We kick off our 2018 edition of the Essential Project where we dig deep into a particular genre, bringing you the important records and historical context you need to be a true Album Nerd. This year we’re focusing on NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) and Funk music.

Our first NWOBHM record is from a ‘what-could-have-been’ band named Angel Witch and their 1980 album by the same name. They helped to pioneer the fast, metallic, proto-thrash style that would mature into the modern metal sound we know today. While the band dealt with production and marketing issues, there’s no denying the catchiness and pure fun they captured on this release. If you’re down with guitars and songs about witches and demons, this is essential listening.

On the funk side, we start with the roots of funk – 60s soul music and the incomparable James Brown. In 1973 the hardest working man in show businesses released 3 soundtrack albums, the third of which is among some of his best material of his career. The super-tight playing and soloing by his backing band largely carries the record, but Brown peppers in plenty of his own flourishes to keep things interesting. Clocking in at over 70 minutes, The Payback is a more than generous dose of pure funkiness. 

This episode has been certified 100% essential nerd.