most legendary psychedelic Brazilian band of the sixties had a brief
"proggy synthesizer" period in the mid-1970's. More review soon.
- Os Mutantes "Tudo Foi Feito Pelo Sol" 1974 (Brazil)
Reichel was a pioneering guitarist from the West German "krautrock"
scene, best known for his albums under the name "A.R. & Machines."
This week's classic album is a live in concert recording where A.R.
does his guitar loops and samples similar to the "Machines" albums, but
with live backup from a drummer, percussionist, and a guy playing
flutes and saxophones. More review soon.
- Achim Reichel "Erholung" 1975 (Germany)
This post-krautrock classic was a pioneering example of "ambient techno" from the former lead guitarist of Ash Ra Tempel and Cosmic Jokers.
Remarkably, this hour-long classic piece of music was . . . recorded
live to cassette in exacty one hour, by Manuel all by himself! For the
first 30 minutes he mostly twiddles knobs while a hypnotic drum machine
and two-chord arpeggio groove endlessly. Then for the last 30 minutes,
he picks up a guitar and adds an epic yet tasteful solo of
pointilist restraint. This record may have done more to inspire the
"techno/rave/electronica" thing that arrived at the end of the 80's
than just about anything outside of Kraftwerk. In particular, E2-E4 pretty much sounds like the blueprint for my favorite "techno/rave-era" electronica-artists The Orb's epic forays into trancey psychedelic electronics.
- Manuel Göttsching "E2-E4" 1984 (Germany)
week on the show we're celebrating (gasp!) 14 years of the Kosmik
Radiation show! Featuring some of the best heavy, psychedelic &
underground rock of the KR Show era (2005-2019). This week's classic
album was notable upon release for being a total departure from the
tight, trebly punk rock Sleater-Kinney became known for in the 1990's
when they were one of the most acclaimed "riot grrrl" bands - and also
because the band broke up immediately following the tour for The Woods (but spoiler alert! They reformed a decade later to record a new album and make this cute video with the kids from Bob's Burgers).
The three members of the band have come to be icons of indie rock:
Corin Tucker (lead vocal & rhythm guitar which often takes the
place of the bass player S-K has never had), Carrie Brownstein
(lead guitar & second vocalist, sketch comedy star), and one of the
best rock drummers of recent decades: Janet Weiss (also member of
Quasi with her ex-husband and the short-lived super group Wild Flag with Brownstein, as well as Stephen Malkmus' Jicks during that band's peak period).
- Sleater-Kinney "The Woods" 2005 (USA)
seems to me that Cypress Hill has pretty much been coasting for their
entire careers on the strength of their innovative debut album, which
gives you an idea of what a classic it must be (I guess it sucks when
your first album is a masterpiece of the genre, because how do you top
that?) It helped a lot that they arrived on the scene just as "gangsta"
rap was starting to take over the charts, fluffy pop metal was giving
way to gritty flannel "grunge" rock, and Bill Clinton was swearing he
never inhaled (wink wink). The reason I immediately sparked to this
record was their produced DJ Muggs' penchant for building grooves on
the crustiest old 45's from the sixties Booker T & the MGs'
"Bootleg" and even "Come On In", an obscure B-side from The Music
Machine that you wouldn't expect in a hiphop record (that one provides
the "psychedelic circus" bridge section of their first hit "How I Could Just Kill A Man").
The other thing that makes the album a classic is the buoyant stonery
braggadocio from the rappers Sen Dog (gruff ruff ruff) brilliantly
contrasting with the infamously nasal style of B-Real. The first album
was something of a cult classic that grew to the point that when their
second album Black Sunday was released it debuted at #1 on the American album charts, and they scored an unlikely Top 40 hit "Insane In The Brain", which remains a popular catch phrase to this day and was also used as the basis of a classic joke when they appeared on The Simpsons.
- Cypress Hill "Cypress Hill" 1991 (USA)
in the 1980's before the Interweb, there was no "shit posting" or
meming, but there was already an "underground" culture that sometimes
liked to recontextualize the mainstream in subversive ways. (Does that
even make sense to kids today? "Underground" culture is extinct, in its
place are a zillion microscenes andsocial media bubbles. Or if
there was an underground today, I guess it would have to happen offline
since the Interweb is where the mainstream is now? Enough digression,
back to the story!) Sonic Youth was a noisy, artsy-fartsy "punk rock"
band from NYC that thought it would be fun to do a pop album with rap
songs and covers of Madonna and Robert Palmer hits. I'm sure there was
more "Andy Warhol blah blah, high culture and low culture are really
the same" jive thrown around at the time, but pop is ephemeral and
nobody cares about Robert Palmer covers (or 1980's NYC art trends)
these days. What makes this week's CAOTW work is that it's really just
an experimental Sonic Youth album: basically all of their records are
built on guitar-bass-drums-andmoreguitars and they are just not the
type of band to bring in a horn or string section. But for a brief
period in between their double-album masterpiece Daydream Nation and leaving the indies behind to sign with a major label for Goo,
they were briefly into drum machines, sampling and loops. But don't
worry, there's still plenty of guitars too! And it you dig The Whitey Album, a few months prior to it they also released the similar Master-Dik
12" single, which includes the titular non-album rap song on one side
and on the other, a 20-minute collage of odd grooves and atmospheres plus the
funniest bits from clueless European radio interviews with the band
(that side is almost like a John & Yoko album, only funnier).
