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album reviews

Bonnie Raitt

Home Plate

Despite its unevenness, this is a vast improvement over Street Lights and accomplishes much of what that LP set out to do in the first place. On Home Plate, the sound is rich and full, and producer Paul Rothchild has used horns and vocal choirs extensively but not gratuitously. Although the approach is more pop oriented than previous efforts for Bonnie Raitt, her own style isn't cramped in the process. She sings as well as ever and, as her voice continues to mature, maintains more contro... | More »

Paul Simon

Still Crazy After All These Years Warner Bros

Although his aim may be higher, Paul Simon has always been more a wistful classicist than an adventurous romantic: He wouldn't dream of taking the Kierkegaardian leap to faith without first making a reservation at the best hotel on the other side. Even the fools don't act foolish in his songs, for such gratuitous and unchic behavior simply cannot be permitted in a closed off society where class and proper emotional manners are rated more favorably than quixotic clownishness and prim... | More »

November 20, 1975

The Who

The Who By Numbers

By now, a nonopera by the Who is its own kind of concept album. While The Who by Numbers pretends to be a series of ten unconnected songs, it's really only a pose; there's not a story line here, but there are more important unities — lyrical themes, musical and production style, a sense of time and place. Quadrophenia and Tommy helped Peter Townshend sharpen a writing style that was already one of the most personal and interesting in rock. Because the Who is itself so stylize... | More »

Al Green

Al Green Is Love

Al Green's latest LP would almost qualify as a concept album were it not for the fact that Green has been mining the rhetoric of romance ever since his first hits. If Al Green Is Love contains any surprises, they come in the treatment of his material, all of it original for a change. The kind of love portrayed in "Rhymes" is no simple Moon June affair, and "Love Ritual" summons eros as a frenzy of orgiastic salvation. Languid, serpentine phrases issue in unsettling shrieks, garbled fragm... | More »

George Harrison

Extra Texture

George Harrison and his music are best approached with deep caution, if only because his music (being former Beatle stuff) inevitably commands special attention; one wants to respect Harrison, to fathom his pursuit of Krishna, perhaps even to share his religious zealotry. "You," the single which preceded Extra Texture, his fourth post-Beatles solo album, is not only the best thing he has done since 1971's "My Sweet Lord," but also promised some of the prestige and credibility he lost wit... | More »

November 6, 1975

Jethro Tull

Minstrel In The Gallery

Chances are, most of you have long since forgotten the notion of Elizabethan boogie as an art form. Well, it's revived here on Minstrel in the Gallery, Jethro Tull's latest concept-as-after-thought entry in the fall record sweepstakes. The fact that Ian Anderson and the lads have once again plundered the British secular music tradition signifies little and delivers less. Anderson, still holding to a self-consciously bizarre musical stance, has difficulty maintaining the center of a... | More »

The Allman Brothers Band

Win, Lose Or Draw Polydor

This is the Allman Brothers' sixth album, one many people never expected to see. Their last release, Brothers and Sisters, came out two years ago, and since then band members have seemed to be spinning off in separate orbits. When work on this album began in the spring, fans sighed in relief. Win, Lose or Draw continues in the tradition established by the ABB from their first record — funky originals and ballads spiced with classic blues and spacey, jazz-tinged instrumental work... | More »

Tina Turner

Acid Queen

Tina Turner's attempt to recreate the excitement of five rock classics by the Rolling Stones, the Who and Led Zeppelin never really had a chance. She sings at least one of them, "Let's Spend the Night Together," as well as anyone this side of Aretha Franklin, even though she ruins a couple of the others ("Under My Thumb" and Pete Townshend's title song) with the sheer shrieking bombast that has characterized too much of her recent work. But the primary flaw in the rock-classics... | More »

Pink Floyd

Wish You Were Here Capitol/EMI Records

Without Pink Floyd we would not have the European sci-fi multitudes (Hawkwind, Can, Amon Duul II and all their little friends) to kick around. They were the first to explore the upper reaches of the chemical heavens, and their commercial and artistic superiority, if ever it was in doubt, was brutally confirmed by Dark Side of the Moon. That 1973 album has now sold over 6,000,000 units worldwide — 3,000,000 in the U.S. alone. Advance orders for their followup (two years in the making) to... | More »

October 9, 1975

The Grateful Dead

Blues For Allah

Blues for Allah contains quite a few surprises, some pleasant (Mickey Hart's reappearance; most of side one) and some embarrassing (most of side two), but at least the Grateful Dead have begun to awaken from the artistic coma they've been in since 1971. With their self-owned and -operated record company fantasies biting the dust due to financially trying times and some decidedly uninteresting releases, the Dead have handed their distribution over to United Artists. They've also... | More »

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Song Stories

“Bleeding Love”

Leona Lewis | 2007

In 2008, The X Factor winner Leona Lewis backed up her U.K. singing competition victory with an R&B anthem for the ages: "Bleeding Love," an international hit that became the best-selling song of the year. The track was co-penned by OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder (whose radio dominance would continue with songs such as Beyonce's "Halo" and Adele's "Rumour Has It") and solo artist Jesse McCartney, who was inspired by a former girlfriend, Gossip Girl actress Katie Cassidy. Given the song's success, McCartney didn't regret handing over such a personal track: "No, no," he said. "I'm so happy for Leona. She deserves it. There are really no bad feelings."

More Song Stories entries »
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