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.

   

Van Halen "Van Halen"  1978 (USA/Netherlands)
E.V.H. R.I.P. More review soon.
Wishbone Ash "Argus"  1972 (UK)
More review soon.
The Flaming Lips "The Soft Bulletin"  1999 (USA)
More review soon.
Public Enemy "It Takes A Nation Of Millions To Hold Us Back"  1988 (USA)
This week we're featuring classic albums of the week from 1980-1996 for pledge drive! We complete our run of hip-hop CAOTWs for the summer of '20 with one of the most groundbreaking records of that genre. More review soon.
Dempagumi.inc "World Wide Dempa"  2013 (Japan)
Mirin Furukawa, the senior member and "center" of iconic Otaku Idol Unit Dempagumi.inc, turns 34 years old this week. Idoling is a young girl's game: Mirin is probably the only Idol to have sustained a recording career for over a decade, and also stands alone as the only Japanese Idol in history to get married while still performing as an idol. World Wide Dempa was the group's second album but the first by the "classic" six-girl line up and was their ticket to becoming the adorkable nerd superstars they are today. Compared to their 2011 debut album, the music from this album onward would be far more progressive as well as aggressive (in a cute way). Highlights here include their first six Japanese hits whose chart positions tell the tale of their ascendency from cult heroes to the top 10: "Future Diver" #46, "DemParade Japan" #37, "Kira Kira Tune" #19, "Denden Passion" #6, and the self-referential mini-opera "W.W.D." #10 and its sequel "W.W.D. II" #8.
You know I can't resist the opportunity to throw some Dempa video at you: here's a cheap old music video from Mirin's short-lived attempt at a solo career from before Dempagumi.inc started releasing albums (2010). Next, DG in 2013 burning up the stage for their loyal, chanting fans with their signature song "Future Diver" and the sing-along concert staple "Orange Glowstick". And here's Mirin's "punk rock" solo number from the 2014 tour where she plays guitar (sort of!) Finally, since Mirin's birthday is the biggest Dempa holiday, the group is releasing a new single this week: "Zombie Land Dempa" is a collaboration with "Franchouchou" (a fictional Idol group of characters from an animated TV show called Zombie Land Saga.) I haven't yet figured out why, but Dempagumi.inc songs have often referenced zombies (in particular the female version of the word, "Zombina") - I'm guessing it has a slang meaning for Japanese otaku?
Da Lench Mob "Guerillas In Tha Mist"  1992 (USA)
Gangster rap was such a hot trend in 1992 that this ultra-militant group's debut album scored a gold record. It was produced and promoted by Ice Cube, formerly the primary lyricist of the notorious hardcode group NWA, who became one of the biggest rap stars of the early 1990's cranking out multi-platinum albums full of songs that could never get played on the radio. Cube and Da Lench Mob's members all proclaimed their loyalty to Louis Farakhan's Nation of Islam movement, and if you're not familiar with NOI let's just say their views about racial politics are outside of the mainstream. But whether you share their philosohpy or not, you have to admire their unflinching devotion to expressing their first ammendment right to free speech. Musically, Cube created one of the heaviest rap albums of the era with densely layered production to rival the best work of standard bearers Public Enemy, only with even more monstrous grooves.
The Pharcyde "Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde"  1992 (USA)
The Pharcyde made about four albums over a decade or so, but only their 1992 debut album got much attention, making them a perfect example of a group that never lived up to its promise. None of the rappers in this posse got famous (have you ever heard of Imani, Slimkid3, Bootie Brown or Fatlip?) but they came across with tremendous chemistry and charisma on their classic first record. Underground rap styles were taking over the mainstream in 1992, led by Dr. Dre's album The Chronic which married P-Funk grooves and stoner culture with hardcore gangster poses (as well as being the debut of future icon Snoop Dogg). But groovy bohemian groups like Tribe and De La were also still all the rage. The Pharcyde hit the sweet spot between these trends with the sarcastic stoner soul of Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde.
Digital Underground "Sons Of The P"  1991 (USA)
Here's another hip-hop classic from that magical year 1991! Underground rock groups were beginning to explode as the neo-longhair "grunge" era took off, while hip underground rap groups began to push aside the Hammer and Vanilla Ice pop rappers and create a new musical counterculture. All of a sudden, it seemed like the seventies were back, with the biggest new artists having more in common with classic pre-punk bands like Black Sabbath and Funkadelic than any artists from the previous 1980's decade. Aside from Neil Young (hailed at the time as "the godfather of grunge") perhaps no 1970's artist was more in vogue in 1991 than Parliament-Funkadelic, whose trippy grooves were being sampled to death in those days. But only one group sought to continue what P-Funk started rather than just borrow their beats: Digital Underground, a cartoony crew from Oakland who will always be best known for the classic novelity hit "The Humpty Dance" from their debut album Sex Packets (1990). That record was a heavy concept album (about virtual reality sex drugs!), and so was the follow-up Sons Of The P - the concept being that DU is going to continue from where P-Funk left off. George Clinton himself even appears on the album to give his blessing. Though this album didn't generate any major hits, it lives up to the challenge of recreating and extending classic rock forms into the rap era. Plus monster funky grooves!
