The Byrds, Mr. Tambourine Man
Columbia, 1965: Jim aka "Roger" McGuinn (twelve-string Rickenbacker guitar, vocals), Gene Clark (vocals, died 1991), David Crosby (guitar, vocals), Chris Hillman (bass, vocals), Michael Clarke (drums, died 1993)
What? An album of covered songs included as one of the greatest rock albums? You might think that's a bit stupid, but this album turned out to be one of the most influential records of the rock era. Note that it is also one of the earliest albums on this list.
This debut album by The Byrds, who became one of the super groups of the 1960s, created a whole new genre of music, usually called "folk rock." The band successfully merged together rock sounds and instruments with folk lyrics. Some critics have gone so far as to say that this particular album, and especially the title song, changed the face of rock music.
The members of The Byrds all came to the group from folk backgrounds, joining together in Los Angeles in late 1964. After hearing a demo of Bob Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man," The Byrds came up with their own electrified interpretation, released about a month after Dylan released his song. The Byrds version became a hit and instantly established the band as a force in the music world with their new interpretations of folk music. In a way, you can say that they "electrified" folk music. "''Wow, man, you can even dance to that!' said Bob Dylan on hearing the Byrds' harmonized, electric-12-string treatments of his material." (citation) This application of electric guitars to folk music was something that Dylan would take a step further when he went electric at the Newport Folk Festival on 25 July 1965.
There are many things interesting about this album:
The Byrds' later albums featured much more of their own writing, and they also developed another new genre of music that is usually called "country rock." (See the Eagles.)