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Memory Kits: Albums of the 1960s

Memory kits are for people with dementia, memory loss, or cognitive impairment. They are intended to stimulate conversation or reminiscence with a person with cognitive issues

Albums of the 1960s

John Coltrane - 'My Favorite Things' (1961)

My Favorite Things is the seventh studio album by jazz musician John Coltrane, released in March 1961 on Atlantic Records.[1][2] It was the first album to feature Coltrane playing soprano saxophone. An edited version of the title track became a hit single that gained popularity in 1961 on radio.[3] The record became a major commercial success.

In March 1960, while on tour in Europe, Miles Davis purchased a soprano saxophone for Coltrane. While the instrument had been used in the early days of jazz (notably by Sidney Bechet) it had become rare by the 1950s with the exception of Steve Lacy.[4] Intrigued by its capabilities, Coltrane began playing it at his summer club dates.[5]

After leaving the Davis band, Coltrane, for his first regular bookings at New York's Jazz Gallery in the summer of 1960, assembled the first version of the John Coltrane Quartet. The lineup settled by autumn with McCoy Tyner on piano, Steve Davis on bass, and Elvin Jones on drums.[6] Sessions the week before Halloween at Atlantic Studios yielded the track "Village Blues" for Coltrane Jazz and the entirety of this album along with the tracks that Atlantic later assembled into Coltrane Plays the Blues (1962) and Coltrane's Sound (1964).

According to Lewis Porter's biography, Coltrane described "My Favorite Things" as "my favorite piece of all those I have recorded".[7]

The title track is a modal rendition of the Rodgers and Hammerstein song "My Favorite Things" from The Sound of Music. The melody is heard numerous times throughout, but instead of playing solos over the written chord changes, both Tyner and Coltrane take extended solos over vamps of the two tonic chords, E minor and E major (whereas the original resolves to G major),[8] played in waltz time.[9] In the documentary The World According to John Coltrane, narrator Ed Wheeler remarks on the impact that this song's popularity had on Coltrane's career:

In 1960, Coltrane left Miles [Davis] and formed his own quartet to further explore modal playing, freer directions, and a growing Indian influence. They transformed "My Favorite Things", the cheerful populist song from 'The Sound of Music,' into a hypnotic eastern dervish dance. The recording was a hit and became Coltrane's most requested tune—and a bridge to broad public acceptance.[10]

The album is also notable for Coltrane's arrangement of the George Gershwin standard "But Not For Me" which showcases the Coltrane changes technique, as heard on "Giant Steps" and "Countdown".[11]

On March 3, 1998, Rhino Records reissued My Favorite Things as part of its Atlantic 50th Anniversary Jazz Gallery series. Included as bonus tracks were both sides of the "My Favorite Things" single, released as Atlantic 5012 in 1961.[12; accessed October 25, 2022.; accessed October 25, 2022.

Jimi Hendrix - Are You Experienced? (1967)

Are You Experienced is the debut studio album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience. Released in 1967, the LP was an immediate critical and commercial success, and it is widely regarded as one of the greatest albums of all time. 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.


After struggling to earn a living on the R&B circuit as a backing guitarist, Hendrix signed a management and production contract in 1966 with former Animals member Chas Chandler and ex-Animals manager Michael Jeffery. Chandler brought Hendrix to London and recruited members for the Jimi Hendrix Experience, a band designed to showcase the guitarist's talents. In late October, after having been rejected by Decca Records, the Experience signed with Track, a new label formed by the Who's managers Kit Lambert and Chris Stamp. Are You Experienced and its preceding singles were recorded over a five-month period from late October 1966 through early April 1967. The album was completed in 16 recording sessions at three London locations, including De Lane Lea Studios, CBS Studios, and Olympic Studios.

