album reviews

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 »



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 »

November 22, 1973

Jackson Browne

For Everyman Asylum

For inwardly panoramic songwriting of an apocalyptic bent, Jackson Browne's second album is rivaled only by his first (the second one wins), and Jackson himself is rivaled by nobody. His work is a unique fusion of West Coast casualness and East Coast paranoia, easygoing slang and painstaking precision, child's-eye romanticizing and adult's-eye acceptance. He can expand explicit experience until it takes on the added dimension of an overview, or he can philosophize with such int... | More »

Elton John

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road Island/Mercury

These boys — singer/piano player Elton John, librettist Bernie Taupin and producer Gus Dudgeon sure do relish their fantasy. One evening last summer I found myself in a screening room in Los Angeles with all of the above, plus the guitarist, the bass player and the rest of the white-suited English retinue that follows Elton around. The occasion was a command performance of American Graffitt, George Lucas' dream-sequence film of a night of teenage life in a California town in 1962. ... | More »

November 19, 1973

Bob Dylan

Dylan PC 32747

Columbia has a right to release unissued material by its former employee, Bob Dylan. And I personally want to hear most of it, especially outtakes from the pivotal acoustic albums and the concert recordings. But I can't understand why the label has begun what will inevitably be a long series of "new-old" Dylan LPs with rejects from Dylan's weakest album, Self-Portrait. Bad as Dylan is, it provides no basis for new criticism. It contains only those flaws in evidence on the earlier w... | More »

November 8, 1973

The Animals

Best Of The Animals

With the Fifties rehashed past the point of musical surfeit, the rich body of Sixties rock must now have its day. Important innovations like surf music and the girl-group sound (particularly Phil Spector's creations) have already been resurrected. And now the music of the crucial, nearly ten-year-old British invasion, so significant in revitalizing the spirit of rock & roll in '64-'65, is being revived as well.   British Invasion bands can be divided into two categor... | More »

Linda Ronstadt

Don't Cry Now

Don't Cry Now, produced by J.D. Souther, is the Ronstadt album for which we've been waiting. Her first for Asylum, it surpasses in almost every respect her excellent Capitol album of last year, revealing Linda's supreme vocal abilities in a fine production setting. Of the album's ten songs, five are familiar: Eric Kaz and Libby Titus' "Love Has No Pride," The Eagles' "Desperado," Randy Newman's "Sail Away," Rick Roberts' "Colorado" and Neil Young's... | More »

Yoko Ono

Feeling the Space

Not bad, at all. Backed by some of the best musicians in the business, among them David Spinozza, Jim Keltner, Sneaky Pete and Jeremy Steig, Yoko's latest is her most accessible. At the core of her artistry is the aesthetics of childlike wonder, a radically assumed innocence that demands either emotional participation or rejection, leaving no in-between ground. Feeling In Space comprises 12 sung poems, many of them head-on expressions of Yoko's passionately feminist humanism. The th... | More »

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Song Stories


The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

More Song Stories entries »