album reviews

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


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 »

July 26, 1969

Johnny Cash

At San Quentin Columbia

Johnny Cash remembers the forgotten men. They love him. Singing inside a prison to men whose spirits are being destroyed by our mindless penal system is Johnny Cash's kind of revolution. Music becomes spirituality in the context of the prison. Music is inherently destructive of everything penology stands for. Music affirms. Music liberates. Cash sounds very tired on this record ("ol' Johnny does best under pressure," he says), his voice on some songs just straying off pitch. But th... | More »

Sly & the Family Stone

Stand! Epic

Like Frank Zappa's Mothers, Sly Stone's group is unique. And, in fact, a comparison of the two groups is not as far fetched as it first might seem. Both exude a superficial formlessness in their sounds. Both demand, on one level at least, to be taken seriously. But while the Mothers have taken pop music to previously unimaginable levels of complexity, Sly and the Family Stone Stone has gone in the other direction — to basics. At first, Stand! seemed like soul music distorted,... | More »

Little Richard

Greatest Hits [Onyx]

A drum roll, a pause, and then the eight or nine piece band breaks into a funky R&B progression. "Good evenin' Ladies and Gen'lmen," yells a gravel-voiced black MC. "Welcome to the Okeh Club. We're featuring here tonight — the king of rock and roll — and when I said the King — I mean His Majesty — Little Richard!" The audience erupts into a genuine cheer and before they have a chance to quiet down, the guitars, then the drums and horns, and finally t... | More »

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Song Stories

“Whoomp! (There It Is)”

Tag Team | 1993

Cecil Glenn — a.k.a., "D.C." — was a cook at Magic City, a nude dance club in Atlanta, when he first heard women shout "Whoomp — there it is!" Inspired by the party chant, he and partner Steve "Roll'n" Gibson wrote a song around it. Undaunted by label rejections, they borrowed $2,500 from Glenn's parents and pressed 800 singles, which quickly sold out in the Atlanta area. A record deal came soon after. Glenn said the song was meant for positive partying. "If you're going to say 'Whoomp there it is,' and you're doing something negative, we'd rather it not have come out of your mouth."

More Song Stories entries »