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album reviews

George Harrison

George Harrison

Time hasn't treated the individual Beatles' solo projects kindly. Probably most of John Lennon's self-advertisements were never intended to reverberate any longer than the now-defunct media myths they once exploited. Paul McCartney carries on as a singles craftsman no heavier than Elton John, and Ringo Starr cranks out stale party jokes. But the years have been cruelest to George Harrison. Because he insisted on assuming the Fab Four's spiritual mantle long after their br... | More »

April 5, 1979

Bee Gees

Spirits Having Flown Reprise

"The record the world's been waiting for," reads an ad for Spirits Having Flown, and that's not just hype, since the Bee Gees' new album represents a deliberate attempt to fashion a "global" pop. Instead of extending the airy pop-disco of Saturday Night Fever, the Brothers Gibb have consolidated several styles, only one of which is disco, to make slower, more elaborate music. Miami Blue-Eyed Soul Meets Europop in Ecumenical Heaven might be an apt subtitle. Though impressively p... | More »

March 22, 1979

Cat Stevens

Back To Earth

Cat Stevens was one of several post-folk-pop innocents who came along in the early Seventies and were immensely comforting at the time. Carole King and James Taylor were two more singer/songwriter siblings of this sort, with Joni Mitchell the Mater Dolorosa. Stevens' charmingly simple tunes had an especially consoling, childlike quality, but while the other artists "grew up," he didn't. After Tea for the Tillerman and Teaser and the Firecat, his whimsicality became increasingly cloy... | More »

Tom Waits

Blue Valentine Asylum

Tom Waits tells the same stories all the time — the small-time gangster who gets blown away by the big boys, the tough whore who sleeps with a torn-up teddy bear under her pillow, the barely employed sucker who spends his spare time and puny paycheck at the local saloon — but he makes each one sound different. That's why he's a great storyteller. On Blue Valentine, the small-time gangster dies in a movie-theater balcony with a bullet in his heart and Cagney on the scree... | More »

Al Green

Truth N' Time

Al Green is so charismatic he could make you wonder about the taste of Guyanese Fla•vor•aid. There's an element of danger about everything he does, a sense that at any moment he could be revealed as a complete charlatan—and that it wouldn't matter. If he hadn't been a great musician, he might have become a master street politician or a preacher (he's dabbled with the latter anyway). What saved him was his vision. While Truth n' Time, Green's seco... | More »

Elvis Costello

Armed Forces JVC Compact Discs

Consider "Oliver's Army," the pièce de résistance on Elvis Costello's Armed Forces, an album that's a killer in several senses of the word. The tune sounds bright and bouncy, with a jangly keyboard riff along the lines of "Here Comes Santa Claus," and it's enough to make you want to rock around the room. But sit down, Fred, and get a load of the lyrics you're dancing to: There was a Checkpoint Charlie He didn't crack a smile But it's no laug... | More »

Rush

Hemispheres

Fans will doubtless find Hemispheres another good, solid Rush album. And it's time to apprise the nonfans as well, because this power trio uniquely bridges the gap between heavy metal and sterile technology (sort of where Blue Oyster Cult used to work before going soft rock). The spine of Rush's sound is Alex Lifeson's broad, ringing guitar playing. Drummer Neil Peart is fluent at a large double kit, also adding colorations on various bells and blocks. Geddy Lee plays bass figu... | More »

March 8, 1979

The Grateful Dead

Shakedown Street

With few exceptions, Shakedown Street, rife with blind intersections, comes across as an artistic dead end. The punch that producer Keith Olsen provided on Terrapin Station, the Grateful Dead's last LP, has all but vanished here, and Olsen's successor, the usually reliable Lowell George, offers almost nothing to replace it. You can hear echoes of inventive reverberation and some crosscut grittiness in the percussive "Serengetti," while the seductive "France" gets off the ground in s... | More »

February 8, 1979

Rod Stewart

Blondes Have More Fun Warner Bros.

If blondes have as much fun as Rod Stewart's new record insists they do, no wonder they're exhausted when they stagger into the studio. Even so, Stewart's current anemia is a hard thing to understand. Never before has he attacked such uncertain material with so little gusto or levity — for once, his trademarked "Whooo!" carries no conviction. And never has he offered an album that's actively disagreeable to listen to. If only this were a simple case of the blahs. Th... | More »

Alice Cooper

From The Inside

If anyone could pull off a concept album about life in a sanitarium, it's Alice Cooper, the man who turned dead-baby jokes into high-school national anthems and made a whole career of exactly the kind of comic grotesqueness the new LP promises. And From the Inside isn't an obvious failure: the songs are full of good ideas, the lyrics often close to brilliant. Then why does everything sound so forced and overwrought? Because, despite the autobiographical nature of the material (Coope... | More »

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Song Stories

“Whoomp! (There It Is)”

Tag Team | 1993

Cecil Glenn — a.k.a., "D.C." — was a cook at Magic City, a nude dance club in Atlanta, when he first heard women shout "Whoomp — there it is!" Inspired by the party chant, he and partner Steve "Roll'n" Gibson wrote a song around it. Undaunted by label rejections, they borrowed $2,500 from Glenn's parents and pressed 800 singles, which quickly sold out in the Atlanta area. A record deal came soon after. Glenn said the song was meant for positive partying. "If you're going to say 'Whoomp there it is,' and you're doing something negative, we'd rather it not have come out of your mouth."

More Song Stories entries »
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