Motorpsycho, Supersonic Scientists: A Young Person’s Guide to Motorpsycho (Rune Grammofon)
The subtitle is an arch paraphrase, borrowed from a well-known King Crimson anthology. It is also higher truth — a superb beginner’s history to this Norwegian psychedelic-art-metal trio across two LPs, 15 tracks and more than two decades. There is some inevitable trimming; there isn’t enough room for 2008’s entire, thrilling “Little Lucid Moments” suite (you get the heated, glowing “Part 1” here). But the spread, from the raw, bawling “Nothing to Say” on 1993’s Demon Box to the sunrise charge of 2014’s “Cloudwalker,” is furious, informative and, for those already in the know, still a solid listen. For those just walking into the maelstrom, it will be the start of something loud — and long.
Link Wray, 3-Track Shack (Ace)
Between this Native American guitarist’s invention of the power chord on his 1958 single “Rumble” and his New Wave–sidekick limelight riding shotgun with singer Robert Gordon, there was Link Wray’s truly wildnerness Seventies, when he cut three albums of gritty and sublime proto-Americana on his brother’s Maryland farm: 1971’s Link Wray, a ’72 follow-up issued under the psuedonym Mordecai Jones and a ’73 roundup of odds and sods first issued only in the U.K., Beans and Fatback. It’s all one hearty meal on this two-CD set — blues, country, rockabilly and wood smoke, rendered by an originator with no frills in a setting even more down-home than the Band’s Woodstock basement. This is as close to the ground as roots rock gets.
Ron Nagle, Bad Rice (Plus …) (Omnivore)
Singer-songwriter Ron Nagle was a man out of time in psychedelic San Francisco as the singer-keyboard player in the defiantly Who-ish pop-art band the Mystery Trend. He maintained his distance from local convention, as the acid gave way to the Grateful Dead’s American Beauty, on his critically acclaimed but commercially doomed 1970 solo album for Warner Bros., Bad Rice. Produced by Phil Spector associate and Crazy Horse pianist Jack Nitzsche, the original 11 tracks veered from the country-rock brawling of “61 Clay” and “Marijuana Hell” (note Ry Cooder’s guitar in those) to the grand, surrealist balladry of “Frank’s Store.” A second disc of demos and eccenticity from 1968–1973 doubles the meal.
Karin Krog, Don’t Just Sing, An Anthology: 1963–1999 (Light in the Attic)
The Norwegian vocalist — a pioneering figure in contemporary Scandanavian jazz — roams wide in this single-disc introduction, her first-ever U.S. release. A supple alto with a beguiling articulation and no fear, Karin Krog, born in 1937, was as comfortable and quietly electric next to hard-bop sax titan Dexter Gordon in 1970 as she with the experimental British saxophonist John Surman, her longtime partner. Krog covered Joni Mitchell in 1974, ahead of that singer’s own immersion in jazz; adapted Gertrude Stein’s “As a Wife Has a Cow” for voice and electronics in 1972; and literally took John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme to church, in a recording with pipe organ in 1980. This is a rich life, compressed for entrance — jazz by association but compelling at every turn.