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album reviews

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 »

Tina Turner

Acid Queen

Tina Turner's attempt to recreate the excitement of five rock classics by the Rolling Stones, the Who and Led Zeppelin never really had a chance. She sings at least one of them, "Let's Spend the Night Together," as well as anyone this side of Aretha Franklin, even though she ruins a couple of the others ("Under My Thumb" and Pete Townshend's title song) with the sheer shrieking bombast that has characterized too much of her recent work. But the primary flaw in the rock-classics... | More »

Pink Floyd

Wish You Were Here Capitol/EMI Records

Without Pink Floyd we would not have the European sci-fi multitudes (Hawkwind, Can, Amon Duul II and all their little friends) to kick around. They were the first to explore the upper reaches of the chemical heavens, and their commercial and artistic superiority, if ever it was in doubt, was brutally confirmed by Dark Side of the Moon. That 1973 album has now sold over 6,000,000 units worldwide — 3,000,000 in the U.S. alone. Advance orders for their followup (two years in the making) to... | More »

October 9, 1975

The Grateful Dead

Blues For Allah

Blues for Allah contains quite a few surprises, some pleasant (Mickey Hart's reappearance; most of side one) and some embarrassing (most of side two), but at least the Grateful Dead have begun to awaken from the artistic coma they've been in since 1971. With their self-owned and -operated record company fantasies biting the dust due to financially trying times and some decidedly uninteresting releases, the Dead have handed their distribution over to United Artists. They've also... | More »

Eric Clapton

E.C. Was Here

E.C. Was Here, recorded live at various concerts on his most recent world tour, marks Eric Clapton's return to the role of lead guitarist. Not only has Clapton reassumed primary responsibility for the lion's share of the instrumental work, but his fiery guitar playing harkens back to the days when he spearheaded the British blues movement with John Mayall's Bluesbreakers. Concentrating once more on a blues repertoire, Clapton has come back to the full dense sound of the Gibson ... | More »

Bruce Springsteen

Born To Run Sony BMG

As a determinedly permanent resident of the West Coast, the furor Bruce Springsteen's live performances have kicked up in the East over the last couple of years left me feeling somewhat culturally deprived, not to mention a little suspicious. The legendary three-hour sets Springsteen and his E Street Band apparently rip out night after night in New York, Province-town, Boston and even Austin have generated a great tumult and shouting; but, short of flying 3000 miles to catch a show, ther... | More »

October 1, 1975

Big Brother & the Holding Company

How Hard It Is

It has righteously ranked my ass to see the shabby treatment accorded Big Brother and the Holding Company over the course of the past four years. In the days when the name of Janis Joplin was fastened to every lip, Big Brother were referred to as "the boys in the band" (that is, if they were referred to at all). And when they returned from the dead with a splendid album last year (Be A Brother), everyone tripped over their tongues crediting the triumph to Nick Gravenites. Well, friends, the d... | More »

September 30, 1975

Linda Ronstadt

Prisoner in Disguise

Prisoner in Disguise is an attempt to re-create the enormous critical and commercial success of Ronstadt's 1974 album, Heart like a Wheel. Unfortunately, while every choice on the previous album seemed inspired, these are largely pedestrian. As a parallel work, Prisoner operates at a distinct disadvantage to Heart; track by track, it is thoroughly and transparently inferior. Part of the problem is Ronstadt's voice, a truly remarkable instrument which she has never learned to contro... | More »

September 25, 1975

Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac Reprise

Not only is Fleetwood Mac no longer blues oriented, it isn't even really British: The two newest members, Lindsey Buckingham (guitar and vocals) and Stevie Nicks (vocals, acoustic guitar) are American, and all five members are now based in Los Angeles. The band began its spiritual journey to L.A. a half-dozen albums ago – on Future Games – when it was led by the often dazzling guitarist/singer Danny Kirwan. Kirwan is long gone but his inspiration lingers in the songs and sing... | More »

Rod Stewart

Atlantic Crossing

To a lot of people, Rod Stewart onstage in midstrut — hair flying, handy with brandy and partial to the broad smile and easy wink — offers as good a definition of the full flash of rock & roll as one is likely to get. He's a wizard at the spotlight game, his long legs quickly laying claim to the private turf of a public master. Behind him, the Faces careen like well-oiled parts of a perpetual-motion machine gone somewhat daft of purpose, while their leader lines out antic... | More »

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Song Stories

“Madame George”

Van Morrison | 1968

One of the first stream-of-consciousness epics to make it onto a Van Morrison record, his drawn-out farewell to the eccentric "Madame George" lasted nearly 10 minutes, combining ingredients from folk, jazz and classical music. The character that gave the song its title provoked speculation that it was about a drag queen, though Morrison denied this in Rolling Stone. "If you see it as a male or a female or whatever, it's your trip," he remarked. "I see it as a ... a Swiss cheese sandwich. Something like that."

More Song Stories entries »
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