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.

   

"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. More review soon.
"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. More review soon.
"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).
"Cypress Hill" by Cypress Hill (1991)
Cypress Hill "Cypress Hill"  1991 (USA)
It seems to me that Cypress Hill has pretty much been coasting for their entire careers on the strength of their innovative debut album, which gives you an idea of what a classic it must be (I guess it sucks when your first album is a masterpiece of the genre, because how do you top that?) It helped a lot that they arrived on the scene just as "gangsta" rap was starting to take over the charts, fluffy pop metal was giving way to gritty flannel "grunge" rock, and Bill Clinton was swearing he never inhaled (wink wink). The reason I immediately sparked to this record was their produced DJ Muggs' penchant for building grooves on the crustiest old 45's from the sixties Booker T & the MGs' "Bootleg" and even "Come On In", an obscure B-side from The Music Machine that you wouldn't expect in a hiphop record (that one provides the "psychedelic circus" bridge section of their first hit "How I Could Just Kill A Man"). The other thing that makes the album a classic is the buoyant stonery braggadocio from the rappers Sen Dog (gruff ruff ruff) brilliantly contrasting with the infamously nasal style of B-Real. The first album was something of a cult classic that grew to the point that when their second album Black Sunday was released it debuted at #1 on the American album charts, and they scored an unlikely Top 40 hit "Insane In The Brain", which remains a popular catch phrase to this day and was also used as the basis of a classic joke when they appeared on The Simpsons.
"The Whitey Album" by Ciccone Youth (1989)
Ciccone Youth (Sonic Youth) "The Whitey Album"  1989 (USA)
Back in the 1980's before the Interweb, there was no "shit posting" or meming, but there was already an "underground" culture that sometimes liked to recontextualize the mainstream in subversive ways. (Does that even make sense to kids today? "Underground" culture is extinct, in its place are a zillion microscenes andsocial media bubbles. Or if there was an underground today, I guess it would have to happen offline since the Interweb is where the mainstream is now? Enough digression, back to the story!) Sonic Youth was a noisy, artsy-fartsy "punk rock" band from NYC that thought it would be fun to do a pop album with rap songs and covers of Madonna and Robert Palmer hits. I'm sure there was more "Andy Warhol blah blah, high culture and low culture are really the same" jive thrown around at the time, but pop is ephemeral and nobody cares about Robert Palmer covers (or 1980's NYC art trends) these days. What makes this week's CAOTW work is that it's really just an experimental Sonic Youth album: basically all of their records are built on guitar-bass-drums-andmoreguitars and they are just not the type of band to bring in a horn or string section. But for a brief period in between their double-album masterpiece Daydream Nation and leaving the indies behind to sign with a major label for Goo, they were briefly into drum machines, sampling and loops. But don't worry, there's still plenty of guitars too! And it you dig The Whitey Album, a few months prior to it they also released the similar Master-Dik 12" single, which includes the titular non-album rap song on one side and on the other, a 20-minute collage of odd grooves and atmospheres plus the funniest bits from clueless European radio interviews with the band (that side is almost like a John & Yoko album, only funnier).
"BABYMETAL" by BABYMETAL (2014)
BABYMETAL "BABYMETAL"  2014 (Japan)
Here's one more "weird millenial pop girls from the internet" classic album: the debut by the most globally popular Japanese group of this decade, the incomparable BABYMETAL. Take three contestants from a teenage pop idol reality show, dress them up like heavy metal cheerleaders, hire the biggest talents from the local underground metal scene, and the result has blown the minds of pop music fans and won the loyalty of the largest music fan commnity in the world. The group has released two albums so far, both of which are quite enjoyable if you like metal and melody, though the debut (our CAOTW) is a bit more winning since it was more eclectic than the "even more metal" follow-up Metal Resistance, and because it was the blueprint for "kawaii metal" (cute metal) which is actually developing into a scene of its own in Japan (or at least BABYMETAL is popular enough to inspire a legion of imitators). Since a big part of BABYMETAL's appeal is visual, enjoy the majesty of their adorable choreography and million-dollar concert staging: "Gimme Chocolate!!" is their most popular song and video to date, and "The One" is a standout track from their second album.
