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album reviews

Fleetwood Mac

Kiln House Reprise

I was sure that Peter Green's departure from Fleetwood Mac signaled the end of that band. And it did. That band went under. It was, after all, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac in the beginning, and although never a mere showcase for Green's all too obvious talents, he was still most decidedly the Kingfish of the Kombo. OK. That band folded, but the band didn't fold. Danny Kirwan and Jeremy Spencer took up the slack and built a new engine for the Fleetwood Mac machine. They did... | More »

Bob Dylan

New Morning Columbia

Well, friends, Bob Dylan is back with us again. I don't know how long he intends to stay, but I didn't ask him. Didn't figure it was any of my business. Put simply, New Morning is a superb album. It is everything that every Dylan fan prayed for after Self Portrait. The portrait on the cover peers out boldly, just daring you to find fault with it, and I must admit that if there is a major fault on the album, I haven't found it. Nor do I care to. This one comes easy, and th... | More »

Wilson Pickett

Wilson Pickett In Philadelphia

Wilson Pickett meets Gamble & Huff, the Philadelphia-based soulwriting and production consortium, and the results are mixed. Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff and their musical staff (including Bunny Sigler and Ugene Dozier) wrote, arranged and produced all the tunes on the album. They also did all the studio instrumental work save the horns and strings. The album's mighty consistently funky — Pickett and the rhythm section work well together — but the horns and strings aren'... | More »

November 12, 1970

Mott the Hoople

Mad Shadows

The cover of this album, which is a photograph of something resembling a Rorschach ink blot, is highly symbolic of the music inside and of the listener's response to it. The point of such an ink blot, after all, is its deliberate ambiguity, which allows (or forces) the viewer to see it in whatever he wants to see. Mott the Hoople is itself something of an ink blot, this time around: possibly the reason I haven't been able to decide whether or not I really like this album is that the... | More »

Aretha Franklin

Spirit in the Dark

When I was an innocent 17-year-old freshman, a black grad student I met invited me to play guitar at this "discussion group" he "chaired" at a downtown Pittsburgh "hall." Well, that sounded good enough, so one evening I went to the address he gave me and found myself the only white person — youngest to boot — in the middle of a Pittsburgh-ghetto-preaching and shouting non-denominational-holy rollering one-preacher-30-parishoner-store-front church. My grad student friend was the o... | More »

Elton John

Elton John Uni

Given that his voice combines the nasal sonority of James Taylor with the rasp of Van Morrison with the slurry intonation of M. Jagger with the exaggerated twang of Leon Russell; that, in this age during which most everyone seems content to sing unison with moronic little guitar riffs, he writes attractive melodies; that the lyrics devised by his songwriting partner appear on first glance to be Genuine Poetry; that, while the standard procedure for the modern singing songwriter is to either p... | More »

October 29, 1970

The Stooges

Funhouse Elektra

Ah, good evening my good friend. Good evening and welcome to the Stooges' Funhouse. We are so glad you could come. Oh, do not be alarmed, dear one, if things should seem a trifle unusual ... or, as the natives say, "oh-mind" ... at first. You'll doubtless get used to it. Perhaps, you may even begin to ... like the things you see. Why do you look so pale, my friend? Why, that's only tenor saxophonist Steve Mackay vigorously fucking drummer Scott Asheton, dog-style. Steve is a n... | More »

October 15, 1970

Otis Redding and the Jimi Hendrix Experience

Historic Performances Recorded at the Monterey International Pop Festival Reprise

This album has to be judged as three-year-old music or simply as a most welcome souvenir. If you were there, you'll probably like it more than if you weren't. But even if you weren't, you'll find some very satisfying music by two of our most gifted artists. I'm not going to go into why you'll probably like it more if you were there; see the movie. I was there, and I like it a lot. Starting with the best, the side with Hendrix is devastating. What's so devas... | More »

Neil Young

After The Gold Rush WEA

Neil Young devotees will probably spend the next few weeks trying desperately to convince themselves that After The Gold Rush is good music. But they'll be kidding themselves. For despite the fact that the album contains some potentially first rate material, none of the songs here rise above the uniformly dull surface. In my listening, the problem appears to be that most of this music was simply not ready to be recorded at the time of the sessions. It needed time to mature. On the album ... | More »

Quicksilver Messenger Service

Just for Love

The rock and roll drought of 1970 shows no signs of letting up as summer comes to a close. A few good records have been released here and there but on the whole things have been pretty bad. These two albums show the problems even the best established bands are having. Quicksilver and the Steve Miller Band have been two of the most consistent groups in the country over the past couple of years but these two new releases don't come near the excellence of either group's past work. On ... | More »

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Song Stories

“Stillness Is the Move”

Dirty Projectors | 2009

A Wim Wenders film and a rapper inspired the Dirty Projectors duo David Longstreth and Amber Coffmanto write "sort of a love song." "We rented the movie Wings of Desire from Dave's brother's recommendation, and he had me go through it and just write down some things that I found interesting, and they made it into the song," Coffman said. As for the hip-hop connection, Longstreth explained, "The beat is based on T-Pain. We commissioned a radio mix of the song by the guy who mixes all of Timbaland's records, but the mix we made sounded way better, so we didn't use it."

More Song Stories entries »
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