Stereo Review In Review: February 1983

This was SR’s 25th anniversary issue. The monthly column from Editor-in-Chief William Livingstone traces changes in the magazine’s name (originally HiFi & Music Review, soon HiFi/Stereo Review, it finally shortened to simply Stereo Review in November 1969). He also anticipates the 50th anniversary issue in 2008; alas, just sixteen years later SR morphed into Sound & Vision.

Article
2008: A Sonic Odyssey, by Alan Lofft
Speaking of looks twenty-five years into the future, Lofft chats with some folks in the A/V development biz to get their takes on the evolution of how we will consume media. The opening quote, from an assistant GM at Matsushita, is a doozy: “We’ll have a small digital player with no moving parts and little plug-in memory modules, each with several hours of music stored in solid-state memory circuits. You could take the module in to a record dealer who would slip the cartridge into a machine, punch a code into the console, and thirty seconds later hand it back to you. You’d pay your bill and away you’d go. Furthermore, the original musical information would not be in the retail outlet; it would likely be down-linked by satellite from a central data bank.”

There are also quotes from execs on the Compact Disc (“At this point, it’s at least 50 per cent more expensive than a conventional disc…While it certainly has some advantages, it’s not clear to us in the industry that the large population of record buyers will necessarily see them.”) and HDTV (“Talk of HDTV seems to suggest that the present standard can’t permit a really good picture, and that is absolutely wrong. I bristle at the attention given HDTV when one is comparing it with what is a poor use of the current standard.”) Sounds like there’s some turf protection being attempted here…

If it’s a February issue, it must be time for SR’s:

Records of the Year
Cats (Original London Cast)
Marshall Crenshaw, S/T
Lena Horne, The Lady and Her Music
Wynton Marsalis, S/T
The Police, Ghost in the Machine
Richard and Linda Thompson, Shoot Out the Lights

and…

Honorable Mentions
Gary U.S. Bonds, On the Line
Aretha Franklin, Jump To It
The Griffith Park Collection, S/T
Billy Joel, The Nylon Curtain
Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Wise Guy
King Crimson, Beat
Cleo Laine and Dudley Moore, Smilin’ Through
Susannah McCorkle, The Music of Harry Warren
Merrily We Roll Along (Original Broadway Cast)
Mark Murphy, Bop for Kerouac
Dolly Parton, Heartbreak Express
Claudia Schmidt, Midwestern Heart
Sippie Wallace, Sippie

For almost the past decade, Stereo Review had also handed out a Certificate of Merit to a leading light in American music. This year’s award went to Eugene Ormandy.

Our reviewers are the usual suspects: Chris Albertson, Noel Coppage, Phyl Garland, Mark Peel, Peter Reilly, Steve Simels, and Joel Vance.

This is the penultimate appearance for Coppage, who’d actually passed away at the tender age of 44 in December 1982. I’ve found no mention of his untimely death in the SRs of early 1983; Alanna Nash simply took over his beat beginning with the April issue. Coppage is buried in his native Ohio County, Kentucky (which is neither near Ohio nor on the Ohio River; it is, however, adjacent to Muhlenberg County, home of the Everlys and a little mining town called Paradise). He’d spent his later years in New Hampshire; there’s a nice tribute to him in the January 1983 newsletter of the Monadnock Folklore Society.

Best of the Month
–The Roches, Keep On Doing (NC) “The Roches refer mainly to a world of their own creation; they are so far beyond borrowing that they’ve forgotten how.”
–Utopia, S/T (MP) “(The fifteen songs) run the gamut from head-bangers to tear-jerkers, and all sport hummable melodies, amusing lyrics, and smart arrangements.”

Featured Reviews
–Louis Armstrong and Roy Eldridge, Jazz Masterpieces and Roy Eldridge, The Early Years (CA) “Eldridge (on the former) continues to bear traces of Armstrong’s early influence, but he developed a highly individual style in the Thirties, a style that the young Dizzy Gillespie used to emulate with confusing perfection.”
–Peter Gabriel, Security (MP) “…ambitious, original, and profound. Fusing one of man’s oldest art forms, ritual drumming, with state-of-the-art electronics, Gabriel has transposed the elemental rhythms and spirit of native African music into a modern, technological context.”
–Lionel Richie, S/T (PG) “With so much clutter, noise, and outright foolishness in popular music these days, Lionel Richie’s album debut is an event, and the record itself is one to treasure and listen to again and again.”
–Linda Ronstadt, Get Closer (NC) “Ronstadt’s eclecticism this time is more quirky than trendy, but her voice is great.”

