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album reviews

Mott the Hoople

All The Young Dudes

Taking what does not belong to you is a crucial part of the process of creating rock & roll: Exploiting proven riffs, phrases and hooks, then adding a few twists of your own — that's how it works and that's how it's always worked. Only nobody made a big thing about it until Mott the Hoople came along. They've never made any attempt to camouflage the sources of their music; on the contrary, they have glorified the practice of musical thievery. Mott's first al... | More »

Michael Jackson

Got to Be There

I had a dream about the Jackson 5. I was addressing the audience at a luncheon of somesort but all I said when I stood up was that I was hungry. The Jackson 5 were at one of thetables and Tito came up to the podium with a sandwich of American cheese and lettuce on whitebread, open-faced on a plate. I told him that rather than eat the sandwich I would preserve itand he asked me if I did that with all my food. Only when it comes from the Jackson 5, Isaid. There's nothing particularly appe... | More »

November 25, 1972

Santana

Santana III Columbia

Santana goes back deep into the roots of today's music, not only just to the time when the Family Dog was at the Avalon, but back further into the heavy dosages of Latin and African rhythms that have been part of American music for a long time. For it's surely true that for all their Fender basses and fuzz tones, Santana is more deeply committed to the music defined and still played by Tito Puente, Machito, Mongo Santamaria, and all the glorious combinations of brass and rhythm tha... | More »

November 23, 1972

Steely Dan

Can't Buy A Thrill

Mary is strapping on a rubber penis. "Steely Dan III from Yokohama," she says, caressing the shaft.   "What happen to Steely Dan I?" "He was torn in two by a bull dyke. She could cave in a lead pipe." "And Steely Dan II?" "Chewed to bits by a famished candiru in the Upper Baboonsasshole. And don't say 'wheeeeeeee!' this time." — William S. Burroughs, Naked Lunch I doubt that "wheee!" will be your response to this Steely Dan, an L.A. rock band that is headed by... | More »

Cat Stevens

Catch Bull At Four

Simultaneous with the release of Cat Stevens' new album on A&M, Columbia has released a pleasing first solo effort by Alun Davies, second guitarist on Cat's records from Mona Bone Jakon on. Catch Bull is impeccably produced. Its musical contents are like those of Teaser and the Firecat — simple, short-phrased melodies and spare and vibrant arrangements. There are, however, notable differences between Catch Bull and its predecessor. The instrumental repertoire has been wid... | More »

Al Green

I'm Still in Love with You

So is there any question that when the music trades rack up their year-end charts for 1972 (and you discover that some group you never even heard of mysteriously became Top New R&B Vocal Group), the number one Male Vocalist will be Al Green? I mean is there any doubt in your mind? 1972 is Al Green's year and he seemed to snatch it up almost effortlessly. With one hit single after another, all of them turning into a neat stack of gold if not platinum records, Green hardly lost his pla... | More »

November 9, 1972

B.B. King

Guess Who

B.B. King is a deservedly well-respected man. Anybody playing blues (or rock) guitar who doesn't name him as an influence is either dumb or a liar. He's been a tireless performer, spending god-knows-how-many years doing one night stands and crusading for wider acceptance of the music he loves. Besides being a widely copied instrumentalist, his vocals have also been influential — and rarer yet, he's a true gentleman performer; he gives all he's got to his audience. I... | More »

Curtis Mayfield

Super Fly

This soundtrack to the flash and clever Super Fly is as pleasing and pretty in your living room as it is mingled with the images that it aurally represents. In fact the anti-drug message on the record is far stronger and more definite than in the film, which was diluted by schizoid cross purposes. Super Fly, the film, glamorizes machismo-cocaine consciousness while making a political moralization about the process that keeps drugs illegal yet sees that they are supplied in quantity to the ghe... | More »

October 26, 1972

Bonnie Raitt

Give It Up

The best thing about Bonnie Raitt is her singing, and the best thing about Give It Up is that she sings great from beginning to end; in doing so, she successfully handles a far greater range of styles and material than on her first album and has produced a more interesting and satisfying record in the process. On Bonnie Raitt, she was aiming for a more self-conscious, old-fashioned, technically limited approach to recording. The album had its moments, most notably her reworking of "Bluebird,... | More »

Merle Haggard

A Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World (Or My Salute to Bob Wills)

Merle Haggard recorded this record not as a moneymaker that would follow Okie, but, as he says, a tribute to one of his favorite old-timers in Country-Western. What Bob Wills did back there before the war was to take his Texas-bred taste in music and graft it with a jazz (swing, if you will) feel; sort of white country blues with a syncopated beat. It was dance music, for that was most of their gigs, traveling by their own bus to make that next dance hall. But Bob Wills made that hillbilly s... | More »

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Song Stories

“Fantasy”

Mariah Carey | 1995

Serendipity stuck when Mariah Carey rediscovered the glitchy Tom Tom Club hook, a sample of which is the heart of this upbeat slice of dance pop. "I had the melody idea for 'Fantasy' and I was listening to the radio and heard 'Genius of Love,' and I hadn't heard it in a long time," Carey said. "It reminded me of growing up and listening to the radio and that feeling the song gave me seemed to go with the melody and basic idea I had for 'Fantasy.' I initially told [co-writer] Dave Hall about the idea, and we did it. We called up the Tom Tom Club and they were really into it."

More Song Stories entries »
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