album reviews

The Who

Tommy (Original Soundtrack Recording) Polydor

Will I ever succeed in figuring out my all-time number-one rock hero? Here Pete Townshend plays some stunning synthesizer stuff and then allows most of it to be obscured by the singing of people who haven't any business in a recording studio. However effusively film critics may acclaim her for allowing herself to be photographed looking middle-aged and haggard (if not for her actual acting), Ann-Margret simply doesn't sing appealingly and it's hardly any pushover imagining wa... | More »

Jeff Beck

Blow By Blow Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab

Jeff Beck seems finally to have figured out that he is not going to replace the great Sixties group which bore his name and featured Mickey Waller, Rod Stewart, Nicky Hopkins and Ron Wood. After some trying moments with a couple of abortive bands whose principal purpose was to give him someone to play with, this all-instrumental album points a newer, healthier direction for the man whose playing is more emblematic of the Yardbirds than either Jimmy Page, who followed him, or Eric Clapton, who... | More »


Journey (1st LP)

Journey is the third and best group to grow out of the original Santana. Unlike Azteca and Malo, it's not merely a spinoff. Keyboardist and singer Gregg Rolie and lead guitarist Neal Schon — both formerly with Santana — have come up with a more energetic and less contemplative music than Carlos Santana has been making lately. The rhythm section is led by Aynsley Dunbar's complex and experienced drumming, while producer Roy Halee has contributed to the group's origin... | More »

Bad Company

Straight Shooter

Among the members of Bad Company, singer Paul Rodgers and drummer Simon Kirke witnessed the collapse of Free, guitarist Mick Ralphs witnessed the collapse of Mick Ralphs in Mott the Hoople and bassist Boz Burrell participated in King Crimson's stagnation. In the aftermath of their extraordinarily popular debut LP of last year, Bad Company appears determined not to fall into the traps of any of those groups. While retaining all of the spontaneous combustion of the earlier album — wh... | More »

Lou Reed

Lou Reed Live RCA Records

Perhaps the fact that Lou Reed's curious career continues is more important than what he does with it at this particular stage. Had he accomplished nothing else, his work with the Velvet Underground in the late Sixties would assure him a place in anyone's rock & roll pantheon; those remarkable songs still serve as an articulate aural nightmare of men and women caught in the beauty and terror of sexual, street and drug paranoia, unwilling or unable to move. The message is that ur... | More »

May 28, 1975

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 »

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Song Stories

“Stillness Is the Move”

Dirty Projectors | 2009

A Wim Wenders film and a rapper inspired the Dirty Projectors duo David Longstreth and Amber Coffmanto write "sort of a love song." "We rented the movie Wings of Desire from Dave's brother's recommendation, and he had me go through it and just write down some things that I found interesting, and they made it into the song," Coffman said. As for the hip-hop connection, Longstreth explained, "The beat is based on T-Pain. We commissioned a radio mix of the song by the guy who mixes all of Timbaland's records, but the mix we made sounded way better, so we didn't use it."

More Song Stories entries »