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album reviews

Parliament-Funkadelic

Funkentelechy Vs. The Placebo Syndrome

George Clinton, Bootsy Collins and the rest of the Parliament Funkadelic and Rubber Band hydra seem blessed with unlimited inspiration. Clinton, who helps produce and write nearly everything these bands release, taps a — you'll pardon the expression — mother lode of black popular culture, gathering up all genres of music, humor and pulp fiction. Funkentelechy vs, the Placebo Syndrome is the new "funk opera" by Parliament, while Booty? Player of the Year further elucidates and... | More »

March 9, 1978

Joni Mitchell

Don Juan's Reckless Daughter Asylum

In retrospect, Blue turns out to have been the album that displayed Joni Mitchell at her most buoyant and comfortable — with herself, with the nature of her talents, and with the conventions of pop songwriting. From that happy juncture, she has moved on to more graceful and sober self-scrutiny (For the Roses and Court and Spark), to dramatic musical experimentation mixed with failed social commentary (The Hissing of Summer Lawns), to ever-more-seductive singing (Miles of Aisles) and to ... | More »

Aerosmith

Draw the Line Sony Music Distribution

Since Aerosmith's name and logo don't even appear on the outer sleeve of Draw the Line, someone obviously feels rather secure about the band's position in the hard-rock sweepstakes. The group is famous now — that's the message transmitted by Abe Hirschfeld's front-cover drawing. But fame and security don't always mix. Draw the Line is a truly horrendous record, chaotic to the point of malfunction and with an almost impenetrably dense sound adding to the co... | More »

Jackson Browne

Running On Empty Rhino/Elektra

As our finest practicing romantic, Jackson Browne has been stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues again for so long that the road probably looks like a realistic way of life to him. Whether or not he knows it, he's been writing about highways and their alternate routes since his beginnings, so the subject matter and thematic concerns of Running on Empty aren't all that different from those of his first four LPs. But the approach is. This time, Browne has consciously created a... | More »

February 23, 1978

The Sex Pistols

Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols Warner Bros.

When the father-house burns — Young men find blisters on their hearts. -Old Ukrainian Proverb If it's not clear to you now, it's going to be: the rock wars of the Seventies have begun, and the Sex Pistols, the most incendiary rock & roll band since the Rolling Stones and the Who, have just dropped the Big One on both the sociopolitical aridity of their native England and most of the music from which they and we were artistically and philosophically formed. While a majori... | More »

Al Green

The Belle Album

In rock & roll, nothing seems easier or more obvious than a good beat, but nothing is more elusive. We may someday look back on The Belle Album as Al Green's best — it's too soon to know; the man has a lifetime ahead of him — and if we do, the beat will be the reason. Whether or not the seemingly effortless religious conviction of the songs Green has written for this record lasts as long as he does, the beat will never wear out. "All n All" is the number that not ev... | More »

February 9, 1978

Queen

News Of The World Toshiba
5

Queen makes elaborate music from shards of nostalgia for the British Empire. They push boys' public-school chorales and English martial music through the funnel of hard rock, aiming carefully at romantic crescendos embellished with heavy echo. Apparently, the intention is that the long-tarnished glories of "tradition" will be repolished on the band's hard pumice. Most of the songs on News of the World either challenge Queen's artistic enemies or endeavor to establish a vision ... | More »

Leonard Cohen

Death Of A Ladies Man Columbia

When I first met Leonard Cohen, he was telling a good friend of mine that his mother was seriously ill. My friend, whose father had recently died, was so moved by Cohen's mesmerizing familial compassion that she quietly began to cry. Seeing this, Cohen jumped up, left the room and quickly returned with his famous blue raincoat. "Please cry on this," he said. "It soaks up the tears." And you wonder why I like Leonard Cohen. Unfortunately, the tales surrounding Cohen's seventh album,... | More »

February 1, 1978

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Live In Europe

This poorly recorded double-record set shows John Fogerty's musical personality in a somewhat different light from his studio recordings. Although he runs through the songs with characteristic discipline, he seems looser and occasionally more energetic than usual. Playing in front of enthusiastic crowds in 1971, he was less inhibited and the resulting sense of freedom elevates the performances of most of the uptempo material — although he and the band then prove unable to calm them... | More »

January 26, 1978

Earth, Wind & Fire

All 'N All

At their worst, Earth, Wind and Fire indulge in some of the most pretentious excesses in current black music. As on past Earth, Wind and Fire records, All 'n All is filled with leaded brotherhood platitudes, Star Trek sci-fi and stiffly poetic love songs. This sounds overwrought and depressing (and maybe it is). But there's a catch: I like the record, for like much current black music, All 'n All elicits a schizophrenic response. If the album represents some of the worst in bla... | 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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