The 100 Best Psychedelic Rock Albums of The Golden Age
The 100 Best Psychedelic Rock Albums of The Golden Age
When compiling a list of the greatest psychedelic rock albums of the Golden era, there are a couple of things to take into consideration.
First, one must determine the parameters of the era: when did it begin and when did it end? In this case, the beginning is much clearer than the end. The Byrds released the single “Eight Miles High” in March of 1966 followed shortly by The Beatles single “Paperback Writer” with the b-side featuring the acid-drenched “Rain. Prior to those two singles psychedelic rock didn’t exist, so it’s safe to say that 1966 was the beginning of psych-rock’s golden era.
The end of the era is a bit more difficult to determine. Psych rock appeared to be dying down toward the end of the 60s with the biggest bands of the decade (The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, The Byrds, etc.) already moving on to other styles. The Manson murders occurred in fall of ‘69 followed by the stabbing of a man during the Rolling Stones set at Altamont and I don’t think it’s any exaggeration to say that these events damaged the psychedelic vibe. When the new decade took hold, psychedelic music faded fast, particularly in America. Most bands that had been playing psych moved on to progressive rock or hard rock. The new artists that emerged in the 70s did their own thing, be it singer-songwriter, glam rock, proto-punk, and weren’t interested in continuing the fads of their elder siblings. By the time punk and disco came to prominence in the mid to late 70s, psychedelic rock was dead as a door nail.
In choosing my top albums and ranking them, I used a two-factor system: quality of album and psychedelic quotient. The Beatles were (almost inarguably) the best band of the era, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that their three overtly psychedelic albums made my top 10. Another of their long-players, the “White Album”, makes the list on the basis of a couple tracks sounding trippy, although it’s clear that they were moving away from psychedelia by the time the record debuted in late 1968.
Pink Floyd was a psychedelic band, but also perfected progressive rock and space-rock. Their opus The Dark Side of the Moon was all of these and, as such, it makes the list, but it doesn’t rate as high as their psych-rock masterpiece The Piper at the Gates of Dawn because the psychedelic quotient is less dominant in it.
100 Greatest Psychedelic Rock Albums of the Golden Era
|100||Green Tambourine–The Lemon Pipers|
|99||Little Games—The Yardbirds|
|98||Fever Tree–Fever Tree|
|97||The Dark Side of the Moon—Pink Floyd|
|96||A Beard of Stars—Tyrannosaurus Rex|
|94||The Time Has Come—The Chambers Brothers|
|92||Psychedelic Lollipop—Blues Magoos|
|91||Music in a Doll’s House—Family|
|90||Vanilla Fudge—Vanilla Fudge|
|87||No Way Out—The Chocolate Watchband|
|86||Cheap Thrills—Big Brother and the Holding Company|
|84||5th Dimension—The Byrds|
|83||Silver Apples—Silver Apples|
|82||Cauldron—Fifty Foot Hose|
|81||We Are Paintermen—The Creation|
|80||Cellophane Symphony—Tommy James and the Shondells|
|80||Brave New World–Steve Miller Band|
|78||Days of Future Passed—The Moody Blues|
|74||The Birthday Party—The Idle Race|
|72||Tangerine Dream—Kaleidoscope (UK)|
|70||The Story of Simon Simopath—Nirvana (UK)|
|69||It’s a Beautiful Day—It’s a Beautiful Day|
|65||Happy Trails—Quicksilver Messenger Service|
|64||Buffalo Springfield Again—Buffalo Springfield|
|63||Wheels of Fire—Cream|
|61||Together–Country Joe and the Fish|
|60||Sailor—The Steve Miller Band|
|59||I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-to-Die—Country Joe and the Fish|
|58||Balaklava—Pearls Before Swine|
