album reviews

The Grateful Dead

Workingman's Dead

It's so nice to receive a present from good friends. Workingman's Dead is an excellent album. It's a warming album. And most importantly, the Dead have finally produced a complete studio album. The songs stand up quite nicely right on their own merits, which are considerable. "Uncle John's Band," which opens the album, is, without question, the best recorded track done by this band. Staunch Dead freaks probably will hate this song. It's done acoustically for a start... | More »

July 9, 1970

The Who

Live At Leeds Decca

Songs: "Young Man Blues," "Substitute," "The Summertime Blues," "Shaking All Over," "My Generation," et al, & "Magic Bus." Audience participation minimal. For America the Who's live album comes out at just that time when, commercially, it is most appropriate; that is, after the band has finally escaped from its status as a critic's darling to satisfy the half-formed intellectual yearnings of an American record-buying public. We shouldn't fool ourselves: a good part of the ... | More »

June 25, 1970

Bee Gees

Cucumber Castle Polydor

So you thought that the Bee Gees had orchestrated and harmonized themselves out for a while after Odessa? Well, not so. In fact, they have multiplied. Within the last two months two more albums in the continuing Bee Gees odyssey have appeared. The first of these is a Robin Gibb solo album, the other features the remaining two brothers. Maurice and Barry, involved in a quasi sound-track album. Needless to say, it is very difficult to distinguish one from the other. Both feature evocative, nos... | More »

Linda Ronstadt

Silk Purse

Country-rock is turning out to be a pleasant surprise. At first, it seemed like just another case of the rock genre ransacking the world of indigenous music for gimmickry, but it seems to be a more natural union than most and one that's capable of supporting a lot of experimentation. There's been quite a rash of country-rock albums of late, and it's rare to hear one that is actually irritating, which is more than can be said for white blues. Some are positively brilliant, like ... | More »

June 11, 1970

Joni Mitchell

Ladies of the Canyon Reprise

Along with the other established ladies of folkdom, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Judy Collins, both Mrs. Harris and Miss Mitchell have been around a while, Some brilliant chick folksingers have vanished — Judy Henske, Alice Stuart and Rosalie Sorrels whither art thou? — but these two have endured. This is Joan's eleventh album and Joni's third and in their own gentle ways they come to grips with the teeth of the times in their curiously lyrical, frankly autobiographical fashio... | More »

The Beatles

Let It Be Apple

To those who found their work since the white album as emotionally vapid as it was technically breathtaking, the news that the Beatles were about to bestow on us an album full of gems they'd never gotten around to polishing beyond recognition was most encouraging. Who among us, after all, wouldn't have preferred a good old slipshod "Save The Last Dance For Me" to the self-conscious and lifeless "Oh! Darlin'" they'd been dealing in? Well, it was too good to be true —... | More »

Mott the Hoople

Mott The Hoople

Not so very long ago, some friends of mine circled a block for about five minutes while I tried to figure out which unreleased Dylan side we were listening to. I could have spared us the trouble if I'd been listening to the lyrics, which were those of Sonny Bono's immortal protest classic "Laugh At Me." And it wasn't a Highway 61 outtake at all; it was Mott the Hoople. Mott the Hoople is a synthetic rock band. By that I certainly do not mean that they're phony. Rather, th... | More »

Dr. John


Break out the hash pipe and heat up the gumbo — Dr. John is back again with music from that steamy, swampy place in your mind that only Dr. John can reach. Remedies is not get-it-on rock music; it's too loose and languid for that. The rhythms — by far the best part of Dr. John's music — are lyrical and liquid; they flow and throb, like blood, like fucking. Dr. John's music is not mind-music, not body-music — at its best, it is emotional — beyond wo... | More »

June 8, 1970

Bob Dylan

Self Portrait Columbia

"Self Portrait No. 25" Written and Arranged by Greil Marcus Chorus: Charles Perry, Penny Marcus, Pann Wenner, Erik Bennstein, Ed Ward, John Burks, Ralph Gleason, Langdon Winner, Bruce Miroff, Richard Vaughn and Mike Goodwin   (1)What is this shit? (1) "All the Tired Horses" is a gorgeous piece of music, perhaps the most memorable song on this album. In an older form it was "All the Pretty Ponies in the Yard"; now it could serve as the theme song to any classic western. Can you hear ... | More »

May 28, 1970

Jimi Hendrix

Band of Gypsys Classic Collection

This is the album that Hendrix "owed" Capitol for releasing him over to Reprise Records and significantly, it isn't a studio effort, as his Reprise albums have been. Which is not to imply that it is any better than those Experience albums. The context of the album is vital — Band of Gypsys was one of Hendrix' 1969 amalgamations consisting of Buddy Miles on drums and Billy Cox on bass, among others. They hadn't been together very long when this session was recorded live at... | More »

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

More Song Stories entries »