Released in the UK on May 12, 1967, Are You Experienced spent 33 weeks on the charts, peaking at number two. The album was issued in the US on August 23 by Reprise Records, where it reached number five on the US Billboard Top LPs, remaining on the chart for 106 weeks, 27 of those in the Top 40. The album also spent 70 weeks on the US Billboard Hot R&B LPs chart, where it peaked at number 10. The US version contained some of Hendrix's best known songs, including the Experience's first three singles, which, though omitted from the British edition of the LP, were top ten hits in the UK: "Purple Haze", "Hey Joe", and "The Wind Cries Mary". Hendrix was unhappy with the cover artwork for the UK edition, and solicited photographer Karl Ferris to create a more "psychedelic" cover for the US release.

In 2000, it was voted number 63 in Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums.[1] Rolling Stone ranked Are You Experienced 30th on its 2020 list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. In 2010, the magazine placed four songs from the US version of the album on their list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time: "Purple Haze" (17), "Foxy Lady" (153), "Hey Joe" (201), and "The Wind Cries Mary" (379). In 2005, the record was one of 50 recordings chosen by the Library of Congress in recognition of its cultural significance to be added to the National Recording Registry. Writer and archivist Reuben Jackson of the Smithsonian Institution wrote: "it's still a landmark recording because it is of the rock, R&B, blues ... musical tradition. It altered the syntax of the music ... in a way I compare to James Joyce's Ulysses."[2]; accessed October 25, 2022.; accessed October 25, 2022.


The Beatles - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band is the eighth studio album by the English rock band the Beatles. Released on 26 May 1967,[nb 1] Sgt. Pepper is regarded by musicologists as an early concept album that advanced the roles of sound composition, extended form, psychedelic imagery, record sleeves, and the producer in popular music. The album had an immediate cross-generational impact and was associated with numerous touchstones of the era's youth culture, such as fashion, drugs, mysticism, and a sense of optimism and empowerment. Critics lauded the album for its innovations in songwriting, production and graphic design, for bridging a cultural divide between popular music and high art, and for reflecting the interests of contemporary youth and the counterculture.


At the end of August 1966, the Beatles had permanently retired from touring and pursued individual interests for the next three months. During a return flight to London in November, Paul McCartney had an idea for a song involving an Edwardian military band that formed the impetus of the Sgt. Pepper concept. For this project, they continued the technological experimentation marked by their previous album, Revolver, this time without an absolute deadline for completion. Sessions began on 24 November at EMI Studios with compositions inspired by the Beatles' youth, but after pressure from EMI, the songs "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "Penny Lane" were released as a double A-side single in February 1967 and left off the LP. The album was then loosely conceptualised as a performance by the fictional Sgt. Pepper band, an idea that was conceived after recording the title track.

A key work of British psychedelia, Sgt. Pepper is considered one of the first art rock LPs and a progenitor to progressive rock. It incorporates a range of stylistic influences, including vaudeville, circus, music hall, avant-garde, and Western and Indian classical music. With assistance from producer George Martin and engineer Geoff Emerick, much of the recordings were coloured with sound effects and tape manipulation, as exemplified on "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!" and "A Day in the Life". Recording was completed on 21 April. The cover, which depicts the Beatles posing in front of a tableau of celebrities and historical figures, was designed by the pop artists Peter Blake and Jann Haworth.

Sgt. Pepper's release was a defining moment in pop culture, heralding the album era and the 1967 Summer of Love, while its reception achieved full cultural legitimisation for pop music and recognition for the medium as a genuine art form. The album spent 27 weeks at number one on the Record Retailer chart in the United Kingdom and 15 weeks at number one on the Billboard Top LPs chart in the United States. In 1968, it won four Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year, the first rock LP to receive this honour; in 2003, it was inducted into the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress. It has topped several critics' and listeners' polls for the best album of all time, including those published by Rolling Stone magazine and in the book All Time Top 1000 Albums, and the UK's "Music of the Millennium" poll. More than 32 million copies had been sold worldwide as of 2011. It remains one of the best-selling albums of all time and was still, in 2018, the UK's best-selling studio album. A remixed and expanded edition of the album was released in 2017.; accessed October 25, 2022.; accessed October 25, 2022.