|57||Easter Everywhere—The 13th Floor Elevators|
|55||Ultimate Spinach—Ultimate Spinach|
|54||The Crazy World of Arthur Brown—Arthur Brown|
|53||Moby Grape—Moby Grape|
|52||Twelve Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus—Spirit|
|51||Odessa—The Bee Gees|
|50||Web of Sound—The Seeds|
|49||Wake Up…It’s Tomorrow—Strawberry Alarm Clock|
|48||A Gift from a Flower to a Garden–Donovan|
|47||Trip Thru Hell–C.A. Quintet|
|46||Waiting for the Sun—The Doors|
|44||The Madcap Laughs—Syd Barrett|
|43||Crown of Creation—Jefferson Airplane|
|42||Joy of a Toy–Kevin Ayers|
|41||I Had Too Much to Dream (Last Night)–The Electric Prunes|
|40||Smiley Smile—The Beach Boys|
|39||H.P. Lovecraft I–H.P. Lovecraft|
|37||Children of the Future—The Steve Miller Band|
|36||Anthem of the Sun—The Grateful Dead|
|33||H.P. Lovecraft II—H.P. Lovecraft|
|31||The Psychedelic Sounds of…The 13th Floor Elevators|
|30||Their Satanic Majesties Request—The Rolling Stones|
|29||Strange Days—The Doors|
|28||The United States of America– The United States of America|
|27||Would You Believe—Billy Nichols|
|26||In Search of the Lost Chord—The Moody Blues|
|25||The Doors–The Doors|
|22||Electric Music for the Mind and Body—Country Joe and the Fish|
|21||Axis: Bold as Love–The Jimi Hendrix Experience|
|18||The Who Sell Out–The Who|
|17||Roger the Engineer—The Yardbirds|
|15||The Soft Machine vol. 2|
|14||The Soft Machine vol. 1|
|13||SF Sorrow—The Pretty Things|
|12||Part One—The West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band|
|11||Electric Ladyland—The Jimi Hendrix Experience|
|10||Heaven Is in Your Mind—Traffic|
|9||Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake–Small Faces|
|8||Odessey and Oracle—The Zombies|
|7||Magical Mystery Tour—The Beatles|
|6||Are You Experienced–The Jimi Hendrix Experience|
|5||A Saucerful of Secrets—Pink Floyd|
|4||Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band—The Beatles|
|3||Surrealistic Pillow—Jefferson Airplane|
|2||Piper at the Gates of Dawn—Pink Floyd|
Related: Top 200 Songs from the Original Psychedelic Era
Related: Top 15 Psychedelic Songs by The Beatles
22 thoughts on “The 100 Best Psychedelic Rock Albums of The Golden Age”
West Coast Pop Art Experimental band vol.3, a childs guide to good and evil Is widely considered a masterpiece. Its also their most psychedelic record. It’s definitely superior to part one which is still a great record. Good list though.
A lot of people love that album, but allmusic.com gives it just one and a half stars. https://www.allmusic.com/album/vol-3-a-childs-guide-to-good-evil-mw0000010250
Thanks for the comment.
What about The Doors’ debut album?
You’re right! That’s a great one.
What about Hawkwind? What about Scorpions Lonesome Crow?? What about Santana Caravanserai??? Some trippy albums have been left off. Heavy trippy sounds. Share your fav not listed…Thanks.
James, I have to disgree with you on your picks. Hawkwind occasionally ventures into psychedelic territory, but they are pre-dominantly space-rock. Those Scorpions and Santana albums just aren’t psychedelic in my opinion.
The Hermit of Mink Hollow by Todd Rundgren and Captain Beyond seem like they would fit into the category of psychedelic rock. Olivia Tremor Control is not from the same time period, but they have several albums that could qualify as psychedelic.
In our estimation, the psychedelic quotient is a little low on those two classic albums. The Olivia Tremor Control definitely made some psychedelic records, but they’re not from the Golden Age of Psychedelic Rock.
No Gong’s album ?
We love Gong, but they are classified in so many different categories–psychedelia being just one. They certainly deserved consideration though.
They are on here (number 53) with Angel’s Egg.
OK. So there you go!