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.

   

"Cosmic Slop" by Funkadelic (1973)
Funkadelic "Cosmic Slop"  1973 (USA)
This week is another high concept pledge drive show. What is the concept? That is correct! Our Classic Album is a great one from Funkadelic's classic Eddie Hazel period that I'm surprised hasn't been inducted already. Highlights include the original version of the title track (one of their most popular concert staples for over 40 years now), the shoulda-been-a-hit weirdo funk of "You Can't Miss WHAT You Can't Measure", and hardcore political blues metal of "March To The Witches Castle" (Black Sabbath as soul music?)
"For Love Or Money" by Highway Robbery (1972)
Highway Robbery "For Love Or Money"  1972 (USA)
This week is a high concept pledge drive show, so the Classic Album is simply the coolest obscure record on the show this week which has not already been a Classic Album. Highway Robbery was a heavy Deetroit rock trio of the seventies that only recorded one album. Most of the album is classy hard rock, sort of an American Led Zeppelin only the guy who looks like Robert Plant is their singing drummer! In fact the shrieky lead singer/drummer seems to be a mark of quality one-off early 70's hard rock: see also Sir Lord Baltimore and White Witch.
"Soon Over Babaluma" by Can (1974)
Can "Soon Over Babaluma"  1974 (Germany)
We lost two great bassists of the seventies this month: we celebrated Walter Becker (Steely Dan) last week, so this week it is Holger Czukay time. Holger was the bassist, oldest member, edit-meister and leader of "The Can", Germnay's greatest jam band and one of the leading lights of "krautrock." Sadly, Holger is now jamming with drummer Jaki and guitarist Michael auf Himmel, with Irmin Schmidt being the last original member of the group still alive (not including their "foreign" vocalists, Ameren Malcolm Mooney and Japanese Damo Suzuki, both of whom are also still alive). This week's classic album is a pivotal release for two reasons: it was their last album where they recorded themselves live onto a two-track recorder (as they had done since their first album), and also the first album as an all-German quartet without a foreign lead singer (Irmin and Michael took over vocal duties, but still mostly sing auf Englisch).
"Aja" by Steely Dan (1977)
Steely Dan "Aja"  1977 (USA)
Even casual fans of classic rock probably know that the band Steely Dan basically consisted of two mysterious gnomes named Walter Becker and Donal Fagen, who holed up in a studio in the 1970's to record some of the most immaculate music of the 20th century. Becker passed away this week, meaning that the nine studio albums they recorded (seven from the 1970's and two from the 2000's) are thus a closed book and there shall be no more (though Fagen has announced he will continue to lead "the Steely Dan Band" which remains a popular touring attraction, and he has also released a steady stream of his own solo albums too). The magic of the Dan was the bittersweet combination of gorgeous, sumptuously-arranged music that stradled the lines between rock, jazz and "R&B" and the darkest, most cynical, misanthropic lyrics ever laid down by a Top 40 hit making machine. According to band lore, it was primarily Fagen who provided the former (sweet riffs) and Becker who brought the latter (acid-tongued spite). Becker's life story was apparently full of woes (dead parents, lost decades of drug abuse) which his dark wit turned into anthems of hipster alienation. The most commercially successful Steely LP is the 1977 mega-platinum Aja, which includes three of their hits (slinky groover "Peg" about a sleazy photographer flattering a vapid starlet, the epic "Deacon Blues" which is the sad hipster anthem to end all sad hipster anthems, and "Josie" which is relatively meaningless but has a funky groove). But truly, all seven of their first run of albums are timeless classics that will probably still be popular a hundred years from now - as long as there are alienated hipsters and lovers of sweet jazzrock riffs.
"Nina Hagen Band" by Nina Hagen Band (1978)
Nina Hagen Band "Nina Hagen Band"  1978 (Germany)
