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album reviews

Yoko Ono

Fly

Yoko's new offering, unlike her husband's, is a two-record set. I admit to a bias against double albums, which often seem to represent only an inadequate solution to the problem of what to leave out. That prejudice declared, I have to say that I found it impossible to listen attentively to this whole album more than once. It's hard to guess why Yoko found it necessary to take up so much vinyl to state her case. The title song, "Fly," which originally accompanied the perambulat... | More »

Fleetwood Mac

Future Games Reprise

Back in the Bar-Mitzvah days of the drug culture the British music scene was shaken by what came to be known as The Blues Boom. Beginning with a small corps of dedicated musicians in the early Sixties, blues bands proliferated at a feverish pace until by 1968 nearly every person in the British Isles between the ages of 16 and 35 was in a blues band. But by its very popularity the blues boom insured its own destruction. After all with so many people in unsuccessful blues bands how could anyone... | More »

Cat Stevens

Teaser and The Firecat

I get the tune and then I just keep on singing the tune until the words come out from the tune. It's kind of a hypnotic state that you reach after a while when you keep on playing it where words just evolve from it. So you take those words and just let them go whichever way they want.... "Moonshadow"? Funny, that was in Spain, I went there alone, completely alone, to get away from a few things. And I was dancin' on the rocks there ... right on the rocks where the waves were like blo... | More »

November 25, 1971

Black Sabbath

Master of Reality Vertigo

The second-generation rock audience (that is, those who went steady to "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" and got serious with Highway 62 Revisited) suffer mightily wrestling with the phenomenon represented by Grank Funk and Black Sabbath. If nothing else, though, both Funk and Sabbath are for all their monotony at least supremely consistent — as opposed to schtick collectors with no personal vision like Deep Purple. And since when is monotony so taboo in rock & roll, anyway? Rock has been &m... | More »

Van Morrison

Tupelo Honey Polydor

Tupelo Honey (Warner Bros. 1950), like all of Van Morrison's albums, is both a synthesis of what has preceded it and a statement of something new. It has the musical compactness of Moondance and some of the spirited looseness of Van Morrison His Band and The Street Choir. It is also the best sounding record he has done so far, thus making up for one of the main flaws on the last album: the inferior mix. Thematically, Van's songs of dedication and devotion to women are elevated and ... | More »

Little Richard

Little Richard: Kings of Rock'n'Roll Series

Little Richard is perfect for the late night TV freak circuit: he's funny, loud, outrageous, superficial even on important issues and willing to talk when he has absolutely nothing to say. Sometimes he'll even sing, but that's not necessary because, just as Raquel Welch is more a Star a "Personality" than an actress, Little Richard is now more a Star than a singer. That's show biz. When you're the King of Rock and Roll you can talk about your clothes and mug your way ... | More »

Jeff Beck

Rough And Ready Epic

Let's get a little perspective on this one. In 1968 ex-Yardbird Jeff Beck combined the hitherto unmined talents of vocalist-extraordinaire Rod Stewart with the powerful rhythm section of Ron Wood and Mick Waller and came up with what was, quite simply, in its time, one of the best rock bands in the world. That year they released an astounding first album. Truth. which featured Beck's flash pyrotechnics on guitar and Stewart's bluesy abrasives. and made two ovation-filled tours... | More »

November 11, 1971

Jefferson Airplane

Bark RCA

Jefferson Airplane have been a subject of some contention ever since they abandoned their Summer of Love posture for music that aspired at once to both topicality and a degree of experimentation. If you love them, you know that they are one of the four or five most consistently vital American bands. If you hate them you're at least partially justified on any rational man's terms, given the rather squishy politics and pretentiously inane sense of humor. And if you're one of thos... | More »

The Grateful Dead

Grateful Dead

To avoid any possible disappointments for those who once had visions of saving the world through the music on Anthem of the Sun and any number of live performances, it might be nice to think of this album as an interlude for the Grateful Dead, a resting place where they've stopped over to brace themselves for the next series of atmospheric excursions. Despite some heartening knew-they-could-do-it-all-along moments, it has all the earmarks of such a betwixt and between record–produc... | More »

Jerry Garcia

Hooteroll?

I just found out last Friday that Jerry Garcia buys his comics from the same little shop in Mill Valley that I purchase mine at. As I was searching through some old Marvels, looking for a few that I'd missed last summer. John (the cat that runs Village Music) strolled in and lazily noted that he's been selling more comics than records lately (which didn't overly surprise me) and then off-the-cuffly remarked that he'd just sold ninety dollars worth of old EC's to Jerry... | More »

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Song Stories

“Vicious”

Lou Reed | 1972

Opening Lou Reed's 1972 solo album, the hard-riffing "Vicious" actually traces its origin back to Reed's days with the Velvet Underground. Picking up bits and pieces of songs from the people and places around him, and filing his notes for later use, Reed said it was Andy Warhol who provided fuel for the song. "He said, 'Why don't you write a song called 'Vicious,'" Reed told Rolling Stone in 1989. "And I said, 'What kind of vicious?' 'Oh, you know, vicious like I hit you with a flower.' And I wrote it down literally."

More Song Stories entries »
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