The Who - 'Tommy' (1969)

Tommy is the fourth studio album by the English rock band the Who, a double album first released on 17 May 1969. The album was mostly composed by guitarist Pete Townshend, and is a rock opera that tells the story of Tommy Walker. Tommy is traumatized from witnessing his father murder his mother's lover. Tommy's parents compound his trauma by denying the experience. In reaction, Tommy becomes dissociative ("deaf, dumb and blind"). Tommy then experiences the trauma of being sexually abused. As a way of coping with his trauma, Tommy dissociates further through playing pinball. He gains a following because of his skill at playing pinball. After numerous misguided attempts to heal Tommy, a doctor prescribes him a mirror so he can confront himself and his experience. Instead, Tommy becomes self-absorbed and comes to think of himself as a messianic figure. When the mirror is eventually broken, Tommy comes out of his dissociative state. Tommy then tries to lead his followers to believe that the only path to healing is through him. His followers eventually reject him and his teachings.

Townshend came up with the concept of Tommy after being introduced to the work of Meher Baba, and attempted to translate Baba's teachings into music. Recording on the album began in September 1968, but took six months to complete as material needed to be arranged and re-recorded in the studio. Tommy was acclaimed upon its release by critics, who hailed it as The Who's breakthrough. Its critical standing diminished slightly in later years; nonetheless, several writers view it as an important and influential album in the history of rock music. The Who promoted the album's release with an extensive tour, including a live version of Tommy, which lasted throughout 1969 and 1970. Key gigs from the tour included appearances at Woodstock, the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival, the University of Leeds, the Metropolitan Opera House, and the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival. The live performances of Tommy drew critical praise and revitalized the band's career.

Subsequently, the rock opera developed into other media, including a Seattle Opera production in 1971, an orchestral version by Lou Reizner in 1972, a film in 1975, and a Broadway musical in 1992. The original album has sold 20 million copies and has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. It has been reissued several times on CD, including a remix by Jon Astley in 1996, a deluxe Super Audio CD in 2003, and a super deluxe box set in 2013, including previously unreleased demos and live material.; accessed October 25, 2022.; accessed October 25, 2022.

Crosby, Stills, & Nash

Crosby, Stills & Nash is the debut studio album by British–American folk rock supergroup Crosby, Stills & Nash (CSN), released in 1969 by Atlantic Records. It is the only album released by the band before adding Neil Young to their line-up. The album spawned two Top 40 singles, "Marrakesh Express" and "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes", which peaked respectively at No. 28 the week of August 23, 1969, and at No. 21 the week of December 6, 1969, on the US Billboard Hot 100. The album itself peaked at No. 6 on the US Billboard Top Pop Albums chart. It has been certified four times platinum by the RIAA for sales of 4,000,000.[1]


The album was a very strong debut for the band, instantly lifting them to stardom. Along with the Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo and the Band's Music from Big Pink of the previous year, it helped initiate a sea change in popular music away from the ruling late-1960s aesthetic of bands playing blues-based rock music on loud guitars. Crosby, Stills & Nash presented a new wrinkle in building upon rock's roots, using folk, blues, and even jazz without specifically sounding like mere duplication. Not only blending voices, the three meshed their differing strengths, David Crosby for social commentary and atmospheric mood pieces, Stephen Stills for his diverse musical skills and for folding folk and country elements subtly into complex rock structures, and Graham Nash for his radio-friendly pop melodies, to create an amalgam of broad appeal. The album features some of their best known songs, including "Helplessly Hoping", "Long Time Gone", "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes", and "Wooden Ships", a collaboration between Crosby and Stills as well as Paul Kantner of Jefferson Airplane.

