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10 Albums Mistreated By History

For a large multitude of reasons there are albums that often get sifted over, mistreated, neglected, or forgotten. Think of them as little lost puppies. They would be shown the affection and care they deserve if someone would just redirect their attention. Well, here’s a list attempting to do just that. Strap in for stories of mysterious discontinued pressings, sophomore high jinks, mid-career crises, unwelcome explorations, ill-fated Soviet policies and pancakes!

10.  The Pharcyde – Labcabincalifornia

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The Pharcyde as group have always been somewhat shortchanged in terms of public and critical acclaim. As it is though, their first album is the one that gets the most attention but in all reality, it should be this one. This is perhaps the first album in which Dilla’s talent as a beatmaker truly shines. While the first album was incredibly carefree and fun-filled, this album is more laid-back, reflective, and sometimes almost even melancholy. The beats are more jazzy and atmospheric. The drums, even on the non-Dilla beats, are incredibly crisp and hard. Though the public at large may have overlooked this one, don’t be guilty of the same crime!

9. Swell Maps – A Trip To Marineville

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Swell Maps were one of the most original post-punk bands to form in the ’70s and for all intents and purposes, they were, as much as The Fall were, a precursor and ancestor of later indie-rock bands in the ’90s such as Pavement. The panic of one trying to escape a burning building is quite akin to the sounds that you’ll hear throughout the album. The band never found a mainstream avenue for their music to prosper in and as such they are often forgotten, even within their own genre. Despite the sometimes detrimental free-wheeling and manic nature of the album’s flow and song structures, it remains entirely unforgettable for the same reasons. The album constantly surprises and is packed to the brim with unique ideas and interesting execution of said ideas. Not everything works, but Swell Maps were a band that weren’t afraid to make a mistake for the greater good of the true spirit of DIY punk music.

8. R.L. Burnside – Too Bad Jim

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Talk about delicious slide guitar. Unfortunately for Burnside, he didn’t get much recognition at all until he partnered with faux-blues group Jon Spencer Blues Explosion in the mid ’90s, about two years after the release of this compilation. This album is as Balls-to-the-Wall as a group like Accept but it isn’t metal, it’s blues! A train that always sounds like it’s teetering off the tracks, this album is perfect or fans of rock and newcomers to blues; a great place to start!

7. Miles Davis – Get Up With It

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It’s incredibly difficult to frame this album within the context of Miles Davis’s history, let alone the history of jazz and jazz-fusion as a whole. What I can say about this album though is that, for whatever reason (my guess is the intimidating length of over two hours), this album is the least discussed of Miles’s electric-fusion albums. It’s a bold, bloated, sprawling masterpiece that sounds like emotionally calculated rhythm at one moment and free-spirited and drug-induced improv the next. For all this album achieves in its two hour span: making the listener feel like they are in another world, invoking memories of childhood innocence, breaking for a moment of subtle reflection, aggressively pummeling the way into the unknown, etc., the whole is somehow other (worldly) than the sum of its parts.

6. Massive Attack – Protection

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It’s difficult to relate the memories that I have associated with this one. As a trip-hop album, it’s typically chilled-out ambient vibe-driven music but there’s something absolutely special about this one. While their debut focused on breakbeats and soul samples, this one is its own entity, amorphous and shape-shifting in its own peculiar circumspect viewpoint of the world. I still find myself constantly returning to this album. Something about its atmosphere and moods keeps me infinitely interested in it. The reflective mood combined with the lovely vocals and layered-instrument filled production add up to a very unique musical experience that should be had by everyone. Because it is sandwiched between two albums in their discography that get heaps of critical praise, this one often gets left out. Though it may be treated like an ugly duckling, it certainly isn’t one musically.

5. Black Sabbath – Sabotage

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For some reason, this album is divisive. Some Sabbath fans (like me) love it. Some Sabbath fans hate it. It might have something to do with “Am I Going Insane” but even that song has a synthy satisfaction to it and adds some variety. I will admit though that this album is wedged between one of their greatest albums and subsequently two of their worst albums. This was certainly the heaviest Sabbath album and Iommi makes the guitars scream with a vengeance. Side A is possibly the best set of Sabbath songs that exists. “Megalomania” is one of the masterpieces of metal music. This album seems to have foreshadowed the future of metal. I can definitely see where Pantera got their chops from. The last great Sabbath album, stained by a minority of public opinion.

