!

Rank Title Artist
1 Roustabout Soundtrack – Elvis Presley
2 Beatles ‘65 Beatles
3 Mary Poppins Soundtrack – Julie Andrews, Dick Van Dyke
4 Goldfinger Soundtrack – John Barry, Shirley Bassey
5 Beatles VI Beatles
6 Out of our heads Rolling Stones
7 Help! Soundtrack – Beatles
8 The Sound of Music Soundtrack – Julie Andrews
9 Whipped Cream and Other Delights Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass

Soundtracks and the Beatles dominate and two of the Beatles’ albums are US only releases.  Even so it appears to be an odd mix in comparison with the earlier selections.  Bob Dylan obviously did not rate on Billboard but the Box Office certainly did.  And at #9 Herb Alpert!  The cover of Whipped Cream is an icon amongst record covers where over the top is the name of the game, ‘shock horror shark eats quads’ foolishness and the Tijuana Brass had it in spades.

Whipped Cream And Other Delights

Dolores Erickson is the model on the cover of Whipped Cream.  Art director and photographer Peter Whorf used Erickson on many Capitol Records shoots.  She became acquainted with trumpeter and A&M Records co-founder Herb Alpert, and watched part of the recording of The Lonely Bull album in Alpert’s garage in 1962.

Herb Alpert - Whipped Cream & Other Delights - Model Dolores Erickson

Herb Alpert – Whipped Cream & Other Delights – Model Dolores Erickson

The photo shoot for the cover of the 1965 Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass album Whipped Cream & Other Delights — which remained in the Billboard top 10 for 61 weeks, and whose sexy cover would become a cultural touchstone — began in mid-morning, went on through the afternoon, and Erickson was paid about  $1,500 plus expenses.   The shoot took place in Whorf’s studio, a converted garage.  Erickson, 29 years old and three months pregnant, sat on a stool with a white Christmas blanket covering her from the waist down, and wore a strapless bikini.  She then was covered with shaving cream, which would not melt under the hot photographic lights, with a dollop of whipped cream on her head and her fingers   Initially, Alpert felt the cover image “was maybe pushing it a little too far” and thought the censors would be down on it.  But in 2015 it looks pretty tame.

The cover did not make a celebrity out of Erickson and she was rarely recognized in public as the “Whipped Cream” girl.  It wasn’t until many years later that people began asking her to autograph the album cover.  6,000,000 copies of the album were sold!  That’s a lot of signatures.

Check out this latest blog “Every crate digger’s nightmare!” https://dangerousminds.net/comments/every_crate_diggers_nightmare_record_store_has_whipped_cream_and_other

Back on the chain gang

Colin Larkin is one of the great walking music encyclopaedias and has guided the production of many editions.  His 1998 The Virgin all-time top 1000 Albums has some unusual albums sprinkled throughout the book with a remarkable number of recent albums for people with short memories, and nineteen entries for 1965, which are also mixed and eclectic.

Rank Title Artist
20 Rubber Soul Beatles
26 Highway 61 Revisited Bob Dylan
116 Otis Blue Otis Redding
178 Mr Tambourine man The Byrds
196 Help! Beatles
209 Turn Turn Turn! The Byrds
267 The Who sing My Generation The Who
373 September of my Years Frank Sinatra
380 Oklahoma! Soundtrack – Rodgers & Hammerstein
593 Live at the Regal B B King
600 Song for my father Horace Silver Quintet
693 The Sound of Music Original Broadway Cast
707 The Sound of 65 Graham Bond Organisation
771 The Paul Simon Songbook Paul Simon
810 You got my mind messed up James Carr
812 Organ Grinder Swing Jimmy Smith
956 Bert Jansch Bert Jansch
968 ESP Miles Davis
978 Sings Song Ballads Otis Redding

The list, by any estimation, is democratic with jazz, soundtracks, rock, blues, pop, crooning, folk, and soul.  Otis Redding scores two albums in the top 1000.  At #693 the Sound of Music refers to the 1960 original Broadway Cast album rather than the 1965 film soundtrack, although the listing refers to a 1965 album.  Of all the big selling soundtracks in 1965 Oklahoma is the Larkin choice rather than Mary Poppins.

