Looking Through Time: 1965 Albums

Story posted March 1, 2021 in CommRadio, Arts & Entertainment by CommRadio Arts & Entertainment Staff

The  CommRadio Arts & Entertainment staff revisits a handful of the most iconic albums from 1965 in this edition of Looking Through Time.

“Otis Blue” — Otis Redding

When listening to any album by Otis Redding, the influence he laid out for future artists is incredibly relevant.

“Otis Blue” is an album where Redding shares his emotional state as he searched for himself and the love he needs in his life. Throughout his emotions, listeners understand the influence he gave to Aretha Franklin and the influence he had on rap producers like the Wu Tang Clan.

The highlight songs like “Down in the Valley” and “Wonderful World” are the type of songs that will put a smile on anyone’s face. Redding demonstrates what it’s like to make music that makes you happy.

Redding shows off his range by covering rock like “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” and Smokey Robinson’s “My Girl.” He has an ability to sing with upbeat percussion and also create rhythm with an intricate baseline.

Redding is not only one of the greatest soul artists of his time, but he has proven to be a timeless artifact in the history of music. Redding lived as a legend of soul and continues to live on through his influence in R&B and Hip Hop. — Sam Roberts

“Help!” — The Beatles

The boy band who were also the sound of the ‘60s, The Beatles released their fifth studio album “Help!” in August of 1965 as the soundtrack to their film of the same name released in January.

“Help!” had a track list that included Beatles classics like “Help!” “Ticket To Ride” and “Yesterday” along with 11 others.

The album peaked at No. 1 in 1965 by the U.S., U.K., German and Australia charts. It was nominated for album of the year at the 1966 Grammy Awards, which is the first time a rock band had been in contention for the award.

By the end of 1965, “Help!” sold over 1.3 million copies around the US.

Rolling Stone magazine recognized “Help!” by placing it 331 out of 500 albums of all time.

“Help!” marked the beginning of The Beatles being recognized by the mainstream and becoming a bigger influence in the music industry. — Nick Mancuso

“I Put A Spell On You” — Nina Simone

The first of two critically acclaimed studio albums released during Nina Simone’s 1965 rise in popularity, “I Put A Spell On You” is one of her most well-known records.

Overflowing with personality, this record showcases the full dynamics of Simone’s sound. Moving from lighter pieces such as “Tomorrow is My Turn” to the high energy and boisterous “Gimme Some,” Simone plays with tone expertly on this record.

The crown jewel on the album is the title track “I Put A Spell On You,” which is actually a darker serious cover of the Screamin' Jay Hawkins’ Halloween tune. The album also contains the iconic soul hit “Feeling Good.”

A solid soul record, “I Put A Spell On You” is Simone’s most pop oriented album and one of her strongest. – Scott Perdue

“Pastel Blues” — Nina Simone

The second Nina Simone record to be released in 1965, “Pastel Blues'' carries the same weight as “I Put A Spell On You” but with an even heavier soul feel.

Leading with the slow atmospheric “Be My Husband” and transitioning to the up-beat “Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out,” Simone exhibited again the full range of her sound by blending smooth R&B and hard-hitting soul.

The record also displays one of Simone’s more serious tracks “Strange Fruit,” which is a cover of a song initially sung by the legendary Billie Holiday. The track consists of a graphic description of a lynching, the pain of which is lifted by Simone’s brassy vocals.

The album comes to a spectacular close with the high-energy-ten-minute odyssey “Sinnerman.” One of Simone’s strongest releases, “Pastel Blues” proves to show why Simone earned her nickname “The High Priestess of Soul.” – Scott Perdue

“The Temptations Sing Smokey” - The Temptations

While Americans turned their attention mostly to the British bands in the 1960s, there were other artists creating music that was equally as important in a record label headquartered in Detroit known as Motown.

In 1961, Motown Record Corporation would sign five individuals that would form the iconic group known as the Temptations. They included tenors David Ruffin, Otis Williams and Eddie Kendricks, bass Melvin Franklin and baritone Paul Williams. 

“The Temptations Sing Smokey” was the second album by the vocal group since their first in 1964 aptly named “Meet the Temptations.” The title referred to the producer Smokey Robinson who, along with some assistance from members of the Miracles, wrote all the songs for the album. 

Their first hit single “The Way You Do the Things You Do” in 1964 was No. 11 on Billboard magazine Hot 100 Chart for 11 weeks.  This was included in the album along with their first No. 1 song, “My Girl,” which sold 1 million copies.

These early successes allowed the Temptations to gain popularity around the world.  They were considered innovators in the genre of rhythm and blues or R&B, paving the way for other vocal talents to succeed in their wake. 

They were among the first African American vocal groups that became mainstream.  In fact, they made frequent appearances on popular programs such as “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

The British Invasion was a pivotal time in music history. However, it is impossible to discuss the significance of 1960s music without mentioning the impact of the Temptations. — David Myers


Sam Roberts is a junior majoring in telecommunications. To contact him, email sam.robertspsu00@gmail.com.

Nicholas Mancuso is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact, email nbm9@psu.edu.

Scott Perdue is a senior majoring in secondary education. To contact him, email rsp5246@psu.edu.

David Myers is a junior majoring in telecommunications.  To contact him, email at d12amyers@gmail.com