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album reviews

Neil Young

Harvest Reprise

At the end of this, five'll getcha ten, most of you are going to be exclaiming lividly, "O what vile geeks are rock critics! How quick are they to heap disapproval on one whose praises they once sang stridently at the first sign of us Common Folk taking him to heart en masse! How they revel in detesting that which we adore!" However often I might second with a hearty "right on!" such a perception of the critic/audience chasm, though, I will swear under oath before the highest court in th... | More »

March 16, 1972

The Byrds

Farther Along Columbia

Farther Along is the Byrds' first completely self-produced LP, and exists as a kind of backlash to Terry Melcher's elaborate string and choir-laden production of Byrdmaniax. Farther Along was recorded within three months of Byrdmaniax, so eager was the band to make amends. Because of their closeness in time, their programmatic similarity is not surprising, though the sound has been considerably cleaned up. The personalities which are projected here are of the same cloth as those whi... | More »

Aretha Franklin

Young, Gifted And Black

The hype on the new Aretha Franklin album would have us believe that this is her best work since the Sixties, when a string of now-classic albums with Jerry Wexler and Arif Mardin established her as the definitive female soul singer. Even the press bio that accompanied Who's Zoomin' Who? claims the record has been "hailed by critics as one of the true landmark albums of [Franklin's] career." A critic not consulted in this prerelease poll is naturally a little skeptical, especia... | More »

March 2, 1972

Jackson Browne

Jackson Browne Asylum

It's not often that a single album is sufficient to place a new performer among the first rank of recording artists. Jackson Browne's long-awaited debut album chimes in its author with the resounding authority of an Astral Weeks, a Gasoline Alley, or an After the Gold Rush. Its awesome excellence causes one to wonder why, with Browne's reputation as an important songwriter established as far back as 1968, this album was so long in coming. Perhaps Browne acquired performing abil... | More »

Paul Simon

Paul Simon Columbia/Warner Bros.

Paul Simon's long and manicky struggle between his songs of endearing but forced whimsy and his confessions of unhappiness and loneliness is over, with the latter, in fully developed and radically different form, the victor. Simon's first solo album is also his least detached, most personal and painful piece of work thus far — this from a lyricist who has never shied away from pain as subject or theme. By contrast to the recent prototype for confessional work, John Lennon... | More »

Mott the Hoople

Brain Capers

Well, up till now Mott's been batting a respectable but unspectacular 333 — one line drive smash still climbing as it left the park (the first album), one disastrous bush-league strikeout (Mad Shadows); and a long fly ball the center-fielder caught up with some 400 feet from the plate (Wildlife). Maybe baseball images seem out-of-place with a British rock band yet there's a distinctly American orientation to this band that draws its inspiration (aside from its Kinksiness) from... | More »

February 17, 1972

The Jackson 5

Greatest Hits

Greatest hits albums usually lack focus. Time after time, for some obvious reasons, andsome mysterious ones, the essence and real greatness of the group or individual artist eludesattempts at collections. The Jackson Five, one of Motown's most commercially successful groups,suffers dramatically from this process. On this package the limitations of the group — mainly theslickness and vapidity of some their AM material, and the immaturity and shrillness of Michael'svoice —... | More »

Linda Ronstadt

Linda Ronstadt

Linda Ronstadt has run through three different producers with her last three albums, and it's easy to see why she wears them out so fast. Of the three, not one of them has had much luck with the considerable job of imposing any direction or discipline on Linda's seemingly boundless raw energy. She has yet to find someone who can shape up a whole album to match the best of her individual performances on isolated cuts. Hand Sown ... Home Grown was the roughest, loudest, loosest and m... | More »

Quicksilver Messenger Service

Quicksilver

Quicksilver is Dino Valenti's album. He wrote all the songs but two (by drummer Gary Duncan), he takes the vocals with that quavering breathy echo-laden whine which metamorphoses into an acceptable shout when he gets to screwing it on. But 'tis not on the basis of vocal or instrumental talent alone that Dino has assumed such a heavy role in the band's music. Above all, he is an enthusiastic practitioner of the Good Time Rock Star Ogle, a showman, a front man who steals the lime... | More »

Curtis Mayfield

Roots

Roots, Curtis Mayfield's third solo album, is a confused and confusing record. It's undoubtedly been influenced, both conceptually and technically, by Marvin Gaye's What's Going On? Gaye's record surprised a lot of people by its strong religious content, coming from someone who had previously recorded only love songs. Curtis, on the other hand, wrote and sang, with the Impressions, many religious and quasi-religious songs like "People Get Ready" and "Keep On Pushing."... | More »

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Song Stories

“Hungry Like the Wolf”

Duran Duran | 1982

This indulgent New Romantic group generated their first U.S. hit with the help of what was at the time new technology. "Simon [Le Bon] and I, I think, had been out the night before and had this terrible hangover," said keyboardist Nick Rhodes. "For some reason we were feeling guilty about it and decided to go and do some work." Rhodes started playing with his Jupiter-8 synth, and then "Simon had an idea for a lyric, and by lunchtime when everyone else turned up, we pretty much had the song." The Simmons drumbeat was equally important to the sound of "Hungry Like the Wolf," as Duran Duran drummer Roger Taylor stated it "kind of defined the drum sound for the Eighties."

More Song Stories entries »
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