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album reviews

Crosby, Stills and Nash

CSN

What's so instantly striking about Crosby, Stills and Nash's CSN, their second group album in eight years, is that it sounds so much like the debut LP even though its makers are so vastly changed. Since CS&N, and later Y, were always at the vanguard of the conspicuous counterculture (always ready to hoist their tie-dyed freak flag at a moment's notice), their current reflection and hesitancy are especially interesting. And, because the music is so eerily familiar, the album... | More »

June 16, 1977

Jeff Beck

Live With The Jan Hammer Group Sony Music Distribution

In 1969, Miles Davis was looking for a way to sell more albums. So the jazz trumpeter delved into rock and R&B on Bitches Brew. When his record sales promptly increased, fusion was born. Eight years later, the genre is having an identity crisis. Once, pegging fusion was easy: it was the rigorously creative effort of Miles Davis, his former sidemen (Tony Williams, John McLaughlin, Herbie Hancock, Josef Zawinul and Wayne Shorter) and a San Francisco-based band, the Fourth Way, led by piani... | More »

June 2, 1977

Marvin Gaye

Live! At The London Palladium Motown

Along with Van Morrison, Marvin Gaye must be considered one of the most reticent pop performers. This is his second live album in three years, a period bridged by only one studio effort, the disappointing I Want You. Gaye has been admittedly ill at ease as a live performer. Interviews have revealed his obsessiveness with onstage perfection, as well as his plain old stage fright. The 1974 live record, recorded at his first stage appearance in almost five years, found him awkwardly fronting a ... | More »

Curtis Mayfield

Never Say You Can't Survive

The revelation of Sire Records' recent anthology, The Impressions: The Vintage Years, is the artistic dominance of Curtis Mayfield beginning in the late Fifties. Whether shaping the persona of early Jerry Butler or using the Impressions to extend his own, Mayfield has been a man of sweeping, uniquely personal vision. And while he's never had a moment with the impact of Elvis Presley's Sun sessions or Ray Charles live at Atlanta, his deft juggling of pop and the music and messag... | More »

May 19, 1977

Bad Company

Burnin' Sky

Although Burnin' Sky is firmly slotted into the comfortable menace of Anglo blues-rock growl, some credit is due Bad Company for loosening up sufficiently to nudge the limits of hard-rock convention. While it's less than a break-through in terms of songwriting or musicianship, Burnin' Sky does sport a crisp, streamlined sound and a noticeable softening of the band's synthetic macho posing. The title track lays down all of the comfortable parameters: dramatic major-chord d... | More »

The Band

Islands Caroline Distribution

It's been a long haul for both the Band and Van Morrison; they have made their livings as rock & rollers for close to 20 years now. To judge solely by their new albums (Morrison's is his first release since 1974) time is catching up with them, though whether they will again outdistance it remains an open question. Morrison made better music in '64 and '65 with Them, the first (and last?) great Irish rock & roll band; as the Hawks, the Band made better music in ... | More »

Bonnie Raitt

Sweet Forgiveness

Why should Bonnie Raitt merit our "sweet forgiveness" any longer? Her newest album, though pleasant in spots, is in the end deeply frustrating. The promise in work like Give It Up has been squandered through lack of direction and inspiration. The hallmarks of that LP — distinctive instrumental settings and fills, an ear for the great song and, most of all, a delightfully insouciant yet authoritative style — have been turned on their heads in Sweet Forgiveness. Raitt's albums... | More »

Van Morrison

A Period of Transition Polygram

It's been a long haul for both the Band and Van Morrison; they have made their livings as rock & rollers for close to 20 years now. To judge solely by their new albums (Morrison's is his first release since 1974) time is catching up with them, though whether they will again outdistance it remains an open question. Morrison made better music in '64 and '65 with Them, the first (and last?) great Irish rock & roll band; as the Hawks, the Band made better music in ... | More »

May 5, 1977

The Beach Boys

Love You

Brian Wilson's appearance last fall on Saturday Night was just about the last straw in the sequence of events surrounding his public reemergence. For someone who cared, it was revolting to watch him sit at the piano in a sandbox, singing "Good Vibrations" by himself, his voice barely able to carry a melody. Worse, he seemed oblivious to how degrading the scene was. But The Beach Boys Love You is a truly wonderful album, and it is Brian's show from beginning to end. He wrote 11 of t... | More »

Iggy Pop

The Idiot Virgin

Iggy Pop has always been the greatest rock comedian. As leader and frontispiece for that most extreme wing of rock nihilism represented by the Stooges, he at once defined and ridiculed the options left to punk rockers after "My Generation." The nihilist attitude meant plenty when it was a reaction to the pop status quo best exemplified by Dick Clark, but once nihilism itself became the status quo it was trivialized into mere decadence, a fashionable synonym for boredom. Iggy's criticism... | More »

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Song Stories

“Whoomp! (There It Is)”

Tag Team | 1993

Cecil Glenn — a.k.a., "D.C." — was a cook at Magic City, a nude dance club in Atlanta, when he first heard women shout "Whoomp — there it is!" Inspired by the party chant, he and partner Steve "Roll'n" Gibson wrote a song around it. Undaunted by label rejections, they borrowed $2,500 from Glenn's parents and pressed 800 singles, which quickly sold out in the Atlanta area. A record deal came soon after. Glenn said the song was meant for positive partying. "If you're going to say 'Whoomp there it is,' and you're doing something negative, we'd rather it not have come out of your mouth."

More Song Stories entries »
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