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.

   

"Hard Rain" by Bob Dylan (1976)
Bob Dylan "Hard Rain"  1976 (USA)
Bob Dylan has a birthday this week, so our classic album is one of his lesser known live albums. More review coming soon. 
"A Third Of A Lifetime" by Three Man Army (1971)
Three Man Army "A Third Of A Lifetime"  1971 (UK)
Review coming soon. 
"The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn" by Pink Floyd (1967)
Pink Floyd "The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn"  1967 (UK)
This week is the 12th anniversary of the Kosmik Radiation show going on the air, so CAOTW #524 is one of the most classic psychedelic albums which has not yet been a classic album. Furthermore, this summer marks the 50th anniversary of this record's release, and the band has just put out a massive box set of material from 1965-1972 including many outtakes from early albums like this one. Piper was Floyd's debut and is the most unique album in their discography, because it is the only one they made under the leadership of their original singer/songwriter/guitarist, the legendary weirdo Roger "Syd" Barrett. He basically took too much acid and became unreliable, so was booted from the group in 1968 to be replaced by his old shoolchum David Gilmour, establishing the classic anonymous-no-frontman lineup that recorded so many classic albums in the 1970's. Barrett is often compared to his contemporary John Lennon; though I don't think you can argue that Barrett could write songs as catchy as Lennon's pop hits, they both contributed some of the most incredibly unconventional psychedelic songs of 1967. Syd was also a very original guitar player, as shown most clearly on the ten minute instrumental "Interstellar Overdrive" which is this record's centerpiece: a chromatic riff halfway between surf-rock and heavy metal which devolves into pure psychedelic freakout reverie. 
"Sabotage" by Blak Sabbath (1975)
Black Sabbath "Sabotage"  1975 (UK)
Black Sabbath's greatest period was the years 1970-1975, when they released their first six albums. They would make two more with original lead singer Ozzy Osbourne in the late 70's, followed by a few with Ronnie James Dio, then one in 1983 with Ian Gillan (from Deep Purple), after which they went into a steep decline until the era of reunion tours and albums (usually with Ozzy, but occasionally with Dio under the alternative band name "Heaven & Hell"). The band (minus original drummer Bill Ward) recorded an excellent final album in 2013, which was my pick for the #1 album of that year. As I said on the air at the time, it was their best album since Sabotage, this week's classic album which was Sabbath's most progressive (epic songs & synthesizers) but still a crushingly heavy LP. It also probably contains the best vocals of Ozzy's career - never really considered one of the natural greats, he is a strong comperitor with the likes of Plant and Halford on this one.
"Emperor Tomato Ketchup" by Stereolab (1996)
Stereolab "Emperor Tomato Ketchup"  1996 (UK/France)
Stereolab's classic run of albums began with their 1993 album with the long title and lasted until the end of that decade. They heralded a postmodern age of ironic appropriation of culturally received signifiers, much like the contemporaneous hip-hop movement, only way more European. In other words, the Stereolab sound is thrown together from a bunch of old ideas: easy listening bop-bop-shoo-bop vocals, bossa nova beats, krautrock keyboards, indie guitars, even a pilfered R&B riff here and there (the leadoff track on this album is clearly based on Rufus Thomas' "Sixty Minute Man"). Their lead singer, lyricist and mini-moog player Laetitia Sadier (who has a brand new album out this month) wrote songs that alternate between didactic Marxist criticism and open-hearted sentiments, delivered in a cereberal soft rock monotone in her native French as well as English. Since Stereolab "went on hiatus" in 2009, she has released a series of solid solo albums that frequently make the Kosmik Radiation best of the year lists. The other core members include Time Gane, the guitarist who wrote most of the music, who has been little heard from since the hiatus (he lives in Germany and has a band called Cavern Of Anti-Matter that I haven't heard). The second singer during their classic era was Mary Hanson, the fan favorite who stood center stage playing tambourine and bop-doo-wahing complimentary vocals lines with Laetitia (except when she picked up a guitar which always meant they were about to drop a frenzied krautrock bomb). Mary died tragically in a traffic accident in 2002, and frankly the group was never the same again. For the first time in a while I'm going to add some video clips: The 'lab live in 1996, and Laetitia solo. Also we must pay tribute to the Most Important Man in the History of Rock, Chuck Berry.
"Crazy Rhythms" by The Feelies (1980)
The Feelies "Crazy Rhythms"  1980 (USA)
The Feelies have just released their sixth album, the second since the group's 21st century reunion. (How many bands of yesteryear have not reformed? Husker Du remains the holdout!) This, their debut album, came out 37 years ago, back in the days when punk rock had just ceded to "new wave" but MTV hadn't come along yet. "Indie rock" was still a few years away, but one of the quintessential founding records of the golden age of indie was Crazy Rhythms. Their debt to The Velvet Underground was obvious from their first album; by the time of their third album the influence of The Stooges was equally obvious. The third piece of the puzzle was Talking Heads: I don't know of any direct lineage between Heads and Feelies (other than the greater New York area in the late 1970's), but David Byrne and his preppie friends were the ones who made it safe for nerds in sweaters to rock. The utter unflashiness of The Feelies in fact prefigures the alterna-grunge non-style-style of the following decade (Kurt Cobain and that Weezer guy also rocked in sweaters), and their manic guitar explorations on one and two-chord grooves has similarly proven a blueprint for the ages.
"Ambrosia" by Ambrosia (1975)
Ambrosia "Ambrosia"  1975 (USA)
Ambrosia scored a handful of memorable soft rock hits in the early 1980's, but they began as a symphonic prog rock band working with legendary engineer Alan Parsons of The Dark Side of the Moon fame. Legend has it the group was inspired by the west coast pop sound of their native California, but then got freaked out by a King Crimson concert and went prog. Somehow they wound up working with Parsons, who engineered their debut and produced their equally progalicious second LP Somewhere I've Never Traveled (which came in an album cover that folded out into a "crystal pyramid"!) After that the group began to head in a more mainstream soft rock direction and racked up their trifecta of hits: "How Much I Feel", "You're The Only Woman", and "The Biggest Part Of Me", all of which were written by guitarist David Pack. However they actually made the Top 40 five times in total: this debut album includes their first hit, "Holdin' On To Yesterday" (a pleasant ballad that's not as memorable as the later hits), and they also scored with a cover of The Beatles' "Magical Mystery Tour" recorded for the all-star All This And World War II album. Although I wouldn't vouch for their later records (unless you dig the easy soft rock of 1978-1982), their first two records are more killer than filler. Remarkably, Ambrosia is still around today (playing cruise ships and casinos mostly), and there is ongoing talk of a new album that might be released this year! (Though the guy who wrote all their hits is no longer in the band.)
     
Click here for classic albums from more than three months ago.
          

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