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album reviews

Elvis Presley

Elvis Country (I'm 10,000 Years Old) RCA Records

You wonder sometimes just who is controlling Elvis' career. In the middle of a typical movie soundtrack album, Spinout, you come across not only a raunchy "Down in the Alley" but the interpretation by which Bob Dylan would most like to be known. "Tomorrow is a Long Time." In a bland follow-up to his dynamic Memphis album, Back in Memphis, you find a brilliant and impassioned treatment of the Percy Mayfield blues, "Stranger in My Own Home Town." And now at a time when it seemed as if his ... | More »

John Lennon

John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band Apple/EMI

Anyone performing avant-garde music is laying themselves open to a certain amount of hostility and derision at the outset. And if that person also happens to be Yoko Ono, who has not only displayed a gift for hyping herself with cloying "happenings" but also led poor John astray and been credited by more than one Insider with "breaking up the Beatles," why, the barbs and jeers can only be expected to increase proportionately. Not only do most people have no taste for the kind of far-out warbl... | More »

Yoko Ono

Yoko Ono and Plastic Ono Band

Anyone performing avant-garde music is laying themselves open to a certain amount of hostility and derision at the outset. And if that person also happens to be Yoko Ono, who has not only displayed a gift for hyping herself with cloying "happenings" but also led poor John astray and been credited by more than one Insider with "breaking up the Beatles," why, the barbs and jeers can only be expected to increase proportionately. Not only do most people have no taste for the kind of far-out warbl... | More »

February 18, 1971

David Bowie

The Man Who Sold The World Virgin Records

"Some say the view is crazy/But you may adopt another point of view. So if it's much too hazy/You can leave my friend and me with fond adieu," sings David Bowie in The Man Who Sold The World, thus supplying a most cogent critique of his own recent work — Bowie's music offers an experience that is as intriguing as it is chilling, but only to the listener sufficiently together to withstand its schizophrenia. Bowie deals throughout this second album in oblique and fragmented ima... | More »

Janis Joplin

Pearl Columbia

Janis' last. Fortunately, Pearl is a good record and Janis is often magnificent. The voice cut off was clearly in its prime. I suspect that some of the tracks are not in their final shape, but these are not scraps, and there is every indication that Janis was working toward a new maturity and confidence. Her last album can't simply be an occasion for evaluation. The fact that there will be no more studio albums inevitably outweighs the issue of how good or how bad the record might ... | More »

Cat Stevens

Tea For The Tillerman

Is it on the roads of Provence or the tube to Portobello Road that I visualize Cat? He is both the next in a long line of troubadours and very much the London neighborhood musician, encompassing at once the allure of the exotic and the ability to domesticate it. He wanders, but he returns home. "Miles From Nowhere," "Wild World," "On the Road to Find Out," "Father and Son" are songs of leaving — travel through time and space. Every song is an excursion into Cat's personal world; t... | More »

Elton John

Tumbleweed Connection MCA Records

The only criticism heard with any frequency of Elton John's first American album, Elton John, was that the production was too grandiose. The melodies were superb, and lyrics frequently very good, and the performances flawless. However, Elton did inevitably get lost on many of the tracks and like many of his admirers, I am glad he toned things down a bit on Tumbleweed Connection. In fact, my main reservation about the new album is that he didn't go far enough. Tumbleweed Connection ... | More »

Quicksilver Messenger Service

What About Me

Quicksilver displayed acute weakness on their previous album and they remain very much in evidence on What About Me. Though the group has polished up considerably — at times nearly to the point of respectability — a simple coat of polish cannot disguise the fact that they haven't solved their problems. The amateurish production which so handicapped their last album asserts itself again on the material recorded in Hawaii, but even the cuts recorded stateside suffer. The band&... | More »

February 4, 1971

Van Morrison

His Band and The Street Choir Warner Bros.

During his down and out days. Van Morrison used to live on Green Street, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After "Brown Eyed Girl" had hit during the summer of 1967, Van had followed his stars to the Boston of "Bosstown Sound" notoriety. Back then, the Boston Tea Party presented mainly local bands and the most popular of these was a group called the Hallucinations, which proved to be the forerunner of the J. Geils Band. The Hallucinations used to do Morrison's classic "Gloria" as a regular p... | More »

Rick Nelson

Rick Sings Nelson

Somewhere in my heart there is a warm spot for Rick Nelson, for behind those dreamy blue eyes and subtly choreographed jaw movements (Elvis may have revised the body English dictionary for the pelvic region, but the jaw was strictly Rick's turf), there lies someone who has glimpsed the nitty gritty of rock and roll. After all, as it has been said many times before, it was the original band of Rick Nelson that gave us the inspired guitar of James Burton. And, it was Rick Nelson who presen... | More »

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Song Stories

“Promiscuous”

Nelly Furtado with Timbaland | 2006

This club-oriented single featuring Timbaland, who produced Nelly Furtado's third album, Loose, was Furtado’s sexy return after the Canadian singer's exploration of her Portuguese heritage on Folklore. "In the studio, initially I didn’t know if I could do it, 'cause Timbaland wrote that chorus," Furtado said. "I'm like, 'That's cool, but I don't know if I'm ready to do full-out club.'" The flirty lyrics are a dance between a guy and girl, each knowing they will end up in bed together but still playing the game. "Tim and I called it 'The BlackBerry Song,' she said, "because everything we say in the song you could text-message to somebody."

More Song Stories entries »
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