album reviews

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young

4 Way Street Atlantic Records

Between two miserable bootleg albums Wooden Nickel and Live at the Forum, atrocious not so much due to the production imperfections common to bootleg recording but largely because of the wretched workmanship of the group themselves and six cuts on the two Woodstock albums which collectively constituted a monumental disaster in the history of live recording, it seemed to me that, however one might view their two studio albums. Crosby, Stills. Nash and Young had about as much business recording... | More »

May 22, 1975

John Prine

Common Sense

Common Sense is a confused, self-indulgent fourth album by a major songwriter gone downhill. Recorded in Memphis and Los Angeles with producer Steve Cropper, nine of John Prine's ten new songs have "rock" settings that feature electric guitars, horns and background vocals. Against an aggressive, choppy sound, Prine's material fails in its attempt to imitate the spontaneous style of Bob Dylan's Bringing It All Back Home. Intended to be humorously absurd, Prine's lyrics stri... | More »

Eric Clapton

There's One In Every Crowd

Eric Clapton's sense of well-being is reiterated on There's One in Every Crowd, but on this album it seems less a cause for joy than an occasion for musical indifference. As on 461 Ocean Boulevard, Clapton plays guitar with utilitarian economy but here it is also without the ring of purposeful authority. As on its predecessor, the lack of riveting or attention-drawing guitar work places the primary focus on Clapton's singing, which through experience, growing confidence and a t... | More »

John Lennon

Rock 'n' Roll Apple/EMI

As a performing group, the Beatles began by playing old rock favorites, for dancing, to tough audiences in Liverpool and Hamburg. When they began writing seriously, they discovered that they couldn't compose in the early American rock tradition. So when they needed something crude, harsh and joyfully loud to round out an album, they borrowed songs originally done by Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Carl Perkins, Larry Williams or someone from Motown. (Paul McCartney finally ended the custom ... | More »

David Bowie

Young Americans RCA

The title song of David Bowie's Young Americans is one of his handful of classics, a bizarre mixture of social comment, run-on lyric style, English pop and American soul. The band plays great and Tony Visconti's production is flawless — just a touch of old-fashioned slap-back echo to give the tracks some added mystery. The rest of the album works best when Bowie combines his renewed interest in soul with his knowledge of English pop, rather than opting entirely for one or the ... | More »

May 8, 1975

Steely Dan

Katy Lied

Steely Dan sound like a million dollars not only next to at least 26 of their coresidents of the Boss 30 when they're in it, but also in comparison to three-quarters of the stuff with which they share FM needle-time.   The lead singing of Donald Fagen, which sounds to these old ears like a strange hybrid of the Mike Love of "California Girls" and pre-motorcycle-wreck Dylan, is engagingly distinctive. The words, while frequently not easy to get the definite drift of, are almost al... | More »


Sheer Heart Attack Toshiba

Two of the most liberated and ambitious of the "fun" oriented British bands beginning to make their mark in the States are the updated war-horses Pretty Things and the nouveau-heavies Queen. Both of these groups, which could easily — if not accurately — be termed "psychedelic," seem to be signaling the advent of what may well be a renaissance of affective rock & roll. If the renaissance occurs, it will be as a result of autonomous imaginations like these; imaginations free eno... | More »

April 24, 1975

Alice Cooper

Welcome To My Nightmare

The comeback of Alice Cooper, the singer, without Alice Cooper, the group, poses the obvious question — was it him or them? The obvious answer has always been that it was Alice, whose star quality took him and his pals from being a maligned and second-rate heavy-metal act to a premier singles rock band of the Seventies. That ignores the equally obvious — that the music improved more than the stage gimmicks or the singing. Some would argue that the responsible party was Bob Ezrin,... | More »

April 10, 1975

Miles Davis

Get Up With It Columbia/Legacy

Miles's longtime audience will without doubt find this a bizarre set. Within the space of this double album Miles plays organ on half the tracks, marking the first time in a 30-year recording career that he has appeared on an instrument other than trumpet or fluegelhorn. Other oddities include three electric guitars on several cuts, Miles overdubbing lush multiple trumpet backgrounds, an upfront harmonica track here and there and a couple of tasty bits from Miles's tape collection. ... | More »

March 27, 1975

Led Zeppelin

Physical Graffiti

They've sparked riots from Boston to Milan, sold out concerts from Hong Kong to Hamburg. Each of their five previous albums has gone platinum, selling more than one million copies; one, Led Zeppelin (IV), has sold more than three million. They've set new records for U.S. concert attendance, drawing 56,800 to a single show in Tampa, Florida, in 1973 and 120,000 to six concerts in the New York area in 1975. On paper at least, Led Zeppelin is unquestionably the world's most popula... | 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 »