Laura Nyro, 'Eli and the Thirteenth Confession' (1968)
An optimist might suggest that 1968's Eli and the Thirteenth Confession lives on in martyrdom, its influence apparent on everyone from Kate Bush and Tori Amos to St. Vincent and Joanna Newsom. But Laura Nyro's effervescent second album deserves more explicit canonization, even if she's no longer with us to advocate for it (she died of ovarian cancer in 1997). The jazzy, balladeering, doo-wopping Eli (whose standout single, "Eli's Comin'," was later turned into a top-10 hit by Three Dog Night) showcased Nyro as composer, performer, lyricist and co-producer and also marked her debut on the Billboard album chart. Forty-six years after Thirteenth Confession, and thanks in large measure to it, we've come to accept and nurture strident, talented, slightly idiosyncratic female artists. Still, Eli itself doesn't quite fit with our folk- and rock-centric remembrance of the late 1960s.