The Best Psychedelic Rock Albums of the 1960s

This article is a collaborative effort, crafted and edited by a team of dedicated professionals.

Contributors: Andranick Tanguiane, Fred Lerdahl,


The 1960s was a decade of change and experimentation in music, and psychedelic rock was at the forefront of that. Here are some of the best psychedelic rock albums of the 1960s.

The Beatles – Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Considered by many to be the best psychedelic rock album of all time, The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was released in 1967 to critical and commercial acclaim. Featuring hits like “With a Little Help from My Friends,” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” and “A Day in the Life,” the album topped charts around the world and is still considered a classic today.

The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds

The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds is one of the most influential albums of all time, serving as an inspiration for The Beatles’ Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band and countless other artists that followed. The album was recorded in an era when psychedelic drugs were widely used and it’s said that the record is a direct result of Brian Wilson’s use of LSD. The Beach Boys were already a hugely popular band when they released Pet Sounds, but the album took their sound in a whole new direction, blending elements of pop, classical and experimental music to create something truly unique.

The Doors – The Doors

The Doors’ self-titled debut album was released on January 4, 1967 and peaks at No. 2 on Billboard’s Top LPs chart. It features the singles “Break On Through (To the Other Side)” and “Light My Fire”. The album is certified platinum by the RIAA.

Jimi Hendrix – Are You Experienced

Are You Experienced is the debut studio album by English-American rock band the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Released in May 1967, it was the first LP for Track Records and was marketed by Polydor Records in the United Kingdom and bold artwork. In the US, Are You Experienced was distributed byReprise Records, who quickly issued it two months after its init release. The album features Jimi Hendrix’s innovative approach to songwriting and electric guitar playing which soon established a new direction in psychedelic and hard rock music. Despite its late arrival, Are You Experienced topped charts in several countries including the US, where it peaked at number five on the Billboard 200 album chart, and in the UK, where it reached number two on the UK Albums Chart.

Track listing:
1.”Purple Haze”
3.”The Wind Cries Mary”
4.”Hey Joe”
5.”All Along the Watchtower”
6.”Stone Free”
7.”Crosstown Traffic”
8.”Manic Depression”
9.”Little Wing”
10.”If 6 Was 9

The Jimi Hendrix Experience – Axis: Bold as Love

The Jimi Hendrix Experience’s 1967 follow-up to their game-changing debut Are You Experienced? is a psychedelic tour de force, exploring sonic textures and extended song forms with dizzying virtuosity. The band’s psychedelic experimentation is both sonically adventurous and ideologically committed, as they use their music to critique the notion of the ” American Dream.” Tracks like “If 6 Was 9” and “Spanish Castle Magic” are Hendrix classics, while the cosmic opus “Third Stone from the Sun” is one of the most ambitious rock songs of its era. With Axis: Bold as Love, the Jimi Hendrix Experience cemented their place as one of the most innovative and influential rock bands of their generation.

Cream – Disraeli Gears

Disraeli Gears is the second studio album by British rock band Cream, released in November 1967. It was titled after a piece of slang that was common among the band’s fans at the time. The first track, “Strange Brew”, and the hits “Sunshine of Your Love” and “I Feel Free”, were released as singles in 1967 and became international charting hits.

The album reached No. 1 in the UK and No. 5 on the Billboard 200, cementing Cream as one of the most popular rock bands of their era. In 2003, Disraeli Gears was ranked number 205 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

The Grateful Dead – Anthem of the Sun

The Grateful Dead entered the 1960s as a folk rock band, but by 1967 they had transformed into something much stranger and more interesting. Anthem of the Sun is the sound of a band expanding their mind-altering possibilities by adding multiple studio overdubs to their jams, giving them a dense, otherworldly quality. The result is one of the Dead’s most experimental and thrilling albums.

Jefferson Airplane – Surrealistic Pillow

one of the most significant albums of the 1960s, both in terms of its impact and influence on popular music, and its lasting popularity. The album was a commercial success, reaching number three on the Billboard 200 album chart and eventually selling over two million copies in the United States. It was also praised by critics, with AllMusic’s Matthew Greenwald calling it “arguably the best psychedelic rock album ever made”.

The Kinks – Are the Village Green Preservation Society

The Kinks’ 1968 album Are The Village Green Preservation Society is one of the most quintessentially English albums ever made. It’s an elegy for a bygone era, when “progress” meant something other than building bigger and better motorways. When the preservation society of the album’s title tries to stop progress in its tracks, they find that they are powerless to do so. Everyone is too busy trying to make money and get ahead to care about anything else. The album is suffused with a deep sense of nostalgia for a time that never really existed, but it also has a lot to say about the present day.

Love – Forever Changes

Love’s Forever Changes is one of the most gorgeous and fully-realized psychedelic rock albums ever made. Released in 1967, it was the band’s third album and the first to feature their classic lineup of Arthur Lee (vocals, guitar), Bryan MacLean (guitar, vocals), Johnny Echols (guitar), Ken Forssi (bass) and Alban “Snoopy” Pfisterer (drums).

Forever Changes is a psychedelia milestone that transcends the genre – it’s a beautiful, melancholic, baroque-pop gem that stands alongside The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band as one of the greatest albums of the 1960s. It’s also one of the most criminally underrated albums in popular music history – despite its critical acclaim, Forever Changes was a commercial flop upon its original release and has only slowly gained the appreciation it so rightfully deserves in the decades since.

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