album reviews

The Velvet Underground

Live At Max's Kansas City Cotillion

Though New York City eventually serves as a showcase for every big-time rock group, it spawns very few — and the Velvet Underground was about the only group that denizens of the ultimate terminal city could call their own. Andy Warhol found them and put them on tour as part of a show called The Exploding Plastic Inevitable, and the Velvet Underground skulked through flower - powered American days like shadows from the dark-side of psychopath fantasy. Many thought their first album down... | More »

July 21, 1972

Creedence Clearwater Revival

Creedence Clearwater Revival Fantasy

On the liner notes to their album, Ralph Gleason states: "Creedence Clearwater Revival is an excellent example of the Third Generation of San Francisco bands." Really more like Third Level — behind the Airplane, Dead, Quicksilver, Grape and all the others. The only bright spot in the group is John Fogerty, who plays lead guitar and does the vocals. He's a better-than-average singer (really believable in Wilson Pickett's "Ninety-Nine and a Half"), and an interesting guitarist.... | More »

July 20, 1972

David Bowie

The Rise & Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars RCA Records

Upon the release of David Bowie's most thematically ambitious, musically coherent album to date, the record in which he unites the major strengths of his previous work and comfortably reconciles himself to some apparently inevitable problems, we should all say a brief prayer that his fortunes are not made to rise and fall with the fate of the "drag-rock" syndrome — that thing that's manifesting itself in the self-conscious quest for decadence which is all the rage at the momen... | More »

July 6, 1972

Randy Newman

Sail Away

Randy Newman's third studio album, Sail Away (Reprise 2064), produced by Lenny Waronker and Russ Titelman, is further confirmation — as if any more were needed — of the fact that Newman is our most sophisticated art-song composer and also the most self-consciously American. His first album, co-produced by Waronker and Van Dyke Parks, was almost too much of a good thing. Newman the songwriter, the bitter ironist, was caricatured by Newman the arranger displaying his bravura vi... | More »

The Everly Brothers

Stories We Could Tell

The Everly Brothers brought harmony to rock and roll. They also brought sensitivity, the result of their having been weaned on old-time country music. They were the end of one line and beginning of another. They were also hugely influential, and everything they gave to rock was positive. In the Sixties, the Everly Brothers lost touch with their audience and with their art, recording a dozen listless albums for Warner Bros. They were descending inevitably to the level of self-parody, and they... | More »

June 22, 1972

The Beach Boys

Carl And The Passions: So Tough Brother/Reprise

So Tough is the first and maybe last album by Carl and the Passions, the aptly-named once and future Beach Boys. The myserious, reclusive Brian (having endured another aesthetic triumph with the last album, Surf's Up) seems to have abdicated the leadership of the organization into the capable hands of brother Carl; only two of the album's eight cuts were composed by Brian, with lyrics by Jack Reilly, and he obviously arranged a third and did the heavy orchestration on brother Dennis... | More »

The Beach Boys

Pet Sounds

Recorded and released in 1966, not long after the sunny, textural experiments of California Girls, Pet Sounds, aside from its importance as Brian Wilson's evolutionary compositional masterpiece, was the first rock record that can be considered a "concept album"; from first cut to last we were treated to an intense, linear personal vision of the vagaries of a love affair and the painful, introverted anxieties that are the wrenching precipitates of the unstable chemistry of any love relati... | More »


The Eagles WEA

The Eagles' "Take It Easy," is simply the best sounding rock single to come out so far this year. The first time through, you could tell it had everything: danceable rhythm, catchy, winding melody, intelligent, affirmative lyrics, a progressively powerful arrangement mixing electric guitar and banjo, and a crisp vocal, with vibrant four-part harmony at just the right moments for maximum dramatic effect. To top it off, "Take It Easy" was co-written by Jackson Browne and Eagle Glen Frey, w... | More »

Jethro Tull

Thick as a Brick

Although not in the shops yet, I was able to acquire a 'white label' pressing of the current Jethro winner Thick As A Brick from their London agents, Chrysalis Artists.... The group consists of Ian Anderson, Martin Barre, John Evan, Jeffery Hammond-Hammond and Barriemore Barlow. Written around a poem by St. Cleve child prodigy Gerald Bostock, their music spins a delicate web of sensitive sounds: sometimes lilting, sometimes soaring to form a brilliant backdrop for the meaningful lyr... | More »

June 8, 1972

Fleetwood Mac

Bare Trees Reprise

Fleetwood Mac's last two records, Kiln House and Future Games, have between them provided me with perhaps a hundred hours of enjoyment. And that's the ultimate test of a record's worth. Personally, I was never interested in early Fleetwood Mac, the British blues band; but this Fleetwood Mac has little in common with that group except for the name and the rhythm section of Mick Fleetwood and John McVie. The closest thing I can think of to the kind of music the new Mac plays is t... | More »

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Song Stories


The Pack | 2006

Berkeley, California rappers the Pack made their footwear choice clear in 2006 with the song "Vans." The track caught the attention of Too $hort, who signed them to his imprint. MTV refused to play the video for the song, though, claiming it was essentially a commercial for the product. Rapper Lil' B disagreed. "I didn’t know nobody [at] Vans," he said. "I was just a rapper who wore Vans." Even without MTV's support, Lil' B recognized the impact of the track. "God blessed me with such a revolutionary song… People around my age know who really started a lot of the dressing people are into now."

More Song Stories entries »