A child prodigy opera singer from communist East Germany winds up leading the proggiest punk band of all time. Her favorite song topics are heroin (she's against it), Hinduism (for it), and UFOs. The self-proclaimed "Mother of Punk" emigrated to West Germany through a loophole in the mid-seventies and was immediately signed to a record contract (she had lready been a TV actress and singer in the East). The label sent her to London to get acquainted with the latest Western youth culture and styles just as The Sex Pistols and punk rock exploded. Her outrageous hairstyles, makeup and costumes have always been iconic: her spiky shag hairdo on the debut album would prove to be her most conservative look (at least until she started dressing like a nun in the mid-eighties! Or when she was performing in drag as a man!) Musically, the band formed in her name seems to have been a bunch of prog rockers pressed into new wave service (much as groups like The Police had their roots in Eric Burdon's psychedelic Animals and Curved Air). The unusually high level of virtuosity makes Nina Hagen Band sound a bit like Frank Zappa or The Tubes, whom I think of as "New Wave Zappa" though they debuted well before punk and new wave in 1975 (this album even includes a Tubes cover with new German lyrics). NHB only lasted two albums before Nina launched her solo career, while the rest of the band become the obscure new wave band Spliff (I just bought one of their records!) But ultimately, the magic of Nina is her incredible voice, and the incredibly strange things she does with it - check out this music video from the 1980's where she plays all the parts. They sure don't make them like that anymore, and hardly did in the first place! 
"The Magician's Birthday" by Uriah Heep (1973)
Uriah Heep "The Magician's Birthday"  1972 (UK)
It's Hippie Xmas again in Madison! So this week we play only the most dumpster-worthy cheep old records. This week's classic album is a solid heavy rock release by one of the big names of the early 70's, and nobody should pay more than a dollar or two to get a decent copy of this album. Though not as plentiful as old Moody Blues and Emerson Lake & Palmer records in the bargain bins of used record shops, Uriah Heep is pretty close. This is a mark of an artist that was once immensely popular, but which the sands of time have rendered uncool over the years. Exactly the type of crusty oldies we like on the Kosmik Radiation show! Uriah Heep was basically the missing link between Deep Purple (heavy metal featuring an electric organist dueling a guitar god) and Queen (operatic vocals and campy theatricality), but also one of the many bands that lost the heavy rock competition to the mightier Black Sabbath and commercial kings of hard rock Led Zeppelin. Personally, I like their classic run of 1971-1972 LPs quite a bit (they did four albums in those two years!), of which Magician's Birthday was perhaps the best. The titular track is a hard rock/prog/camp masterpiece (yes, they do sing a few choruses of"Happy Birthday" to the Dear Magician in his Impenetrable Fortress Of Love). Aside from a couple dull keyboard ballads, the rest of the album is also solid hard rock. 
"Garcia" by Jerry Garcia (1972)
Jerry Garcia "Garcia"  1972 (USA)
This August 1st is Jerry Garcia's 75th birthday! It is a well-known Deadhead trope that the Grateful Dead was always better on the concert stage than in a recording studio, and that is generally true. In fact, I think three of the top five "Grateful Dead studio albums" are the three solo LP's released in 1972. Mickey's album has already been a CAOTW and may be the group's most ambitious recording, though it also features many other bay area acid rock stars (the usual suspects from Jefferson Airplane and Santana). Bobby's solo album Ace is basically a Dead studio album, featuring the entire group except for Mickey (working on his own record, see above) even including soon-to-join new member Donna Jean Godchaux; it introduces a number of staples of the Dead's concert repetoire ("Playing In The Band", "Black-Throated Wind", "Greatest Story Ever Told", "Cassidy", "One More Saturday Night" - pretty much the entire album). The third solo album was of course Garcia, Jerry's debut and his most important solo recording. His LP features a few genuinely trippy moments like "Spidergawd" and "Eep Hour" (as far-out as any Dead studio tracks ever got), and more classic songs that would become part of the Dead concert repetoire, most notably "Bird Song", "Deal", "The Wheel" and "Sugaree".
"est. 1970" by Goose Creek Symphony (1970)
Goose Creek Symphony "est. 1970"  1970 (USA)
Are they the most country "psychedelic band" of all time, or the most psychedelic "country band" of all time? Goose Creek Symphony play extremely downhome backporch pickin' and grinnin' old-timey country style music, but then they periodically launch into heavy Cream-style jams, and freely incorporate studio trickery and backwards tracks to make their records even groovier. The LP est. 1970, as in the band was "established" that year, was the group's debut and the blueprint for their classic run of albums. The main songwriter and foundational member of the group is one Charles Gearheart, who still leads a version of the band today! I am pretty sure GCS is the longest-running "jam band" in America, having outlasted the Grateful Dead by nearly 20 years (and counting).
     
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