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album reviews

Miles Davis

In Concert: Live At Philharmonic Hall Columbia/Legacy

This double album chronicles Davis' most recent Philharmonic Hall concert, featuring his On The Corner band. It's an excellent group, and on the surface Davis would seem to be doing the musicians a disservice by neglecting to identify them by name. But in Davis' mind, it's probably a question of self-preservation. Playing with Miles has become, not just a road to stardom and gigs but almost the only road for an enterprising young jazzman to follow. The stores are full of a... | More »

Paul Simon

There Goes Rhymin' Simon Columbia/Warner Bros.

There Goes Rhymin' Simon is the logical second step in Paul Simon's solo recording career, and it is a dazzlingly surefooted one. Despite its many light, humorous moments, the core theme of his first album, Paul Simon, was depressing: fear of death, its focal point a sung poem, "Everything Put Together Falls Apart," that while worthy of comparison with the best work of John Berryman, could hardly be called "easy listening." Since the album dealt with anxiety, it communicated anxiety... | More »

Faces

Ooh La La

Hey, not all that bad if you consider that most consumers will fork over for a Faces album with rather low preliminary expectations: Two or at most three tracks will usually soak up the energy and style of the tunes that grace the records of Rodney himself, the sandy catarrh, a jaunty and rocking swing, the insouciant lip that he lays on his lovers and his listeners. Everybody knows that the other seven cuts are not gonna amount to much — even if they give Rod a third or a quarter compo... | More »

June 7, 1973

Led Zeppelin

Houses of the Holy Atlantic

For me, Led Zeppelin began as the epitome of everything good about rock: solid guitar work, forceful vocals and rhythmic backing, devotion to primal blues forms, and most of all, thunderous excitement on stage and vinyl. But as superstardom came to them, so too came the gradual evaporation of those qualities from their sound. In the same way that the Rolling Stones evolved into a senior, "safe" bizarro-perversion band, Led Zeppelin has become a senior, "safe" heavy-metal band. But by its very... | More »

The Jackson 5

Skywriter Motown

Beck's reunion here with his late-Sixties bandmate Rod Stewart, on Curtis Mayfield's inspirational ballad "People Get Ready," is also a welcome return to classic form, a replay of their soulful covers of "Ol' Man River" and "Morning Dew" from Beck's 1968 Truth LP. Stewart wraps his sandpaper croon around the song with tender, unaffected enthusiasm, while Beck gently unravels the melody in his poignant but forceful guitar breaks. | More »

May 24, 1973

Alice Cooper

Billion Dollar Babies

Concerning Alice Cooper, it is by now axiomatic that any new album is intended only as the soundtrack of the latest group traveling extravaganza. But even considered as a soundtrack, Billion Dollar Babies seems an abortion. The extended numbers (ones around which the stage skits revolve) are the most abrasive. Rather than following Cream's formula of presenting a tight skeleton on vinyl that can be expanded at will onstage, the Cooper troupers insist upon acting this soundtrack concept o... | More »

Pink Floyd

Dark Side Of The Moon EMD Int'l

One of Britain's most successful and long lived avant-garde rock bands, Pink Floyd emerged relatively unsullied from the mire of mid-Sixties British psychedelic music as early experimenters with outer space concepts. Although that phase of the band's development was of short duration, Pink Floyd have from that time been the pop scene's preeminent techno-rockers: four musicians with a command of electronic instruments who wield an arsenal of sound effects with authority and fine... | More »

Deep Purple

Made In Japan

Deep Purple have had a rough time gaining and retaining the status of being Kings of the Heavy Metal Set, and with the release of their last album, Who Do We Think We Are?, many critics rejected the fawnish fivesome for (1) trying to step out of their league with electronic-cum-Yes gizmos and melodic lines or (2) staying within the confines of their initial blockbuster, Deep Purple in Rock. If you're expecting something new in terms of either approach or material from Made In Japan, you ... | More »

T. Rex

Tanx

Many double albums could be distilled to quality single LPs. This one album might have made a good EP, since there are four worthwhile tracks, but the remaining nine are flights of Bolan's fantasies that might be interesting to his numerous devotees but less so to more casual listeners.   The three best tunes are all on the first side. "Tenement Lady" is composed of two minisongs, the first being an up-tempo rocker and the second a string-laden ballad. One verse is quaintly mov... | More »

Jefferson Airplane

Thirty Seconds Over Winterland Grunt/RCA

It's a pretty good rock & roll album illustrating all the various strengths and weaknesses of this latest model 'Plane. As a live concert album (recorded last year in San Francisco and Chicago) it compares favorably with Bless Its Pointed Little Head, the 'Planes four-year-old previous recorded gig and one of the most understated and successful live albums of the Sixties. Of course long gone are Marty Balin, whose energetic vocalizing was once this band's most vital si... | More »

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Song Stories

“Long Walk Home”

Bruce Springsteen | 2007

When the subject of this mournful song returns home, he hardly recognizes his town. Springsteen told Rolling Stone the alienation the man feels is a metaphor for life in a politically altered post-9/11 America. “Who would have ever thought we’d live in a country without habeas corpus?” he said. “That’s Orwellian. That’s what political hysteria is about and how effective it is. I felt it in myself. You get frightened for your family, for your home. And you realize how countries can move way off course, very far from democratic ideals.”

More Song Stories entries »
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