album reviews

Jerry Lee Lewis

The Session

What we have here is the four-sided sequel to Chuck Berry's phenomenally successful London Sessions — except that Chuck has been replaced by Jerry Lee Lewis. It is an enjoyable, if overstuffed record, filled with genuine interplay between Lewis and the English rock stars who accompany him. It is also a very minor piece of work, in no way as good as Lewis' original Memphis singles nor his Nashville country albums. And the preponderance of overly familiar material cuts down on t... | More »

April 12, 1973

Deep Purple

Who Do We Think We Are

Jeez, what an unsettling album! For the life of Reilly I can't understand how Deep Purple evidently lost the macho glory which made their In Rock LP such an Owsleyan mindfuck. Now that was an album — its kamikaze guitar and organ runs sped toward insanity with blazing intensity. It was rather melodic, too, for those who keep track of such things. The group's tried thrice to renew the assault on the senses, but each time they've come off like a fouled imitation of their ea... | More »

Bob Marley and the Wailers

Catch a Fire Tuff Gong/Island

The Wailers are a group from Jamaica who have been influenced as much by white rock & roll and, apparently, country and western, as the Encino aristocrats have been influenced by the blues. The result is a blend: Lilting tunes of hypnotic character headed by super-progressive lead guitar work, Motown variations, and cowboy nuances, all backed by the tricky Jamaican beat that serves to keep the decibel level in a moderate range, thereby forcing the audience to be seduced by the charms of t... | More »

The Byrds

The Byrds Asylum

To tell the truth, I would rather write about some of the fine new albums released since the first of this year — including Dr. John's In the Right Place (his best). Todd Rundgren's near best A Wizard/A True Pop Star, Dusty Springfield's Cameo (an absolutely stunning return to recording), Judee Sill's Heart Food (possibly as good as her first), The Harder They Fall (a great soundtrack and introduction to Jimmy Cliff) and Bob Seger's Back In '72 (a superb re... | More »

April 6, 1973


Goodbye Atco

"What a Bringdown." The last title of (probably) the final Cream album serves as a capsule summation of Goodbye and, indeed, the whole Cream mess. Certainly Jack, Eric, and Ginger deserved a better fate. Goodbye is not a very worthwhile album. Critics will probably tear it apart, while even bonafide Cream Freaks will have to be a little disappointed. It's like the once-famous tycoon who dies an anonymous pauper; it's just a bad way to go out. The studio version of "I'm So Gla... | More »

March 29, 1973

B.B. King

The Best of B.B. King MCA

In spite of 1972 being one of the stalest years in the history of popular music, the spate of reissues from all the major record companies and countless minor ones picks up more speed all the time, and the results (uneven as they are) are generally encouraging. All four of these albums represent attempts both at recapitulating the contributions of three black titans and cashing in on the belated widespread recognition of those contributions. Curtis Mayfield had a long string of hits with the ... | More »

Elvis Presley

Aloha From Hawaii Via Satellite

My God! Another live album from my hero. He's turning them out as fast as he once made movie soundtracks. And with as little point, in view of the fact that the material, patter, structure and sound vary so little from record to record. On the other hand, they sell better than his current studio albums, and those haven't exactly been aesthetic triumphs, so maybe there is some logic to it. Just the same, "Suspicious Minds" has been released live from Las Vegas, Madison Square Garden... | More »


Greatest Hits

Dion was the original punk. Stand him up next to his contemporary male teen idols — Frankie Avalon, Fabian, Bobby Vee, Brian Hyland, Bobby Rydell, Adam Wade, Paul Anka, Neil Sedaka, Mark Valentino, etc. — and the difference is obvious. They were all simpering, heartstruck, crybabies, with the possible exception of Fabian, and the best he could come up with was "yay yay yay I'm like a tiger" which, needless to say, was somewhat less than convincing. But when Dion sang "I love ... | More »

Al Green

Green Is Blues

Green Is Blues is a resurrection of Al Green's first album for Hi. It appeared during the summer of 1969 and died quietly even though it contained Green's first substantial single hit, "Tomorrow's Dream." With Green now sitting on top of the world, Hi has repackaged the album, leaving the original liner notes ("... a young man who is a red hot rhythm and blues singer with a difference that is gonna be greatly dug by all who tune an ear to the variegated tones and shades of this... | More »

March 15, 1973

Yoko Ono

Approximately Infinite Universe

Then suddenly we realized that this time we were both drifting out in a cosmos somewhere together, like God's two little dandruffs floating in the universe.... Astral identity! Wow! Something else, right? — liner notes It is indeed a shame that the vocals on this album have been allowed to dominate the music, for the boys from Elephant's Memory have rarely sounded better. Yoko, however, in her role as lyricist, is, as they say, laughable. Her sense of poetics and metaphy... | More »

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Song Stories

“Road to Nowhere”

Talking Heads | 1985

A cappella harmonies give way to an a fuller arrangement blending pop and electro-disco on "Road to Nowhere," but the theme remains constant: We're on an eternal journey to an undefined destination. The song vaulted back into the news a quarter century after it was a hit when Gov. Charlie Crist used it in his unsuccessful 2010 campaign for the U.S. Senate in Florida. "It's this little ditty about how there's no order and no plan and no scheme to life and death and it doesn't mean anything, but it's all right," Byrne said with a chuckle.

More Song Stories entries »