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album reviews

Def Leppard

On Through The Night

Fans insist that it never went away. Critics wish it would. But heavy metal, that belligerent bastard son of American blues and macho English rock-star attitudes, is back. It's also bigger, louder and — hard as this may be to believe — better than ever, rising to punk-rock's challenge by adding some new risks to the old riffs. With an average age of eighteen, the five members of Def Leppard are barely old enough to remember the first Neanderthal rumblings of Black Sabba... | More »

John Cale

Sabotage: Live

Ironically, John Cale's first album in nearly five years turns out to be one of the season's timeliest entries: a graphic, deadly narrative of terrorist scrimmages and doomed maneuvers that could pass for an on-the-spot report from the clandestine alleys of Kabul or the invincible deserts of Iran. In fact, Sabotage/Live — without apology and, more important, without ideology — is something of a rough-and-ready homage to the business of war itself: "I did some work in Za... | More »

Van Halen

Women And Children First WEA/Warner

Fans insist that it never went away. Critics wish it would. But heavy metal, that belligerent bastard son of American blues and macho English rock-star attitudes, is back. It's also bigger, louder and — hard as this may be to believe — better than ever, rising to punk-rock's challenge by adding some new risks to the old riffs. With an average age of eighteen, the five members of Def Leppard are barely old enough to remember the first Neanderthal rumblings of Black Sabba... | More »

June 20, 1980

The Rolling Stones

Emotional Rescue Virgin

Like the thermographic photos of the Rolling Stones on the album cover, Emotional Rescue is a portfolio of burned-out cases and fire trails. High-contrast patterns of familiar outlines and blackened patches where the heat has burned and gone, these photographs — like pictures of corpses from some holocaust — are practically unrecognizable. As far as the music goes, familiar is an understatement. There's hardly a melody here you haven't heard from the Stones before. but t... | More »

June 18, 1980

Santana

Amigos

Amigos is the first Santana album that doesn't attempt to break new ground. The several styles Carlos Santana has delved into over the past decade have been consolidated into a varied, multidimensional album. The early days of happy Latin rhythms, congas and catchy vocal hooks and choruses are represented not only by the not-quite-hidden picture of the band's first album on the cover, but also by the very first strains of "Dance Sister Dance (Baila Mi Hermana)," which opens the albu... | More »

June 12, 1980

Journey

Departure

Departure offers ample proof that the Seventies hard-rock genre so many people have been trying to bury for the last few years just doesn't want to die. Journey may well be the best American band in this idiom, which is ironic, because, stylistically, they've always seemed to struggle with it, as if hard rock were a new shirt they had trouble fitting into. For an Aerosmith or a Ted Nugent, no such difficulties existed — hard rock was their only option. But Journey could have g... | More »

May 29, 1980

Buzzcocks

A Different Kind of Tension

The Buzzcocks are likely the consummate New Wave singles band. Last year's Singles Going Steady, a compilation of sixteen sweet-and-sour pop vignettes that made up this English group's official American debut, boasted as many pithy hooks and punchy backbeats as Elton John managed in a decade — and the Buzzcocks whipped theirs out in a little over eighteen months.   These guys have a problem, though. The Buzzcocks have yet to cut an album that hits with as much musical w... | More »

May 15, 1980

The Beach Boys

Keepin' The Summer Alive

Had it been released five years ago, when gasoline was cheaper, nuclear energy "safe" and punk rock only a rumor, Keepin' the Summer Alive might have given the Beach Boys one last platinum-perfect wave to ride out on before hanging up their surfboards and retiring to Las Vegas as an oldies act. Handsomely produced by Bruce Johnston, the new album blends the pantheism of Holland, the tunefulness of Pet Sounds and the sweetness of Surf's Up into a polished, hook-filled retrospective t... | More »

May 1, 1980

Billy Joel

Glass Houses CBS Records

Glass Houses, Billy Joel's all-out attempt at a rock & roll album, is just about as convincing and exciting as Linda Ronstadt's recent Mad Love, though the latter sounds a lot more game and likable than the former ever will. Ronstadt may never understand what songwriters like Elvis Costello and Warren Zevon are talking about, but at least she knows who they are and that they represent something both honorable and artistic. She's not a complete de adbeat. Joel, on the other ... | More »

Rush

Permanent Waves Universial Special Products

It's easy to criticize what you don't understand, which at least partly explains why Canadian power trio Rush have suffered so much at the hands of rock journalists since the band's debut album in 1974. Critics find bassist-lead singer Geddy Lee's stratospheric wails and drummer Neil Peart's lyrical excursions into philosophy. science fiction and fantasy easy targets, and usually dismiss Rush as a head-banger's Genesis. True, earlier LPs like Fly by Night and Ca... | More »

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Song Stories

“Wake Up Everybody”

John Legend and the Roots | 2010

A Number One record by Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes in 1976 (a McFadden- and Whitehead-penned classic sung by Teddy Pendergrass) inspired the title and lead single from Wake Up!, John Legend's tribute album to message music. The more familiar strains of "Wake Up Everybody" also fit his agenda. "It basically sums up, in a very concise way, all the things we were thinking about when we were putting this record together in that it's about justice, doing the right thing and coming together to make the world a better place," he said. Vocalists Common and Melanie Fiona assist Legend on this mission to connect.

More Song Stories entries »
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