album reviews

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 »

Quicksilver Messenger Service

Comin' Thru

Dino Valenti had a pretty good niche in history carved out for a while: he wrote (or at least claimed to have written) "Hey Joe," the pube classic that's been done by everyone from Jimi Hendrix to the Leaves to the Shadows of Knight. Also to Dino's songwriting credit was "Get Together," one of the best things to come out of the whole Summer Of Love (as done by those wizards of tight AM rock, the early Youngbloods). Then Dino went and ruined it all by joining Quicksilver, and pretty... | More »

Dr. John

Dr. John's Gumbo

Wipe your mind clean of all you've ever heard and read about Dr. John the Night Tripper. If you knew that once he was a New Orleans session musician and songwriter called Mac Rebennack, forget that too. And although Gumbo (Atco 7006) comes with maybe the best set of liner notes you are ever going to find, don't look at them. Instead, hand this record to a friend and ask her to find the place in "Tipitina" (side two, band three) where the first vocal ends and the instrumental break b... | More »

Janis Joplin

In Concert

Janis Joplin is gone, by now just one more we've seen succumb in the public arena of the pop marketplace. It's not just that this kind of early death has become a fact of life that is disturbing, but that it's been accepted as a given so quickly. We're getting to the point where we merely anticipate between exits, idly wondering which will be the next among our "heroes" to go. And caring less all the time. I don't know which is worse, the cannibalistic impulse of the... | More »

Jeff Beck

The Jeff Beck Group Epic/CBS

Should you ever find yourself in the mood to be bored comatose, simply hop on the next jet to Hollywood, where this writer will gladly spend an afternoon with you explaining why — on the basis of the soon-to-be-mentioned's irrepressible musical eccentricity, exquisite taste for the hilariously incongruous, and expertise at producing some of the lewdest noises ever enjoyed by teenage ears — he considers Jeff Beck a peerless rock and roll guitarist, as good in his own way as ar... | More »

May 25, 1972

Deep Purple

Machine Head

I just don't understand, as Ann-Margret once sang, why an exciting band like Deep Purple, who consistently hit the top of the charts in Merrie Olde and have taken Europe by storm, remain a comparatively unknown quantity to American audiences. Especially when said audiences have wholeheartedly embraced bands with similar musical aims and not one more ampere of excitement. It's a shame, but Deep Purple themselves are at least partially to blame. Their first two American albums on Tet... | 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 »