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album reviews

Linda Ronstadt

Prisoner in Disguise

Prisoner in Disguise is an attempt to re-create the enormous critical and commercial success of Ronstadt's 1974 album, Heart like a Wheel. Unfortunately, while every choice on the previous album seemed inspired, these are largely pedestrian. As a parallel work, Prisoner operates at a distinct disadvantage to Heart; track by track, it is thoroughly and transparently inferior. Part of the problem is Ronstadt's voice, a truly remarkable instrument which she has never learned to contro... | More »

September 25, 1975

Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac Reprise

Not only is Fleetwood Mac no longer blues oriented, it isn't even really British: The two newest members, Lindsey Buckingham (guitar and vocals) and Stevie Nicks (vocals, acoustic guitar) are American, and all five members are now based in Los Angeles. The band began its spiritual journey to L.A. a half-dozen albums ago – on Future Games – when it was led by the often dazzling guitarist/singer Danny Kirwan. Kirwan is long gone but his inspiration lingers in the songs and sing... | More »

Rod Stewart

Atlantic Crossing

To a lot of people, Rod Stewart onstage in midstrut — hair flying, handy with brandy and partial to the broad smile and easy wink — offers as good a definition of the full flash of rock & roll as one is likely to get. He's a wizard at the spotlight game, his long legs quickly laying claim to the private turf of a public master. Behind him, the Faces careen like well-oiled parts of a perpetual-motion machine gone somewhat daft of purpose, while their leader lines out antic... | More »

Black Sabbath

Sabotage Universal Distribution

Sabotage is not only Black Sabbath's best record since Paranoid, it might be their best ever. Even with the usual themes of death, destruction and mental illness running throughout this album, the unleashed frenzy and raw energy they've returned to here comes like a breath of fresh air. "Symptom of the Universe" rambles on, an atonal riff-based crusher, then shifts for a coda of lightly paced acoustic jamming. "Megalomania" is an inversion of that, erupting into a hard rocker with ... | More »

September 11, 1975

Bob Dylan

The Basement Tapes Columbia

There was a desert wind blowing that night, and the hot breeze that sighed through the open window had just enough muscle to swirl the smoke from the ghosts of a hundred cigarettes a single time around the solitary desk lamp before giving it up as a bad job. I knew the feeling. I had been sitting in the office for days, thinking and rethinking the case. It added up all right — hell, it had added up from the very beginning — but I just couldn't figure out why. The more I tri... | More »

Jefferson Starship

Red Octopus

The big news, of course, is that Marty Balin is back. Balin never seemed to be able to get it together outside the Airplane/Starship, although he certainly did try. But nearly everything he started crumbled before it was finished. Bodacious D.F., his last band, showcased his vocals nicely, but somewhere between the decision to record a second album before going on tour and actually doing so, the band vanished. He joined the Starship for one song, Caroline, on their last album, and from all th... | More »

August 28, 1975

Willie Nelson

Red Headed Stranger

When Teddy Roosevelt claimed loneliness a quintessential ingredient of our national character, he hit the psychic bull's-eye, ringing up images of pragmatic pioneers, existential outlaws and a long line of heroes who dreamt of the purity of their youth even as they drew their guns to eliminate it. "There are no second acts in American lives," someone once said, and a cursory glance at our gods — the cowboy/desperado, the gangster/detective, the movie star/rock & roller — ... | More »

Neil Young

Tonight's The Night Warner Bros

"I'm sorry. You don't know these people. This means nothing to you." — Neil Young, in the liner notes. Tonight's the Night finds Neil Young on his knees at the top of the heap, struggling to get back to his feet. The musical difficulties of last year's On the Beach have been resolved as directly as possible by a return to recording with Crazy Horse and Nils Lofgren, with whom Young recorded his 1970 masterpiece, After the Gold Rush. Yet even Crazy Horse isn't ... | More »

August 14, 1975

Eagles

One Of These Nights WEA

The Eagles' fourth album represents the apex of post-Byrds Southern California rock. Their music reflects the Hollywood ethos of glamorous, narcissistic ennui, exhibiting the contradiction between the city's atmosphere of "laid-back" machismo and its desperate rootlessness of spirit. Even the Eagles' more plaintive songs have a surface sweetness that belies the jaded pessimism of so many of their lyrics. This sweetness, combined with superb arrangements, brilliant playing and t... | More »

Lou Reed

Metal Machine Music BMG

Lou Reed's new set, a two-record electronic composition, is an act of provocation, a jab of contempt, but the timing is all wrong. In its droning, shapeless indifference, Metal Machine Music is hopelessly old-fashioned. After a decade of aesthetic outrages, four sides of what sounds like the tubular groaning of a galactic refrigerator just aren't going to inflame the bourgeoisie (whoever they are) or repel his fans (since they'll just shrug and wait for the next collection). Lo... | More »

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Song Stories

“Money For Nothing”

Dire Straits | 1984

Mark Knopfler wrote this song with Sting, and it wasn’t without controversy. The Dire Straits frontman's original lyric used the word “faggot” to describe a singer who got their “money for nothing and their chicks for free.” Even though the slur was edited out in many versions, the band, and Knopfler, still took plenty of criticism for the term. “I got an objection from the editor of a gay newspaper in London--he actually said it was below the belt,” Knopfler told Rolling Stone. Still, "Money For Nothing," undoubtedly augmented by its innovative early computer-animated video, stayed at Number One for three weeks.

More Song Stories entries »
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