Most great bands are considered revolutionary in some sense: You wouldn't expect anyone in the 60s to sound like Radiohead or Nine Inch Nails, just like you wouldn't expect anyone in the '30s to sound like The Beatles. That's why the songs on this list are so bizarre to listen to; they were so far ahead of the curve that their genres weren't even invented yet.
In fact, we're going to say that only time travel can explain songs like ...
6Cromagnon -- Caledonia (or, Industrial Music in the 60s)
Few things have scandalized more parents than the mainstream debut of Nine Inch Nails in the mid-1990s. "Is this what music has come to?" was the reaction of anyone over 40 after listening to the distorted, chaotic industrial noises Trent Reznor had forced into our living rooms. Sure, Hendrix and others could get pretty noisy back in the day, but nothing in the golden days of the '60s sounded like this:
Meanwhile, music critics fawned over NIN's second album, The Downward Spiral; even The New York Times praised Reznor for having "perfected the use of noise as both atmosphere and weapon." NIN brought industrial music to the mainstream, a genre that had existed since, what, the early 80s at most?
We always assumed "industrial music" was the inevitable reaction of snorting cocaine off a sound mixer.
But, decades before ...
Loud, pounding drums; harsh, whispered vocals; unusual instrumentation; and a somewhat catchy tune buried underneath. That old-timey bit at the beginning? That's sampling. Caledonia by Cromagnon has all the staples of modern industrial music (minus the angsty lyrics), and it came out way back in 1969.
What makes this even eerier is that the band released that one album and then simply vanished. As the legend goes, Brian Elliot and Austin Grasmere were two average pop musicians who got tired of writing non-insane music and decided to try something a little different (meaning, something completely insane). Calling themselves Cromagnon, they hooked up with a hippie commune called the Connecticut Tribe and recorded an album titled Orgasm.
But you could probably tell that from their cover art.
The album never really made any headway, and no one paid attention to the damn thing until 2000, when it was reissued as Cave Rock, which is probably the biggest step down in titles since Puff Daddy became whatever the hell he's called now.
If Gary Larson did the cover art for a prog rock album, this would be it.
Caledonia is pretty much the only song in the album that has any real structure to it: Yes, the rest is even crazier. Also, those guttural drum sounds weren't generated by a guy tapping on a drum machine -- they used actual sticks and stones.
"I'd do the same thing, but I don't wanna hurt my delicate hands."