Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 37 No. 3. March 20, 1974
Last year Stealers Wheel had a hit with "Stuck in the Middle of You", a song from their first album. The album itself was a real treat, a cleverly produced electric rock throwback to the midsixties. Sounded like the Beatles doing Fairport Convention and the mixture of styles worked surprisingly well.
After that album three members left; not the important members though, the Raffery/Egan team that formed the nucleus of the original Stealers Wheel remains, but its not the same. There's a fatal lack of energy pervading the whole record; its so bland. Just a well produced duo running through some very average material. Still, they've got a hit in America off the track called "Star" and maybe this whole LP was put out just to fill the gap between the breakup of the old group and the formation of a new band. Treat with caution, listen closely before buying but don't give them up on the basis of this one.
I hope Frank makes it to New Zealand sometime. Hell, imagine a 20 minute stage jam around "Fifty-Fifty" and it's not even the best track on the album. But it does feature some scorching lead riffs by the man himself. And the shrieking demented electric violin of Jean-Luc Ponty.
And always Zappa's absurd lyrics: sleazy as grease-back hair. As ever. "Kiss my aura, Dora... MMM...its real angora".
Around the solid wall of sound laid down by Tom Fowler, bass, and Ralph Humphrey, drums, Zappa's most beautiful Mothers place a variety of musical interjection and embellishment. George Duke, apart from expressive piano and organ, uses his synthesizer to its full extent, the moog being pushed to the front, particularly on "Fifty-Fifty" and "Montana". The latter track is brilliant: truly the highlight, truly insane. Raise a crop of dental floss? Zircon encrusted tweezers? Christ!
The other members of the band: Ruth Under wood, Ian Underwood, Bruce Fowler, and Sal Marquez, and vocal assistants Ricky Lancelotti and Kin Vassy (Yippy-Ty-O) all contribute to the most listenable of Zappa;s recent albums.
Perhaps die hard Zappaphiles will feel Frank's selling them out: "Overnije Sensation" is more commercial and avoids the wierdness of previous Zappa albums. But the humour, the musical and lyrical satire, the sexuality and sheer enjoyment of the music is all there. It's a neat album, which deserves an attentive listen. Will it sell?
I figure the odds be fifty-fifty. . .
Band on the Run:
McCartney's fifth solo album. I've always said this boy had talent and now he's finally come up trumps. Even Rolling Stone, which sneered and snarled its way through the other four voted this one of the top albums of 1973. John Mendelson of that publication has some theories about why Paul has made so many shitty records in the past.
|a)||He dislikes making money for the other gentlemen in The Apple board of directors;|
|b)||He knows the buying public likes hummable crap, and nothing would irritate Lenon more than to see Paul's hummable crap in particular zooming up the charts past John's more ambitious stuff.|
Also, by keeping a lower profile Paul could leave the rarified Beatle atmosphere without getting the artistic bends. By raising fewer expectations he could live a more real life than John — for example, Paul has always given his wife full composing and producing credits, while John Lennons sings "Nigger of the World' yet never lets Yoko finish even one sentence on national TV.
So maybe all along Paul was setting us up for this fine LP. Or maybe Wings have got a new lead singer and bass player. Of course! After "Red Rose Speedways" Wings rubbed out the poor stiff (justifiable homicide) and that's why "Paul's" face on the cover is so white! That's why they're the band on the run! That's why James Coburn is on the cover — didn't he kill his best friend in his latest movie?
My picks are the title cut. Jet' and 'Let me Roll it", which should have been the single release from the record. So give your prejudices a bad time. Listen to this album.