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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1. Crosby, Stills & Nash – Crosby, Stills & Nash

Rock music was obviously booming in the U.S. by 1969, but there is one album that stands head and shoulders above the rest when it comes to albums of that genre released in the final year of the 1960s: the supergroup Crosby, Stills & Nash’s eponymous debut album.

Featuring perhaps the finest harmonies any group has ever recorded – save for their spin-off group Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, who produced one of the finest opening songs from a debut album in the 1970s - this album represents the pinnacle of artistic achievement in rock in 1969, and it was critically beloved and sold extremely well upon release.

And with good reason. The songcraft on display is second to none as each of the three members has multiple highlight songs – though David Crosby (late of the Byrds), might have the most impressive song on the album: “Guinnevere.”

An astounding, jazzy concoction that truly sounds like a medieval madrigal – surely as Crosby intended – allows for the trio to deliver some of the most intoxicating harmonies that popular music has ever heard, all underpinned by droning, melodic guitar lines that perfectly capture the enigmatic narrative that Crosby is trying to convey. So intoxicating was this song that Miles Davis – who knows a good tune when he hears it – covered this track on his seminal 1970 free jazz album Bitches' Brew.

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Of course, ex-Buffalo Springfield member Stephen Stills delivered the incredible opening track (one of the best on a debut album from the 1960s), “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes”, which is a paean to his soon-to-be ex-paramour Judy Collins. Graham Nash (formerly of The Hollies) does not get short-changed either, as the catchy travelogue ditty “Marrakesh Express” stays in your head long after you've heard it, and the silken, sexy "Lady of the Island" is a gorgeous love song about his then-flame Joni Mitchell.

This album truly has it all, and if you have not heard it, do yourself a favor and listen to it as soon as you can. The songs featured within are legendary and just when you think they can't possibly deliver a better track (say after hearing the astounding, apocalyptic “Wooden Ships”) the trio somehow up the ante and produce yet another classic track with amazing musicianship and utterly spellbinding vocal harmonies. Frankly transcendent stuff.

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