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album reviews

Rod Stewart

Gasoline Alley Mercury

The music of Rod Stewart helps us to remember many of the small but extremely important experiences of life which our civilization inclines us to forget. Compassion. Care for small things. The textures of sorrow. Remembrance of times past. Reverence for age. Stewart has a rare sensitivity for the delicate moments in a person's existence when a crucial but often neglected truth flashes before his eyes and then vanishes. The amazing character of Stewart's work is largely due to the fa... | More »

Eric Clapton

Eric Clapton

"Bet you didn't think I knew how to rock and roll ..." Well, to tell you the truth, Eric, we had begun to wonder. What with all the running around you've been doing of late, we'd begun to worry that you'd become just another studio musician, hobnobbing with the rich and famous. After all, overexposure to Leon Russell has been known to turn some people into wind-up tambourine-beating rocknroll dolls. But no. Even though it's a "supersession," even though the personne... | More »

August 6, 1970

Jethro Tull

Benefit

The popularity of Jethro Tull continues to amaze me, They draw good crowds, they get lengthy interviews and writeups in the rock press. They turn people on. I've got to think that Ian Anderson must be an extremely nice, cooperative, charismatic, or some such kind of cat, because I find his records pretty lame and dumb.   The new album, Benefit, is a sluggish bore — a kind of Anthology of Rock Muzak, performed dispiritedly and mechanically. Especially rhythm — each trac... | More »

Nina Simone

Gifted & Black

It's not that this album, recorded around 1967 (?), is misrepresentative of what Nina is currently up to, and does a disservice to an exceptional artist's career. It's not that the strings, which are dubbed over her piano trio are in poor, nay, bad taste. It's not that it sounds as though the recording mikes were placed down the hall from the studio, in the toilet, perhaps. It's not that "The Thrill is Gone" is absolutely the most embarrassing musical miscarriage I�... | More »

July 23, 1970

The Grateful Dead

Workingman's Dead

It's so nice to receive a present from good friends. Workingman's Dead is an excellent album. It's a warming album. And most importantly, the Dead have finally produced a complete studio album. The songs stand up quite nicely right on their own merits, which are considerable. "Uncle John's Band," which opens the album, is, without question, the best recorded track done by this band. Staunch Dead freaks probably will hate this song. It's done acoustically for a start... | More »

July 9, 1970

The Who

Live At Leeds Decca

Songs: "Young Man Blues," "Substitute," "The Summertime Blues," "Shaking All Over," "My Generation," et al, & "Magic Bus." Audience participation minimal. For America the Who's live album comes out at just that time when, commercially, it is most appropriate; that is, after the band has finally escaped from its status as a critic's darling to satisfy the half-formed intellectual yearnings of an American record-buying public. We shouldn't fool ourselves: a good part of the ... | More »

June 25, 1970

Bee Gees

Cucumber Castle Polydor

So you thought that the Bee Gees had orchestrated and harmonized themselves out for a while after Odessa? Well, not so. In fact, they have multiplied. Within the last two months two more albums in the continuing Bee Gees odyssey have appeared. The first of these is a Robin Gibb solo album, the other features the remaining two brothers. Maurice and Barry, involved in a quasi sound-track album. Needless to say, it is very difficult to distinguish one from the other. Both feature evocative, nos... | More »

Linda Ronstadt

Silk Purse

Country-rock is turning out to be a pleasant surprise. At first, it seemed like just another case of the rock genre ransacking the world of indigenous music for gimmickry, but it seems to be a more natural union than most and one that's capable of supporting a lot of experimentation. There's been quite a rash of country-rock albums of late, and it's rare to hear one that is actually irritating, which is more than can be said for white blues. Some are positively brilliant, like ... | More »

June 11, 1970

Joni Mitchell

Ladies of the Canyon Reprise

Along with the other established ladies of folkdom, Buffy Sainte-Marie and Judy Collins, both Mrs. Harris and Miss Mitchell have been around a while, Some brilliant chick folksingers have vanished — Judy Henske, Alice Stuart and Rosalie Sorrels whither art thou? — but these two have endured. This is Joan's eleventh album and Joni's third and in their own gentle ways they come to grips with the teeth of the times in their curiously lyrical, frankly autobiographical fashio... | More »

The Beatles

Let It Be Apple

To those who found their work since the white album as emotionally vapid as it was technically breathtaking, the news that the Beatles were about to bestow on us an album full of gems they'd never gotten around to polishing beyond recognition was most encouraging. Who among us, after all, wouldn't have preferred a good old slipshod "Save The Last Dance For Me" to the self-conscious and lifeless "Oh! Darlin'" they'd been dealing in? Well, it was too good to be true —... | More »

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Song Stories

“Nightshift”

The Commodores | 1984

The year after soul legends Marvin Gaye and Jackie Wilson died, songwriter Dennis Lambert asked members of the Commodores to give him a tape of ideas. "And the one from Walter Orange has this wonderful bass line," said co-writer Franne Golde. "Plus the lyric, 'Marvin, he was a friend of mine' ... Within 10 minutes, we had decided it should be something like a modern R&B version of 'Rock 'n' Roll Heaven,' and I just said, 'Nightshift.'" This tribute to the recently deceased musicians was the band's only hit without Lionel Richie, who had left for a solo career.

More Song Stories entries »
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