The swinging 60s might be more than half a century ago now, but their revolutionary impact still remains to this day. Whether you were Team Beatles or Team Stones, the two bands still stand as arguably the biggest this country has ever produced, but there were more to these years than just John and Jagger. From the hit machine and conveyor belt of in-house stars produced by Motown to the burgeoning, melon-twisting dawn of psychedelia, it was a decade of exploration and experimentation. Here are the tracks that defined it... Words by Matthew Horton, Tim Chester, Priya Elan. 100 best tracks of the '60s - Spotify playlist

80Eight Miles High

Originally called 'Six Miles High' in reference to the altitude of a commercial flight, 'Eight Miles High''s less specific title had people thinking about drugs, and the song was duly banned in the States. Still, it's a remarkable record, reminiscent of free jazz in its loose approach as The Byrds' West Coast harmonic rock falls apart all around them.

79Green Onions

The Stax house band found themselves with an iconic record themselves here, a simple 12-bar blues that thrives on in-built cool. Against the walking bass, it's Booker T. Jones's Hammond organ that steals the show, providing a slink that habitually pops up in adverts and movies including Get Shorty and American Graffiti. Anything that requires a swagger, basically.

78Dazed And Confused

Led Zep's debut album belter has a murky history. The writing credit might be axeman Jimmy Page's, but it's widely accepted that it was "inspired" by folk singer Jake Holmes's song of the same name, that The Yardbirds – featuring one, um, Jimmy Page – used to play. Provenance aside, this intense brooder sees Page bowing his guitar as Robert Plant simmers with Black Country lust.

77Where Did Our Love Go?

More Holland Dozier Holland action with a song first earmarked for Motown labelmates The Marvelettes, who turned it down. Their loss was The Supremes' gain as the foot-stomping 'Where Did Our Love Go' made No.1 in America, No.3 over here and in 1981 got tacked onto Soft Cell's Tainted Love to make a camp 12" megamix.

76For Your Love

Still a teenager, this was another 60s smash written by future 10cc-er Graham Gouldman in his downtime. More pop than the bluesy Yardbirds were used to, it was too much for purist Eric Clapton who left to join Bluesbreakers, but 'For Your Love' still has a frenetic power and an edge that suggests Clapton was hasty. He probably hasn't looked back though.

75Wild Thing

Chip Taylor – brother of US actor Jon Voight – wrote 'Wild Thing', which was originally recorded by The Wild Ones. But it was Hampshire rockers The Troggs who made a proper go of it, detuning the guitars, throwing in an ocarina solo and attacking it with Reg Presley's growling bravura – all in the service of grabbing a US No.1 single.

74Crimson And Clover

The bestselling single from the band that gave us UK No.1 (and later Billy Idol single) 'Mony Mony', 'Crimson And Clover' occupies a strong, silent place in rock history. It was billed as a change of direction for Tommy James and lives up to it, burning slowly but intensely with its tremolo guitar signature and James's yearning vocal.

73Build Me Up Buttercup

Co-written by then Manfred Mann singer – and also writer of 'Handbags And Gladrags' – Mike D'Abo, 'Build Me Up Buttercup' is still a ubiquitous wedding and movie soundtrack favourite 40-odd years on. This is down to a striking, cod-Motown bounce, a hair-raising vocal from Colin Young and, yeah, that There's Something About Mary outro.

72Nothing But A Heartache

The Flirtations started life as The Gypsies before switching coquettishly in the mid-60s and trading the US for the UK in search of hits. They were signed up by Wayne Bickerton – later the svengali behind The Rubettes – and, after some near misses, clocked up a minor hit with this dramatic slice of Northern Soul, a Top 40 entry back in their native States.

71Eleanor Rigby

Quite the switch in style after 'Paperback Writer', 'Eleanor Rigby' was released the same day as its parent album 'Revolver' and had 'Yellow Submarine' on the flip to lighten the mood – but it was a seismic shift on The Beatles' part, dealing primarily in gloom, the banal, and underpinned by a severe string quartet. Some fascinating kitchen sink realism from Paul McCartney.

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