Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol 35 no. 2. 8th March 1972
Stone the Crows "Teenage Licks"
Stone The Crows are a British rock group fronted by Maggie Bell on vocals. She has been compared to the late Janis Joplin, but Maggie Bell's vocals have a charm and sincerity not always evident with Joplin. This L.P. is the third released by this group, and certainly they are more polished and tight knit in playing. The current line up is Les Harvey (guitar), Steve Thompson (bass), Ronnie Leahy (Keyboards), Colin Allern (percussion). Musically the band are showing more progressive, driving riffs than formerly. There is much less influence of soul music Which was evident in earlier albums.
Most of the tracks on the album comprise original material In fact the other two tracks Dont Think Twice (Dylan) and Ailen Mochree (Scottish traditional) are probably the least effective tracks on the record. Keep On Rollin is a straightforward rock song, in the Delaney/Bonnie style, in which The Beat goes on. One Five Eight is probably the best track which opwns with electronic spacey sounds, followed by fuzzed out guitar and powerful vocals from Bell. The track has an evil funky feel and good lyrics. One Five Eight was written by the groups former Organist. I may be right, I may be wrong is another simple rocker; a good time un-complicated song which would probably appeal to those who like Delaney/Leon Russell/Joe Cocker type music.
Stone The Crows present an exciting, driving type of rock music. Although an accomplished and tight group the emphasis of the musicians is always to provide a solid background of rhythm and to feature the powerful voice of Maggie Bell. There are no lead-breaks or freak-outs but plenty of driving solid rock sounds suited equally for listening or moving to.
Stone The Crows still retain the driving solid percussive background of sould music yet they have also a subtlness and artistry which make them one of the best bands in Britain today.
Led Zeppelin Atlantic/HMV
Its been close to a year now since our ears were blessed with a new package of Led Zeppelin's distinctive sound. Continual engineering errors have delayed the completion of their fourth album, the one with the unpronounceable name. They began recording as early as December 1970 Happily, though expectedly, this record is as good as its immediate predecessor, but it is also a decided departure from the dominating-heavy-rock with emphasis on lead guitar and the unique voice of Robert Plant, to a larger role for rhythm and bass with more modulated singing. On tracks such as The Battle of Evermore and Stairway to Heaven Plant's voice is certainly sweeter, even gentle in parts. There seems to be strong influence in the album, from the romantic-epic ballad style of Fairpoint Convention and especially Fotheringay. Whether this is a result of Sandy Denny's presence on The Battle of Evermore track, or whether it has resulted in her presence, its impossible to say. But anyway she is there, and I for one am delighted to hear her duelling it with Plant.
There are 8 tracks in all, beginning with Black Dog, which is in traditional Zeppelin style with difficult lead guitar riffs and breaks in the music as Plant sings each rhyming couplet, much the way is goes in Dazed and Confused and You Shock Me, though perhaps not as memorable as these latter two songs, Black Dog is still an excellent track.
Then Zeppelin go womb-hunting with a rock 'n roll number entitled Rock 'n Roll - what else? The result is a pleasant, beat-ey track that sounds like a cross between Chuck Berry and early Beatles, with the Zepp. flavouring that Plant always imparts. It seems that many groups, having established themselves in one great idiom, then turn to airing several styles on the one album. Ten Years After, with their Watt album are another example of this. And in the case of both T.Y.A. and Led Zeppelin perform an old Memphis Minnie/ Kansas Joan McCoy song, (though with their own arrangement), called When the Levee Breaks - they do it well too.
Following Rock 'n Roll comes The Battle of Evermore, yet another song springing, I would guess, the Tolkien-like legend-myth-fairy story base. As mentioned, Sandy Denny sings in this one, and Jimmy Page mandolines away a solid accompanying melody. Stairway to Heaven is next; its quite a plaintive song emphasized by acoustic guitar - the lyrics (written by Plant) are the essential part of this track - they are printed on the dust cover so make of them what you will. Misty Mountain Hop, first track on Side Two reverts to a heavier sound and this is maintained into Four Sticks so-called simply because John Bonham used 4 drumsticks at once. Going to California is another acoustic number. It reminds me of Ralph McTell and the lonely minstrel image, and it reveals the range of Led Zeppelin in comparison to such one-track heavy groups as Grand Funk Railroad,
This seems an exploratory album with fun numbers like Rock 'n Roll thrown in. Though it doesn't have the impact the Zeppelin 1 and 2 had, tho' it doesn't stun you like Whole Lotto Love still does, this is an excellent record and is certainly worth emptying the wallet: It is not so long since Led Zeppelin was in some danger of breaking up. This has now passed and Zepp. is more cohesive than ever. Also, there is a large amount of material on tape, so another album can be expected reasonably soon.
"Superblues" — Muddy Waters, Little Walter & Bo Diddley. HMV
There is ever-growing support for the contention that the twelve bar blues is the most clinced form in modern music The wide-spread fame of B.B.King and the rise in popularity of young white bluesmen (particularly the English) has had the effect of cluttering record shops with albums that are nothing more than a collection of twelve bars all arranged in much the same very dear precise way. All good clever stuff or course. Very relaxing but also very very predictable.
So it is refreshing to come across a blues record that is something more than just and endless string of 12-bars in fact only one strictly orthodox twelve - bars is included. (Long Distance Call) by Muddy Waters. Most of the tracks are vigorous fierce R'n'B songs of the type that established the Rolling Stones, The Animals and others in 1963-64 Bo Diddley, of course, is the master of this idiom and the three songs penned by him on the album are the best tracks They bounce along with lightness of rythm yet incredible power, to produce the type of excitement that seems to have largely faded from popular music. In fact, Bo's Who Do You Love, the best track on the album serves to emphasise how power is nowdays confused with heaviness Led Zeppelin's arrangement of this song becomes bogged down with heavy monotonous bass riffs and lead breaks whereas the version on this album has an orthodox yet fresh r'n'b feeling and is very raw and gutsy and exciting by comparison. Unfortunately only the three Bo Diddley compositions manage to properly achieve this delicate balance of lightness and power so that the other five tracks seem relatively inferior. In particular the Willie Dixon standard I just Wanna Make Love to You seems heavy and drab alongside Alan Price's brilliant arrangement of the same song for the Animals. But this track is the only real disappointment. For the rest, good musicianship and fierce singing cannot, it seems, compensate for the indefinable "something" that marks off the very good, that makes a song really exciting and inspiring rather than just clever.
Musically the album is characterised by a fresh informal air, provided in the main by Muddy Waters' seemingly carefree slide-guitar by cheery repartee between the three in the intervals between verses and by constant improvisation. Balanced against this is a near impecable rhythm section (featuring very good piano-work by Otis Spann) so that at no stage dows the album look like losing any of the tightness so important to the idiom. If there is to be any critisism of the album in this respect it must be that Little Waiter's harmonica cannot compare to the playing of Butter-field and that there is a slight tendency for the rhythm section to become smothered. And one more black mark-it is apparent after only a few listenings that Bo Diddley's singing is vastly superior to the others. Whereas Walter's voice is too weak and Muddy's a little too harsh, Bo's singing is clear and fine and bubbling with excitement.
Overall - this record is one of those agonising discs that only just fails to be truly inspiring. It is by and large a successful blending of three great talents but one that could perhaps have been better.