.

album reviews

Miles Davis

Big Fun Columbia

Most of Big Fun consists of outtakes from Bitches Brew and Live/Evil days, and one can only wonder why superb performances like "Great Expectations" and "Lonely Fire" were canned. The former piece gets a mesmerizing, other-worldly texture from electric sitar, tamboura, berimbau (Brazilian musical bow) and electric guitar and has one of Miles's most lyrical lines. In effect, both pieces are all-star sessions, with John McLaughlin. Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea, Billy Cobham, Wayne Shorter, ... | More »

June 6, 1974

Frank Zappa

Apostrophe (')

Having proven his stellar musicianship on a series of instrumental-based solo albums, Frank Zappa is now returning to the musical satire on which his formidable reputation was built. Apostrophe turns out to be so brilliantly successful, though, that it seems as though he's never left this field. Songs like "Stinkfoot" and "St. Alfonzo's Pancake Breakfast" again attest to Zappa's abilities at contorting song forms to serve his distorted purposes: They're a welcome reminder ... | More »

Carly Simon

Hotcakes

Hotcakes holds up well and represents an intelligent approach to commercial record making. Her past albums were serious-sounding with playful overtones; Hotcakes is playful-sounding with some serious overtones — a balance that best suits her for the time being. But lest she is mistakenly stereotyped as a mere light artist, "Think I'm Gonna Have a Baby," "Forever My Love" and especially "Haven't Got Time for the Pain" are substantial songs and performances, superior to almost e... | More »

Aerosmith

Get Your Wings Columbia

Maintaining an agile balance between Yardbirds- and Who-styled rock and Seventies heavy metal, Aerosmith's second album surges with pent-up fury yet avoids the excesses to which many of their peers succumb. The music of the five-member group contains the vital elements of economy and control — no ill-advised solo extravaganzas. The snarling chords of guitarists Joe Perry and Brad Whitford tautly propel each number, jibing neatly with the rawness of singer Steven Tyler, whose discip... | More »

Stevie Wonder

Innervisions Tamla

With his last three albums Stevie Wonder has replaced Sly Stone as the most significant individual black innovator in the twin fields of R&B and rock. He has also replaced him as the most popular black music personality: Wonder's appeal now crosses every boundary. His music always sounds free and, at his best, he does things no one else can. "Living for the City" has the most compelling — pounding, throbbing, unyielding — beat to be heard anywhere at all. And though that ... | More »

May 23, 1974

Cat Stevens

Buddha And The Chocolate Box

The last really good Cat Stevens song, two albums back, was appropriately titled "I Can't Keep It In." Since then he's been pouring out separate streams of interesting melody and dubious verbiage, streams that never converge. That would not necessarily be a problem — Stevens remains a gifted composer no matter what — were it not for the fact that his lyrics become so much more strident and incoherent with each progressively less promising effort. However fresh and idi... | More »

Eagles

On The Border Elektra

Most of the ten songs here are in some way related to escape, or to the failures that necessitate it. But the Eagles' point of view toward their material varies so wildly that it's hard to believe even they take it seriously. "My Man," Bernie Leadon's gentle epitaph for a "very talented guy" (who seems to be Gram Parsons), is completely at odds with the jovial necrophilia of "James Dean," a strong and (I hope) slightly facetious rocker that hands its subject a rather abrupt kis... | More »

Steely Dan

Pretzel Logic

Steely Dan is the most improbable hit-singles band to emerge in ages. On its three albums, the group has developed an impressionistic approach to rock & roll that all but abandons many musical conventions and literal lyrics for an unpredictable, free-roving style. While the group considered the first album, Can't Buy a Thrill, a compromise for the sake of accessibility, and the second, Countdown To Ecstasy, to emphasize extended instrumental work, the new Pretzel Logic is an attempt ... | More »

Roxy Music

Stranded

Two British bands are genuinely stretching the dimensions of pop music. One, 10 c.c., has already found a degree of popularity in the States. Roxy Music has been unable to cross the Atlantic so far, but that should change with this album. Stranded is one of the most exciting and entertaining British LPs of the Seventies. Roxy has constructed the modern English equivalent of the wall-of-sound. One instrument, either the guitar or a keyboard, will sustain or repeat a note, and the other instru... | More »

May 9, 1974

Earth, Wind & Fire

Open Our Eyes

A pleasant miscellany of Africana, Latin rhythms, well-mannered funk, smooth jazz, Sly Stone, Stevie Wonder and the Fifth Dimension, Earth Wind & Fire's Open Our Eyes has both disco and easy-listening appeal, and it's so cheerful one scarcely minds the lack of focus and distinction.Among the distinctively positive elements: Maurice White's ringing kalimba, Andrew Woolfolk's fluent soprano sax, someone's eerie falsetto squeal, and everybody's good humor. But the b... | More »

Daily Newsletter

Get the latest RS news in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the Rolling Stone newsletter and special offers from RS and its
marketing partners.

X

We may use your e-mail address to send you the newsletter and offers that may interest you, on behalf of Rolling Stone and its partners. For more information please read our Privacy Policy.

Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

More Song Stories entries »
www.expandtheroom.com