10 best albums from 1964 might surprise you

1964 in music featured the British Invasion fully taking over the U.S. and was also when albums began to become more important to listeners, though singles still dominated.
The Beatles arrive in the U.S. 1964
The Beatles arrive in the U.S. 1964 / Evening Standard/GettyImages
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6. Getz/Gilberto – Stan Getz and João Gilberto

A collaboration album between Brazilian guitarist João Gilberto, American saxophonist Stan Getz, and Brazilian pianist and composer Antonio Carlos Jobim, who wrote much of the material, this gorgeous, low-key jazz affair also launched the career of Astrud Gilberto, who was João’s wife at the time.

A smash hit upon release, this album opened with the evergreen “The Girl from Ipanema,” which starts with João’s soft, wispy voice singing in Portuguese and then switches to Astrud’s smooth, nonchalant voice singing in English – all with Getz’s tasteful sax lines peeking in and out of the arrangement. It’s an intoxicating blend, and this album overall has aged exquisitely well, it sounds just as effortlessly cool as it surely did upon release in 1964.

5. Beatles for Sale – The Beatles

If you’re ever looking to learn how to sing harmony vocals, this is the album for you. The Beatles’ second album from 1964 is a bit of a let-down after the first – more on that later – but it’s still littered with classic tracks, such as the urgent opener “No Reply,” the Bob Dylanesque “I’m A Loser,” and the sunny, pastoral classic “I’ll Follow The Sun.”

Of course, No. 1 hit “Eight Days A Week” is among the most well-known songs the group produced, and the chiming guitar riff that introduces itself through an unusual fade-in at the beginning still sounds striking and original 60 years after it was released.

4. Ain’t That Good News – Sam Cooke

This was the final album released during Sam Cooke's lifetime, and what a swan song it is. Cooke wrote or co-wrote half of the songs on this collection, including the catchy “Another Saturday Night” as well as the evergreen “A Change Is Gonna Come,” which still stands as one of the most powerful soul songs ever recorded and is universally regarded as Cooke’s crowning achievement.

Beyond those cuts, the album is littered with other highlights such as “Falling in Love,” “Good Times,” and “The Riddle Song,” during the recording of which Cooke apparently broke down due to the recent loss of his infant son, Vincent. This album showcases the depth of Cooke's supreme talents, and it is tragic that the man was never able to record a follow-up to one of the best albums of 1964.

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