.

album reviews

The Stooges

The Stooges Elektra

As we all remember, in 1957, it was conclusively proven that there exists a causal relationship between rock and roll and juvenile delinquency. This record is just another document in support of this thesis. The Stooges, formerly the Psychedelic Stooges, hail from Ann Arbor, Michigan, where, in case you've never been told, they do things high-powered — high-powered music, high-powered doping, high-powered fucking, high-powered hyping. The Stooges used to share a house with another... | More »

The Byrds

Preflyte Sundazed

The Byrds came along at a time when American rock needed a shot in the arm which would raise the music to the levels attained by the British groups and allow it to meet the emerging head culture. The Byrds did it; but the subtlety and aversion to gimmick that is found in their music and in themselves doomed them as a sleeper group, always popular and musically influential, but denied the superstardom conferred on more pretentious, melodramatic personalities by an industry geared to the Image.... | More »

September 12, 1969

The Rolling Stones

Through The Past Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2) Decca

This is one of the great party records. All the cuts are favorites, all are terrific — loud, tough, flashy rock and roll. Even if you already have every song on Flowers, Aftermath, Between the Buttons, and Beggars' Banquet, all together they've probably never sounded as good as they do on this LP. Whether or not the songs were chosen with great care or virtually at random, they form an album of tremendous impact, just like any record of Little Richard's greatest hits. If ... | More »

August 23, 1969

Otis Redding

Love Man Atco

With the release of the fourth posthumous Otis Redding album, perhaps it's time to examine the Pedding legend and reassess his position in the pop pantheon. Unquestionably, the man had superb talents — both as composer-songwriter and, especially, as live performer. Equally factual, however, is the necrophiliac aspect of his worshippers' adoration. As a result of his stand-out Monterey appearance, his long-overdue and at-last-breaking recognition, and his subsequent untimely de... | More »

Marvin Gaye

M.P.G.

Marvin Gaye has been around for a long time — ever since the beginning of Motown. He's already earned the distinction of two albums of his own greatest hits, but it's only since the beginning of this year that he's achieved truly mass popularity. His version of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" became the all-time best-selling single for Motown, and Marvin's follow-up, "Too Busy Thinking About My Baby," was another national number one. For some reason, Marvin has be... | More »

The Doors

The Soft Parade

A front page ad in Billboard says it: "Initial orders promise it will attain the instant solid gold status of their first three albums." It looks like it will, but not because anyone listened to the record. Alternate suggested titles for The Soft Parade would be The Worst of the Doors, Kick Out the Doors, or best, The Soft Touch. The Soft Parade is worse than infuriating, it's sad. It's sad because one of the most potentially moving forces in rock has allowed itself to degenerate.... | More »

Joe Cocker

With A Little Help From My Friends

Joe Cocker and the Grease Band were ending a performance they gave recently at the Whiskey in Los Angeles. As they went into their explosive version of "With A Little Help From My Friends," a nubile young admirer, apparently driven wild by Cocker's amazing voice and insane spastic contortions, stationed herself on her back between Cocker's legs and, reaching up, began to work the Cocker cock with considerable fervor. Moments later Joe delivered the scream of his career. Which is no... | More »

August 9, 1969

Jeff Beck

Beck-Ola Epic

This is a brilliant album, dense in texture, full of physical and nervous energy, equally appealing to mind and body. There is a guiding intelligence which enables these five excellent, assertive musicians to work with and not against each other. The group benefits from the addition of Nicky Hopkins, the most perfect of rock pianists (although his playing is sometimes over-shadowed by the electrical sturm and drang around him, something of an occupational hazard for pianists). Ron Wood's... | More »

Chuck Berry

Concerto In B Goode Mercury

The Master is back again, and this time he has come up with a record worthy of his reputation. So many grit-jive geniuses — Elvis, Little Richard, and Bo Diddley — have turned stiff in their old age. That's why it's a double delight to find Berry, the original poet and scribe of rock and roll, who in many life-worshiping ways exceeded his Minnesota son-in-law, as fresh and as effortlessly committed today as he ever was. The first side of this album includes four of his ... | More »

Neil Young

Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere Reprise

Neil Young does not have the kind of "good" voice that would bring praise from a high school music teacher. But you only have to listen to Judy Collins mangle "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" to realize that rock and roll does not flourish because of "good" voices. The best rock vocals (for example, those of Mick Jagger or Richard Manuel) are usually gritty or even harsh. Negating a formula prettiness, they push forward the unique temperament of the singer ("It's the singer, not the so... | More »

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Song Stories

“Money For Nothing”

Dire Straits | 1984

Mark Knopfler wrote this song with Sting, and it wasn’t without controversy. The Dire Straits frontman's original lyric used the word “faggot” to describe a singer who got their “money for nothing and their chicks for free.” Even though the slur was edited out in many versions, the band, and Knopfler, still took plenty of criticism for the term. “I got an objection from the editor of a gay newspaper in London--he actually said it was below the belt,” Knopfler told Rolling Stone. Still, "Money For Nothing," undoubtedly augmented by its innovative early computer-animated video, stayed at Number One for three weeks.

More Song Stories entries »
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