album reviews

The Rolling Stones

Goats Head Soup Rolling Stones Records

History has proven it unwise to jump to conclusions about Rolling Stones albums. At first Sticky Fingers seemed merely a statement of doper hipness on which the Stones (in Greil Marcus' elegant phrase) "rattled drugs as if they were maracas." But drugs wound up serving a figurative as well as a literal purpose and the album became broader and more ambiguous with each repeated listening. At first, Exile on Main Street seemed a terrible disappointment, with its murky, mindless mixes and c... | More »

August 30, 1973

Jethro Tull

A Passion Play

A Passion Play is the artsiest artifact yet to issue from the maddeningly eccentric mind of Ian Anderson. Conceived for live performance as much as for disk, its ultimate presentation incorporates a short film, written, directed and edited by Anderson, in addition to the madcap hysteria of the stage show. Having not seen the play, I can only comment on the disk, which is a pop potpourri of Paradise Lost and Winnie The Pooh, among many other literary resources, not to mention a vast array of m... | More »

Donny Hathaway

Extensions Of A Man

Like Stevie Wonder's Music of My Mind, Donny Hathaway's Extensions of a Man, produced by Arif Mardin, is an ambitious breakthrough album that significantly broadens the musical palette of a major black artist, fulfilling in large measure promises long-offered. But whereas Wonder has lately concentrated on expanding the textural definitions of R&B as it has evolved out of Motown, Hathaway shows himself to be a sophisticated traditionalist of great versatility, able to weave alrea... | More »

Cat Stevens


Cat Stevens' first self-produced album, much of it recorded in Jamaica, fails in virtually all of its fuzzy ambitions, the most conspicuous of which seems to have been an attempt to add some meaningfully avant-garde soul sauce to Cat's basically bland Anglo stew. The almost complete lack of integration between these elements is aggravated by Cat's singing, which has become increasingly ragged since Tea for the Tillerman. Cat seems determined to sacrifice the pleasantly hypnotic... | More »

Bob Dylan

Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid Columbia

Bob Dylan was the source of pop music's unpredictability in the Sixties. Never as big a record-seller as commonly imagined, his importance was first aesthetic and social, and then as an influence. It was from that vantage point that he accumulated unprecedented power and authority, to the point where it must have eventually threatened his peace of mind. Janis Joplin couldn't survive having so many people dependent on her to fulfill their fantasies; fate, in the form of a motorcycle... | More »

Willie Nelson

Shotgun Willie

With this flawless album, Willie Nelson finally demonstrates why he has for so long been regarded as a C&W singer-songwriter's singer-songwriter. Except for the excellent concept album, Yesterday's Wine, his recorded efforts for RCA were debased by the misapplication of Nashville mass-production techniques that drew the curtains over his exceptionally individual style. Since leaving the label, Nelson has moved from Nashville to Austin, Texas, signed up with Atlantic's fledg... | More »

August 17, 1973

Earth, Wind & Fire

Head To The Sky

A dream last week: I was walking through a crowded marketplace in a city that seemed to be Paris although I've never been there. I was singing to myself and everyone I passed was singing the same song, softly to themselves. It was "The World's a Masquerade" from the Earth, Wind & Fire album, especially the repeated final lines, "The world's a masquerade/ Can the whole world be lying?" I thought to myself, "That must be a very popular song," and then the dream moved on to ot... | More »

Rod Stewart

Sing It Again Rod

Sing It Again Rod touches all the solo bases since Stewart's departure from the Jeff Beck Band, wherein he cut his teeth on American audiences for $75 a week plus expenses, and wisely ignores his generally inferior work with the Faces. With only four solo albums to his credit, the retrospective is premature, even though it is pulled off with taste and imagination. Stewart's music has passed through blues, rock 'n' roll, pop, rock, Dylan and British folk music. He did some... | More »

August 16, 1973

Steely Dan

Countdown To Ecstasy

Steely Dan 1972. Five jaded guys from Gotham City going west to find the American Dream, only to find Los Angeles, where, as they say, you can't buy a thrill. Lo and behold, what do they find there in the promised land but two smash singles, a gold album and (drum roll) success. Steely Dan 1973. Countdown To Ecstasy is upon us with another dose of mainstream rock & roll, restating the basic themes of Can't Buy a Thrill, but this time concentrating a bit more on the rocking side... | More »

August 2, 1973

Jimi Hendrix

Soundtrack Recordings from the Film 'Jimi Hendrix' Warner Bros.

Necrophiliacs of the rock world unite! It's not one, but two records of posthumously issued Jimi Hendrix material, culled from the forthcoming documentary film Jimi Hendrix, featuring five hitherto unreleased cuts. Three are from Hendrix' final performance, held at the Isle of Wight, and reveal the dishearteningly desultory level to which his playing had by then descended. These two records document in words and music (each side concludes with brief interviews with Jimi's famil... | 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 »