When considering the whole sweep of 20th century music, the 1960s loom especially large. Some of the importance placed on the music of the decade can be traced to demographics (the massive baby boomer generation born after World War II reached prime music-listening age) and technology (the consumer electronics industry was creating new listening spaces in automobiles and on television, and advancements in sound reinforcement made large concerts possible). Still, there’s no getting around the fact that the music of the ’60s made a huge impact at the time and never really went away. In the 1950s, the album charts were dominated by easy listening singers like Bing Crosby and endless musicals, records that only have niche audiences now. But so many top LPs from the 1960s continue to enthrall old and new listeners, and they're still re-discovered and re-assessed.
This list is Pitchfork’s attempt to do just that. The key for us in assembling this list, which is based on votes from more than 50 full-time staffers and regularly contributing writers, is to make sure we opened up our look at the decade to incorporate all places where great music was happening in LP form. That means, in addition to a mix of rock and pop and R&B, our list is heavy on jazz and includes quite a bit of early electronic music alongside records from outside the English-speaking world. Inevitably, our list also reflects the realities of the marketplace in the ’60s—some brilliant singles artists never made a great album. But we hope this list represents the best of what the decade has to offer and reflects how people explore music now. In 2017, we’re not making the same divisions between, say, Miles Davis’ In a Silent Way and John Fahey’s The Legend of Blind Joe Death or Nico’s Chelsea Girl; they’re all gorgeous records that fill a room, records we stream and collect and share with our friends with a “you gotta hear this one.” Here are 197 more.