Nine complex and intriguing prog rock albums from 1969

These nine prog rock classics were the best albums released in that genre from the final year of the 1960s.
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1. In the Court of the Crimson King – King Crimson

King Crimson’s debut album is not only the best prog album of 1969, but it also easily stands out as one of the best albums overall from the final year of that decade (at least according to RateYourMusic). The album features an intoxicating cocktail of sounds, and it kicks off with one of the best opening tracks from a debut album in the 1960s: the massively powerful "21st Century Schizoid Man".

The track still sounds cutting-edge 55 years after it was released due to its novel combination of sneering, bellowed vocals that sound as if they’re coming through a megaphone, tricky, elemental drumming, and a frenetic, magnetic saxophone squall.

That cacophonous salvo of psychedelic freakout music gives way to the soothing and gorgeous "I Talk To The Wind," which is an underrated gem with a delicate, stunningly beautiful melody.

Anyone who wants proof of this album's enduring power need only hear the show-stopping third track "Epitaph," which combines a sinewy guitar part from guitarist Robert Fripp with a bed of Mellotron strings alongside acoustic guitar flourishes, a strong backbeat, and a frankly spellbinding melody delivered with aplomb by bassist/vocalist Greg Lake (soon to be of Emerson, Lake and Palmer fame). The climactic chorus of the track is worth the price of admission alone on this amazing album.

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While King Crimson would experience myriad lineup changes throughout the band's existence, this rendition of the group represents their best-known era. And with good reason, as this debut album from the prog pioneers introduces much of the band’s signature sound, which would evolve and shift as their personnel changed. The incredible talent of the collective at this stage is on full display here, though.

This is an enthralling listening experience from start to finish, and it sounds just as fresh and exciting today as it likely did in 1969. Truly transcendent.

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