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album reviews

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 »

January 2, 1975

Jefferson Starship

Dragon Fly

For several years, the nucleus of the Airplane/Starship has been struggling to hold together a concept that didn't seem workable in the first place. The performing personalities of Slick and Kantner have long seemed much too cold-hearted to deal convincingly with humanistic themes. Their icy remoteness has combined with Kantner's pedantry and Slick's sarcasm to turn the pair into unknowing self-parodists. But this is better: Dragon Fly is at worst listenable and at best surpri... | More »

Funkadelic

Standing on the Verge of Getting It On

Certainly no one can accuse Funkadelic of taking themselves too seriously. Here they've come up with a record that seems to be the initial mating of Afro-funk and LSD! The off handed spaciness that was so much a part of the early Hendrix records runs rampant through this disc, with numbers like "Alice in My Fantasies" and the lengthy "Good Thoughts, Bad Thoughts" heavily dependent on ethereal guitar lines and tape effects to elicit a latterday Axis: Bold as Love air. Other numbers &mdash... | More »

Jefferson Starship

Dragon Fly Grunt/RCA

For several years, the nucleus of the Airplane/Starship has been struggling to hold together a concept that didn't seem workable in the first place. The performing personalities of Slick and Kantner have long seemed much too cold-hearted to deal convincingly with humanistic themes. Their icy remoteness has combined with Kantner's pedantry and Slick's sarcasm to turn the pair into unknowing self-parodists. But this is better: Dragon Fly is at worst listenable and at best surpri... | More »

Frank Zappa

Roxy & Elsewhere DiscReet Records

This is sort of like jazz in its own peculiar way, Zappa says during a rap in "Be-Bop Tango," and he's right, because Roxy & Elsewhere is about as close to a traditional musical form as the Mothers are ever likely to come. There's bound to be lots of strangeness — long, spoken raps (preambles), Zappa's own weird form of humor, post-acid fairy tale lyrics and a lot of just plain wasted vinyl — on any double album from the Mothers. But in between there is actually... | More »

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Song Stories

“Bird on a Wire”

Leonard Cohen | 1969

While living on the Greek island of Hydra, Cohen was battling a lingering depression when his girlfriend handed him a guitar and suggested he play something. After spotting a bird on a telephone wire, Cohen wrote this prayer-like song of guilt. First recorded by Judy Collins, it would be performed numerous times by artists incuding Johnny Cash, Joe Cocker and Rita Coolidge. "I'm always knocked out when I hear my songs covered or used in some situation," Cohen told Rolling Stone. "I've never gotten over the fact that people out there like my music."

More Song Stories entries »
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