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album reviews

Mott the Hoople

Brain Capers

Well, up till now Mott's been batting a respectable but unspectacular 333 — one line drive smash still climbing as it left the park (the first album), one disastrous bush-league strikeout (Mad Shadows); and a long fly ball the center-fielder caught up with some 400 feet from the plate (Wildlife). Maybe baseball images seem out-of-place with a British rock band yet there's a distinctly American orientation to this band that draws its inspiration (aside from its Kinksiness) from... | More »

February 17, 1972

The Jackson 5

Greatest Hits

Greatest hits albums usually lack focus. Time after time, for some obvious reasons, andsome mysterious ones, the essence and real greatness of the group or individual artist eludesattempts at collections. The Jackson Five, one of Motown's most commercially successful groups,suffers dramatically from this process. On this package the limitations of the group — mainly theslickness and vapidity of some their AM material, and the immaturity and shrillness of Michael'svoice —... | More »

Linda Ronstadt

Linda Ronstadt

Linda Ronstadt has run through three different producers with her last three albums, and it's easy to see why she wears them out so fast. Of the three, not one of them has had much luck with the considerable job of imposing any direction or discipline on Linda's seemingly boundless raw energy. She has yet to find someone who can shape up a whole album to match the best of her individual performances on isolated cuts. Hand Sown ... Home Grown was the roughest, loudest, loosest and m... | More »

Quicksilver Messenger Service

Quicksilver

Quicksilver is Dino Valenti's album. He wrote all the songs but two (by drummer Gary Duncan), he takes the vocals with that quavering breathy echo-laden whine which metamorphoses into an acceptable shout when he gets to screwing it on. But 'tis not on the basis of vocal or instrumental talent alone that Dino has assumed such a heavy role in the band's music. Above all, he is an enthusiastic practitioner of the Good Time Rock Star Ogle, a showman, a front man who steals the lime... | More »

Curtis Mayfield

Roots

Roots, Curtis Mayfield's third solo album, is a confused and confusing record. It's undoubtedly been influenced, both conceptually and technically, by Marvin Gaye's What's Going On? Gaye's record surprised a lot of people by its strong religious content, coming from someone who had previously recorded only love songs. Curtis, on the other hand, wrote and sang, with the Impressions, many religious and quasi-religious songs like "People Get Ready" and "Keep On Pushing."... | More »

February 3, 1972

Bonnie Raitt

Bonnie Raitt

Bonnie Raitt's debut album features an unusual collection of songs performed by an unusual assortment of musicians. And Bonnie is something out of the ordinary herself. She has been traveling the blues-festival circuit since 1968, playing the Boston-New York-Philadelphia folk run, since 1970. Now she has done something unusual with her first Warners album. In August, Bonnie rented a fishing camp on a Minnesota island, solicited the production services of Willie Murphy, the musical talen... | More »

George Harrison

Concert For Bangladesh

The Concert for Bangla Desh is rock reaching for its manhood. Under the leadership of George Harrison, a group of rock musicians recognized, in a deliberate, self-conscious, and professional way, that they have responsibilities, and went about dealing with them seriously: My friend came to me, With sadness in his eyes, He told me that he wanted help, Before his country died, Although I couldn't feel the pain, I knew I'd have to try, Now I'm asking all of you, To help us... | More »

Al Green

Gets Next To You

When the impact of Memphis soul music resounded through the world rock community several years back, the sound of Hi Records was barely audible. Today, no one carries the weight of the music as mightily as they, and their product uniformly represents all that is best in contemporary southern soul. No small credit must be given the house band. The fact that the guitar, bass, and organ are played by, brothers (Mabon, Leroy, and Charles Hodges, respectively, along with drummer Howard Grant) is ... | More »

The Kinks

Muswell Hillbillies JVC Compact Discs

Can you tell the Kinks apart in the picture on the cover of their new album? No, of course. Except for Ray, they all look the same these days. Faceless. Their music has also been sounding that way lately. Still, they're a heap better than most other groups you could ever name. Musically, the Kinks' roots in the British Music Hall tradition really show up strongly on Muswell Hillbillies. At least five songs could be described as this type, and when the country-ish material is added,... | More »

January 21, 1972

Cream

Disraeli Gears Reaction

Within the grooves of this record are miles of listening pleasure. Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker are simply superb musicians with the gift of unending virtuosity. The title of the album, as Eric explains it, is a pun. The group was driving along one day trying to think of names for the record, coming up with things like "Elephant Gerald" (Ella Fitzgerald) and hit upon "Disraeli Gears," a word play on English racing bicycles which have derailer gears. Unfortunately the album does ... | More »

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Song Stories

“San Francisco Mabel Joy”

Mickey Newbury | 1969

A country-folk song of epic proportions, "San Francisco Mabel Joy" tells the tale of a poor Georgia farmboy who wound up in prison after a move to the Bay Area found love turning into tragedy. First released by Mickey Newbury in 1969, it might be more familiar through covers by Waylon Jennings, Joan Baez and Kenny Rogers. "It was a five-minute song written in a two-minute world," Newbury said. "I was told it would never be cut by any artist ... I was told you could not use the term 'redneck' in a song and get it recorded."

More Song Stories entries »
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