4. Ghostface Killah – Bulletproof Wallets

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After Ghostface’s non-sequitur, stream-of-consciousness masterpiece, ‘Supreme Clientele’, this record, both critically and publicly, seemed to get shortchanged in favorability. It might be hard for some to believe, but I would take this album out over ‘Supreme Clientele’ almost any day. Perhaps I’m a sucker for magnificent hooks. Perhaps I enjoy the spectacular guest performances more. Maybe I like the thought of Ghostface making pancakes while he raps. Perhaps I just have a bad opinion. But I make no apology for any reason.

3.  The Fall – Levitate

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In 1997, post-punk veterans The Fall released an album ahead of its time. In a discography as big as theirs, this album was doomed to be in a large crowd to begin with but its oddly limited production run (buying one now costs at a minimum around $35 + shipping) has exiled it into the history books of Falldom. This was the album that should’ve paved the way for independent electronica music, unfortunately it wasn’t to be. There is no way to really describe how this album sounds or even how it makes me feel. Though more often than not it makes me feel more than slightly uncomfortable and quite anxious. This is a truly demented album made by rock music’s foremost madman, Mark E. Smith. Perhaps its striking place in The Fall’s massive discography is secured by the fact that it was the first album that lead singer (and only permanent member) Mark E. Smith produced. There was no producer there that could say “No Mark, you can’t do that. You can’t loop that. You can’t make the vocals that loud. You can’t compress the drums like that. That programmed honky-tonk doesn’t fit there”. Subsequently, this album is pure cacophony, even by Fall standards. It’s a wonderful, beautiful, disgusting and uncomfortable mess. Bold. Brash. Magnificent.

2. Leftfield – Rhythm & Stealth

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It’s hard to deny the success of their debut album, but just about everyone forgot about Leftfield in the four-year span between their debut and their sophomore album. Of course, this album was a bit of a departure from their beginnings but it showed serious progression, not to mention attitude, aggression, and endless ambition. I dare you not to be convinced after hearing the pummeling bassline of “Dusted” or the hard-snapping snares and steel drums of “Phat Planet”. They even tried to out-Underworld Underworld with their ethereal and spacious “El Cid”. One of the best ’90s house/breakbeat albums around. You’ll love it. Guaranteed.

1. Manic Street Preachers – Lifeblood

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Perhaps the most tender and personal album I’ve ever heard. Released in 2004, it sounds like it’s trying to recall the synthpop days of the ’80s at some points and at others its telling tales of personal hardship over minimalist piano-backed sonnets. Unfortunately, many of the fans of this group and even the band themselves tend to deride this album as the “black sheep” and the “confused stepping stone” in a sequence of albums that even a EKG couldn’t properly visualize in terms of quality. But don’t let that fool you, this album has a lot of heart. From the band that lost their most crucial member to an unexplained disappearance 10 years prior, this album ruminates on the glory days of Morrissey and the Smiths, the hardships of Richard Nixon, the collapse of the Soviet Union with Gorbachev’s ill-chosen policies and stories of drug abuse. Sound boring? Think again. The aural austerity of of this album will leave you shivering at its awe-inspiring pulchritude.

Honorable Mentions:

R.E.M. – Up

Guns N’ Roses – Use Your Illusion II

Killing Joke – Nighttime

Low – Long Division

Smashing Pumpkins – Adore

Magazine – Secondhand Daylight

 

Meeting tomorrow!

Welcome back everyone! I hope you all had a productive winter break and are off to a great start this semester! Our first meeting will be Wednesday, February 3rd at 9pm in the radio station at the HUB. Newcomers are warmly welcomed and encouraged to join and take part in our club of DJs and music aficionados. The sooner you get trained out on the boards, the sooner you’ll have your own show! We might even have pizza and who can say no to that? Hope to see you all there!

Come out and play!

Ever wonder what its like to work for a radio station? Well wonder no more! Wpcr is looking for some students to come and join our programming team, promotions team, and a couple of genre directors! If think you have what it takes come to our next general board meeting Wenesday November 7th! In memorial room 103! Paul

Welcome Back! Time to Rock and Roll!

Welcome back to all of you returning PSU students. I hope everyone’s first couple weeks have been going well! To the freshmen reading this – congratulations, as you have just found yourself the friendliest, most rambunctious, and all around coolest club on campus! Unlike others, we eat pizza with style and we play music with finesse! So don’t hesitate, come join us and be a part of WPCR! We will train you on the boards and before you know it, you’ll be the next John Peel! Questions? Stop by the activities fair today (9/9/15) at 4pm and we’ll be more than happy to talk with you! Our first meeting will be tonight at 9pm in Memorial 103. I hope to see you there! Let’s make it a semester at WPCR that will go down in legend!

