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album reviews

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 »

March 13, 1975

Bob Dylan

Blood On The Tracks Sony Music Distribution

Bob Dylan may be the Charlie Chaplin of rock & roll. Both men are regarded as geniuses by their entire audience. Both were proclaimed revolutionaries for their early work and subjected to exhaustive attack when later works were thought to be inferior. Both developed their art without so much as a nodding glance toward their peers. Both are multitalented: Chaplin as a director, actor, writer and musician; Dylan as a recording artist, singer, songwriter, prose writer and poet. Both superimp... | More »

February 27, 1975

Roxy Music

Country Life

Decadence is nothing new in rock. The original Velvet Underground flaunted it, David Bowie exploited it, the New York Dolls seem to have sunk in it. What is different about Roxy Music, pop's latest specialists in depravity, is the wit with which Bryan Ferry, Roxy's guiding light and lead vocalist, evokes not only decay but also a last fling in the face of fate. To quote the opening track on Country Life, Ferry, standing on the precipice, relishes "the thrill of it all." Ferry appro... | More »

February 26, 1975

Leonard Cohen

New Skin For The Old Ceremony Columbia

"Myself," claims Leonard Cohen, "I long for love and light/But must it come so cruel and oh so bright?" In Cohen's monochromatic, endgame world, where Scott Fitzgerald's famous "In a real dark night of the soul, it is always three o'clock in the morning ..." could pass for one of the rules of the game, the answer is almost always yes, the truth almost always yes, the truth almost always cruel and bright. And, not willing to leave it at that, the singer rarely forgets Scott'... | More »

February 13, 1975

George Harrison

Dark Horse

In defense of his tour and new album, George Harrison has argued that "If you don't expect anything, life is one big bonus. But when you expect anything, then you can be let down." So expect nothing — is that the moral of a shriveled career? Given Harrison's appearance at his recent concerts, the audience could be forgiven its expectations. Here was the first major American tour by an ex-Beatle; and here was Harrison himself, with his shag-blown hair and bell bottoms billowin... | More »

Joni Mitchell

Miles of Aisles Asylum

Miles of Aisles is a four-sided live album with a greatest-hits feel to it that collects 18 numbers from Mitchell's successful concert tour of last winter. It's a strong album of her best songs performed mostly informally, backed on sides one and four by reedman Tom Scott and his band — an interesting album because it displays an occasional awkwardness that provides a glimpse into the artist's mercurial character. Although she constantly maintains a stunning professional... | More »

February 5, 1975

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Pendulum Fantasy

Pendulum is yet another promising but unsatisfying album from America's best singles band. The tunes are good, the lyrics adequate with a few exceptions, and the musicianship of everyone in the band has improved. The flaws lie not in the album's technical qualities but its stiffness. There appears to be something about John Fogerty's approach that is ideally suited for the demands of a three-minute single and out of place in the context of a 40-minute album. His taste is too p... | More »

January 30, 1975

Deep Purple

Stormbringer

With Burn and now Stormbringer, Deep Purple has attempted to prove, firstly, that replacing the departed Ian Gillan and Roger Glover with David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes has in no way weakened the highly successful and profitable D.P. sound and, secondly, that to continue to sell albums the band need no longer rely on the unique but overdone speedo-riff rock that made the five albums from In Rock to Made in Japan quadrillion sellers. While the two newcomers are just as competent as their pre... | More »

Kiss

Hotter Than Hell Casablanca

Looking like a bunch of Walt Disney rejects, Kiss is the kind of band you love to hate. Drenched in garish makeup, clothed in outfits Alice Cooper wouldn't touch and generally exuding obnoxiousness, this brash young New Yawk foursome seems determined to visually divert their audience's attention from their special brand of kamikaze rock. A slick brand of music that, as found on their second LP, Hotter Than Hell, does not sound as bad as the band looks. With twin guitars hammering ou... | More »

January 16, 1975

Linda Ronstadt

Heart Like A Wheel

Linda Ronstadt had her first hit, "Different Drum," in 1967, singing with a group called the Stone Poneys. She didn't have one again until "Long Long Time" in 1970. Though long acknowledged to be one of the best woman singers in pop, it wasn't until last year, with the release of her debut album on Asylum, Don't Cry Now, that her years of working toward mass recognition began to pay off. Heart like a Wheel, which concludes her prior commitment to Capitol, should guarantee her s... | 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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