Stills dominated the recording of the album. Crosby and Nash played guitar on their own songs, while drummer Dallas Taylor played on most tracks except for drummer Jim Gordon on one. Stills played all the bass, organ, and lead guitar parts, as well as acoustic guitar on his own songs.[2] "The other guys won't be offended when I say that one was my baby, and I kind of had the tracks in my head", Stills said.[3] Even with this dominance, Stills does not appear on the tracks "Guinnevere" and "Lady of the Island", both featuring Crosby and Nash only and an inadvertent precursor to their partnership on record and stage during the 1970s.[4]

David Crosby bristled over the plan for "Long Time Gone" as he thought he should at least play rhythm guitar on his own song. Stills convinced him to go home for a while and when he returned Crosby was won over by the music track that Stills and Taylor had recorded.[5] In a more recent interview, Crosby contradicted his earlier statement, stating that he had played guitar on the track.[6] He is so credited in the liner notes to the 1991 box set.[7]

The group performed songs from the album at the Woodstock festival in August 1969. In late 1969 the group appeared with Neil Young on the Tom Jones' TV show and performed "Long Time Gone" with Tom Jones sharing vocals.[8]

The album proved very influential on many levels to the dominant popular music scene in America for much of the 1970s. The success of the album generated respect for the group within the industry and galvanized interest in signing similar acts, many of whom came under management and representation by the CSN team of Elliot Roberts and David Geffen. Strong sales, combined with the group's emphasis on personal confession in its writing, paved the way for the success of the singer-songwriter movement of the early 1970s. Their use of personal events in their material without resorting to subterfuge, their talents in vocal harmony, their cultivation of painstaking studio craft, as well as the Laurel Canyon ethos that surrounded the group and their associates, established an aesthetic for a number of acts that came to define the "California sound" of the ensuing decade, including the Eagles, Jackson Browne, post-1974 Fleetwood Mac, and others.

The album has been issued on compact disc three times: mastered by Barry Diament at Atlantic Studios in the mid-1980s;[9] remastered by Joe Gastwirt at Ocean View Digital and reissued on August 16, 1994; reissued again by Rhino Records as an expanded edition using the HDCD process on January 24, 2006. On December 6, 2011, a Gold Compact Disc edition of the album was released on the Audio Fidelity label.,_Stills_%26_Nash_(album); accessed October 26, 2022.; accessed October 26, 2022.

Bob Dylan - "The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan" (1962)

The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan is the second studio album by American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, released on May 27, 1963 by Columbia Records. Whereas his self-titled debut album Bob Dylan had contained only two original songs, this album represented the beginning of Dylan's writing contemporary words to traditional melodies. Eleven of the thirteen songs on the album are Dylan's original compositions. It opens with "Blowin' in the Wind", which became an anthem of the 1960s, and an international hit for folk trio Peter, Paul and Mary soon after the release of the album. The album featured several other songs which came to be regarded as among Dylan's best compositions and classics of the 1960s folk scene: "Girl from the North Country", "Masters of War", "A Hard Rain's a-Gonna Fall" and "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right".

Dylan's lyrics embraced news stories drawn from headlines about the Civil Rights Movement and he articulated anxieties about the fear of nuclear warfare. Balancing this political material were love songs, sometimes bitter and accusatory, and material that features surreal humor. Freewheelin' showcased Dylan's songwriting talent for the first time, propelling him to national and international fame. The success of the album and Dylan's subsequent recognition led to his being named as "Spokesman of a Generation", a label Dylan repudiated.

The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan reached number 22 in the US (eventually going platinum), and became a number-one album in the UK in 1965. In 2003, the album was ranked number 97 on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In 2002, Freewheelin' was one of the first 50 recordings chosen by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry.; accessed October 20, 2022.; accessed October 20, 2022.