The New Crew!

Congrats to everyone who has procured a position on the exec. board of the coolest club on campus!

For those who don’t know, elections were held last Wednesday and the results were as follows:

General Manager: Nick Einstman

Assistant General Manager: Joshua Butler

Music Director: Tristan Sherrell

Art Director: Jack Swymer

Training: Eric Halin

Production/Programming: Kyle Rainville

Promotions: Brianna Coykendall

Once again, congrats to all! – Let’s make next year an unforgettable one!

Albums of Love!

In the spectrum of popular music, love has always been a major theme. As Valentine’s Day has once again come and gone, it’s the perfect time for a list! In no particular order, here are five great albums that center around the theme of love.

John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman – John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman

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What better to start off the list than this wondrous jazz album, often forgotten in the wake of Coltrane’s many other gems throughout his discography. Hartman was the only vocalist with whom the saxophonist would record as a lead and as proven here, Coltrane’s judgment was impeccable. Touching, tender, and smooth, this album will be sure to set the atmosphere for a romantic dinner or a reminder of love that once was on your loneliest nights.

 

Portishead – Dummy

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This 1994 trip-hop album was quite the game changer. While Massive Attack’s original trip-hop manifesto, Blue Lines, was grounded upon a somewhat minimalist approach to samples combined with break-beats, this album goes all out in an effort to embellish the sound with a tangible sadness, turgid with singer Beth Gibbons’ longing for love and reprieve. Combining an eclectic mixture of samples from obscure records and movie soundtracks, the vinyl crackle present even on the compact disc copies will guide your ethereal listening experience…

 

The Magnetic Fields – 69 Love Songs

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No list of this type could do without this album. Possibly Stephen Merritt’s magnum opus, this triple album gives you the run-down right from the get go. Consisting of 69 songs, this indie pop album takes a multitude of approaches to describing love in all of its various forms. I tip my hat to you if you can listen to it all in one sitting.

 

Basement Jaxx – Rooty

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The second album from British electronic dance duo, Basement Jaxx, is a wonderfully flavorful exploit in pop melody and although the rhythms can occasionally seem anodyne in their accessibility, their infectiousness is undeniable. Sometimes sexual, other times caring, always emotional, Basement Jaxx knows how to make you groove on the dance floor.

 

Liz Phair – Exile In Guyville

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Not only one of the greatest solo debuts in indie-rock history, but also a cathartic expulsion of pent up female emotion. Phair details some of the most memorable stories and escapades set to some of the most satisfying of pop melodies. Girls will love her for her brashness and guys will love her for everything else.

So what are some of your favorite love-ridden/love-stricken albums? Let me know your thoughts in the comment sections!

First Meeting Coming Up!

Hello all!

WPCR will be holding its first meeting of the semester this coming Wednesday (February 4th) at 9pm in Memorial, room 103. For all those music obsessives out there, you have found your niche. So come and join us – come and see what it’s all about! If you find that you’re interested, we will train you to be a DJ and you can have your own show! It is also likely that we’ll have pizza at the meeting (that’s how we hook you…). So what have you got to lose? Hope to see you there!

What Makes A Classic Album ‘Classic’?

The mythical and peerless ‘classic’ album is a term many people attribute to albums that had an impact that is still felt today, but impact can’t be the only quality that defines a ‘classic’ album, can it? Another popular term is ‘overlooked classic’. While it is possible to classify this term as a contradiction if one places a high value upon mainstream impact and cultural staying power, there are certainly many brilliant records that exist upon a golden pedestal exclusively for the obsessive and adventurous listeners; to put it more blatantly, many a great album has been released under the mainstream radar.

If we subscribe to the idea that a classic is not defined by how well known it is, the possibilities of classics are increased dramatically within each respective genre. There have been plenty of albums that received widespread critical acclaim and high sales; take for example Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’, an album that has not only remained commercially successful throughout the years, but has also cemented itself (and the artist) as a household name for a long time into the foreseeable future. Many albums by artists such as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Bob Dylan, The Who, and The Doors have had the same effect. It is likely that no one would argue against the fact that many works from the aforementioned artists are classics, but their popularity is not necessarily what makes them classics.

