Stereo Review In Review: May 1981

With classes now over, I’m better able to get to our next installment of SRIR before the last day of the month. We’re back to some early 80s action this time.

Article
Noel Coppage Interviews Rosanne Cash
It’s actually a combination chat/review of Seven Year Ache. We get an overview of the moments that led to her fledgling career (Seven Year Ache is her second LP): singing backup for Dad for three years, college (an English/drama double major at Vanderbilt), meeting first husband Randy Crowell, a failed attempt at recording an album in Germany. Coppage calls Ache a concept album, in spite of Cash writing only two of its songs (one of which is that awesome title track); he also doesn’t think it’s maybe quite as good as her first record. 

During this period SR often ran a section entitled Popular Music Briefs. Our issue at hand includes this contrast in styles.

Yes, that’s Carl Wilson with Wendy O. Williams. It does make for an interesting picture, though the caption writer takes a gratuitous shot at Williams’s appearance and grandmaternal prospects.

On to the reviews. This month we have Chris Albertson, Irv Cohn, Noel Coppage, Phyl Garland, Paul Kresh, Peter Reilly, Steve Simels, and Joel Vance. Cohn appears to have replaced Edward Buxbaum, but I don’t believe he was around too long.

Best of the Month
–Tantra, The Double Album  (IC) “…music persuasively—even fiendishly—designed with no other purpose than getting you up on your feet and dancing…”
–Toots and the Maytals, Live at Hammersmith Palais (PG) “To listen to Toots is to hear unmistakably, despite the pronounced Caribbean lilt, strong and uncannily accurate echoes of Otis Redding and Sam Cooke.”
–Fleetwood Mac, Live (NC) “…they never forget the aesthetic value of contrast, seldom let a thing run on too long, and always let you hear through the instrumentals when you need to in order to get the point.”

Recordings of Special Merit
Rock/Pop/Country/Soul:
–Gail Davies, I’ll Be There (NC) 
–The Gap Band, III (IC) “These guys really know what they’re doing. And their music is fun to listen to.”
–The Searchers, Love’s Melodies (SS) “Anyone looking for melodic pop-rock that doesn’t insult your intelligence need look no further.”
–Phil Seymour, S/T (JV) “I haven’t heard such a commanding, seasoned, and tasteful mainstream rock singer in many a day.”

Theater/Films:
Ben Bagley’s Everyone Else Revisited (PK)

Jazz:
–Dexter Gordon, Gotham City (CA)
–Gerry Mulligan and His Orchestra, Walk on the Water (CA)
–Gil Scott-Heron, Real Eyes (PG) “(His) lyrics are so far above the mindless stuff of most of today’s popular music that I would like to see him turn again to his typewriter in pursuit of longer forms. Until he does, though, this album will do.”

Featured Rock/Pop Reviews
–The Clash, Sandanista! (SS) “There’s enough obviously first-rate music here to demonstrate that the Clash continues to evolve in ways that even their initial boosters couldn’t have foreseen, and that they will likely do so for as long as they want.”
–The Two Tons, Backatcha (PG) Formerly Two Tons o’ Fun, soon to be the Weather Girls.
–Christopher Cross, S/T (SS)  Apparently SR ignored Cross’s debut when it was released and felt obliged to pan it after its commanding performance at the Grammy Awards earlier in the year: “Bantamweight a talent though Cross may be, his is decently accomplished at what he does, which is to make brainless, catchy, quintessentially Californian pop records—no more, no less.”
–Weslia, Lady Love (PK) Weslia Whitfield (she eventually shortened her first name to Wesla) was a paraplegic for the last four decades of her life. The standards singer passed away a little over two years ago.
–T. S. Monk, House of Music (IC)  Two kids of the jazz legend strike out on their own.

Selected Other LPs Reviewed
–The Blues Brothers, Made in America (NC) “The main attraction, as it has been all along, is the band behind them…and the tail can go on wagging the dog just so long.”
–Ry Cooder, Borderline (NC) “It’s better than most albums, just not better than most Cooder albums.”
–Lani Hall, Blush (PR) “The songs are fairly bad, the production obviously expensive, and the singer’s talents largely wasted…”
–Earl Klugh, Late Night Guitar (JV)
–Loverboy, S/T (NC)
–Randy Meisner, One More Song (NC) “One wonders why Randy Meisner bothered to get out of the Eagles, since he could have gone on doing more or less the same stuff in the Eagles.”
–Yes, Yesshows (JV) “Without detailing the wretched excesses of each cut, I would merely suggest that a suitable revenge upon the Iranian hostage-takers would be 444 days of compulsory listening to a medley of ‘Ritual’ and ‘The Gates of Delirium.’”

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