15 epic and influential American rock albums from 1969

These 15 rock masterpieces were the best albums from rock in the final year of the 1960s.
Creedence Clearwater Revival in concert
Creedence Clearwater Revival in concert / Michael Putland/GettyImages
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7. Volunteers – Jefferson Airplane

An incendiary album upon its release in 1969, at the height of the Vietnam War, this album is still an impressive document of left-leaning politics and anti-war rhetoric. The songs back up that heady theme, as the tracks hit hard and feature surprising melodic and instrumental depth – Volunteers careens from embryonic West Coast country rock on “The Farm,” to the thrilling album highlight “Hey Fredrick,” which showcases the piano talents of legendary session man Nicky Hopkins, who features prominently throughout the album.

An album headlined by impressive stylistic diversity and impassioned performances throughout by Airplane band members Grace Slick, Paul Kantner, and Jorma Kaukonen.

6. Supersnazz – Flamin’ Groovies

A winning collection of top-flight rock tracks that serve as throwbacks to the British Invasion's heyday with a bit more sonic depth and hard-hitting musicianship, this collection of 11 tracks is shot through with beautiful melodies and strong harmonies throughout, though especially on the brilliant “Pagan Rachel” and the album-closing "Around the Corner.”

Perhaps the best song here is the throwback rock ‘n’ roll number “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu,” which doesn’t sound quite as enticing now, in a post-COVID world, as it did on this album. Either way, Supersnazz’s awesome album cover looks like it came straight out of the notable video game Cuphead, which is a definite plus. The Flamin’ Groovies’ debut album is an eminently good time, and the group serves up a truly delicious gumbo of sounds straight out of the gate on this 1969 debut album.

5. Willy And The Poor Boys – Creedence Clearwater Revival

Not quite as hard-hitting as its predecessor Green River but no less enjoyable, this was the third and final album of 1969 from CCR. While it certainly has its fair share of classic tracks, such as “Down On The Corner,” “Cotton Fields, and the evergreen “Fortunate Son,” the album delivers a supremely good time on deep-cut album tracks like “Feelin’ Blue,” the romping train song “Midnight Special,” and the sultry instrumental “Side O’ The Road.”

This album will cause your toe to tap and your head to bob – no matter where you’re listening to it. Admittedly, this release does end on a more apocalyptic note with the tremendously powerful “Effigy” closing out proceedings.