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.

   

"The Third Reich & Roll" by The Residents (1976)
The Residents "The Third Reich 'n' Roll"  1976 (USA)
The Residents could be the weirdest group of all time. More review soon.
"Broth" by Broth (1971)
Broth "Broth"  1971 (USA)
A one-off album by an obscure late psychedelic / Hendrixian wannabe heavy latin rock band; more review soon!
"The Song Of Crazy Horse" by J.D. Blackfoot (1974)
J.D. Blackfoot "The Song Of Crazy Horse"  1974 (USA/New Zealand)
J.D. Blackfoot (born Benjamin Franklin Van Dervort) is a fairly obscure singer/songwriter whose career began in Ohio in the late 1960's. His first album The Ultimate Prophecy (1970) included a side of short commercial songs aiming for radio (but failing to hit), and a sidelong suite of super-heavy mystical folk poetry stuff. His second album is this week's CAOTW, recorded several years later in New Zealand of all places; once again, an entire side of the record is a mystical-poetic folk/rock epic (the title track plus concluding movement "Ride Away", presented as a separate track since it was released as the single from the album). The other side consists of (again) short commercial songs, including one novelty country number called "Flushed You From The Toilets Of My Heart" which got some play on the Dr. Demento show (where I heard of J.D. first!) On the show I called this his "most ambitious album", but he actually made a lot of ambitious albums, and the topper must be The Legend Of Texas Red (2012), a triple-CD, 43-song concept album clocking in at three and a half hours!! (I've never heard that one before.)
"The Hissing Of Summer Lawns" by Joni Mitchell (1975)
Joni Mitchell "The Hissing Of Summer Lawns"  1975 (Canada)
Joni Mitchell celebrated her 75th birthday last week! This week's CAOTW is a somewhat polarizing album from the period where she was at her peak of commercial success, following her most popular studio album Court And Spark and obligatory rockstar double-live album Miles Of Aisles, both released in 1974. As great artists often do, she followed these hits with a more eclectic album that pushed her style further in the direction of her own version of "jazz fusion", in this case fused with her own unique style of songwriting which never fit properly into the folk scene any more than her "jazz" would fit into the jazz scene. At this point, she was still playing with rock-oriented jazzers, including folks who played on records by Steely Dan (Robben Ford, Larry Carlton, Skunk Baxter, Victor Feldman) and Frank Zappa (John Guerin, Max Bennett), plus of course some of the usual suspects from the Cali Smooth Mafia (Crosby, Nash, James Taylor). By the end of the decade, her touring band included legendary fusionistas Jaco Pastorious and Pat Metheny, while heavy hitters like Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter appeared on her albums.
In other "weird girl pop" news, Poppy's second album has arrived and it's a bit of a surprise! I believe one of Poppy's secret influences is the Japanese "rapping, dancing mannequin" duo FEMM, who also specialize in three minute girl power pop ditties and act like robots.
"Ram It Down" by Judas Priest (1988)
Judas Priest "Ram It Down"  1988 (UK)
It's nearly Halloween, which means I like to do a heavy metal themed show, and Judas Priest so far wins the prize this year for being the classic artist of yesteryear who put out a surprisingly vital new album: Firepower (2018) is Priest's 18th album in 45 years, and it's certainly their best album since Painkiller (1990) at least, rivaling the best albums from their period of peak popularity in the 1980's. So this week's CAOTW is an overlooked record from 30 years ago (the first third of their very long career!) Ram is not considered a classic by too many folks, receiving "two stars" from Allmusic.com, and wikipedia notes the album received "negative reviews" upon release. But I find it to be a solid batch of their 80's-style metal anthems with production that is overly slick and "very eighties" in a way that makes it a cool period piece rather than a dated bore. For example the song called "Heavy Metal" begins with an over-the-top guitar solo before a riff kicks in . . . on the synthesizer?! They also do a strangely dramatic rearrangement of Chuck Berry's classic three-chord rocker "Johnny B. Goode" (which I played on the show last month). The story behind this album is that they had originally intended a double album of half synth-driven pop metal, which eventually became the album Turbo (1986), with the other half being heavier songs which eventually became Ram It Down. Though both of those albums are the synthiest and most eighties-ish of their career, Ram is not nearly as wimpy as Turbo (which was a better seller). In fact, coming after that album and Defenders Of The Faith (1984) which is another overly slick record I'm not fond of, Ram seems to me to be a return to form that points directly towards the thrash-inspired Painkiller that followed and rejuvinated their stalling career somewhat (though they stalled again soon after when legendary vocalist Rob Halford quit the band, though he returned in 2005). Fun fact: since guitarist Glenn Tipton is semi-retired due to age affecting his playing, that means bassist Ian Hill is arguably the only constant member of the group since the beginning! He must be the most anonymous musician who's ever been in a major band for almost a half century! (I have long suspected Hill was an inspiration for the character Derek Smalls).
