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album reviews

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 »

Smokey Robinson

Smokey

I could hardly do anything less than swoon over Smokey Robinson's first solo album. "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" may sound trite and sticky here, "Holly" is a melodramatic "Lucy in the Sky," and "Just My Soul Responding," only more Motown current-affairs "relevance," but these are petty complaints. "Holly" glows in spite of its daytime TV story and "Just My Soul Responding" has the strength and conviction to overcome lines like, "Now I'm on a reservation livin' in a state ... | More »

Lynyrd Skynyrd

Lynyrd Skynyrd MCA Records

Skynyrd broadly fit into the hard-driving improvisational blues format pioneered by the Allman Brothers, although the band's welcome bent for brevity keeps most of the tracks tight and to the point. On the other hand, their nine-minute "Freebird" jumps out of the group's debut LP: It offers a tour of blues guitar expertise, conducted by Allen Collins and to riveting effect. In fact, Skynyrd work with three lead guitarists, a density of stringy instrumentation at times recalling Byrd... | More »

October 25, 1973

Art Garfunkel

Angel Clare

Arthur Garfunkel's return to recording, a project that took some 18 months to complete, is one of the most lushly produced pop albums ever made. To the sweeter sound of the Simon and Garfunkel recorded canon a vast array of orchestral resources and the latest tricks in sound technology have been applied, the goal being to achieve a monumental Romanticism. That goal is achieved, but not without aesthetic sacrifices. The production (by Garfunkel and Roy Halee) accentuates both the virtues... | More »

Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton's Rainbow Concert

In a form in which individual instrumental feats are often self-indulgent and superfluous, Eric Clapton's music remains an anomaly. His greatest guitar playing has been as passionate as Otis Redding's best singing and as articulate as Bob Dylan's best songs. Clapton at his peak is as good as it gets. His music has always been autobiographical, even when he was working off older approaches rather than creating new ones. His frequent modifications of styles and roles, alternatel... | More »

October 19, 1973

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Green River Fantasy

Because Creedence Clearwater Revival first rose to prominence with hits like "Suzy Q," and achieved such immense popularity with a teenybopper audience, many people (myself among them) have until now refused to take them very seriously. But "Proud Mary" should have clued us in. It was more than simply a fine song by Top-40 standards; it was a superb song by any standards. Creedence's new album, Green River, demonstrates convincingly that "Proud Mary" was no fluke. Make no mistake about i... | More »

September 27, 1973

The Grateful Dead

History of the Grateful Dead, Vol. 1 (Bear's Choice)

I can't say too much for old Bear's taste, considering the wealth that must exist in the library of Dead concert tapes. But Volume One of The History of the Grateful Dead consists of selections from a pair of late 1970 dates in which the band was still making the transition from acidic filmstrip music to Merle Haggard style countrified truckinisms. Workingman's Dead had just come out and the band's live performances included tunes from every corner of the American pop song... | More »

Van Morrison

Hard Nose The Highway Warner Bros.

Hard Nose the Highway is psychologically complex, musically somewhat uneven and lyrically excellent. Its surface pleasures are a little less than those of St. Dominic's Preview and a great deal less than those of Tupelo Honey, while its lyric depths are richer and more accessible than those of either predecessor. The major theme of Hard Nose is nostalgia, briefly but firmly counter-pointed by disillusion. The latter sentiment Van spews out in the album's one ugly, self-indulgent son... | More »

September 13, 1973

Mott the Hoople

Mott

What an array of weapons this band has: awesome firepower, an ever-increasing depth of expression, timely themes and an artistic way of mixing these qualities on record. In terms of my own bias, Mott the Hoople has been the most productive band of the last three years, with only the Rolling Stones — a significant source of inspiration for Mott — in the same category. In six attempts, Mott has made four excellent albums, and the latest may be the best. The band has long had a near... | More »

New York Dolls

New York Dolls

The album cover hits with a stark black and white photo, title scrawled in lipstick red aross the top. The boys appear on a white satin couch with a strange combination of high pop-star drag and ruthless street arrogance. There's lipstick, eyeshadow and platform boots, but there's also some sinister slipstream flowing here. Remember the earliest Stones's publicity photos? What was scruffy and outrageous then looks so commonplace now — in ten years will this photo seem as ... | More »

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Song Stories

“Whoomp! (There It Is)”

Tag Team | 1993

Cecil Glenn — a.k.a., "D.C." — was a cook at Magic City, a nude dance club in Atlanta, when he first heard women shout "Whoomp — there it is!" Inspired by the party chant, he and partner Steve "Roll'n" Gibson wrote a song around it. Undaunted by label rejections, they borrowed $2,500 from Glenn's parents and pressed 800 singles, which quickly sold out in the Atlanta area. A record deal came soon after. Glenn said the song was meant for positive partying. "If you're going to say 'Whoomp there it is,' and you're doing something negative, we'd rather it not have come out of your mouth."

More Song Stories entries »
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