It’s kind of hard to understand how nuts this record was when it was recorded. Amateurism in popular music certainly existed before this record but it wasn’t a thing that most people were seeking out when their were professional records on offer. And it’s not like amateurism by itself is necessarily some kind of virtue – rather it’s something about how amateurs think outside of the box; they are free from the trappings of training. And that’s very much here.
This varies from somewhat unprofessional folk rock and garage rock at its most normal and least weird, to stuff that verges on psychedelia at its strangest. That’s a big deal because the first psychedelic music wouldn’t be released until 9 or 10 months after this was recorded. I’m not sure I buy it entirely, but you could make an argument that it was the folkies in New York who actually invented psychedelic music and not the folkies in California. (I’m not sure they go far enough on this record beyond what you might call “beat” music.)
But it’s really a remarkable record if you can put up with how much it has dated. And it has dated really poorly: what was provocative in 1965 just sounds stupid in the 21st century. How much you enjoy it depends on your tolerance of the Beats and what passed for weird in 1965. But I’m surprised by the sheer number of people who think it’s overrated. And I think that’s a testimony to how poorly it has dated.
Because, at the end of the day, this record was hugely influential: on naive rock, on psychedelic music (particularly psychedelic folk, of course) and on punk music. There aren’t that many records from 1965 that you can say that about. Yeah, it sounds stupid now, but it didn’t come out now. It came out over half a century ago.