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album reviews

Dion

The Return Of The Wanderer

Dion's new album opens with a house-rocking version of Tom Waits' "Heart of Saturday Night," and Dion rings the bell twelve times: every note hits home. Fittingly, the title of this record implies something more than just another step on the endless comeback trail of the Fifties hero (the comeback that, by the nature of how rock & roll history is made, will always fall short): Return of the Wanderer means a return to form, not simply an escape from obscurity. Dion may never agai... | More »

June 29, 1978

Willie Nelson

Stardust Sony

When country singers go back to their roots, the album's usually called Amazing Grace, but Willie Nelson's never been known for his orthodoxy. Instead of hymns, he's giving us ten of the best from popular classicists like George and Ira Gershwin, Duke Ellington and Irving Berlin. Still, Stardust traces Nelson's musical family tree more convincingly than The Troublemaker, his own white-gospel collection. In one sense, Stardust is a memory album: "On the Sunny Side of the S... | More »

Elvis Costello

This Year's Model Ichiban

Listening to Elvis Costello is like walking down a dark, empty street and hearing another set of heels. His music doesn't make you dance, it makes you jump. It doesn't matter that he's stalking his obsessions and not you, because nobody ought to be this sure of his obsessions. But Costello appears determined never to reach that age when, as Joan Didion once put it, "the wounds begin to heal whether one wants them to or not." This Year's Model, his second album in less than... | More »

June 15, 1978

Carly Simon

Boys in the Trees

In an interview two years ago, Paul McCartney was asked some chestnut of a question about the plight of the aging rock star. He replied thoughtfully and sympathetically, but without much concern for his own situation. He could see how worrisome it might be to grow long in the tooth and still pass oneself off as a teen angel, but he felt his own fans had stopped thinking of him that way. McCartney was confident that he'd successfully made the transition, in his audience's mind, from ... | More »

Paul McCartney

London Town

In an interview two years ago, Paul McCartney was asked some chestnut of a question about the plight of the aging rock star. He replied thoughtfully and sympathetically, but without much concern for his own situation. He could see how worrisome it might be to grow long in the tooth and still pass oneself off as a teen angel, but he felt his own fans had stopped thinking of him that way. McCartney was confident that he'd successfully made the transition, in his audience's mind, from ... | More »

Graham Parker

The Parkerilla

They think it's a show," English rocker Graham Parker muttered one night last fall, coming off a stage in Phoenix. "But it isn't a show, it's real." The Parkerilla, three sides of live material (side four is taken up by a new studio version of "Don't Ask Me Questions," reduced to just under four minutes for the benefit of AM radio), is a show.   We find Parker and the Rumour, who at their best greet a crowd like a storm warning, on something less than a hot night; r... | More »

June 9, 1978

The Rolling Stones

Some Girls Rolling Stones Records

Q: Do you think the music of the Rolling Stones has an overall theme? A: Yeah. Women. —Keith Richards With Bob Dylan no longer bringing it all back home, Elvis Presley dead and the Beatles already harmlessly cloned in the wax-museum nostalgia of a Broadway musical, it's no wonder the Rolling Stones decided to make a serious record. Not particularly ambitious, mind you, but serious. These guys aren't dumb, and when the handwriting on the wall starts to smell like formaldehyd... | More »

June 1, 1978

Bob Marley

Kaya Creative Sounds

Having seen Bob Marley on the cover of seemingly every magazine in America with a cannabis giganticus planted in his mug finally puts you in mind of Robert De Niro's last words to Harvey Keitel's dealer/pimp in Taxi Driver: "Suck on this!" Island gave Marley the big push — the only push any reggae artist really got beyond a guaranteed tax write-off — and now Marley and company are reaping the benefits of such monomaniacal zeal: Rastaman Vibration, the worst album he eve... | More »

Television

Adventure Warner Music Benelux

One advantage of the spluttering proliferation of punk rock and the continuing failure of the New Wave to do anything more than lap at the bottom of the American charts is that you can relax and enjoy a group as a band, not a brand. Since there's no longer a single standard to bear or conform to, no mushrooming movement to augment or betray, it's no skin off anyone's nose if Television, which virtually invented CBGB's, pays tribute to — you're not going to belie... | More »

Etta James

Deep In The Night

Once, when I was fourteen, I bought a copy of "My Dearest Darling" by Etta James, a record I'd heard as an oldie on a local station. The song haunted me, and I played it obsessively, day in and day out. "My Dearest Darling" had a special sort of emotional pull; it was demanding and soulful, yet somehow gentler and more vulnerable than even teenage stuff by the Vandellas or the Marvelettes. I played the 45 so much it drove my mother crazy. Finally, in exasperation, she threw the record aw... | More »

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Song Stories

“You Oughta Know”

Alanis Morissette | 1995

This blunt, bitter breakup song -- famous for its line "Would she go down on you in a theater?" -- was long rumored to be about Alanis Morissette getting dumped by Full House actor Dave Coulier. But while she never confirmed it was about him (Coulier himself says it is, however), she insisted the song wasn't all about scorn. "By no means is this record just a sexual, angry record," she told Rolling Stone. "The song wasn't written for the sake of revenge. It was written for the sake of release. I'm actually a pretty rational, calm person."

More Song Stories entries »
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