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album reviews

Santana

Welcome Columbia

The choice of "Welcome," a John Coltrane composition from Kulu Se Mama, as the title tune of the new Santana album is a natural follow-up to Carlos' album with Mahavishnu John McLaughlin. Coltrane pioneered the direct rendering of spirituality through music in performances like "A Love Supreme" and "Welcome," and the recent resurgence of interest in his work by spiritually inclined rock musicians is scarcely surprising. But Welcome covers more territory than Love Devotion Surrender, whi... | More »

Fleetwood Mac

Mystery To Me Reprise

Though they're all probably excellent musicians with talent coming out of their ears, the fact still remains that ever since Fleetwood Mac lost its three guitarists extraordinaire they've become increasingly less interesting. Things that are better felt than expressed have brought Fleetwood Mac to a point where the band just doesn't seem to matter much anymore. Though performed with great proficiency and occasionally enlightening subtlety, the first side of Mystery To Me turne... | More »

The Grateful Dead

Wake of the Flood

The music on Wake of the Flood is ample, full and carefully rendered. The album boasts nearly 25 minutes of it per side, the recorded sound is crisp and the finished product bears the marks of care in craftsmanship. The band, remarkably, has even transcended a certain studio thinness that characterized such prior efforts as American Beauty and Workingman's Dead. The new songs, mostly by Hunter-Garcia, cover an eclectic range of styles, from tripping good-timey tag rhyme ("Mississippi Ha... | More »

December 20, 1973

Frank Sinatra

Ol' Blue Eyes Is Back

New albums by two survivors: One is a face-lift, the other a comeback. Of the two, Andy Williams' face-lift is preferable. Actually, Solitaire isn't an Andy Williams album at all but a Richard Perry album with Andy sitting in as vocalist. Perry is a commercial genius, worth the price for anyone who can afford his cosmetic services. The brilliant formula production he perfected with Carly Simon's No Secrets has been delivered to Williams with only minor and conservative custom a... | More »

Lou Reed

Berlin RCA

Lou Reed's Berlin is a disaster, taking the listener into a distorted and degenerate demimonde of paranoia, schizophrenia, degradation, pill-induced violence and suicide. There are certain records that are so patently offensive that one wishes to take some kind of physical vengeance on the artists that perpetrate them. Reed's only excuse for this kind of performance (which isn't really performed as much as spoken and shouted over Bob Ezrin's limp production) can only be th... | More »

David Bowie

Pin Ups RCA Records

With everyone from the Band to Don McLean doing oldies albums, the Who revisiting the Mod era, and David Bowie's guitarist Mick Ronson's obvious brilliance in the genre (as evidenced by his one-man Yardbirdmania on "Jean Genie"), the idea of an album re-creating mid-Sixties English rock classics seemed perfect. And every song included has been a personal favorite for years. To Bowie they have been more — they are representative of a phase of the London scene he was very much ... | More »

The Who

Quadrophenia Track/MCA

Quadrophenia is the Who at their most symmetrical, their most cinematic, ultimately their most maddening. Captained by Pete Townshend, they have put together a beautifully performed and magnificently recorded essay of a British youth mentality in which they played no little part, lushly endowed with black and white visuals and a heavy sensibility of the wet-suffused air of 1965. Nonetheless, the album fails to generate a total impact because of its own internal paradox: Instead of the four-s... | More »

December 6, 1973

Marvin Gaye

Let's Get It On Tamia

"Let's Get It On" is a classic Motown single, endlessly repeatable and always enjoyable. It begins with three great wah-wah notes that herald the arrival of a vintage Fifties melody. But while the song centers around classically simple chord changes, the arrangement centers around a slightly eccentric rhythm pattern that deepens the song's power while covering it with a contemporary veneer. Above all, it has Marvin Gaye's best singing at its center, fine background voices on th... | More »

Queen

Queen

Rumor has it that Queen shall soon be crowned "the new Led Zeppelin," which is an event that would certainly suit this observer just fine. There's no doubt that this funky, energetic English quartet has all the tools they'll need to lay claim to the Zep's abdicated heavy-metal throne, and beyond that to become a truly influential force in the rock world. Their debut album is superb. The Zeppelin analogy is not meant to imply that Queen's music is anywhere near as blues-ba... | More »

Bonnie Raitt

Takin' My Time

Early on in her career, Bonnie Raitt decided that live shows were more important to her than records. She wanted to get out and reach people directly, without having to rely on hype, promotion and hustle. In the time since, she's done a lot of traveling, but though she still says she'd never want a hit record, the release of her third album may be the one that makes her a "star." In the few years that Bonnie has been performing, her style has expanded. She began as a blues player i... | More »

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Song Stories

“Hungry Like the Wolf”

Duran Duran | 1982

This indulgent New Romantic group generated their first U.S. hit with the help of what was at the time new technology. "Simon [Le Bon] and I, I think, had been out the night before and had this terrible hangover," said keyboardist Nick Rhodes. "For some reason we were feeling guilty about it and decided to go and do some work." Rhodes started playing with his Jupiter-8 synth, and then "Simon had an idea for a lyric, and by lunchtime when everyone else turned up, we pretty much had the song." The Simmons drumbeat was equally important to the sound of "Hungry Like the Wolf," as Duran Duran drummer Roger Taylor stated it "kind of defined the drum sound for the Eighties."

More Song Stories entries »
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