Digable Planets "Blowout Comb"  1994 (USA)
Digable Planets were a "one-hit wonder" from the golden age of rap and they only recorded two albums before breaking up. Their debut album from 1992 contained the hit, and was a fine example of the "jazz rap" style that was popular at the time. However, their lesser-known swan song Blowout Comb was their masterpiece, featuring epic tracks and real jazz musicians that create a surrealistic beatnik fantasia. Lead rapper Ishmael "Butterfly" Butler resurfaced in later years with another unique rap project called Shabazz Palaces where he goes by the rap name "Palaceer Lazaro".
A Tribe Called Quest "The Low End Theory"  1991 (USA)
This week we have another classic album from the golden age of hip-hop. De La Soul were the first popular rap group to break the "boasting and gold chains" mould of early hip-hop, launching what might be called "alternative rap." They were associated with a handful of similarly forward-thinking poetic/afrocentric groups collectively called "The Native Tongues Posse." The second group from that bunch to break out was A Tribe Called Quest - their leader Q-Tip made guest appearances on the first two De La Soul albums which probably did a lot to raise their profile. But with the fullness of time, though De La were the pioneers it has become clear that Quest were the standard bearers for their movement. And their most important work is probably their second album The Low End Theory, which popularized rap music based on jazz samples instead of funk, soul and Kraftwerk. Going deeper, it also showed a continuity between the afrocentric jazz of the earlier civil rights era and rap music in more recent decades. Plus, you know, the songs are great! This album was also crucial in launching Busta "What The Dilly-o" Rhymes to superstardom: at this time, he was a member of the  lesser-known Leaders Of The New School, who make a guest appearance on this record's final track. Busta's explosive turn on the mic is still one of the most memorable breakout performances in hip-hop.
Also on the show this week: Sparks warns us about "The Existential Threat"! Plus a brand new video from the "virtual webstream concert" Dempagumi.inc did in lieu of their cancelled 2020 tour of Japan.
De La Soul "De La Soul Is Dead"  1991 (USA)
For the next few weeks, we'll be featuring classic albums from the golden age of hip-hop (roughly 1986 to 1994). De La Soul was one of the key groups of the rap renaissance, being the first popular "alternative" rap group who eschewed cursing and boasting in favor of abstract/poetic lyrics. The members had weird names like "Posdnous" and "Trugoy The Dove" (spell those backwards: Soundsop and Yogurt?) Their literally day-glo debut album Three Feet High And Rising declared the dawning of "The D.A.I.S.Y. Age" (stands for "da inner sound y'all"). They were unlike anything else on the scene, and the media dubbed them "hippie rappers" (years later, it also seems clear that album title was a weed reference - so yeah, they kinda were hippies.) But the group rebelled against that description, hence they metaphorically killed off their original image with their second album called De La Soul Is Dead! (The broken flower pot on the cover is also a reference to the end of the aforementioned "Daisy" age.) It's definitely a flawed masterpiece, being overly long as albums often were early in the CD era, and producer Prince Paul was notorious for two things: amazingly clever sampling in the music, and filling up every nook between the songs with "skits" that generally slow down the musical flow. In spite of those formatting issues, their first three albums (the ones Paul produced) are chock full of great tracks and comprise one of the most singular bodies of work in rap.
Also on the show this week: a new album from J-pop rap superstar DAOKO: here's the brand new video for the title track "ANIMA".
Parliament "Motor Booty Affair"  1978 (USA)
Today is P-Funk mastermind George Clinton's 79th birthday, so this week's show is an unanounced reboot of the "Parliament-Funkadelic Spectacular" specials the Kosmik Radiation show did every July 4 for ten years (retired in 2014). Parliament and their alter egos Funkadelic released a pile of classic albums in the 1970's which blended funk with hard rock, psychedelia and heavy concepts. One of their most coherent concept albums was Motor Booty Affair which features aquatic themes and the overarching concept of "partying until we raise the lost continent of Atlantis". The monster hit from this album had the intriguing title "Aquaboogie (A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop)" - and yes, the word "psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop" does feature prominently in the lyrics!
Also on the show this week - a cool new rap song from DAOKO, who has a new album due out this month.
     
Click here for classic albums from more than three months ago.
          

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