In other Japanese rock news, the first Haru Nemuri concert footage of 2019 has arrived online, including this powerful festival performance in front of the biggest, most enthusiastic crowd I've seen her with so far. Also, she has a new song out in collaboration with the band Prune Deer. Plus, this fun mash-up of her 2018 "Kick in the World" single with the MC5 classic "Kick Out the Jams" (how big a Haru fan am I? I was the 20th person on Earth to view that last one, which still has less than 100 views!)
Also, we lost one of the major musical figures of the last half century - the incomparable SCOTT WALKER (Noel Scott Engel) has passed at age 76. I didn't pay tribute on the show this week, because I have featured his music so regularly over the years - in fact, I just played his 2014 classic album on the previous show and mused on the air that it had been a couple years since we've heard from him and he might not make any more records (curse my powers of prophecy). But the press release from his label did reveal the first hint of personal biography from this notoriously reclusive artist: Scott was survived by a "partner", daughter and granddaughter.
"A Night At The Opera" by Queen (1975)
Queen "A Night At The Opera"  1975 (UK)
Queen has been having a major resurgence in popularity in the last year, with a movie and Oscar award for Rami Malek's portrayal of Freddie Mercury. There really is no arguing about which Queen album was the best: their fourth release A Night At The Opera is an immaculately produced album of incredible diversity that took them from the second rung of British Rock to one of the top bands in the world, and includes two of the group's most classic songs in "My Best Friend" (written by the bassist John Deacon) and of course the band's masterpiece "Bohemian Rhapsody" written by Freddie. It also includes standout deep cuts like Brian May's mystical prog epic "The Prophet" and Mercury's ballad "Love Of My Life", as well as music hall, glam, metal and lots of other stuff, all perfectly arranged and segued into the kind of classic album that defines "classic rock." In terms of visuals, Queen was one of the most innovative bands of their day creating what was arguably the first modern music video for this album (groups as far back as The Beatles had done "promotional clips", but those early "videos" tended to be cheap and not particularly artistic footage of a band miming on their instruments in a park and that sort of thing.)
"Out To Lunch!" by Eric Dolphy (1964)
Eric Dolphy "Out To Lunch!"  1964 (USA)
Since Kosmik Radiation returned to the 2am-5am timeslot earlier this year, I've been pleased to bring back "non-rock music in the final hour of the show" as a regular segment. What could be more surreal than waking up very early (or going to bed very late) to the sounds of some of the most out-there Modern Jazz ever recorded? Eric Dolphy was a shooting star in the early 1960's jazz scene, seen as a peer of the likes of John Coltrane (whom he made a few classic records with) and Ornette Coleman, at the forefront of the "New Thing" in jazz which was the grooviest scene going  before the 1960's turned on, tuned in, and dropped out. But alas, Dolphy died under controversial circumstances at the young age of 36 while on tour in Europe (the official version is he was an undiagnosed diabetic who went hypoglycemic; the more controversial one is that European doctors did not give him proper care because they assumed an American jazz musician feeling sick must be a junky, which Eric was not). His final studio album Out To Lunch! was his masterpiece as well as his swan song, and for 50 years now has been considered one of the cornerstone albums of that "sixties New Thing Modern Jazz" style. So what do we get here? Five original Eric Dolphy compositions (RIYL the idiosyncratic atonal wackiness of Thelonious Monk and Ornette Coleman) performed by a legendary band: Dolphy on saxes and flute, Bobby Hutcherson the undisputed ModJazz master of the vibraphone, Freddie Hubbard the second-most popular trumpeter of the 60's and 70's, Richard Davis (later a beloved UW-Madison music professor) on the bass, and playing drums is 17 year-old Tony Williams who had just joined Miles Davis' legendary quintet. But Dolphy is unquestionably the star here: his playing is every bit as "free" as the notorious Ornette (according to legend Dolphy used to practice sax by playing along with birds chirping outside his window), but with the top-flight chops of a Charlie Parker. It's truly intriguing to consider where Dolphy might have gone had he lived long enough to see the hippie era and electrified jazz fusion that followed: what could he have done with a wah-wah pedal and an amplifier?!?! 
     
Click here for classic albums from more than three months ago.
          

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