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album reviews

The Byrds

Ballad Of Easy Rider Sony Music Distribution

Somehow it doesn't matter that these two bands have gone through enough internal and external hassles to cover the New York Metropolitan Opera for the next ten years. They just keep producing wave after wave of fine music. The Byrds, of course — under the aegis of McGuinn the Survivor — are renowned for a rich, thickly-textured instrumental sound and equally distinctive vocal harmony. Every new Byrds album seems a continuation of the last; few surprises occur — instead... | More »

The Rolling Stones

Let It Bleed Decca

Let It Bleed is the last album by the Stones we'll see before the Sixties, already gone really, become the Seventies; it has the crummiest cover art since Flowers, with a credit sheet that looks like it was designed by the United States Government Printing Office (all courtesy of the inflated Robert Brownjohn), and the best production since, well, "Honky Tonk Women." The music has tones that are at once dark and perfectly clear, while the words are slurred and often buried for a stronger... | More »

December 13, 1969

Fleetwood Mac

Then Play On Reprise

Nowadays Fleetwood Mac is stepping out on its own. Tired of being another British blues band, the group has said goodbye to Elmore James and is moving into the pop-rock field. On this album, they fall flat on their faces. Most of the music on the album is slow and wandering – instruments in search of an idea. Of the songs in this category, "My Dream," with its pleasant melody, is the only one that works. The eclecticism is excessive here, most of the songs sounding like warmed-over ear... | More »

Led Zeppelin

Led Zeppelin II Atlantic

Hey, man, I take it all back! This is one fucking heavyweight of the album! OK — I'll concede that until you've listened to the album eight hundred times, as I have, it seems as if it's just one especially heavy song extended over the space of two whole sides. But, hey! you've got to admit that the Zeppelin has their distinctive and enchanting formula down stone-cold, man. Like you get the impression they could do it in their sleep. And who can deny that Jimmy Page ... | More »

Jethro Tull

Stand Up

No, Jethro Tull is not just another English blues band. This Was, their first album, made some gestures in that direction, obligatory, in a way, for the time (summer of '68); in its differences it was intriguing even as it disappointed. Its inadequacies were unconventional; the essential problem seemed to be a style in search of a subject. Bob Dylan once said that the English know how to pronounce "marvelous" better than Americans, but that they have a little trouble with "raunchy." Sta... | More »

Fleetwood Mac

Then Play On Reprise

Nowadays Fleetwood Mac is stepping out on its own. Tired of being another British blues band, the group has said goodbye to Elmore James and is moving into the pop-rock field. On this album, they fall flat on their faces. Most of the music on the album is slow and wandering — instruments in search of an idea. Of the songs in this category, "My Dream," with its pleasant melody, is the only one that works. The eclecticism is excessive here, most of the songs sounding like warmed-over ear... | More »

November 15, 1969

The Beatles

Abbey Road Apple

Simply, side two does more for me than the whole of Sgt. Pepper, and I'll trade you The Beatles and Magical Mystery Tour and a Keith Moon drumstick for side one. So much for the prelims. "Come Together" is John Lennon very nearly at the peak of his form; twisted, freely-associative, punful lyrically, pinched and somehow a little smug vocally. Breathtakingly recorded (as is the whole album), with a perfect little high-hat-tom-tom run by Ringo providing a clever semi-colon to those eerie ... | More »

Miles Davis

In A Silent Way Columbia

This is the kind of album that gives you faith in the future of music. It is not rock and roll, but it's nothing stereotyped as jazz either. All at once, it owes almost as much to the techniques developed by rock improvisors in the last four years as to Davis' jazz background. It is part of a transcendental new music which flushes categories away and, while using musical devices from all styles and cultures, is defined mainly by its deep emotion and unaffected originality. Miles ha... | More »

November 1, 1969

The Kinks

Arthur (Or Decline and Fall Of The British Empire)

"You look like a real human being but . . ." "He got feet/ Down/ below his knees/ Hold you in his arms yeah you can feel his disease . . ." It's all over for England. They've had their history and it's been written in books; they've fought their wars and buried their heroes. The English have owned the world and jettisoned their empire, and all that's left is — rock and roll. "England has got all the bad points of Nazi Germany, all the pompous pride of France, a... | More »

Dusty Springfield

Dusty In Memphis

A few months ago I walked into the Rolling Stone office and palely inquired if the journal might possibly be interested in a review of the then-new Dusty Springfield album. Blank stares and a few snickers. Today, Jackie De Shannon's "Put a Little Love in Your Heart" is one of the day's events on AM radio and I still dig Dusty in Memphis. Dusty started out with a nice little rocker called "I Only Want to Dance With You," her first hit, riding in on the heels of Beatle boots in 1964,... | More »

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Song Stories

“Bleeding Love”

Leona Lewis | 2007

In 2008, The X Factor winner Leona Lewis backed up her U.K. singing competition victory with an R&B anthem for the ages: "Bleeding Love," an international hit that became the best-selling song of the year. The track was co-penned by OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder (whose radio dominance would continue with songs such as Beyonce's "Halo" and Adele's "Rumour Has It") and solo artist Jesse McCartney, who was inspired by a former girlfriend, Gossip Girl actress Katie Cassidy. Given the song's success, McCartney didn't regret handing over such a personal track: "No, no," he said. "I'm so happy for Leona. She deserves it. There are really no bad feelings."

More Song Stories entries »
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