- Ciccone Youth (Sonic Youth) "The Whitey Album" 1989 (USA)
one more "weird millenial pop girls from the internet" classic album: the debut by the
most globally popular Japanese group of this decade, the incomparable
BABYMETAL. Take three contestants from a teenage pop idol reality show, dress them up like heavy metal cheerleaders, hire
the biggest talents from the local underground metal scene, and the
result has blown the minds of pop music fans and won the loyalty of the largest music fan commnity in the world.
The group has released two albums so far, both of which are quite
enjoyable if you like metal and melody, though the debut (our
CAOTW) is a bit more winning since it was more eclectic than the "even
more metal" follow-up Metal Resistance,
and because it was the blueprint for "kawaii metal" (cute metal) which
is actually developing into a scene of its own in Japan (or at least
BABYMETAL is popular enough to inspire a legion of imitators).
Since a big part of BABYMETAL's appeal is visual, enjoy the majesty of
their adorable choreography and million-dollar concert staging: "Gimme Chocolate!!" is their most popular song and video to date, and "The One" is a standout track from their second album.
- BABYMETAL "BABYMETAL" 2014 (Japan)
In other Japanese rock news, the first Haru Nemuri concert footage of 2019 has arrived online, including this powerful festival performance in front of the biggest, most enthusiastic crowd I've seen her with so far. Also, she has a new song out in collaboration with the band Prune Deer. Plus, this fun mash-up of her 2018 "Kick in the World"
single with the MC5 classic "Kick Out the Jams" (how big a Haru fan am
I? I was the 20th person on Earth to view that last one, which still
has less than 100 views!)
Also, we lost one of the major musical figures of the last half century - the incomparable SCOTT WALKER (Noel Scott Engel)
has passed at age 76. I didn't pay tribute on the show this week,
because I have featured his music so regularly over the years - in
fact, I just played his 2014 classic album
on the previous show and mused on the air that it had been
a couple years since we've heard from him and he might not make any
more records (curse my powers of prophecy). But the press release from
his label did reveal the first hint of personal biography from this notoriously
reclusive artist: Scott was survived by a "partner", daughter and
has been having a major resurgence in popularity in the last year, with
a movie and Oscar award for Rami Malek's portrayal of Freddie Mercury.
There really is no arguing about which Queen album was the best: their
fourth release A Night At The Opera
is an immaculately produced album of incredible diversity that took
them from the second rung of British Rock to one of the top bands in
the world, and includes two of the group's most classic songs in "My
Best Friend" (written by the bassist John Deacon) and of course the
band's masterpiece "Bohemian Rhapsody" written by Freddie. It also
includes standout deep cuts like Brian May's mystical prog epic "The
Prophet" and Mercury's ballad "Love Of My Life", as well as music hall,
glam, metal and lots of other stuff, all perfectly arranged and segued
into the kind of classic album that defines "classic rock." In terms of
visuals, Queen was one of the most innovative bands of their day
creating what was arguably the first modern music video for this album (groups as far back as The Beatles had done "promotional clips",
but those early "videos" tended to be cheap and not particularly
artistic footage of a band miming on their instruments in a park and
that sort of thing.)
- Queen "A Night At The Opera" 1975 (UK)
Kosmik Radiation returned to the 2am-5am timeslot earlier this year,
I've been pleased to bring back "non-rock music in the final hour of
the show" as a regular segment. What could be more surreal than waking
up very early (or going to bed very late) to the sounds of some of the
most out-there Modern Jazz ever recorded? Eric Dolphy was a shooting
star in the early 1960's jazz scene, seen as a peer of the likes of John Coltrane (whom he made a few classic records with) and Ornette Coleman,
at the forefront of the "New Thing" in jazz which was the grooviest
scene going before the 1960's turned on, tuned in, and dropped
out. But alas, Dolphy died under controversial circumstances at the
young age of 36 while on tour in Europe (the official version is he was
an undiagnosed diabetic who went hypoglycemic; the more controversial
one is that European doctors did not give him proper care because they
assumed an American jazz musician feeling sick must be a junky, which
Eric was not). His final studio album Out To Lunch!
was his masterpiece as well as his swan song, and for 50 years now has
been considered one of the cornerstone albums of that "sixties New
Thing Modern Jazz" style. So what do we get here? Five original Eric
Dolphy compositions (RIYL the idiosyncratic atonal wackiness of
Thelonious Monk and Ornette Coleman) performed by a legendary band:
Dolphy on saxes and flute, Bobby Hutcherson the undisputed ModJazz
master of the vibraphone, Freddie Hubbard the second-most popular
trumpeter of the 60's and 70's, Richard Davis (later a beloved
UW-Madison music professor) on the bass, and playing drums is 17
year-old Tony Williams who had just joined Miles Davis' legendary quintet.
But Dolphy is unquestionably the star here: his playing is every bit as
"free" as the notorious Ornette (according to legend Dolphy used to
practice sax by playing along with birds chirping outside his
window), but with the top-flight chops of a Charlie Parker. It's truly
intriguing to consider where Dolphy might have gone had he lived long
enough to see the hippie era and electrified jazz fusion that followed:
what could he have done with a wah-wah pedal and an amplifier?!?!
- Eric Dolphy "Out To Lunch!" 1964 (USA)