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album reviews

Santana

Caravanserai

The Street's the same in New York or Frisco. It leads to heaven or hell, maybe both, and what comes down around you depends on how you travel just as much as where you're coming from. In that sense, Miles Davis from St. Louis by way of jazz and Carlos Santana from San Francisco by way of rock have a great deal more in common than either may realize. These are philosophical albums, if one may be permitted to apply that adjective to musical composition and performance. Both albums ex... | More »

Bee Gees

To Whom It May Concern

"The sweetest music this side of heaven," the epithet misapplied to Guy Lombardo, is the aptest description I can think of to describe the Bee Gees at their best. Beginning with Odessa, a minor masterpiece of jewel-encrusted, late-Sixties psychedelia, they have concentrated chiefly on developing a single musical idea, technologizing the standard Top 40 ballad to achieve unprecedented lushness and sonic depth. The result is headphone mood music that makes no demands beyond a superficial emotio... | More »

December 2, 1976

Bob Dylan

Hard Rain Columbia

Like all public figures, Bob Dylan is as much prisoner as master of his own persona. What distinguishes Dylan is that he has recognized that paradox with more probity than anybody else in rock. It's been central to his work since the day he arrived in Greenwich Village imitating Woody Guthrie and emulating Elvis Presley. As Ellen Willis pointed out nine years ago, celebrity is what Dylan's art is about. As pop's demigod, Dylan is not just the processor but the product of our f... | More »

November 18, 1976

Eric Clapton

No Reason To Cry

With No Reason to Cry, Eric Clapton has left the Miami studio where he recently fashioned, from blues, gospel and reggae, one of the most personal and convincingly haunting sounds around. The new album was made in Los Angeles with predictable results: the carefully sculpted, spiritual style of Clapton and his band has been replaced by a series of musical formulas. Southern California cannot be indicted for Clapton's failure, and there's no reason to write off all the music that eme... | More »

November 4, 1976

Bee Gees

Children of the World

From mushy pop ballads through late-Sixties psychedelia and low-key rock, the Bee Gees have demonstrated a chameleonlike ability to adapt to disparate pop trends. These days, as they said on the Tonight Show in their best Cockney accents, "Rhythm & blues is what's happening." Audacious, right? Well, not exactly. Some of their stuff is really good, better than poseurs like Wild Cherry, AWB and Kokomo. The Bee Gees have taken production into their own hands with Children of the World,... | More »

Lynyrd Skynyrd

One More From The Road MCA Records

"Crossroads," the Robert Johnson-cum-Cream metallic raver included on this live album, deftly encapsulates Lynyrd Skynyrd's influences: Southern blues-rock diced with the sharp blade of British hard rock. Cream was based conceptually upon the idea of the guitar as the primary rock manipulator; Skynyrd has secured its large audience by maintaining that notion. But Skynyrd has always relied more on a solid repertoire of rock material than on instrumental expertise. Their three guitarists ... | More »

October 21, 1976

Fleetwood Mac

Vintage Years Sire

Thanks to the near-permanent success of the current Fleetwood Mac LP, virtually all the band's pre-Warner Bros. material – featuring guitarists Peter Green, Danny Kirwan and Jeremy Spencer – is back on the market. The best stuff is to be found on Fleetwood Mac in Chicago (Sire), a double album cut in '69 at the Chess studios, with real-life black bluesmen sitting in. A year ago, when this album was out of print, it was selling for 20 bucks, and it's worth it. The Fl... | More »

Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac in Chicago Sire

Thanks to the near-permanent success of the current Fleetwood Mac LP, virtually all the band's pre-Warner Bros. material – featuring guitarists Peter Green, Danny Kirwan and Jeremy Spencer – is back on the market. The best stuff is to be found on Fleetwood Mac in Chicago (Sire), a double album cut in '69 at the Chess studios, with real-life black bluesmen sitting in. A year ago, when this album was out of print, it was selling for 20 bucks, and it's worth it. The Fl... | More »

Fleetwood Mac

Black Magic Woman Epic

Thanks to the near-permanent success of the current Fleetwood Mac LP, virtually all the band's pre-Warner Bros. material – featuring guitarists Peter Green, Danny Kirwan and Jeremy Spencer – is back on the market. The best stuff is to be found on Fleetwood Mac in Chicago (Sire), a double album cut in '69 at the Chess studios, with real-life black bluesmen sitting in. A year ago, when this album was out of print, it was selling for 20 bucks, and it's worth it. The Fl... | More »

October 7, 1976

Labelle

Chameleon

Almost two years have passed since "Lady Marmalade," Labelle's voulez-vous coucher Creole hooker disco funk single, and it should be apparent that they're not going to record anything like a followup. Like Stevie Wonder, Labelle is more inclined to comment on the disco phenomenon than to capitalize on it; their ambition is to shuffle minds, not feet. Besides, they have their own party ethic — one that comes across much better onstage than on record. That ethic has something t... | More »

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Song Stories

“Santa Monica”

Everclear | 1996

After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

More Song Stories entries »
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