Classic Album of the Week

Posted every other Tuesday evening BEFORE the show.

Only Classic Albums from the most recent three months are included on this page.

Older Classic Albums can be found on the original playlist pages, listed in alphabetical order here.

Click on LP covers for more info and reviews.

   

"Electric Bath" by The Don Ellis Orchestra
The Don Ellis Orchestra "Electric Bath"  1967 (USA)
Don Ellis was at the forefront of "progressive jazz" and fusion in the late 1960's and early 1970's, but he died in 1978 when he was just 44 years old and seems to be largely forgotten today. More review soon.
Meanwhile over in Japan, my latest fascinations are the crazy "denpa" style of the wacky pop idol band Dempagumi.inc and a charming rap duo of . . . office ladies, called . But the big news lately is BABYMETAL has announced that their next album Metal Galaxy is coming in October, and have been on tour in Europe playing some cool new songs.
"Blind Dog At St. Dunstans" by Caravan (1976)
Caravan "Blind Dog At St. Dunstans"  1976 (UK)
An underappreciated "Canterbury prog" classic album this week - more review soon.
"Abbey Road" by The Beatles (1969)
The Beatles "Abbey Road"  1969 (UK)
Sir James Paul McCartney is 77 years old this week, and he just played a huge concert at Lambeau Field in Green Bay WI this month. I'll take the somewhat controversial position that Paul was the coolest and most talented Beatle, but I may be biased due to the Kosmik link I share with him since we are both Gemini born on the same date. Although Sir Paul was arguably the main brain behind the Beatles' most significant album, and was definitely driving the bus for my favorite Beatle album (soundtrack to the terrible movie Paul was also mostly responsible for), his best work could be "The Medley" on side 2 of this week's CAOTW, which includes relatively unsung Beatles gems such a "You Never Give Me Your Money" and "She Came In Through The Bathroom Window." Abbey Road was also a super-important album because it achieved a new peak in high fidelity studio recording for the Fab Four and their producer Sir George Martin: believe it or not, all of their previous albums were recorded on 4-track tape! For this album they had a whopping 8 tracks to work with! This is also their only album with synthesizers: George bought him one of the first Moogs in 1968. Finally, this was the final album The Beatles recorded - there was just one track on their swansong Let It Be album that was recorded in early 1970 following the Abbey Road sessions (George's "I Me Mine", which Paul doesn't even play on). The rest of LIB had been recorded prior to AR as part of another "failed" movie project spearheaded by - you guessed it, Paul McCartney.
"Who's Next" by The Who (1971)
The Who "Who's Next"  1971 (UK)
When I do a "self indulgent birthday special" I like to treat myself and the listeners to a second bonus classic album. If you asked me what my 5 favorite albums were when I was in high school, I would have probably picked Abbey Road, Are You Experienced?, Dark Side Of The Moon, Never Mind The Bollocks and Who's Next. And if I had to narrow that list to just one bestest albums ever, it would have been The Who. If you like rock music, it's hard to deny the greatness of the musicianship in this band: their blueprint of everybody-plays-lead power trio lineup with powerhouse lion-maned, bare-chested lead singer was followed by Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and so many other classic rock bands. Compared to a lot of their peers, The Who were not especially prolific in the studio, and their forays into orchestration and synthesizers and concept albums diluted their signature sound, always best experienced when the band played live. So among all of their studio albums, I think Who's Next is their most singluar achievement, featuring Pete Townshend's best song writing (also John Entwistle's most quintessentially dark "joke" song "My Wife"), and an amazingly well balanced blend of sounds that cover all bases: rocking out/ballads, heavy electric/ lovely acoustic, organic/sythesized futuristic. Plus, one of the funniest album covers in classic rock!
"Crossings" by Herbie Hancock (1972)
Herbie Hancock "Crossings"  1972 (USA)
Herbie Hancock was one of the most popular and important figures in 20th century jazz music, and has done alright in the 21st century too (7 Grammy Awards since the year 2000, including "album of the year" in 2007 for a record of all Joni Mitchell tunes). His career took off in the 1960's when he played piano for Miles Davis' "second great qunitet", and he continued to be at the forefront of jazz when he moved over to electric keyboards as Miles went in a fusion direction at the turn of the 1970's. Though Herbie had been making albums on his own as a bandleader throughout his time with Miles, he departed the master's group around 1971 to concentrate on his own group called the Mwandishi band, whom I would argue was the second greatest fusion band after Miles. Mwandisihi recorded three albums 1971-1973, of which this was the second. The final entry in the trilogy is my favorite Herbie album, but his popularity only continued to increase with his next album, Head Hunters, one of the best selling jazz albums of all time. By the 1980's he had taken the electronic thing all the way into electrofunk hiphop territory, when he won his first Grammy Award for "Rockit" in 1983.
"Led Zeppelin" by Led Zeppelin (1969)
Led Zeppelin "Led Zeppelin"  1969 (UK)
