Maybe it’s not too soon to do another of these? Regardless, here’s a look back at the issue of SR that was mailed out to subscribers four decades ago.
It’s a Special Tape Issue. Ralph Hodges discusses Tape Futures (what may be coming soon in backings, binders, and magnetic materials); Craig Stark tests a raft of Bargain Tapes (conclusion: stick with name-brands); and Gary Stock reviews the current state of Taping and the Law (is home video recording of television shows a violation of copyright law?)
Forty years later, it all sounds so quaint (not to mention antiquated).
We have what I consider more or less the classic lineup of reviewers: Chris Albertson, Noel Coppage, Phyl Garland, Paul Kresh, Mark Peel, Peter Reilly, Steve Simels, and Joel Vance.
Best of the Month
–George Jones, Same Ole Me (NC) “Through it all, (Jones) keeps the back of your mind from forgetting the basic premise of the honkytonk: it is the place you go to when something’s wron. Whatever that might be, when Jones sings it sure ain’t the music.”
–Mark Murphy, Bop for Kerouac (CA) “I have not always cared for the music Murphy sings, but I have never been deaf to this talent, and I am overwhelmed by the way it all seems to work its way to the surface here.”
–Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Reactor (SS) “Nonetheless, this new album sounds like (Young)’s basically goofing around. But as a textbook on how to make music out of the sounds of a scrap yard, it will do very nicely.”
Recordings of Special Merit
—American Musicals: Jule Styne (PR) “…Kenneth Tynan wrote that Jule Styne was ‘the most persistently underrated of all popular composers.’ After listening to this rerelease package of three of Styne’s most memorable Broadway shows, I think I agree with Tynan.”
—At Home Abroad (PK) The Smithsonian releases an archival reconstruction of a 1935 Broadway show.
–Duke Ellington, Symphony in Black (CA) “…the Smithsonian Jazz Repertory Ensemble does reasonably and splendidly re-create the essence of early and middle Duke.”
–Barry Manilow, If I Should Love Again (PR) “Unlike many of his contemporaries, Manilow never plays down to his audiences, nor does he attempt to flatter or cajole them (as Neil Sedaka sometimes does).
–Penguin Café Orchestra, S/T (MP) “…suggests what might happen if a string group like David Grisman’s were plopped down in a rural English pub and plied with two or three rounds before they’d played a note.”
–Vangelis, Chariots of Fire (Irv Cohn) “The themes are simple, almost hymn-like, but sumptuously augmented by rich electronic effects, including what sounds like swelling strings and thrumming percussion.”
–Martin Briley, Fear of the Unknown (JV) “He is a generously gifted songwriter but almost frighteningly misanthropic. The album is a marvel, but you may not want to hear it very often if you’re the kind of person who pays close attention to the lyrics.”
–John Entwhistle, Too Late the Hero (NC) “Better still, the record offers some relief from the blandness being committed all around us in the name of pop music these days.”
–Tim Hardin, Memorial Album (NC) “His work was not idealistic in narrow political terms but aesthetically, in the manner of Byron and Van Gogh…(a)nd in the manner of Byron and Van Gogh and countless other romantics before him, he sought and edge. But, as we all know now, edges can cut.”
–Frank Sinatra, She Shot Me Down (Henry Pleasants) “…the album is memorable not for what he does with melodies but for what he does with words.”
–Ringo Starr, Stop and Smell the Roses (JV) “…the best album that Ringo Starr has ever made, mostly because he’s allow to be himself…It is madcap, funny, rowdy, spiteful, nostalgic, and convincing.”
Other Disks Reviewed
–Bee Gees, Living Eyes (NC) “This finds the Bee Gees wending their way back from the disco grave site, at times hip deep in the weeds that are already growing there. Back to where, though?”
–The Cars, Shake It Up (MP) “…it rocks along a deliberate, precarious path, avoiding both outright pop and electronic minimalism.”
–Elvis Costello, Almost Blue (NC) “Costello made the apparently commonplace assumption…that anybody can come in cold and perform country music—and it blew up, I’m happy to report, right in his face.”
–Karla DeVito, Is This a Cool World or What? (SS) “Karla DeVito is a terrific singer and performer, cute as a bug’s ear, and one heck of a swell human being, but she has what sounds like a terminal case of Steinman’s Disease.”
–Earth, Wind & Fire, Raise! (CA) “…reflects not so much poor artistic judgment as it does a general feeling of having reached a dead end.”
–Kiss, (Music from) The Elder (MP) “Never mind that this is bad music. It isn’t even a passable stab at a fantasy comic book.”
–The Knack, Round Trip (SS) “…a tedious failure, something like hearing a second-rate bar band trying to play late Beethoven quartets.”
–The Steve Miller Band, Circle of Love (NC) “…even at his best…either Miller presumes his listeners can block out his lyrics from their heads or else he presumes his listeners are double-digit-IQ mouth breathers.”
–Rush, Exit…Stage Left (JV) “Rush really needs a bigger sound to match their imagination. As it is, the earnestness and energy begin to pall, especially on a two-disc live album like this one.”
–Rod Stewart, Tonight I’m Yours (JV) “…I don’t agonize much over Rod Stewart’s alleged artistic decline. He is still a highly professional and occasionally very exciting singer, as this latest album…abundantly demonstrates.”
–Luther Vandross, Never Too Much (PG) “Admittedly, Vandross has a very appealing, resonantly full, and flexible singing voice, but his material…and interpretation are hardly anything to shout about.”