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.

   

"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.
"Stand Up" by Jethro Tull (1969)
Jethro Tull "Stand Up"  1969 (UK)
How did this band not have any classic albums before now? My favorite Tull record is their second; they began as a weird blues band and eventually turned into one of the most popular prog rock bands from Britain (thee lande of ye progge rocke). A neo-folky heavy blues band led by a maniacal flute player notorious for wearing a codpiece on stage, Jethro Tull was a band with few peers. Though in the late 60's apparently Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band were convinced JT was ripping off their blues weirdness (and having tremendously more commercial success at it). Like Beefheart, Tull had a resident "genius" who wrote all their words and music, the zany flautist Ian Anderson. He's a very original songwriter who came up with some very interesting and unforgettable riffs ("Aqualung"!), though as a flute player he was always straight up ripping off the brilliant Rahsaan Roland Kirk.
In Japanese rock news, Haru Nemuri released a new (neo-grunge rock?) single "Kick In The World" this week (that's an actor singing in the video - she did not get a haircut as you can see from this awesome set recorded live in Japan last month), and the release date for Kyary Pamyu Pamyu's fourth album Japamyu is set for September! Finally, here's a live clip of my favorite Kyary anthem "Mondai Girl" with English subtitles.
"Tone Float" by Organisation (1970)
Organisation "Tone Float"  1970 (Germany)
Ralf Hutter turns 72 this week; before he and his partner Florian Schneider founded Kraftwerk and perfected "electronic pop", they made this jammy experimental album. Organisation was a large group featuring tons of percussion instruments and a "world music" flavor, and their sole album was released very early during the first wave of the "krautrock" era (I think only Can and Amon Duul II had albums out before them). Needless to say, it was not a big seller at the time, and Kraftwerk have famously disavowed all of their albums prior to Autobahn (the first three and the Organisation album have never officially been reissued, though they are much bootlegged.)
Also on the show this week: here's clips from a bunch more of them Japanese ladies! KOM_I, the funky cool queen from Wednesday Campanella! Far East Mention Mannequins, or FEMM, are a pair of "living mannequins" who may be too American for the Japanese market and vice versa, but their music is quite interesting "progressive electronic pop." Of course those cute kids from BABYMETAL, who are the most globally popular Japanese band of this decade. Karassu Wa Masshiro means "A Crow Is White", and they seem to be a funky "indie rock" type band, famous for their animated videos. Then of course there's Haru and Kyary!
"Music" by Buzzy Linhart (1970)
Buzzy Linhart "Music"  1970 (USA)
An obscure classic for sure, hipped to me by a listener request. William "Buzzy" Linhart was a childhood vibraphone prodigy who moved to NYC in the early sixties and roomed with John Sebastian of Loving Spoonful (and "Welcome Back Kotter" theme), and played gigs with Fred Neil (author of Nilsson's classic "Everybody's Talkin'"). From there he went on to play with Seventh Sons, one of the first raga-rock bands who released an album on the weird ESP label, followed by a series of five obscure solo albums between 1969 and 1974 (while also having a bit of success as a TV and movie actor typecast in "hippie" roles). Also: he co-wrote "You've Got To Have Friends" which is Bette Midler's theme song! This week's classic album is probably the best of his solo LP's, being a lovely concoction of Tin Pan Alley, folk, country, blues, jazz, psychedelia, raga/world music, and some heavy jams. A charming enough singer who wrote catchy tunes, above all Buzzy seems to be a "musician's musician" -- why he even recruited Skunk Baxter from The Dan of Steel to play on his 1972 Buzzy album (the same year as their debut album)!
On another topic, my two favorite Japanese dames! Representing the two poles of contemporary J-Pop: the overwhelming cuteness of Kyary and the dark catharsis of Haru!
"Blues For Allah" by Grateful Dead (1975)
Grateful Dead "Blues For Allah"  1975 (USA)
Today is Jerry Garcia's 76th birthday, so I figured it's time for another classic album by The Dead. They were one of the great live bands of all time, but their success at making studio albums was very hit or miss. In particular, they rarely achieved the psychedelic majesty they were famous when they weren't on stage. So I think their most classic albums are their first three live albums, and their second "studio" album which was largely edited together from concert recordings (though the Official History of Rock says it would be their two best-selling albums from 1970, which I have not made classic albums because Workingman's and Beauty represent the lighter side of the Dead; basically sounds like CSN). In particular, I think their studio LPs from 1973-1980 are particularly dull, with one interesting exception: this week's Classic Blues for Allah. The title track is their most out-there progadelic epic (much more interesting than the orchestrated sidelong suite about turtles on their next studio LP), and this record also added a couple of classics to their concert repetoire: the jazz raga "Help On The Way/Slipnot!" and endless groover "Franklin's Tower".
"Spaced Out" by Enoch Light & The Light Brigade (1969)
Enoch Light & The Light Brigade "Spaced Out"  1969 (USA)
I'm a bit surprised this record wasn't a classic album sooner, since it is arguably the greatest "space age bachelor pad" or "turned-on easy listening" album of all time. Enoch Light was a primarily a producer known for super hi-fidelity recordings (including extreme stereo effects), and his band The Light Brigade was basically studio musicians featuring guest appearances from other artists (usually instrumentalists) affiliated with Enoch's Project 3 record label. On this particular LP, the Brigade includes Dick Hyman on moog synthesizer (I'm also surprised I haven't given him a classic album yet), The Free Design on vocals, and Tony Motolla on guitar: in other words an all-star easy listening orchestra! Plus in the style of the times it is kind of a concept album: all the songs are by Burt Bacharach, The Beatles or Johann Sebastian Bach (the 3 B's). Back in 1969, youth counterculture types (hippies) probably thought this was the most horrible commercialization imaginable, but today it sounds more sixties than the sixties probably really were (if Austin Powers didn't shag to this soundtrack in the movies, he could have).
Also on the show this week: further down the rabbit-holes of J-pop and "weird girl" pop with Scottish futurist SophieWednesday Campanella (Japanese oral folklore styles mixed with rapping and house-y dance music), Haru Namuri (the J-pop anti-idol: brooding art punk with dissonant guitars), and another "wake up kawaii" session with Kyary Pamyu Pamyu (this video from 5 years ago celebrates her reaching the legal drinking age in Japan, which is 20).
     
Click here for classic albums from more than three months ago.
          

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