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album reviews

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 »

Eric Clapton

E.C. Was Here

E.C. Was Here, recorded live at various concerts on his most recent world tour, marks Eric Clapton's return to the role of lead guitarist. Not only has Clapton reassumed primary responsibility for the lion's share of the instrumental work, but his fiery guitar playing harkens back to the days when he spearheaded the British blues movement with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. Concentrating once more on a blues repertoire, Clapton has come back to the full dense sound of the Gibson ... | More »

Bruce Springsteen

Born To Run Sony BMG

As a determinedly permanent resident of the West Coast, the furor Bruce Springsteen's live performances have kicked up in the East over the last couple of years left me feeling somewhat culturally deprived, not to mention a little suspicious. The legendary three-hour sets Springsteen and his E Street Band apparently rip out night after night in New York, Province-town, Boston and even Austin have generated a great tumult and shouting; but, short of flying 3000 miles to catch a show, ther... | More »

October 1, 1975

Big Brother & the Holding Company

How Hard It Is

It has righteously ranked my ass to see the shabby treatment accorded Big Brother and the Holding Company over the course of the past four years. In the days when the name of Janis Joplin was fastened to every lip, Big Brother were referred to as "the boys in the band" (that is, if they were referred to at all). And when they returned from the dead with a splendid album last year (Be A Brother), everyone tripped over their tongues crediting the triumph to Nick Gravenites. Well, friends, the d... | More »

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Song Stories

“American Girl”

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers | 1976

It turns out that a single with "American" in its title--recorded on the Fourth of July during the nation's Bicentennial, no less--can actually sell better in Britain. Coupled with the Heartbreakers' flair for Byrds jangle and Animals hooks, though, is Tom Petty's native-Florida drawl that keeps this classic grounded at home. Petty dispelled rumors that the song was about a suicidal student, explaining that the inspiration came from when he was 25 and used to salute the highway traffic outside his apartment window. "It sounded like the ocean to me," he recalled. "That was my ocean. My Malibu. Where I heard the waves crash, but it was just the cars going by."

More Song Stories entries »
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