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album reviews

Elton John

Don't Shoot Me I'm Only The Piano Player MCA Records

Visually, musically, and in every other way, Don't Shoot Me I'm Only the Piano Player is an engaging entertainment and a nice step forward in phase two of Elton John's career, the phase that began with Honky Chateau. The essence of Elton's personality, on record and in performance, has always been innocent exuberance, a quality intrinsic in most of the best rock 'n' roll of the Fifties and early Sixties. Elton's only major problem after the success of his fi... | More »

March 2, 1973

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Bayou Country Fantasy

Creedence Clearwater Revival's new LP suffers from one major fault — inconsistency. The good cuts are very good; but the bad ones just don't make it. The group's sound is very reminiscent of that of the early Stones — hard rock, based in blues. John Fogerty carries the group with his good lead guitar, in addition to his good vocal and harp work. He also wrote all of Creedence's original songs, and arranged and produced the album. He probably swept out the stud... | More »

March 1, 1973

Gram Parsons

GP Reprise

Gram Parsons is an artist with a vision as unique and personal as those of Jagger-Richard, Ray Davies, or any of the other celebrated figures. Parsons may not have gone to the gate as often as the others, but when he has he's been strikingly consistent and good. I can't think of a performance on record any more moving than Gram's on his "Hot Burrito No. 1," and the first album of his old band, the Flying Burrito Bros.' Gilded Palace of Sin, is a milestone. The record broug... | More »

Gram Parsons

Grievous Angel Reprise

Gram Parsons is an artist with a vision as unique and personal as those of Jagger-Richard, Ray Davies, or any of the other celebrated figures. Parsons may not have gone to the gate as often as the others, but when he has he's been strikingly consistent and good. I can't think of a performance on record any more moving than Gram's on his "Hot Burrito No. 1," and the first album of his old band, the Flying Burrito Bros.' Gilded Palace of Sin, is a milestone. The record broug... | More »

The Beach Boys

Holland Brother/Reprise

From the nasal raunch of "Surfin' Safari" to the convoluted elegance of "Surf's Up," through more than ten years of recording and performing, the Beach Boys have sustained a strong musical identity, even though their original guiding light, Brian Wilson, has increasingly become merely a shadow presence. About the time of Today, other Beach Boys besides Brian and Mike Love began singing lead; by Friends, other members of the group besides Brian were contributing songs. Through it all... | More »

Neil Young

Journey Through the Past

Neil Young has been involved in a lot of memorable rock music over the last seven years. He was one of the most interesting songwriters in Buffalo Springfield, and his own solo work with Crazy Horse still sounds fresh today. At his best, Young transformed his thin voice into a distinctive vehicle for a haunting, frail style, while his lead guitar bristled with a concise energy. His most satisfying work, especially the superb Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, captured an intimate presence that ... | More »

Marvin Gaye

Trouble Man/M.P.G.

Even when a movie soundtrack isn't so awful you'd just as soon throw it down the stairs, it very rarely achieves anything beyond a sort of banal, predictable mood music: a little suspense, a little drama, an ooze of romance, maybe a brisk driving-in-the-car-to-possible danger track counterpointed with a lighter, romantic-leads-take-a-walk sequence — all compressed, like a week's worth of garbage, for one tight, bright under-the-credits Main Theme. Altogether, it's ab... | More »

February 15, 1973

Rick Nelson

Garden Party

On the front cover, which is stunning, there are several things of note. Rick photographs better here than he ever has in 32 1/2 unnaturally handsome years, resplendent in a jacket of rock & roll (embroidered) velvet. He's gripping his Les Paul Gibson with both hands, and with the same tenacity that's kept him going through the dubious success of his recent career. Right above his elegantly coifed head, in thin but emphatic lettering, is the name of the first bona fide smasheroo... | More »

James Brown

Get On The Good Foot Polydor

There was a time when James Brown really was Soul Brother Number One. Though it was only six, seven, eight years ago, it seems like a lot longer. Back in the early and mid-Sixties, Brown's shows had the same mythical stature for soul audiences that the Stones now have for the rock audiences. His influence on the developing soul artists of the time — Wilson Pickett, Otis, later Aretha — was immeasurable. It was not only the emphasis on hard rhythms over melody, but the concept... | More »

February 1, 1973

Big Star

No. 1 Record/Radio City

#1 Record In the late Sixties, a Memphis teenager named Alex Chilton won moderate fame and fortune as the lead singer for a sometimes inspired, sometimes insipid recording unit known as the Box Tops. The group was a vehicle for the ideas of producer-writer Dan Penn, and Chilton's raspy, young punk voice was the focal point. After several erratic albums and a couple of downright classic singles, "The Letter" and "Cry like a Baby," Alex tired of being just a mouthpiece. The final Box Tops... | More »

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Song Stories

“Vicious”

Lou Reed | 1972

Opening Lou Reed's 1972 solo album, the hard-riffing "Vicious" actually traces its origin back to Reed's days with the Velvet Underground. Picking up bits and pieces of songs from the people and places around him, and filing his notes for later use, Reed said it was Andy Warhol who provided fuel for the song. "He said, 'Why don't you write a song called 'Vicious,'" Reed told Rolling Stone in 1989. "And I said, 'What kind of vicious?' 'Oh, you know, vicious like I hit you with a flower.' And I wrote it down literally."

More Song Stories entries »
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