Frank Sinatra at 50 years of age in 1965 was going strong and released three albums in 1965 with September of my Years proving his best for the year peaking at #5 on the Billboard Top 200 albums.  Larkin’s other choices – The Graham Bond Organisation – blues from UK and Paul Simon’s album also produced in UK are odd choices.  It is good to see Miles Davis getting a nomination at #968, along with Horace Silver’s excellent album Song for my father at #600.

Sinatraseptember miles-davis-E.S.P horace-silver-quintet-song-fo-my-father

MOJO’s Choice

UK with its plethora of music magazines flood the market with information for us aficionados.  The MOJO Collection – The Ultimate Music Companion has some excellent, dubious and obscure choices for the best albums of 1965.  These appear in no particular sequence.

Title Artist
A Love Supreme John Coltrane
The Beach Boys Today! Beach Boys
Here are the Sonics The Sonics
Bert Jansch Bert Jansch
Live at the Star Club Jerry Lee Lewis
Them Them
Jackson C Frank Jackson C Frank
Live at the Regal B B King
Highway 61 Revisited Bob Dylan
Otis Blue Otis Redding
Going Places Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass
Vernon Haddock’s Jubilee Lovelies Vernon Haddocks
The Magic City Sun Ra

The unknown Vernon Haddocks is believed to have sold about 400 copies of the Jubilee Lovelies album at gigs, and subsequently the band disbanded for all time.  So if you cannot get hold of a copy do not despair, it might as well not happened at all.  That album, along with Jackson C Frank, belong on the most obscure albums list.  It is also odd that Herb Alpert’s Going Places is listed rather than the obvious 6,000,000 and more Whipped Delights gem; methinks the editors Jim Irvin and Colin McLear and their writers have dipped into their biases and enthusiasms for oddities and ‘should-have-beens’ to create a list for endless debate and the first question is:  Why no Beatles or Byrds or Rolling Stones??????????? Why Why Why??????????????  We could go on but to do so would not illuminate matters.

To bring some normality back into our considerations, Jeff Gold’s exclusive 101 Essential Rock Records lists only five albums:

Title Artist
Folk Blues and beyond Davy Graham
The Angry Young Them Them
Mr Tambourine Man The Byrds
Highway 61 Revisited Bob Dylan
My Generation The Who

There are no Beatles but The Who and the Byrds are emerging as significant choices for the critics.

them-the-angry-young-them daveygraham-folk-blues-beyond

In a final fling we look to Paul Gambacinni’s wisdom.  Gambacinni was one of the first to release a Top 100 album book in 1987 and he also used a committee system of voting to come up with a list, which is not dissimilar to earlier lists.

Rank Title Artist
18 Highway 61 Revisited Bob Dylan
21 Rubber Soul Beatles
22 Otis Blue Otis Redding
32 Bringing it all home Bob Dylan
95 Going to a Go-go Smokey Robinson & the Miracles

Alone On Top Downunder

Normie's Hit Happenings - compilation

Normie’s Hit Happenings – compilation

In Australia there were few albums released by local artists with the notable exception of Normie Rowe and his 1965 album – Normie’s Hit Happenings.  The album is listed in The 100 Best Australian Albums at #88 and it is a cracker of an album for the era with fourteen tracks including five red hot singles.  Not bad for a working boy from Reservoir.

Reflections of 50 Years Ago

So there we have it, but perhaps not quite.  It is always useful to look into the alternate universe that is the Grammy’s.  The album of the year as selected by the Grammarians is Frank Sinatra’s September of my Years.  Tom Jones was nominated as best new artist of the year.  There were no other voting categories to throw light on ‘pop’ music other than to note that the best ‘pop’ record was Herb Alpert’s A Taste of Honey which was included on the Whipped Cream album.  So there.

