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album reviews

The Grateful Dead

Anthem Of The Sun

On the Grateful Dead's Anthem of the Sun the studio with its production work dissolves into live performance, the carefully crafted is thrown together with the casually tossed off, and the results are spliced together. The end product is one of the finest albums to come out of San Francisco, a personal statement of the rock aesthetic on a level with the Jefferson Airplane's After Bathing at Baxters. To be sure, the album has its weak points, but as a total work it is remarkably succ... | More »

The Doors

Waiting For The Sun

One night recently the Mothers were performing "Plastic People Louie Louie" when Frank Zappa stumbled onto the monologue that graces "The End" ("he took a face from the ancient gallery and he walked on down the hall ..."). It was terribly funny, and it was nice to see Zappa go through the Morrison changes with an utter lack of seriousness, if only because Morrison himself could use some levity occasionally. Listening to the new Doors' album, Waiting For The Sun, reminded me of Zappa and ... | More »

August 24, 1968

The Beach Boys

Friends Capitol

The Beach Boys have tried faithfully to render who and what they are. That what they are is in some ways a simply (existential but) foolish denial of reality, that Hawthorne is not the world that Watts is, is nothing other than the fact that art, like human action, when it impersonally duplicates reality, is mere schizophrenia. The group takes risks, however. After Pet Sounds, the only flaw of which was its indulgence in a sometimes over-lush sound, they cleaned up and came out with Smiley S... | More »

Sly & the Family Stone

Life Epic

The most adventurous soul music of 1968 is being put out by two groups who really aren't part of the mainstream R&B scene at all. Both the Chambers Brothers and Sly and the Family Stone are primarily black, but both have white members. And both spend more time on the white rock circuit than in the black clubs and theaters. The Family Stone emerges as the real revolutionary force on this, its third album. Sly's people have made a mighty progression since their first album just e... | More »

Buffalo Springfield

Last Time Around

As a final testament to their multi-talent, the Buffalo Springfield have released Last Time Around, the most beautiful record they've ever made.   This is the second record album by an originally Canadian group (the first was Music From Big Pink by The Band) of major importance to be released this month. They both have their country roots showing. The great difference lies in their separate "heaviness distinction." The Band are overwhelming seriousness and pointed profundity, and ... | More »

August 14, 1968

The Byrds

Sweetheart Of The Rodeo Sony Music Distribution

The Byrds, during the not-so-Great Folk-Rock controversy, attempted to qualify their own individual transition by saying: "If only one line of 'Mr. Tambourine Man' (which they had just recorded) gets through to the kids it'll have been worth it." The Byrds had all been Folkies and their subscription to Dylan's new method of "getting the message across" (something Dylan himself denied trying to do) was of no little significance. What Barry McGuire, Jody Miller and the Byrds... | More »

August 10, 1968

The Band

Music From Big Pink Capitol

Every year since 1963 we have all singled out one album to sum up what happened that year. It was usually the Beatles with their double barrels of rubber souls, revolvers and peppers. Dylan has sometimes contended with his frontrunning electric albums. Six months are left is this proselytizing year of music; we can expect a new Beatles, Stones, Hendrix, perhaps even a mate for J W Harding; but I have chosen my album for 1968. Music from Big Pink is an event and should be treated as one. Very... | More »

Fleetwood Mac

Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac Blue Horizon

The Blues has always been popular in England. Performers like Screamin' Jay Hawkins, Howlin' Wolf and even Freddie King and Bo Diddley were stars in England before making it big in their own country. When John Mayall formed the Bluesbreakers it was out of respect and admiration to those performers; and he's stayed with the blues, cultivating a number of fine young blues musicians including guitarists Eric Clapton and Peter Green. After Clapton left Mayall, moving on to form Cre... | More »

July 6, 1968

Quicksilver Messenger Service

Quicksilver Messenger Service

Quicksilver's initial and long-awaited excursion into the primordial clear light of San Francisco isn't quite what was expected, due to the production staff headed by the Electric Flag's Nick Gravenites and Harvey Brooks. The Quicksilver Messenger Service don't sound quite the same since they've heard the Flag and Mike Bloomfield, late arrivals on the San Francisco scene. As a result, most of the album cuts (only six altogether) come across sounding like the Electric ... | More »

June 22, 1968

Frank Zappa

Lumpy Gravy Verve/Bizarre

Lumpy Gravy is the most curious album Frank Zappa has been involved in to date, and in many ways the music just doesn't make it; as it says on the cover, "a curiously inconsistent piece which started out to be a ballet but probably didn't make it." The record was recorded in February of 1967, and Zappa conducts the "Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra and Chorus," which is made of stray Mothers and some of Hollywood's top studio musicians. On the back of the album we ... | More »

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Song Stories

“You Oughta Know”

Alanis Morissette | 1995

This blunt, bitter breakup song -- famous for its line "Would she go down on you in a theater?" -- was long rumored to be about Alanis Morissette getting dumped by Full House actor Dave Coulier. But while she never confirmed it was about him (Coulier himself says it is, however), she insisted the song wasn't all about scorn. "By no means is this record just a sexual, angry record," she told Rolling Stone. "The song wasn't written for the sake of revenge. It was written for the sake of release. I'm actually a pretty rational, calm person."

More Song Stories entries »
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