Stereo Review In Review: February 1984

After I left for college, carving out time to comb through the newest issue of Stereo Review was definitely a part of my roughly monthly weekend trips home. This one (edit to give credit: screenshots and info are all courtesy of americanradiohistory.com) arrived during my parents’ first winter after moving ten miles north on I-75 to Florence, where they’d live the rest of their lives. What was inside?

The One and Only Frank Sinatra, by Gary Giddins
The article is accompanied by quotes from various vocal luminaries, including Mabel Mercer, Pavarotti, Peggy Lee, Tony Bennett, and Sammy Davis, Jr. Elsewhere in the issue: the magazine’s cover (which feels a little familiar) features an Al Hirschfield portrait of Sinatra, and the Chairman receives SR’s lifetime achievement award.

Compact Discs on the Warner/Elektra/Atlantic Labels, by Chris Albertson
Okay, this occupies just one page, but it’s worth separating out. CDs weren’t on my radar one whit at this moment—in fact, it was only in February of 1984 that I began avidly buying vinyl LPs—but here they come.  The first two paragraphs of Albertson’s write-up:

Among WEA’s first generation of releases: Ronstadt, Nicks, Benson, Jarreau, and Talking Heads.

Record of the Year Awards for 1983
Every February SR picked 12 Records of the Year, and about twice as many Honorable Mentions. They’re generally split half-and-half between classical and not; the non-classical picks for the year that had just past were:

Records of the Year
Michael Jackson, Thriller
Mark Knopfler, Local Hero
Susannah McCorkle, The People That You Never Get to Love
Wynton Marsalis, Think of One
The Police, Synchronicity
Richard Thompson, Hand of Kindness

If there’s anything from this issue that rings a bell today, it’s the two-page spread featuring pictures of those album covers.

Honorable Mention
Joan Baez, Very Early Joan
David Bowie, Let’s Dance
Earl Thomas Conley, Don’t Make It Easy for Me
Thomas Dolby, Blinded by Science
Bob Dylan, Infidels
Donald Fagen, The Nightfly
Liz Meyer, Once a Day
Kate and Anna McGarrigle, Love Over and Over
Graham Parker, The Real Macaw
Prince, 1999
Lou Reed, Legendary Hearts
Rolling Stones, Under Cover

I’m not going to comment, except to say it feels like there are a lot of critical darlings here.

On to what’s reviewed… I won’t include a picture of the list of reviewers each time, but there had been a few changes in personnel in the four years following last month’s January 1980 feature.

Alanna Nash had taken over the country side of things from Noel Coppage; disco reviewer Edward Buxbaum was long gone; and Mark Peel had come on board for mainstream rock. My recollection is that Peel seemed to fancy himself a provocateur.

Best of the Month
Ricky Skaggs, Don’t Cheat in Our Hometown  (AN)
Was (Not Was), Born to Laugh at Tornadoes (SS)
David Murray Octet, Murray’s Steps (CA)

Recordings of Special Merit
Rock/Pop/Country/Soul:
Junior, Inside Looking Out (PG)
Huey Lewis and the News, Sports (JV)
Rufus and Chaka Khan, Live—Stompin’ at the Savoy (PG)
The Whites, Old Familiar Feeling (AN)
X, More Fun in the New World (SS)

Jazz:
Dave Frishberg Trio, The Dave Frishberg Songbook, Volume Two (CA)
Loonis McGlohon, Loonis in London (PR)
Mark Morganelli, Live on Broadway (CA)
George Russell, Live in an American Time Spiral (CA)
The Henry Threadgill Sextet, Just the Facts and Pass the Bucket (CA)

Featured Rock/Pop/Country/Soul Reviews
John Anderson, All the People Are Talkin’ (AN)
Jennifer Holliday, Feel My Soul (PG)
Mental As Anything, Creatures of Leisure (MP)
Marty Robbins, A Lifetime of Song, 1951-1982 (AN)
Barbra Streisand, Yentl (PR)

Selected Other LPs Reviewed
Daryl Hall and John Oates, Rock ‘n Soul Part 1 (JV)
Paul McCartney, Pipes of Peace (JV)
John Cougar Mellencamp, Uh-Huh (MP absolutely strips the bark off of JCM)
Midnight Star, No Parking on the Dance Floor (CA)
Anne Murray, A Little Good News (PR)
Spyro Gyra, City Kids (MP)

Finally, a little music. Here’s a splendid cover of a Rupert Holmes track from Partners in Crime. McCorkle lost a battle with depression in 2001.

I know almost nothing of Liz Meyer: from DC, spent most of her years in Europe forging a country/bluegrass career. She died of cancer in late 2011.

And a little Aussie rock. Continuing what turned into a theme, Greedy Smith, lead vocalist in MAA’s heyday, passed away this past December.

I’m guessing there’ll be a trip back to the 70s for next month’s featured issue.

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