Classic Album of the Week

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.

   

eX-Girl "Endangered Species"  2004 (Japan)
Indulging my passion for weird Japanese girl groups this week. Review soon.
Paul McCartney "McCartney"  1970 (UK)
Paul McCartney turns 80 years old this week! Review soon.
Jimmy Cliff / various artists "The Harder They Come" (Original Soundtrack)  1972 (Jamaica)
This week is our annual "vintage vinyl from 50 years ago" special featuring the year 1972. Review soon.
Miles Davis "On The Corner"  1972 (USA)
Miles Davis would have been 96 years old this week. Review soon.
Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band "Clear Spot"  1972 (USA)
Review soon.
The Monkees "Head"  1968 (USA/UK)
This album was the soundtrack to one of my three favorite psychedelic films of the sixties (the other two are Midnight Cowboy and Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls). The movie Head starred The Monkees and was released to no acclaim about a year after their groundbreaking TV show had been cancelled. More review soon.
NoMeansNo "One"  2000 (Canada)
NoMeansNo was founded by the Wright brothers (Rob on bass and John on drums) during the late 1970's punk boom, and they became one of the greatest unsung indie rock bands of the 1980's and 1990's. The group was originally a guitarless duo, then for most of their career a  heavy power trio (their longest serving guitarist was Tom Holliston from 1993 onwards). They had tremendous musical chops and wrote ambling, dramatic, jammy songs framing Rob's everyman sing-speak storytelling lyrics. The group continued touring regularly in the 21st century until retiring in 2016. One was their second-to last album and is a hard rock gem that every rock fan should know about. 
Dinosaur jr. "Dinosaur"  1985 (USA)
Dinosaur jr. became very easy to pigeonhole by about their third album: "ear-bleeding country" with a dose of hardcore punk topped off by the slacker mumblings of J Mascis. They were a successful major label band during the grunge era of the early 1990's, and were beloved enough that they were able to reunite and carry on for another 15 years or so (and counting). The one album of theirs that really does not fit that formula was the debut album, called Dinosaur because that was the band's original name (they got sued by a group of old 60's rockers who were also using that name so added "jr." to the end.) The first album is much more eclectic, with the folky-country elements more pronounced and even some 1980's new wave vestiges (I think they were into The Cure back then!) Also, it was the only album where bassist Lou Barlow got to sing a lot, and the only album where J and Lou sometimes sing together. Though I am a fan of most of their albums as they are, I kind of think I might be an even bigger fan if their music remained as varied and weird as it was at the beginning!
Bob Marley & The Wailers "Live!"  1975 (Jamaica)
Uhh, what day is this? *cough*cough* Oh yeah, our classic album of the week was a breakthrough album in the spread of reggae music. The Wailers made their first album around 1965 when they were a ska trio reminiscent of Motown's The Miracles (with Bob Marley in the Smokey Robinson role). By the end of the 1960's they had become long-haired rastas working with the notorious Lee Scratch Perry. The international major label record deal came in 1972 (now with Bob Marley's name out in front) and his star continued to rise through the decade until his untimely death from cancer in the early 1980's. By the time Live! was released in 1975, Bob was already the author of a global smash #1 hit song: "I Shot The Sherrif" as recorded by Eric Clapton (which I believe was also the biggest hit of Clapton's entire career). This album features that one and other Marley songs that became standards, plus has the extra sheen of Bob's charismatic delivery live in concert. I wouldn't really say this record is "better" than a lot of his other albums, but it's a perfect document of the period when Marley first became a global superstar.
Jean-Michel Jarre "Oxygene"  1976 (France)
This album, consisting of a single piece of music covering two sides of vinyl, was one of the classic albums from the dawn of "techno pop". Released right in between Kraftwerk's breakout album Autobahn and Giorgio Moroder's disco-synth smash "I Feel Love" (for Donna Summer), the reason this 40-minute synthesizer hoedown sold 15 million copies gloabally is that sections of it include a funky drum machine, thus it was playable in your more futuristic discos of the late 1970's. But also it's still very prog rock, comparable to Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells album (1973) and the cool records Vangelis was making during this era.
Daft Punk "Discovery"  2001 (France)
In retrospect twenty years later, this was probably one of the most seminal albums of its era. When I hear the contemporary pop music millenials are in to, I hear echoes of early Daft Punk in a lot of the arrangement and production tricks (soulful vocoder vocal hooks and chopped-up beat edits in particular). Yet when I gave this album a spin recently, it struck me how "analog" it sounds for a futuristic funk album. A lot of the sounds of this album come from the 70's and 80's; they do sample old records here, but also created their own new hooks that sound like they are from the same era. This album established DP as the top electronic/dance band of their era, and after they disbanded in 2021 (their final album of new material came out back in 2013) it seems clear they stand alongside Kraftwerk and Giorgio Moroder among the giants of European electronic pop. Even cooler still, one of the reasons this album is so remembered is that it hung around the pop culture for several years - in 2003, they released a Japanese animated film Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem which uses this entire album as its soundtrack and I think is one of the most successful "albums turned into a movie" ever attempted (and that hasn't been attempted very often). Here's a few clips (songs) from the movie version of Discovery: An alien band plays for grooving fans on an alien planet ("One More Time"). But the band is kidnapped by evildoers ("Aerodynamic")! An unlikely hero springs into action ("Digital Love"). The band are brainwashed into thinking they are humans ("Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger") and a bad guy turns them into pop stars on Earth ("Crescendolls"). Later, the hero helps them recover their true identities ("Something About Us"). Just like the music that inspired it, the visuals are a dreamy mix of 70's-80's aesthetics and futuristic themes.
     
Click here for classic albums from more than three months ago.
          

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