For example, take Massive Attack’s debut album, ‘Blue Lines’. While the album itself was critically well-received, the highest chart position any of the singles managed to garner was 13. Oddly enough, at the time of the album’s release, there wasn’t anything else like it. With the combination of hip-hop break beats, sampling, rapping, soul hooks, and dub grooves, ‘Blue Lines’ pioneered the genre later to be tagged as “trip-hop”. As time has passed and the genre has grown and developed, many look back on the album as an overlooked classic; the likely cause of this revisionism being influence.

But still, a classic album influence alone does not make. The genre of hip-hop is one of the most confusing realms of ‘classics’ that exist. The largest problem with hip-hop and classifying particular hip-hop albums as classic is the rapid growth, progression, and development of the genre. With the steady growth of technology, hip-hop production techniques have changed dramatically and it’s quite easy to hear some of those older records and immediately think “outdated”, but at the same time one can listen to those records and hear many of the pieces of later hip-hop albums. Wasn’t it those albums that laid the foundation for all hip-hop to come? Would Jay-Z have been as successful (or successful at all) if Big Daddy Kane didn’t exist? Would Kanye have made the same chipmunk-soul beats on his early records if RZA never produced “For Heaven’s Sake”? Would Nas have released the ‘Illmatic’ that we know if Rakim didn’t pioneer internal rhymes on ‘Paid in Full’? Did Kool Keith influence MF Doom to eventually take on multiple personas? Would groups like TDE or the A$AP Mob exist without Geto Boys and N.W.A.? All of this is hard to ascertain, but one thing is certain: those older hip-hop albums played an incredibly large role in the progression of said genre. Still, it is unlikely that influence alone can determine a classic. Aesop Rock’s ‘Labor Days’ has found wide praise among fans of alternative hip-hop but its influence within the genre as a whole is markedly miniscule. Could the album still be noted as a classic despite its lack of influence?

What about rock music? As rock has been around for quite a while, its pool of classics are well in place; does rock music still have artists that drop classic albums? Throughout the decades, certainly every original idea that involves a guitar, a drum kit, a bass, and amps has been done hundreds of times over? Perhaps this is true, but that hasn’t stopped the genre’s continued success. Respected artists and groups throughout the years have never been shy in “borrowing” an idea or two from other artists; as Oscar Wilde said, “Talent borrows, genius steals.” On Nirvana’s “Come As You Are”, one can hear a slowed-down version of a riff from Killing Joke’s “Eighties”, released about six years prior. On Green Day’s “Warning”, the featured riff is a near replication of the one featured in The Kinks’ “Picture Book”. Oasis was a band that was never shy about their borrowing habits: take for example their single “Cigarettes & Alcohol” and compare it to T-Rex’s “Get It On”. Even The Smiths borrowed ideas occasionally as exemplified in the similarities between their song “Rusholme Ruffians” and the very similar rhythm in Elvis Presley’s “(Marie’s The Name) His Latest Flame”.  Do these songs and their possible derivativeness lessen the credit of the aforementioned artists? Not at all; despite similar ideas, songs (completely original or not) are all about execution. Even if an idea isn’t all original, it can still be impactful depending on the foundation of execution. As a result, one can find an “agreed-consensus” classic in the rock universe. Recently a few not-widely-disputed rock classics have been released such as The Strokes’ ‘Is This It’, Arcade Fire’s ‘Funeral’, and The National’s ‘Boxer’. All of these albums borrow elements from older works but yet they still resonate with people.

So then what is a classic? Perhaps a classic doesn’t need to contain any of the qualities I described. Perhaps a classic is undefinable. More than likely, every genre has different fans who would likely call some albums classic because of their bias (and perhaps knowledge) pertaining to the genre of that album. Different fans appreciate different qualities. To continue the hip-hop example: some hip-hop fans value lyrics/technique highly so they may appreciate an album by Chino XL more than a hip-hop fan who places high value upon beats and creative production. Are there definite qualities that characterize a ‘classic’ album? If so, do those qualities vary greatly between genres? Let me know what you guys think!

A new semester means some new shows

Thats right folks we are back and kicking all sorts of things…one of those things are getting a bunch of new shows! thats right folks we have basically filled up the night time shows so get ready for some awesome shows with some colorful people!

Our First Meeting Is Soon!

Hey everyone!

Our first planned meeting is scheduled for 9 p.m. on Wednesday, September 10th in Memorial 103. If you’ve just started college this year and have always wanted to have your own radio show or even if you’re a Senior, but have always had other obligations, now is the time to get trained out and get DJ’ing!

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