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album reviews

Elton John

Rock of the Westies Mercury

Already the most commercially successful solo rock act since Elvis, Elton John continues to grow in popularity and there's no end in sight. Like the greatest show-business personalities, John displays phenomenal energy, shrewd professional judgment and a strong instinct for self-preservation — gifts that should ensure him his place as the quintessential Seventies pop star for as long as he desires. But beside the fact that Elton John is a great live entertainer, his records, while... | More »

John Lennon

Shaved Fish

Shaved Fish is a collection of singles, some of them hits, released during John Lennon's post-Beatles career (1969-present). Ordinarily, such Christmas gift ideas aren't worth writing about but, as with almost everything else Lennon has done, Shaved Fish is different. There is nothing spectacularly unfound about the music here, although finally having an LP with "Instant Karma!" — Lennon's best solo track and as full a statement of the rock philosophy as we are likely to ... | More »

December 4, 1975

Art Garfunkel

Breakaway

Breakaway is certainly superior to Angel Clare the first Art Garfunkel solo album. But it's difficult to decide how much the singer had to do with its success, aside from having the good sense to choose Richard Perry to produce it. Releasing the album in conjunction with Paul Simon's may have been commercially advantageous — particularly since "My Little Town." the S&G reunion. is included on both — but artisticall it is an error of incalculable proportions. After he... | More »

Bonnie Raitt

Home Plate

Despite its unevenness, this is a vast improvement over Street Lights and accomplishes much of what that LP set out to do in the first place. On Home Plate, the sound is rich and full, and producer Paul Rothchild has used horns and vocal choirs extensively but not gratuitously. Although the approach is more pop oriented than previous efforts for Bonnie Raitt, her own style isn't cramped in the process. She sings as well as ever and, as her voice continues to mature, maintains more contro... | More »

Paul Simon

Still Crazy After All These Years Warner Bros

Although his aim may be higher, Paul Simon has always been more a wistful classicist than an adventurous romantic: He wouldn't dream of taking the Kierkegaardian leap to faith without first making a reservation at the best hotel on the other side. Even the fools don't act foolish in his songs, for such gratuitous and unchic behavior simply cannot be permitted in a closed off society where class and proper emotional manners are rated more favorably than quixotic clownishness and prim... | More »

November 20, 1975

The Who

The Who By Numbers

By now, a nonopera by the Who is its own kind of concept album. While The Who by Numbers pretends to be a series of ten unconnected songs, it's really only a pose; there's not a story line here, but there are more important unities — lyrical themes, musical and production style, a sense of time and place. Quadrophenia and Tommy helped Peter Townshend sharpen a writing style that was already one of the most personal and interesting in rock. Because the Who is itself so stylize... | More »

Al Green

Al Green Is Love

Al Green's latest LP would almost qualify as a concept album were it not for the fact that Green has been mining the rhetoric of romance ever since his first hits. If Al Green Is Love contains any surprises, they come in the treatment of his material, all of it original for a change. The kind of love portrayed in "Rhymes" is no simple Moon June affair, and "Love Ritual" summons eros as a frenzy of orgiastic salvation. Languid, serpentine phrases issue in unsettling shrieks, garbled fragm... | More »

George Harrison

Extra Texture

George Harrison and his music are best approached with deep caution, if only because his music (being former Beatle stuff) inevitably commands special attention; one wants to respect Harrison, to fathom his pursuit of Krishna, perhaps even to share his religious zealotry. "You," the single which preceded Extra Texture, his fourth post-Beatles solo album, is not only the best thing he has done since 1971's "My Sweet Lord," but also promised some of the prestige and credibility he lost wit... | More »

November 6, 1975

Jethro Tull

Minstrel In The Gallery

Chances are, most of you have long since forgotten the notion of Elizabethan boogie as an art form. Well, it's revived here on Minstrel in the Gallery, Jethro Tull's latest concept-as-after-thought entry in the fall record sweepstakes. The fact that Ian Anderson and the lads have once again plundered the British secular music tradition signifies little and delivers less. Anderson, still holding to a self-consciously bizarre musical stance, has difficulty maintaining the center of a... | More »

The Allman Brothers Band

Win, Lose Or Draw Polydor

This is the Allman Brothers' sixth album, one many people never expected to see. Their last release, Brothers and Sisters, came out two years ago, and since then band members have seemed to be spinning off in separate orbits. When work on this album began in the spring, fans sighed in relief. Win, Lose or Draw continues in the tradition established by the ABB from their first record — funky originals and ballads spiced with classic blues and spacey, jazz-tinged instrumental work... | 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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