Recordings of Special Merit
Rock/Soul/Country:
–Daryl Hall and John Oates, H2O (SS) “I miss the exhilarating sense of artists hitting their stride that characterized their last two (LPs). Yet…even the throwaways are serenely well crafted.”
–Kool and the Gang, As One (PG) “Some records are bathed in such a happy spirit that listening to them is like taking a short, revitalizing vacation…If you can’t afford to travel, play this record instead.”
–Iggy Pop, Zombie Birdhouse (MP) “I guess you could call (this) Iggy Pop’s vision of the global village: not a world united by benevolent technology but a savage place where the first law is eat or be eaten and whose natives carry on their backs not baskets but TV sets.”
–Luther Vandross, Forever, For Always, For Love (PG) “All the elements blend with inconspicuous ease. Vandross suggests rather than shouts, making music that flows with a coolly sensual grace.”

Jazz:
–Monty Alexander, Ray Brown, and Herb Ellis, Triple Treat (CA) “…prepare yourself for a good taste of bubbly swing, some marvelous interplay, and a sound as rich and creamy as the three scoops of ice cream depicted on the cover.”
–Ronald Shannon Jackson and the Decoding Society, Man Dance (CA) “But this is funk with substance, and if you have but an ounce of soul you will find it entrancing.”
–Tom Scott, Desire (PG) “(Scott) has had so much practice in mixing musical styles that it is no wonder he does it so well…this time around he has gone beyond gloss to produce a set that scintillates with lively tunes and gritty performances…”
–Jimmy Smith, Off the Top (CA) “No, this is Smith of the jazz man, surrounded by an elite group of his peers, swinging through an enduring no-charts session.”
–Spyro Gyra, Incognito (MP) “Neither visceral nor cerebral, Incognito…just glides effortlessly by on its spry, crafty melodies, surehanded arrangements, and flawless production. It covers a lot of musical terrain with maddening ease…”

Other Albums Reviewed
–Toni Basil, Word of Mouth (PR) “About a minute or so into this album…I got the feeling that (Basil’s) was a visual act. It would almost have to be, given the frantic convolutions of her vocal style.”
–Neil Diamond, Heartlight (NC) “There’s an interesting contrast here between how seriously Neil Diamond takes himself and how seriously the songs take anything.”
–Dire Straits, Love Over Gold (SS) “What’s worse, the man has clearly swallowed his rave reviews and now believes he has Something to Say…Knopfler’s guitar playing remains spectacular, but, given the hot air that surrounds it, it’s impossible to care.”
Fast Times At Ridgemont High soundtrack (SS) “…if this is the music that real kids actually listen to while they’re out raising hell, then we are probably nurturing a generation of accountants…It’s all inoffensive and utterly without quirks of any kind. Frankly, I’d rather play Pac-Man.”
–Jefferson Starship, Winds of Change (NC) “Most of the lyrics are the moon/June kind of thing Tin Pan Alley hacks were writing thirty years ago, and said hacks probably would have come up with better tunes.”
–David Lindley, Win This Record! (JV) “…the songs are a mixture of good times and a specialist’s whims. Too much of the album is given over to Caribbean rhythms and to Lindley’s own material, which is obscure, faintly paranoid, and dependent on the sexual slang of his circle of friends.”
–Diana Ross, Silk Electric (MP) “…another three-ring effort…that succeeds more often than it fails.”
–Steel Breeze, S/T (NC) “Most of these songs are all hook and no substance and rely heavily on synthesizers (you know how I feel about those), but these boys have still managed to fashion a catchy little sound of their own.”

One thought on “Stereo Review In Review: February 1983”

  1. WOW! What a shot at Dire Straits!!! They are my favorite band of the 80s. I never get enough and ironically LOVE OVER GOLD, the CD slammed by STEREO REVIEW is one of their very best.

    Like

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