When you look back 50 years it is of interest to observe the contemporary view and marvel at the bright folly of it all.  It is well nigh impossible to understand the popularity of Buck Owens and his Buckeroos and the questing I’ve got a tiger by the tail and how this album made it into the top albums of 1965.  It is also difficult to realise the popularity of Mary Poppins across the broader musical horizon.  Billboard, as we know – “it’s all about the money” – has Mary Poppins as its #1 album for 1965 despite teen favourites – Beatles, Byrds, Dylan and the Rolling Stones.  When Dick Van Dyke celebrated his 90th birthday recently on December 13th, he was cheered on by thousands of fans at Disneyland, and he sang a song from Mary Poppins to the appreciation of his fans very young and very old.  Such is the power of pop over the decades.  So Billboard must be right.

1965 was a significant year for new music and there appears to be a remarkable cohesion between the lists noting that some lists have decidedly obscure inclusions which can or cannot be discounted.  All the same Bob Dylan, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who and The Byrds stand out.  Otis Redding, B B King feature almost on every list.  And John Coltrane and other jazz men are included amongst a pop/rock/blues dominated world.

And the not-to-be-forgotten-also-rans

Delving past the top 20 in the BestEverAlbums ratings there are many gems. Listed are some personal favourites, and if you vote with your heart, many could rank in the upper echelons of our listings.

Rank Title Artist
25 Kinda Kinks Kinks
27 The Kink Kontroversy Kinks
34 Do you believe in magic The Lovin’Spoonful
37 Begin Here Zombies
52 Get the Picture? Pretty Things
60 Easy The Easybeats
67 The Zombies Zombies
72 The Pretty Things Pretty Things
77 The In Crowd Ramsey Lewis Trio
89 It ain’t me babe The Turtles
95 Hollies The Hollies
98 Animal Tracks The Animals
105 Bleecker and Macdougal Fred Neil
132 A World of Our Own Seekers
144 It ain’t necessarily so..but it is Normie Rowe
163 Kinks-Size Kinks
164 Kinkdom Kinks
218 Introducing the Beau Brummels Beau Brummels
No rank Tom Rush Tom Rush

Kinda_Kinks The_Kink_Kontroversy_-_front Kinks-size Kinkdom

The Kinks were on song in 1965 with four albums re leased for the year, such was the rush to get in before your popularity evaporated!  The Pretty Things were also strong contenders and at least as exciting as the Who and Them, but with less luck in the rush of proceedings.  This luck also evaded the Zombies – brilliant though they were, and similarly with the Hollies who had whip-smart singles, but their albums were a mish mash.  All the same these UK groups deserve mention.  In the USA the Lovin’ Spoonful, the Turtles and the Beau Brummels, originally a surf group from North Beach California, were releasing fantastic sides.  Sneaking in also are two great folk singer songwriters – Fred Neil and Tom Rush with two worthy albums.


The Australian contribution is significant and the Seekers, following an astonishingly successful year, released an album which sold millions – A World of Our Own – and Normie Rowe, who has been mentioned earlier, also released a mighty album in 1965 – his original album (rather than the compilation mentioned in the 100 Best Australian Albums) – It ain’t necessarily so, but it is.  Sadly, one of our best pop groups, the Easybeats, comprising immigrants from UK and the Netherlands, which dominated in Australia, struggled in the UK almost starving in the process.  But they still produced an album – Easy – now recognised at #60 on the BestEver Albums list establishing the group as one of the best and Alberts as a prominent world music publisher.

seekers-a-world-of-our-own normie-rowe-it-aint necessarily-so The_Easybeats_-_Easy

And so with the last gasp of what was the best and the greatest in 1965, below is a short hit parade of tracks from the albums we have reviewed.  Enjoy the show and watch out for 1966.

And one last knockout track from 1965 – The Pretty Things





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