1964’s Best Rock Album’s list defines a year that saw the debut albums of The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, Manfred Mann, The Dave Clark Five, The Hollies, The Yardbirds, Dusty Springfield and Simon & Garfunkel. 1964 also presented rock fans with two new Beatles albums and a Beatles motion picture that revolutionized film making and left a legacy behind as the film that would influence music video making twenty years later. Bob Dylan released two more brilliant albums. The Beach Boys and The Four Seasons both released multiple new albums. If we just stop there,1964 stands as an incredible year for music. However, there were so many more great records released by many artists in what was truly a year to remember.
1964’s most historic moment was when The Beatles appeared on the Ed Sullivan show. For millions of Americans, it was the first time they ever saw The Beatles. The impression the group left on the world from that performance was simply immeasurable. Countless rock stars and musicians have expressed multiple times throughout their lives how witnessing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show changed their lives.
The impact that The Beatles arrival in the Unites States had was unprecedented. The group was so popular that at one moment in time during the first week of April 1964, The Beatles managed to seal up the top five spots on the Billboard Hot 100 in the following order…. number one, “Can’t Buy Me Love,” number two: “Twist and Shout,” number three: “She Loves You,” number four: “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” and number five “Please Please Me.” That was the first time any artist ever held the top five spots on the United States Billboard top 40. It has never been done again. That’s how big the Beatles were.
Complicating are placement of The Beatles 1964 albums on our 1964’s best album list is the fact that Capitol Records released different versions of Beatle albums in the United States and in the United Kingdom. The official new Beatles studio albums were released in the United Kingdom, but in between those albums The Beatles released singles. The United States Capitol Records took different songs from the original UK Beatles albums and combined them with the singles to create the Beatles U.S albums. To be fair to the other artists who released albums in 1964, we chose the Beatles UK original albums to place on our 1964’s Best Rock Albums list. At the end of the list we created an addendum just to showcase all The Beatles albums released in 1964. Capitol Records actually released five Beatles studio albums in 1964.
The Rolling Stones also released slightly different albums in the U.S. than they had in the U.K. We included both on our 1964’s Best Rock Albums list. Pop culture varied greatly between the US and the UK in 1960s. There were many bands that made it big on either side of the Atlantic that didn’t make it big on the opposite side. Mass communication between two countries was limited to basically newspapers and the nightly news. It’s one of the reasons why The Beatles arrival in the United States in 1964 was met with total pandemonium.
The British Invasion of 1964 fired up the competitive nature of many of the American Legends of Rock and Roll whose careers began in the 1950s. Great new albums by Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley were also released in 1964. Instrumental music was still popular brand new albums by Dick Dale and The Safaris. Of course, the Motown label kept turning out great new records by their own artists like The Supremes. 1964 also saw the debut album of The Temptations. One cannot fail to mention how the music of Burt Bacharach began to dominate radio with his brilliantly written songs performed by Dionne Warwick.
Our 1964’s best rock albums list only includes rock, pop and soul, but historically we must mention that jazz continued to sell well. Crooners like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett and Dean Martin all released big selling albums. And of course the music of Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass continued to fill the airwaves. If one is going to write the history of classic rock, one cannot fail to mention the other music that competed against it.
# 50 – Etta James Rocks The House – Etta James
# 49 – A World Without Love – Peter and Gordon
# 48 – Folk Singer- Muddy Waters
# 47 – Joan Baez/5 – Joan Baez
# 46 – Surfin Bird – The Trashmen
# 45 – At the Whiskey A Go Go – Johnny Rivers
# 44 – Under The Boardwalk – The Drifters
# 43 – Sweet and Sour Tears- Ray Charles
# 42 – Wish Someone Would Care – Irma Thomas
# 41 – Presenting the Tams – The Tams
# 40 – Hey Little Cobra & Other Hot rod hits – The Rip Chords
# 39 – Something Else – Jackie Wilson
# 38 – Ain’t Nothing You Can Do – Bobby Bland
# 37 – Keep On Pushing – The Impressions
# 36 – Live At the Star Club Hamburg- Jerry Lee Lewis
# 35 – Rock and Soul – Solomon Burke
# 34 – Little Richard Is Back – Little Richard
# 33 – Make Way for Dionne Warwick – Dionne Warwick
# 32 – Some Blue Eyed Soul – The Righteous Brothers
# 31 – Hit City 64 – The Surfaris
# 30 – Together – Marvin Gaye and Mary Wells
# 29 – Soul Serenade – King Curtis
# 28 – Summer Surf – Dick Dale
# 27 – The Dave Clark Five Return! – The Dave Clark Five
# 26 – Pure Dynamite – James Brown
# 25 – Shut Down Volume 2- The Beach Boys
# 24 – St Louis To Liverpool – Chuck Berry
# 23 – Ain’t That Good News – Sam Cooke
# 22 – The Five Faces of Manfred Mann – Manfred Mann
# 21 – Rag Doll – Four Seasons
# 20 – Pain In My Heart – Otis Redding
# 19 –Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying – Gerry & The Pacemakers
# 18 – Coast to Coast – The Dave Clark Five
# 17 – Where Did Our Love Go – The Supremes
# 16 – Viva Las Vegas! – Elvis Presley
# 15 – A Girl Called Dusty – Dusty Springfield
# 14 – Stay With The Hollies – The Hollies
# 13 – Meet The Temptations – The Temptations
# 12 –Dawn (Go Away) and 11 Other Great Songs – The Four Seasons
# 11 – Another Side Of Bob Dylan – Bob Dylan
# 10 – All Summer Long – The Beach Boys
# 9 – Glad All Over – The Dave Clark Five
# 8 – The Kinks UK / You Really Got Me- U.S.- The Kinks
# 7 – The Animals – The Animals
# 6 – Wednesday Morning, 3 A.M. – Simon & Garfunkel
# 5 – 12 X 5 – The Rolling Stones
# 4 – England’s Newest Hit Makers – U.S – The Rolling Stones
# 3 – Beatles For Sale – The Beatles
# 2 – The Times They Are A Changin’ – Bob Dylan
# 1 – A Hard Day’s Night – The Beatles
A look at the U.S Beatles albums released in 1964
Introducing… The Beatles – Vee Jay Records – January 10, 1964
Meet the Beatles! – US Capitol Records – January 20, 1964
The Beatles’ Second Album – US Capitol Records – April 10, 1964
A Hard Days Night – U.S Version – June 26. 1964
Something New – U.S. Capitol Records – July 1964
Beatles 65 – U.S. Capitol Records – December 1964
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Best Albums of The Year Series