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.

   

Joy Division "Closer"  1980 (UK)
Review soon.
The B-52's "The B-52's"  1979 (USA)
Review soon. (Wow, I've fallen behind!)
Thin Lizzy "Black Rose: A Rock Legend"  1979 (Ireland/UK/USA)
Review soon.
Ariel Pink's Haunted Graffiti "Mature Themes"  2012 (USA)
Review soon.
Alice Coltrane "Universal Consciousness"  1971 (USA)
Review soon.
Ice-T "Power"  1988 (USA)
The notorious gangster rapper Ice-T, born Tracy Lauren Marrow, turned 63 years old this week. More review soon.
Curtis Mayfield "Roots"  1971 (USA)
Curtis Mayfield was a uniquely multitalented musician: he sang in a distinctive falsetto, played masterful guitar, wrote all the songs for his classic soul group The Impressions, scored several movies, and started his own record label (Curtom Records). Arguably Curtis' peak period was 1970-1972, which comprised his first two solo albums, the classic Superfly movie soundtrack, and the greatest double-live album of the seventies. Roots was his second record as a solo artist.
In Japanese pop news, Eimi Naruse is "graduating" (retiring) from Dempagumi.inc this week after a farewell concert in Tokyo to be held on February 16. The most recent time the group performed was a webstream "virtual concert" in November, from which they have just released the performance of their latest single "Positive Story". Eimi wrote the lyrics (English subtitles included in the video), and she is happeeee!
Glenn Branca "The Ascension"  1981 (USA)
Today is Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo's 65th birthday (insert joke about Sonic "Youth" being old here). Around the time Sonic Youth formed, Lee was also playing guitar in Glenn Branca's band and appeared on Branca's first full-length album which is our Classic Album this week. After 25 years of Sonic Youth and all those other "noise guitar" bands of more recent decades, the sheer novelty of Branca's music may not be as apparent as it was 40 years ago. Occasionally during the psychedelic era, guitarists would get carried away with the extreme sounds you can make with a highly amplified electric guitar (especially Hendrix), but Branca arranged dissonance, overtones and feedback into compositions. Other than the rock-style bass and drum rhythm section, Branca's music is really more like minimalist modern classical music. But with roaring guitars! Another artist who mined a similar vein at the same time was Rhys Chatham (whom Sonic Youth also has a connection to), but Chatham's guitar orchestrations are more "kraut-like" than the punkish assault of Branca.
Kimio Mizutani "A Path Through Haze"  1971 (Japan)
If you were looking for heavy riffs and groovy licks, Kimio Mizutani was Japan's top session guitarist of the psychedelic era. As far as I know, he only made one album as a leader, which is our classic album this week. A mostly instrumental album that exists somewhere between jazz and rock, also with classical influences, the record that A Path Through Haze is most often compared to is Frank Zappa's seminal Hot Rats album. Though that comparison only goes so far: Zappa's compositions were a lot more sophisticated, and his guitar playing sounded like no one else. As a session musician, Mizutani's goal as a player was to capture the style he was known for and play qunitessential heavy rock riffs rather than attempt to be "original", and the result is therefore an album with a quintessential early seventies heavy rock guitar sound.
We've also got some brand new J-pop releases on the show this week: Haru Nemuri just released her first new song in about a year, DAOKO has a cool new video for one of her older songs (bask in the 5-years-ago nostalgia of her "schoolgirl in blue" era), and Atarashii Gakko! ("New School!") who were the breakout Japanese idol group of last year (this is their first song that has impressed me: an old school hiphop groove with melodic rapping).
KISS "Destroyer"  1976 (USA)
WHOAH YEAH! Paul Stanley is SIXTY-NINE years old today, so let's have a ROCK AN ROLL PARTAY!! KISS is a polarizing populist group - basically, if you're not a fan you probably think KISS is stupid. But a KISS fan would probably retort that rock music is supposed to be about fun, not being "smart", and besides you're probably missing the joke. This band literally look like clowns, so don't think they take themselves very seriously! KISS began as a somewhat underground "masculine glam" hard rock band from NYC, but began to reach a mainstream audience with their 1975 double live album. Destroyer was the follow-up to that breakout album, and reached a much higher sonic standard than their crudely-recorded (but still pretty great) earlier studio albums. The key change was working with producer Bob Ezrin, who at the time was responsible for Alice Cooper's increasingly theatrical albums, and would later helm the ultra-bombastic Pink Floyd album The Wall. Ezrin may have added orchestras and child choirs to the KISS sound but he didn't sacrifice the loud guitars and heavy rock beats (except on the song "Beth" which of course would turn out to be their biggest hit!)
     
Click here for classic albums from more than three months ago.
          

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