The Beach Boys - 'Pet Sounds' (1966)

Pet Sounds is the 11th studio album by the American rock band the Beach Boys, released on May 16, 1966, by Capitol Records. It was initially met with a lukewarm critical and commercial response in the United States, peaking at number 10 on the Billboard Top LPs chart. In the United Kingdom, the album was lauded by critics and reached number 2 on the Record Retailer chart, remaining in the top ten for six months. Promoted there as "the most progressive pop album ever", Pet Sounds garnered recognition for its ambitious production, sophisticated music, and emotional lyrical content. It is considered to be among the greatest and most influential albums in music history.[1]


The album was produced, arranged, and almost entirely composed by Brian Wilson with guest lyricist Tony Asher. It was recorded largely between January and April 1966, a year after Wilson quit touring with his bandmates. His goal was to create "the greatest rock album ever made"—a cohesive work with no filler tracks. It is sometimes considered a Wilson solo album that builds upon the advancements of The Beach Boys Today! (1965). Lead single "Caroline, No" was issued as his official solo debut. It was followed by two singles credited to the group: "Sloop John B" and "Wouldn't It Be Nice" (backed with "God Only Knows").

Incorporating elements of pop, jazz, exotica, classical, and the avant-garde, Wilson's Wall of Sound-based orchestrations mixed conventional rock set-ups with elaborate layers of vocal harmonies, found sounds, and instruments never before associated with rock, such as bicycle bells, French horn, flutes, Electro-Theremin, string sections, and beverage cans. The album could not be reproduced live and was the first time that any group departed from their usual small-ensemble electric rock band format for a whole LP. An early concept album, it consists mainly of introspective songs like "I Know There's an Answer", a critique of LSD users; and "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times", the first use of a theremin-like instrument on a rock record. The album's unprecedented total production cost exceeded $70,000 (equivalent to $580,000 in 2021). An expanded reissue, The Pet Sounds Sessions, was released in 1997 with isolated vocals and instrumental versions, session highlights, and the album's first true stereo mix.

Pet Sounds revolutionized the field of music production and the role of producers within the music industry, introduced novel approaches to orchestration, chord voicings, and structural harmonies, and furthered the cultural legitimization of popular music, a greater public appreciation for albums, the use of synthesizers, the recording studio as an instrument, and the development of psychedelic music and progressive/art rock. It has topped several critics' and musicians' polls for the best album of all time, including those published by NME, Mojo, Uncut, and The Times. In 2004, it was inducted into the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress. It has been certified platinum by the RIAA, indicating over one million units sold.; accessed October 25, 2022.; accessed October 25, 2022.

The Byrds - The Notorious Byrd Brothers (1968)

The Notorious Byrd Brothers is the fifth album by the American rock band the Byrds, and was released in January 1968, on Columbia Records.[1][2] The album represents the pinnacle of the Byrds' late-‘60s musical experimentation, with the band blending together elements of psychedelia, folk rock, country, electronic music, baroque pop, and jazz.[3][4][5] With producer Gary Usher, they made extensive use of a number of studio effects and production techniques, including phasing, flanging, and spatial panning.[6][7][8] The Byrds also introduced the sound of the pedal steel guitar and the Moog modular synthesizer into their music, making it one of the first LP releases on which the Moog appears.[7][9]


Recording sessions for The Notorious Byrd Brothers took place throughout the latter half of 1967 and were fraught with tension, resulting in the loss of two members of the band.[9] Rhythm guitarist David Crosby was fired in October 1967 and drummer Michael Clarke left the sessions midway through recording, returning briefly before finally being dismissed after completion of the album.[10][11] Additionally, original band member Gene Clark, who had left the group in early 1966, rejoined for three weeks during the making of the album, before leaving again.[12] Author Ric Menck has commented that in spite of these changes in personnel and the conflict surrounding its creation, The Notorious Byrd Brothers is the band's most cohesive and ethereal-sounding album statement.[13]

The Notorious Byrd Brothers reached number 47 on the Billboard Top LPs chart and number 12 on the UK Album Chart.[14][15] A cover of the Gerry Goffin and Carole King song "Goin' Back" was released in October 1967 as the lead single from the album to mild chart success.[7] Although The Notorious Byrd Brothers was critically praised at the time of its release, it was only moderately successful commercially, particularly in the United States.[16] The album later came to be widely regarded as one of the Byrds' best album releases, as well as their most experimental and progressive.[5][6][13] Byrds expert Tim Connors has described the album's title as evoking a gang of outlaws from the American Old West.[4]; accessed October 25, 2022.; accessed October 25, 2022.

