album reviews

Eric Clapton

There's One In Every Crowd

Eric Clapton's sense of well-being is reiterated on There's One in Every Crowd, but on this album it seems less a cause for joy than an occasion for musical indifference. As on 461 Ocean Boulevard, Clapton plays guitar with utilitarian economy but here it is also without the ring of purposeful authority. As on its predecessor, the lack of riveting or attention-drawing guitar work places the primary focus on Clapton's singing, which through experience, growing confidence and a t... | More »

John Lennon

Rock 'n' Roll Apple/EMI

As a performing group, the Beatles began by playing old rock favorites, for dancing, to tough audiences in Liverpool and Hamburg. When they began writing seriously, they discovered that they couldn't compose in the early American rock tradition. So when they needed something crude, harsh and joyfully loud to round out an album, they borrowed songs originally done by Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Carl Perkins, Larry Williams or someone from Motown. (Paul McCartney finally ended the custom ... | More »

David Bowie

Young Americans RCA

The title song of David Bowie's Young Americans is one of his handful of classics, a bizarre mixture of social comment, run-on lyric style, English pop and American soul. The band plays great and Tony Visconti's production is flawless — just a touch of old-fashioned slap-back echo to give the tracks some added mystery. The rest of the album works best when Bowie combines his renewed interest in soul with his knowledge of English pop, rather than opting entirely for one or the ... | More »

May 8, 1975

Steely Dan

Katy Lied

Steely Dan sound like a million dollars not only next to at least 26 of their coresidents of the Boss 30 when they're in it, but also in comparison to three-quarters of the stuff with which they share FM needle-time.   The lead singing of Donald Fagen, which sounds to these old ears like a strange hybrid of the Mike Love of "California Girls" and pre-motorcycle-wreck Dylan, is engagingly distinctive. The words, while frequently not easy to get the definite drift of, are almost al... | More »


Sheer Heart Attack Toshiba

Two of the most liberated and ambitious of the "fun" oriented British bands beginning to make their mark in the States are the updated war-horses Pretty Things and the nouveau-heavies Queen. Both of these groups, which could easily — if not accurately — be termed "psychedelic," seem to be signaling the advent of what may well be a renaissance of affective rock & roll. If the renaissance occurs, it will be as a result of autonomous imaginations like these; imaginations free eno... | More »

April 24, 1975

Alice Cooper

Welcome To My Nightmare

The comeback of Alice Cooper, the singer, without Alice Cooper, the group, poses the obvious question — was it him or them? The obvious answer has always been that it was Alice, whose star quality took him and his pals from being a maligned and second-rate heavy-metal act to a premier singles rock band of the Seventies. That ignores the equally obvious — that the music improved more than the stage gimmicks or the singing. Some would argue that the responsible party was Bob Ezrin,... | More »

April 10, 1975

Miles Davis

Get Up With It Columbia/Legacy

Miles's longtime audience will without doubt find this a bizarre set. Within the space of this double album Miles plays organ on half the tracks, marking the first time in a 30-year recording career that he has appeared on an instrument other than trumpet or fluegelhorn. Other oddities include three electric guitars on several cuts, Miles overdubbing lush multiple trumpet backgrounds, an upfront harmonica track here and there and a couple of tasty bits from Miles's tape collection. ... | More »

March 27, 1975

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 »

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Song Stories


The Pack | 2006

Berkeley, California rappers the Pack made their footwear choice clear in 2006 with the song "Vans." The track caught the attention of Too $hort, who signed them to his imprint. MTV refused to play the video for the song, though, claiming it was essentially a commercial for the product. Rapper Lil' B disagreed. "I didn’t know nobody [at] Vans," he said. "I was just a rapper who wore Vans." Even without MTV's support, Lil' B recognized the impact of the track. "God blessed me with such a revolutionary song… People around my age know who really started a lot of the dressing people are into now."

More Song Stories entries »