In other news, this week I got to see Public Image Ltd. on their "The Public Image is Rotten" 40th anniversary tour! I've never had a chance to see The Artist Formerly Known As Rotten before, and I must say his "unique" voice sounds as strong as ever, and his current group is one of PIL's best lineups (it's actually 3/4 the same guys as the late 1980's version of the band, tying things back to the CAOTW -- though the records they were making back then aren't as good as the last one they did). This version of PIL has been playing together since 2009 and is a vital contemporary band, even if most of them are sporting grey hair and bifocals these days!
But wait there's more - that Haru Nemuri chick I keep going on about has released a couple more singles in the last month and is starting to get more attention, including this article in English with interview (I suspected "Haru Nemuri", which translates as "sleeping springtime", was not her real name -- indeed, this gal's name is actually Haruna Kimishima).
"Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman" (1969)
Dick Hyman "Moog - The Electric Eclectics of Dick Hyman"  1969 (USA)
The Moog synthesizer, named for its inventor Robert Moog, debuted in 1967 and among the first records to take advantage of the otherwordly sounds it produced were by the duo Perrey & Kingsley and - believe it or not! - The Monkees (Micky Dolenz bought one of the very first units). But arguably the most fluid performer on the instrument was Dick Hyman, a jazz pianist who specialized in classic early styles (Jelly Roll Morton and such) who later added Lowry organ to his repetoire before getting his hands on a Moog. In 1969, Hyman released two classic "moogsploitation" albums, a subgenre that existed for a few years in which popular tunes of the day (Beatles, Joni, etc.) were rendered on the new synthesizer. In large part, the success of Hyman's albums were what drove this trend (also the million-selling Switched-On Bach by Walter (Wendy) Carlos). However, Electric Eclectics actually features original tunes (and some multi-tracked improvisation) by Hyman, and it includes pop tunes that are quite catchy ("The Moog And Me", memorably sampled on one of Beck's 90's hits) and freaked out grooviness (the unlikely hit single "The Minotaur" which points the way towards Kraftwerk and krautrock). At the same time, Hyman was also grooving the moog (and his other keyboards) on classic easy listening albums by Enoch Light & The Light Brigade. In Japanese pop music news this week, here's two groups I haven't played on the show before: Perfume have just released a new album called Future Pop with a terrific title track (written and arranged by Yasutaka Nakata), and Tricot is an indie rock band with an interesting angular jazzoid guitar sound.
"Doremi Fasol Latido" by Hawkwind (1972)
Hawkwind "Doremi Fasol Latido"  1972 (UK)
Lemmy joined this legendary space rock band in 1972 and made them heavier. Hawkwind was already one of the hairiest, scariest hippy bands in England, notorious for copious LSD, sci-fi themes, and naked dancers at their shows. Their first album with Lem (third overall) was recorded incredibly cheaply, but the flat, compressed sound seems to point the way towards "post-punk." The first side of the record is almost entirely taken up by one of their most classic jam duets comprised of "Master Of The Universe" and "Space Is Deep." Side two is pretty strong as well, including more classics from their repetoire "Lord Of Light" and "Time We Left This World Today." The concluding track is Lemmy's first composition for the band "The Watcher" which has doom-laden lyrics but is sort of a psychedelic acoustic guitar ballad! But don't worry, he remade that song in a totally metal fashion on the debut album of his next band Motorhead in 1977.
"Romantic Warrior" by Return To Forever (1976)
Return To Forever "Romantic Warrior"  1976 (USA)
RTF was one of the top fusion groups of the fusion era, right up there with Mahavishnu Orchestra and Weather Report. Founded by keyboardist Chick Corea (who, like all famous jazz guys, played with Miles Davis), arguably the most legendary lineup of the group was the quartet that recorded this week's CAOTW. Joining Corea are legendary bassist Stanley Clarke and unsung great drummer Lenny White, plus 21 year-old phenom Al Di Meola on guitar. The four of them together make an enormous sound and the music is almost absurdly complex: this is one of those jazz fusion records which fits right into the progressive rock world. In fact, parts of it (in particular Di Meola's tune "Majestic Dance") sound a lot like Frank Zappa's extremely complex small band arrangements of the 70's.
Also on the show this week: the roots of my favorite new Japanese rock singer/rapper, Haru Nemuri! "Inochine Natte" was her first "breakthrough" song (though at only about 80,000 youtube views globally in a little over a year it's not exactly what you'd call a hit), and "HELLO @ NEW WORLD" is a non-album single from later in 2017. On the opposite end of the musical spectrum, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu's happy new album Japamyu is due later this month and is sure to sell billions of copies.
     
Click here for classic albums from more than three months ago.
          

back to more show info * back to main listen* playlists * upcoming shows * contact the host