For this week's pledge drive special, we are featuring scratchy vintage vinyl albums from 1969 for the 50th anniversary of that epochal year in music. Of the many legendary albums released that year, this was among the most important, for it marked the debut of arguably the most important and popular classic rock band of all time. The Beatles and Rolling Stones were the two most popular groups of the groovy 1960's, and Cream and The Who blazed the trail for ultraloud guitar-bass-drum power trio instrumental lineups, but Zep took things to the next level as the burning blimp of time crashed into the 1970's. Four iconic virtuouso musicians who were among the best of all time at their respective instruments (I would definitely include Robert Plant's voice as an instrument). Cutting-edge yet organic and "funky" recording and production techniques from main brain Jimmy Page. Still massively popular 50 years later as every young generation of kids interested in rock music gravitate to their obvious greatness - is there any band that is "more classic rock" than the mighty Led Zep?
"Blonde On Blonde" by Bob Dylan (1966)
Bob Dylan "Blonde On Blonde"  1966 (USA)
Bob's most famous and acclaimed album is our CAOTW for his 78th(!) birthday special. (This week is also the 93rd anniversary of Miles Davis' birth.) Blonde on Blonde is only about my 5th or 6th favorite Dylan album at best, and I generally try not to CAOTW-ize the most obvious and famous albums such as this. But  this is the 7th time I've added one of Bob's albums to this hall of classics so I guess I gotta do it (I might have to do his notorious Self Portrait for the next one!) Anyway, if you know anything about Dylan you already know about this album. If not, this is Bob's second fully electric rock / post-folk album with notably surreal (psychedelic?) lyrics and well-written unforgettable catchy tunes that rival what The Beatles were up to at the time. Then Bob crashed his motorcycle, "got back to the land" to recover, and in 1967 started doing simpler (but perhaps even more brialliant and timeless) Americana rock with the backing "Band" he had first hired for Blonde.
"Tudo Foi Feito Pelo Sol" by Os Mutantes (1974)
Os Mutantes "Tudo Foi Feito Pelo Sol"  1974 (Brazil)
The most legendary psychedelic Brazilian band of the sixties had a brief "proggy synthesizer" period in the mid-1970's. At this point the only original member of the group remaining was lead guitarist Sergio Dias, who was also the last member participating in their 2000's era reunion. The mid-70's prog version of the band also released an EP in 1976 (Cavalieros Negros) which is appended to the CD reissue of the album. Though arguably not as groundbreaking as their 1960's albums which were the ultimate blend of Tropicalia and psychedelia, this classic album stands up when compared to a lot of the Anglo-American synth-driven prog rock of the era.
Meanwhile, over in Japan: Kyary Pamyu Pamyu has a brand new song and video on the theme of isolation and social media (featuring her in drag as a sad bearded hipster and also as a "Sim"). We also featured a hot Perfume track on the show this week - they have been one of the most popular groups in Japan for more than a decade, and just brought their high-tech electro pop tour to North American ending with a stop at Coachella - here's "Edge" live in the USA in 2019. And I've also got a cool new Japanese band to introduce you to (featuring another classic "weird girl" named Margaret Hiroi) - expect to hear the punky psych/prog band 88Kasyo Junrei ("88-point Pilgrimage") on the show in the future!
"Erholung" by Achim Reichel (1975)
Achim Reichel "Erholung"  1975 (Germany)
Achim Reichel was a pioneering guitarist from the West German "krautrock" scene, best known for his albums under the name "A.R. & Machines." This week's classic album is a live in concert recording where A.R. does his guitar loops and samples similar to the "Machines" albums, but with live backup from a drummer, percussionist, and a guy playing flutes and saxophones. Though not as epic as A.R. & Machines, this album presents a somewhat more populist version of Reichel's music (playing to win over a live audience rather than fussing in a studio all by himself) and therefore makes an excellent introduction to this unsung artist.
"E2-E4" by Manuel Göttsching (1984)
Manuel Göttsching "E2-E4"  1984 (Germany)
This post-krautrock classic was a pioneering example of "ambient techno" from the former lead guitarist of Ash Ra Tempel and Cosmic Jokers. Remarkably, this hour-long classic piece of music was . . . recorded live to cassette in exacty one hour, by Manuel all by himself! For the first 30 minutes he mostly twiddles knobs while a hypnotic drum machine and two-chord arpeggio groove endlessly. Then for the last 30 minutes, he picks up a guitar and adds an epic yet tasteful solo of pointilist restraint. This record may have done more to inspire the "techno/rave/electronica" thing that arrived at the end of the 80's than just about anything outside of Kraftwerk. In particular, E2-E4 pretty much sounds like the blueprint for my favorite "techno/rave-era" electronica-artists The Orb's epic forays into trancey psychedelic electronics.
"The Woods" by Sleater-Kinney (2005)
Sleater-Kinney "The Woods"  2005 (USA)
This week on the show we're celebrating (gasp!) 14 years of the Kosmik Radiation show! Featuring some of the best heavy, psychedelic & underground rock of the KR Show era (2005-2019). This week's classic album was notable upon release for being a total departure from the tight, trebly punk rock Sleater-Kinney became known for in the 1990's when they were one of the most acclaimed "riot grrrl" bands - and also because the band broke up immediately following the tour for The Woods (but spoiler alert! They reformed a decade later to record a new album and make this cute video with the kids from Bob's Burgers). The three members of the band have come to be icons of indie rock: Corin Tucker (lead vocal & rhythm guitar which often takes the place of the bass player S-K has never had), Carrie Brownstein (lead guitar & second vocalist, sketch comedy star), and one of the best rock drummers of recent decades: Janet Weiss (also member of Quasi with her ex-husband and the short-lived super group Wild Flag with Brownstein, as well as Stephen Malkmus' Jicks during that band's peak period).
     
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