10 BEST (Rare) Acoustic Albums from the ’60s • Acoustic Tuesday 224

No, we’re not covering Bob Dylan or Simon & Garfunkel. We’re going deeper in the vault. So, are you ready to experience the 10 best, rare acoustic albums from the 1960s?

The ’60s were an incredible decade for music. There was so much change, so much turbulence that fueled creative expression and artistic freedom. While titans like The Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan typically dominate the music conversations of the decade, I want to try something different this episode.

Instead of rehashing the genius of those artists, I want to take a closer look at some lesser known albums. From Son House to John Fahey, the artists featured in this episode eschewed mainstream success. However, their impact on the genre of acoustic music is huge.

Some of these artists and albums you may have heard of. Some of them may be completely new to you. And that’s okay! Part of my mission is to inspire and help you live your best acoustic life. And one way to live your best acoustic life is to expand your music horizons. So, be sure to give a listen to each of the albums on this list and find inspiration in a new light!

Did any of these albums inspire you or make you think differently about how you approach the guitar? Be sure to leave a comment below to let me know what you’ve found!

Featured on this episode…

  • Kenny Wayne Shepherd
  • Béla Fleck
  • Molly Tuttle
  • Adam Grant

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  1. I think you mighht have included “The Mason Willams Phonograph Record” that featrred his Classical Gas tune. This is such a beautifu piece. I am enjoying the journey of TAC. I am struggling since my 70 year old fingers don’t want to do what I wish to do. Your comments on comparing an in a later post to should have are true for me. I am trying to concentrate on the joy of playing and not be critical. The worst critic is between your ears. Have fun with the jouurney.

  2. Hi Tony. Great album choices, and if I may, there are a few connections here on the Brit side. Ralph McTell and Bert Jansch were very good friends indeed. Played together a fair bit. They both knew Davey Graham. Ralph was heavily influenced by Bob Dylan’s “The Freewheelin Bob Dylan” and indeed, wrote a song a few years ago about the cover of that album and those times. Brilliant song called “West 4th . Street and Jones”. Here he is playing it on TV. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C88NrWUENoE
    His guitar is an old Gibson J45 which he has had since the 60’s.
    Loving your work Tony.

  3. Didn’t see this episode of Acoustic Tuesday until last night (2/8). While running errands today, I was listening to XM’s Bluesville. They played Big Mama’s Door by Alvin Youngblood Hart. Never heard of him. While I love the blues, the old style isn’t really my favorite style, although I like some of Clapton’s updated versions of Robert Johnson. Great CD.
    Anyway, I got curious and searched for a video of Hart on YouTube. Much to my delight, there was one of that song. The majority of the video, you can watch his hands as he’s playing. All I can say is Wow!

  4. Tony, I loved your Episode 224 because I collect and enjoy greatly vinyl records from the 1960 to 1970 and I have over 900 of them – folk, country and western, blues and rock. I can’t believe you did not include the album from 1966 “Today!” after the re-discovery of Mississippi John Hurt. His voice and finger picking are incomparable and indescribably unique. I saw him live when I was 17 at the Rock and Roll Revival 1969 in Toronto.

  5. Hi Tony, I won’t argue about your choices as such, except to say, as you pointed out, that several of the artists were from a decade or more before the 60’s. I did laugh at your comment regarding Ralph McTell and Streets of London! I was just beginning my guitar journey in the very late 60’s and fell on the Contemporary Guitar Sampler (1969), featuring true legends of 60’s acoustic guitar (Bert Jansch, John Renbourn, John Pearse, Gordon Giltrap, Mike Rogers, John Fahey, and Ralph McTell). this was an entirely acoustic instrumental album, Ralph played 3 tracks which I learned. I was really proud to respond to requests for “something by Ralph McTell” by playing Rizraklaru, only to be met with disappointment and disbelief that I had completely failed to be aware of “Streets of London”! I have since corrected that. I would recommend the Sampler, and Vol.2 (1971), which featured another fantastic acoustic guitarist John James. John James could n should feature at some time on Acoustic Tuesday, he still performs and is such a consummate performer, and funny with it. Worth a listen for sure.
    Thanks for your list. cheers Undrell

  6. Thank you Tony! A quality acoustic guitar has an awesome ring that lights up the room!! I’ve enjoyed playing country/folk/blues on my D-35 Martin Guitar from the 1960s up to and including the year 2022. I’ve played along with Leo Kottke, Robert Johnson, John Fahey, and many others. I’ve play my guitar and sing the blues, country, and Bluegrass with a variety of musicians in bands and at jams. I have Robert Johnson framed with his guitar on one of the walls in family room – charcoal reproduction from an old photograph. The ten-year old boy’s joyful response when his music teacher gave him a new set of drums to replace the drums destroyed in a fire touched my heart and soul. A music teacher in the school district where I was a teacher asked me to take over his music classes for a few weeks while he had surgery. Two boys in the guitar class overwhelmed me after school and begged me to sign my signature (with a black permanent marker) on their guitars. They were all smiles and had a friend take a photograph. And Molly’s fingers dance on the frets with finesse like Leo Kottke and Tony Rice. My sons, Ian and Adam (40 and 38), have studied music (guitar, mandolin, piano, cello) under my wings since they were 12 years old. I have played professionally and at a variety of venues and jams (Huck Finn Jubilee) for years. Over the years, I’ve driven my sons to music festivals in an old motor home. I recently took them to a Bela Fleck concert at the Ace Hotel and Theatre on Broadway, downtown Los Angeles. Tony, you are a blessing to others who enjoy learning to play their guitars. It’s a very healthy addiction.

  7. What a great show! As you were going through the top 10. I was adding every one to my streaming service, so I can check them out even the Robert Johnson even though I have his complete recordings on vinyl already. I can’t wait to dig into these albums. And to top it off my guitarsenal made it on this episode so cool. Thanks for all you do for us guitar geeks Tony Cheers!

  8. Tony – I have heard many of your picks and agree that these artists are seminal. One I would add is Mark Spoelstra. His 12 string artistry is superb. He’s the reason I purchased my Gibson B45-12 in 1963 (?) (that I still have). Unfortunately, I never came close to him in ability! Thanks for your selections!

  9. Check out John Martyn, an English singer, songwriter, guitarist who began recording in the mid ’60’s. Some wonderful music IMHO!

  10. Love the quote from Adam Grant. I wish I had heard his wisdom 6 months ago as I really struggled with releasing an EP of original music. “Why am I doing this? Who even wants to hear this? “etc. In the end as Adam expresses ~ its a form of self expression and who knows who or how someone might benefit from it.

  11. “The Astounding 12-String Guitar of Glen Campbell” from 1964. My parents had this album in the mid-60s when I was very young. I am 59 now and still have this album on my digital playlists today.