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Ken Emerson


  • Gerry Rafferty's 'Baker Street' Blues: Rolling Stone's 1978 Feature

    Singer, who would pass away in 2011, is sitting on top of the world as he gives this interview in New York City's Plaza Hotel

    • Music
  • American Fool

    John "Cougar" Mellencamp can't help it. All he has to do is open his mouth and out oozes insincerity, the snake oil of patent imitations of Bruce Springsteen and Bob Seger. Or for good measure, he'll pour on a little Tom Petty or Graham Parker. It's not just Cougar's hoarse, choked tenor that sounds overfamiliar; […]

    • Music
  • Living In The USA

    Living in the U.S.A. feels less like a record than it does a formal recital grimly intent upon establishing the versatility of its star. In nearly consummate command of her vocal powers, Linda Ronstadt sings more expertly than ever, but with a frown, knitting her brow in glum determination to hit and shade every note […]

    • Music
  • More Songs About Buildings & Food

    David Byrne's resemblance to Anthony Perkins would be remarkable even if he hadn't called attention to it by entitling a song "Psycho Killer." Onstage, his head lurching to a rhythm his rigid body doesn't recognize, Byrne is a dead ringer for Perkins' Norman Bates: clean-cut, boyish (his songs are full of boys and girls but […]

    • Music
  • Misfits

    After twenty-odd albums, either you follow the Kinks or you don't. If you don't ("Gently pity those you can't persuade," as Jonathan Swift put it), it's unlikely you'll acquire the habit with Misfits, especially since none of the songs sounds like an immediate hit single. But if you do, this LP can make you cry. […]

    • Music
  • Adventure

    One advantage of the spluttering proliferation of punk rock and the continuing failure of the New Wave to do anything more than lap at the bottom of the American charts is that you can relax and enjoy a group as a band, not a brand. Since there's no longer a single standard to bear or […]

    • Music
  • I Can Stand a Little Rain

    Joe Cocker's comeback album is not the disaster his recent debacle in L.A. (during which he was too drunk to perform) was. Whatever his difficulties as a live performer, on record Cocker is far from a lost cause. Admittedly he is not the singer he once was: His voice is ravaged almost beyond belief. But […]

    • Music
  • Fulfillingness' First Finale

    The cover of Fulfillingness' First Finale depicts a staircase of keyboards rising — from the Motor Town Review and "Fingertips" through gold records, Grammies and an auto accident — to the sky. It's remarkably apt, for the careers of few performers in popular music have been such uninterrupted ascents. Nothing, not even a brush with […]

    • Music
  • 461 Ocean Boulevard

    Between laid-back and listless, between the tastefully restrained and the downright niggardly, the line can be perilously thin. Eric Clapton's new album teeters precariously on the very edge, flirting with, but in the nick of time always just skirting, dullness. It's a tribute to Clapton's charisma and talents that 461 Ocean Boulevard doesn't succumb to […]

    • Music
  • Garcia

    If Garcia is any indication of what to expect from Round Records, the Grateful Dead's new spin-off label ought to be rechristened Flat. The production (pinned on John Kahn) seems determined to deprive the music of all edge, contrast and excitement (if there was any to begin with). Garcia boasts a lot of talent (Richard […]

    • Music