Marvin Gaye - In the Groove (1968)

In the Groove is the eighth studio album by soul musician Marvin Gaye, released on August 26, 1968 on the Motown-subsidiary label Tamla Records. It was the first solo studio album Gaye released in two years, in which during that interim, the singer had emerged as a successful duet partner with female R&B singers such as Kim Weston and Tammi Terrell. In the Groove was reissued and retitled as I Heard It Through the Grapevine after the unexpected success of Gaye's recording of the same name, which had been released as a single from the original album.

Critical reception to In the Groove has been generally positive. According to Robert Christgau, it was an example of how "Gaye was so rhythmically and dynamically astute that his albums sustained" even during his phase as "a Motown matinee idol".[4] Fellow critic Tom Hull singled out Gaye's cover of "Some Kind of Wonderful" as "nonpareil" while deeming the rest of the album "solid", although he concluded that "as a single he can't quite compete on songs you know from Motown's groups."[5] AllMusic reviewer John Bush found it indicative of Gaye never being too dependant on Motown's Holland–Dozier–Holland songwriting-production team, as he "weathered their departure pretty well" with the album.; accessed October 25, 2022.; accessed October 25, 2022.

The Kinks - The Village Green Preservation Society (1968)

The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society is the sixth studio album by the English rock band the Kinks. Released on 22 November 1968,[nb 2] Village Green is regarded by commentators as an early concept album. A modest seller on release, it was the band's first studio album which failed to chart in either country, but was lauded by contemporary critics for its songwriting. It was embraced by America's new underground rock press, completing the Kinks' transformation from mid-1960s pop hitmakers to critically favoured cult band.


Bandleader Ray Davies loosely conceptualised the album as a collection of character studies, an idea he based on Dylan Thomas's 1954 radio drama Under Milk Wood. Centring around themes of nostalgia, memory and preservation, the album reflects Davies's concerns about the increasing modernisation and encroaching influence of America and Europe on English society. Musically an example of pop or rock music, the album incorporates a range of stylistic influences, including music hall, blues, psychedelia and calypso. It was the first album which Davies produced on his own and was the last to feature the original Kinks line-up, as bassist Pete Quaife departed the band in March 1969. It also marked the final collaboration between the Kinks and session keyboardist Nicky Hopkins, whose playing features heavily on piano, harpsichord and Mellotron.

Other than "Village Green", which was recorded in November 1966 and then re-recorded in February 1967, sessions for the album began in March 1968 at Pye Studios in London. In addition to the non-album singles "Wonderboy" and "Days", the sessions resulted in numerous tracks, some of which went unreleased for years. The album's planned September 1968 release was delayed by two months in the UK after Davies's last-minute decision to rearrange and augment the track listing, though release of the earlier twelve-track edition went ahead in several European countries. The album had no accompanying lead single in the UK, though "Starstruck" was issued in the US and Europe.

Despite its initial commercial shortcomings, it has influenced numerous musical acts, especially American indie artists from the late 1980s and 1990s and Britpop groups like Blur and Oasis. Driven in part by this influence, the album experienced a critical and commercial resurgence in the 1990s, and it has been reissued several times, including an expanded edition in 2018. The album has since become the Kinks' best-selling album in the UK, where it was certified silver in 2008 and gold in 2018. It has been included in several critics' and listeners' polls for the best albums of all time, including those published by Rolling Stone magazine and in the book All Time Top 1000 Albums.; accessed October 25, 2022.; accessed October 25, 2022.