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album reviews

Kiss

Destroyer Polygram

There's no doubt that Destroyer is Kiss's best album yet or that Bob Ezrin, Alice Cooper's heavyhanded wizard of heavy-metal production who helped write seven of the nine tunes here, has made the difference. But despite Ezrin's superb production, Kiss still lacks that flash of creative madness that could have made their music interesting, or at least listenable. The lead-off song, "Detroit, Rock City," begins with 90 seconds of Cooper-like effects: the sounds of the break... | More »

Al Green

Full of Fire

During the halcyon years when Al Green was notching one gold record after another, reviewers began to wonder aloud how much more mileage the singer and his producer, Willie Mitchell, could get out of their "formula." Now the hits are coming less frequently, but the formula, if that's what it is, is intact. It seems that Green and Mitchell are capable of going on and on in the same vein. Their music may not spark that exhilarating flash of discovery anymore, and it may not make the Top Te... | More »

Marvin Gaye

I Want You Motown

With Barry White on the wane, Marvin Gaye seems determined to take over as soul's master philosopher in the bedroom, a position that requires little but an affectation of constant, rather jaded horniness. The pose has already been established in Let's Get It On (1973), on which Gaye was hot, tender, aggressive, soothing and casually raunchy — the modern lover with all his contradictions. I Want You continues in the same vein but with only the faintest traces of the robust pas... | More »

Jerry Garcia

Reflections

Let's put it this way. You'd have to be a real fan of, say, Ted Nugent to plunk down five bucks to hear him do an album of his favorite Joan Baez ballads. Similarly, you'd have to be a Jerry Garcia maniac to want to hear the one-time king of the cyberjam play an album full of plodders like Reflections. This is an odd album, occasionally approaching a country twinge (as on "Might as Well") or even coming dangerously close to toe-tapping boogie. Most of the music here is lethargi... | More »

Willie Nelson

The Sound In Your Mind

It's difficult to get a handle on Willie Nelson's new album. From its title to its celestial cover to the medley which concludes the record, it seems arbitrary, confused and just a little bit spacey. In certain ways it is no great departure from his pathbreaking work of the last few years. It is not a thematically unified album, like Phases and Stages and Red Headed Stranger, but then I am not sure if that approach has ever altogether worked except as a framework for the songs Nelso... | More »

May 26, 1976

Crosby, Nash

Graham Nash / David Crosby

Stephen Stills and David Crosby have been taking it on the chin lately, and the blows hurled against them have not been without justification: the live album of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young may have been an accurate reflection of that group's performance, but it conveyed the feeling of a slipshod half-effort, while the two Stills solo LPs were marked by distressing egocentricity at all levels, and the Crosby solo effort by a stupefying vagueness. It wasn't evaluations of a cool, ... | More »

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Mardi Gras Akarma Records

In the future, Mardi Gras may be known as Fogerty's Revenge. After all the carping about his egotism, and after the published complaints from his co-workers about his hogging the show, he has done what I never thought he would: allowed his cohorts to expose themselves in public. Ceding six of the new album's ten selections to drummer Doug Clifford and bassist Stu Cook may have been an invitation to artistic suicide for them, but it sure proves that John was right all along. Commerci... | More »

May 20, 1976

Led Zeppelin

Presence

Led Zeppelin's seventh album confirms this quartet's status as heavy-metal champions of the known universe. Presence takes up where last season's monumentally molten Physical Graffiti left off — few melodies, a preoccupation with hard-rock rhythm, lengthy echoing moans gushing from Robert Plant and a general lyrical slant toward the cosmos. (Give an Englishman 50,000 watts, a chartered jet, a little cocaine and some groupies and he thinks he's a god. It's gettin... | More »

Paul McCartney

Wings at the Speed of Sound

In his post-Beatles albums, Paul McCartney has proven himself a clever miniaturist whose records resemble collages built around simple musical fragments, each of which is painstakingly produced. While some have dismissed McCartney's music as insufferably cute, uninspired trivia, all of his albums contain at least some worthwhile music. The solo John Lennon explored (often brilliantly) the sociopolitical potential of late Sixties rock mythology, cultivating a cult of personality to becom... | More »

May 6, 1976

Brian Eno

Another Green World

Eno's eccentric music doesn't stray beyond rock's accustomed borders so much as it innovates within those parameters. Another Green World's five vocal numbers generally represent his most conservative approaches, but its nine instrumentals are among his most radical reshapings of the genre. Together, they make perhaps the artist's most successful record. The vocal selections could almost be outtakes from the earlier Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), although that ... | More »

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Song Stories

“Long Walk Home”

Bruce Springsteen | 2007

When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

More Song Stories entries »
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