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album reviews

Carly Simon

No Secrets

Carly Simon's third album comes handsomely dressed by super-producer Richard Perry and boasts many illustrious helpers. In the degree of its intelligence and forthrightness it is the equal of its predecessors. Regardless of the quality of her songs — they range from fair to excellent — everything Carly does is likable for her radiant vocal personality. She has the whitest of white voices and uses it well, singing full throat with faultless enunciation. Her almost literal note... | More »

December 21, 1972

Carole King

Rhymes & Reasons

"It's a gray, gray gloomy day/A strange and moody blues day/Gotta get through, gotta get through another day." So begins one of the best and most representative songs on Carole King's troubling new album — troubling because its spirit is uncharacteristically depressed and uncertain. In the past, Carole has reached out to us, offering the strength of her musical confidence and humanistic faith. On Rhymes and Reasons, the tables are reversed, and the burden is ours to bear with ... | More »

Captain Beefheart

The Spotlight Kid/Clear Spot

The continuing evolution of Beefheart's music has been one of the most fascinating developments of contemporary rock. The Captain has often seemed an introverted, almost schizophrenic figure, mirroring in his work the apparent dichotomy between the rigorous ensemble playing of the Chicago-out-of-Mississippi bluesmen and the anarchic-sounding sprung rhythms of modernists like Albert Ayler and Ornette Coleman. But the unique facet of Beefheart's blues playing has always been his under... | More »

December 7, 1972

Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath, Vol. 4 Vertigo

As the Sabs poured into "Wheels of Confusion" like giant gobs of wet cement gushing from the heavens in the never-ending sameness of a taffy-pull performed by mutants, people began pouring into my house. One by one they instantly began digging the Sabs, nodding, heavy dudes one and all. Everyone picked up that old Sab neck-wobble trip where your head sort of rocks back and forth on your neck python-fash, right? Where the organ comes in over the big slow power chords; no it's not an organ... | More »

Miles Davis

On The Corner Columbia/Legacy

The Street's the same in New York or Frisco. It leads to heaven or hell, maybe both, and what comes down around you depends on how you travel just as much as where you're coming from. In that sense, Miles Davis from St. Louis by way of jazz and Carlos Santana from San Francisco by way of rock have a great deal more in common than either may realize. These are philosophical albums, if one may be permitted to apply that adjective to musical composition and performance. Both albums ex... | More »

Mott the Hoople

All The Young Dudes

Taking what does not belong to you is a crucial part of the process of creating rock & roll: Exploiting proven riffs, phrases and hooks, then adding a few twists of your own — that's how it works and that's how it's always worked. Only nobody made a big thing about it until Mott the Hoople came along. They've never made any attempt to camouflage the sources of their music; on the contrary, they have glorified the practice of musical thievery. Mott's first al... | More »

Michael Jackson

Got to Be There

I had a dream about the Jackson 5. I was addressing the audience at a luncheon of somesort but all I said when I stood up was that I was hungry. The Jackson 5 were at one of thetables and Tito came up to the podium with a sandwich of American cheese and lettuce on whitebread, open-faced on a plate. I told him that rather than eat the sandwich I would preserve itand he asked me if I did that with all my food. Only when it comes from the Jackson 5, Isaid. There's nothing particularly appe... | More »

November 25, 1972

Santana

Santana III Columbia

Santana goes back deep into the roots of today's music, not only just to the time when the Family Dog was at the Avalon, but back further into the heavy dosages of Latin and African rhythms that have been part of American music for a long time. For it's surely true that for all their Fender basses and fuzz tones, Santana is more deeply committed to the music defined and still played by Tito Puente, Machito, Mongo Santamaria, and all the glorious combinations of brass and rhythm tha... | More »

November 23, 1972

Steely Dan

Can't Buy A Thrill

Mary is strapping on a rubber penis. "Steely Dan III from Yokohama," she says, caressing the shaft.   "What happen to Steely Dan I?" "He was torn in two by a bull dyke. She could cave in a lead pipe." "And Steely Dan II?" "Chewed to bits by a famished candiru in the Upper Baboonsasshole. And don't say 'wheeeeeeee!' this time." — William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch I doubt that "wheee!" will be your response to this Steely Dan, an L.A. rock band that is headed by... | More »

Cat Stevens

Catch Bull At Four

Simultaneous with the release of Cat Stevens' new album on A&M, Columbia has released a pleasing first solo effort by Alun Davies, second guitarist on Cat's records from Mona Bone Jakon on. Catch Bull is impeccably produced. Its musical contents are like those of Teaser and the Firecat — simple, short-phrased melodies and spare and vibrant arrangements. There are, however, notable differences between Catch Bull and its predecessor. The instrumental repertoire has been wid... | More »

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Song Stories

“Bleeding Love”

Leona Lewis | 2007

In 2008, The X Factor winner Leona Lewis backed up her U.K. singing competition victory with an R&B anthem for the ages: "Bleeding Love," an international hit that became the best-selling song of the year. The track was co-penned by OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder (whose radio dominance would continue with songs such as Beyonce's "Halo" and Adele's "Rumour Has It") and solo artist Jesse McCartney, who was inspired by a former girlfriend, Gossip Girl actress Katie Cassidy. Given the song's success, McCartney didn't regret handing over such a personal track: "No, no," he said. "I'm so happy for Leona. She deserves it. There are really no bad feelings."

More Song Stories entries »
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