Frank Zappa is often regarded as one of the most brilliant, idiosyncratic musicians in rock music. But, looking back at his eclectic, monstrous body of work as a composer, guitarist, vocalist, and bandleader, Zappa really wasn't a "rock" musician. That fact is cemented on 'Lumpy Gravy,' Zappa's first official solo album, which was released 45 years ago today (May 13, 1968).
Like many other '70s rock greats, British space-rock pioneers Hawkwind built their legacy on-stage, rather than in the recording studio. On May 11, 1973, the band released their defining masterpiece. 'Space Ritual,' their fourth overall LP and first live album, is a mind-numbing double-album behemoth that captures the Hawkwind experience in all its demented glory.
How exactly did Genesis, progressive rock's defining band, manage to survive so much turmoil? The group weathered the loss of key members and a shifting musical landscape to produce '. . . And Then There Were Three . . .,' the 1978 album that introduced a leaner three-man lineup and helped them move from prog toward the poppier sound that would define their career in the '80s.
This year's Record Store Day (April 20) is shaping up to be a classic rock extravaganza (emphasis on 'extra'): From Cream's triple-vinyl live set to David Bowie's string of singles to Paul McCartney's live EP, some of rock's most legendary acts are digging deep into their respective vaults and unleashing goodies.
If you love vinyl, semi-frivolous bonus tracks, and classic rock, this is gearing up to be one monster of a Record Store Day. So far, artists like David Bowie, Cream, Paul McCartney, Jimi Hendrix, and the Rolling Stones have all announced exclusive RSD releases, and now prog-rock's elder statesmen, King Crimson, are throwing their hat in the ring with the fittingly-titled 'Going Schizoid with King Crimson.'
King Crimson's fifth studio album, 'Larks' Tongues in Aspic,' is a pinnacle of progressive rock, even though its music is nearly unclassifiable. Now 40 years after its original release, it remains a genre unto itself -- a mish-mash of heavy and soothing, beautiful and unsettling, experimental and melodic.
There have been many Fleetwood Macs over the years: the late '60s blues-rock titans, the transitional folk-rock successors, and the unexpected crossover pop-rock mega-stars of the late '70s. But this complex game of musical chairs begins way back in February of 1968. That's when the band released their fascinating debut album, defining a new era of British blues.
Genesis are rightfully regarded as one of the most innovate and eclectic progressive rock bands of all-time. But -- a couple late-era Phil Collins belters aside -- they're not remembered as cookie-cutter pop balladeers. Timing is everything: On Feb. 23, 1968, these British lads got off to an awkwardly uncharacteristic start with debut single, 'The Silent Sun,' the most saccharine, lightweight ditty in their entire discography.
One of many things that makes Rush so consistently rewarding is that they stick with what they do well -- more than likely, Geddy Lee won't form an electronic side project any time soon, and it's a safe bet Alex Lifeson won't switch over to steel guitar. 'The Anarchist,' the anthemic third single from the excellent 'Clockwork Angels,' is a perfect example of Rush reveling in the many things Rush do well.