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album reviews

The Kinks

Muswell Hillbillies JVC Compact Discs

Can you tell the Kinks apart in the picture on the cover of their new album? No, of course. Except for Ray, they all look the same these days. Faceless. Their music has also been sounding that way lately. Still, they're a heap better than most other groups you could ever name. Musically, the Kinks' roots in the British Music Hall tradition really show up strongly on Muswell Hillbillies. At least five songs could be described as this type, and when the country-ish material is added,... | More »

January 21, 1972

Cream

Disraeli Gears Reaction

Within the grooves of this record are miles of listening pleasure. Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker are simply superb musicians with the gift of unending virtuosity. The title of the album, as Eric explains it, is a pun. The group was driving along one day trying to think of names for the record, coming up with things like "Elephant Gerald" (Ella Fitzgerald) and hit upon "Disraeli Gears," a word play on English racing bicycles which have derailer gears. Unfortunately the album does ... | More »

January 20, 1972

Carole King

Music

Anyone who failed to follow up an album that had sold four million copies with a very similar album would have to be either a fool or Bob Dylan. Carole King is neither, and her new album Carole King Music, follows with gingerly tread in the footsteps of Tapestry. The spirit of her music remains warm and strong, her lyrics still carry personal messages of friendship and loyalty, and the same musicians are playing in back of her. Despite the similarity between the two albums, the songs on Carol... | More »

Paul McCartney

Wild Life [US Bonus Tracks]

Like Paul McCartney's first two post-Beatles albums. Wild Life is largely high on sentiment but rather flaccid musically and impotent lyrically, trivial and unaffecting. It lacks the exhilarating highs of Ram (which highs I, as one who found it as worthless as the next guy when it first arrived, can assure you are indeed present), and, in the form of a track called "I Am Your Singer," contains the most embarrassingly puerile single piece of work Paul's been associated with since "Sh... | More »

Miles Davis

Live-Evil Columbia/Legacy

Miles' touted "Fillmore Band" didn't sound much like a band to me. In an area of music where individual virtuosity is the rule rather than the exception, give-and-take between players becomes all important. And only occasionally did the Fillmore crew get down to taking care of business as a unit. There was lots of individual brilliance of course, just like there is lots of individual brilliance on Live-Evil. But this is no collection of isolated geniuses; it's a band, and it�... | More »

Elton John

Madman Across The Water UNI/DJM

Elton John's music means a lot to me, and, as a result, I'm not overjoyed with this album. A record with a theme, it's an account, sometimes photographic, sometimes emotional, all too often metaphorical, of Elton John in America — the madman across the water. As impressions, it's brought out the worst in Bernie Taupin and forced Elton back on his melodic devices. These are sometimes powerful enough to make a song, but too often they're not. I still like this alb... | More »

January 6, 1972

Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, Vol. 2 Columbia

As with everything else in life, there are two ways to look at it. Undoubtedly, somebody up at Columbia thought that Bob Dylan's Greatest Hits, Volume II ought to be in there competing with Bangla Desh for the Christmas dollar, and thus the set, complete with beautiful Bangla Desh color cover, was rush-released into the stores. Dylan, bless him, wasn't so calculating, and took pains to include his own Christmas gift: five "new" songs — or, more accurately, five songs made some... | More »

Stevie Wonder

Greatest Hits Vol. 2 Motown

In a recent interview, Stevie Wonder said, "I think the ultimate is one's nakedness — being stripped of all these [material] things, and if there's such a thing as the soul that speaks — which I do believe — then that would be seen." These almost mystical ideas have a lot to do with the work of this musical genius. His music is atypical for Motown. He's put out their funkiest, most Memphis-like stuff ("Signed, Sealed, Delivered") as well as their most pop-sou... | More »

David Bowie

Hunky Dory RCA

David Bowie, the swinging/mod Garbo, male femme fatale, confidante to and darling of the avant garde on both sides of the Atlantic, and shameless outrage, is back, and with a bang, although bearing little resemblance to the dangerous loony of The Man Who Sold The World from earlier this year. For the most part, Dave is back, after an affair with heavy! highenergy killer techniques, back into his 1966-ish, Tony Newley/poprock thang, and happily so: Hunky is his most easily accessible, and thu... | More »

Pink Floyd

Meddle Harvest/EMI

Pink Floyd has finally emerged from the Atom Heart Mother phase, a fairly stagnant period in their musical growth, marked by constant creative indecision. They tried to cover for it by putting a particular series of subliminal sound effects on the Atom Heart LP, and by dragging in huge, unwieldy brass orchestra sections to their concerts. Nothing short of disaster on both counts. Their new album. Meddle not only confirms lead guitarist David Gilmour's emergence as a real shaping force wi... | More »

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Song Stories

“Santa Monica”

Everclear | 1996

After his brother and girlfriend both died of drug overdoses, Art Alexakis -- depressed and hooked on drugs himself -- jumped off the Santa Monica Pier in California, determined to die. "It was really stupid," said the Everclear frontman, who would further explore his personal emotional journey in the song "Father of Mine." "I went under the water. Then I said, 'I don't wanna die.'" The song, declaring "Let's swim out past the breakers/and watch the world die," was intended as a manifesto for change, Alexakis said. "Let the world do what it's gonna do and just live on our own."

More Song Stories entries »
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