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20 Albums Rolling Stone Loved in the Sixties That You’ve Never Heard

We praised them 45 years ago — and you should listen to them today!

A current issue of Rolling Stone contains roughly a dozen album reviews. Multiply that by more than 1,200 issues and it's inevitable that a few records we enjoyed maybe slipped out of our listening rotation. We dug into our archives to find 20 once-loved records from our first three years – 1967, 1968 and 1969. Even though they've been largely unheralded these past four decades, they still sound remarkably fresh. From little-heard releases by artists you're familiar with (Steve Miller Band, Jerry Lee Lewis) to obscure rockers (the Insect Trust, Autosalvage) and even one group that never existed – here are just a few acclaimed, yet forgotten LPs. By Daniel Kreps

Warner Brothers Records

The Good Rats, ‘The Good Rats’

The Good Rats' story rolled out like the original draft of the Strokes: Five New Yorkers playing rock music you can dance to in smoky clubs. Unfortunately for the Good Rats, they never lived up to the hype. Although they spent years billing themselves as "the hottest group on Long Island," the Good Rats morphed into little more than a glorified cover band. By 1975, the band was reduced to booking gigs inside a club's kitchen; the band showed up in chef uniforms in protest. This embarrassing incident made more headlines about its ensuing courtroom battle – the Good Rats sued that promoter $2 million for breach of contract – then anything the band had done musically since their pretty good '69 debut. Still, the Good Rats continued to attract a decent following on Long Island until 2013, when longtime lead singer Peppi Marchello passed away.

What We Said Then: "The Good Rats [are] right behind the Rascals and the Velvet Underground as far as New York groups go… The Good Rats would be good to dance to, if people still danced. As it is, the best thing is to stand, very loaded, in front of a good stereo with the Rats at high volume until either of your eardrums or the woofer comes apart." By Alec Dubro, March 15th, 1969

Ascension Records

The Insect Trust, ‘The Insect Trust’

This freak-folk group took its name from William S. Burroughs' Naked Lunch and featured John Fahey protégé Bill Barth, Greenwich Village folk mainstay Luke Faust and clarinetist Robert Palmer (best known as a future Rolling Stone contributor). The group only stuck together for two albums before dispersing, but the Insect Trust didn't just sound good in the late Sixties: The reissue of their sophomore LP Hoboken Saturday Night earned four stars in a David Fricke-penned 2005 review, adding that bands like the Insect Trust inspired rock critic Greil Marcus to create the phrase "old weird America." Faust was later praised in a passage in Bob Dylan's Chronicles. Palmer passed in 2007, but an anthology of his writing, Blues & Chaos: The Music Writing of Robert Palmer, was released in 2009.

What We Said Then: "The Insect Trust isn't even a group, at least not in any traditional sense of the word… The lineup of personnel seems to have changed month by month. Whatever all of these factors might mean is hard to say, but, at the least on this record, this bunch of people has captured something truly distinctive and vital. They could hardly avoid it, with a lineup of talent like they have." By Edmund O. Ward, March 1st, 1969

Bizarre

Larry Fischer, ‘An Evening With Wild Man Fischer’

Part Beefheart, part Wesley Willis, part-Steven J. Bernstein, this mad poet's Frank Zappa-produced debut double-LP has never been reissued – reportedly, the Zappa family, who own the album's rights, are still holding a grudge about the time the bipolar Fischer smashed a glass jar near an infant Moon Unit. Fans of Daniel Johnston may connect with Fischer thanks to the simplicity and naiveté of his lyrics, especially on tracks like "Merry Go Round" and "Monkeys Versus Donkeys." A favorite of Dr. Demento, Fischer passed away in 2011 at the age of 66.

What We Said Then: "By any current standards of musical taste, it is simply terrible. By most of our criteria of socially acceptable behavior, it is clearly demented. But give the record a chance… it is an extraordinary document containing some unprecedented testimony about the Sixties. This two-record set accomplishes something which I would have thought impossible. It captures the total being of one strange member of the human community." By Langdon Winner, August 9th, 1969

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