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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 8. 19th April 1973


page 12


Records header

Preserve Wildlife: Mama Lion Philips 6369 153

Even before you pull Preserve Wildlife from its jacket to hear what it's all about, the cover photograph hits you right between the eyes. It pushes the top half of Mama Lion's vocalist at you, together with a large quantity of breast, on which a lion cub is being suckled.

Inside, Mama Lion try to recapture the harsh, jagged feel that worked so well for Big Brother and the Molding Company on Cheap Thrills, and to a certain extern, they succeed. The obvious parallels are there: both groups were/are spearheaded by a loud and raucous female vocalist shrieking out their lines above an equally loud and raucous backing. The crucial difference is that Janis complementted Big Brother, Lynn Carey dominates Mama Lion.

While Cheap Thrills wasn't exactly artistically valid, it was exciting, the group compensating for its lack of technical expertise with the sheer ferocity of its attack. This could also have been the case with Mama Lion had not the stricture of overproduction been imposed upon it. The final result is a backing group that sounds like Big Brother with its rough edges chiseled off.

Miss Carey is in a different place, altogether. From the strident roar that kicks off the opener. "Ain't no sunshine", right through to "Cry" at, the end of the other side, you know she isn't just a pretty nipple. The best example of this is "Wildcat", with its lyric about balling couched in hackneyed words, but it's delivered as if she means it, across a distorted Stooges-type wah-wah backdrop.

Libbers who are tempted to bellow "exploitation" as soon as they clap eyes on the cover will find plenty of food for thought in "Sister, Sister, (she better than a man"), but my personal inclination is towards the pleading Stevie Winwood song, "Can't find my way home", because of the higher lyric standard.

Loudon Wainwright III Loudon Wainwright CBS.

Loudon Wainwright is a singer with a bunch of fine musicians behind him who play on most of the tracks. Their support is restrained and serves mainly as rhythm to Wainwright's acoustic guitar but this is curiously effective. A little like the music behind Van Morrison's Astral Weeks. His voice is strong and melodious and suits the mood both when it is sad and happy . . . well, . . . happier.

He wants to find the 'Muse' he fears is vanishing and leans on whiskey and drugs

Oh Must where are you
I keep drinking, smoke stuff
I don't know what to do!

His choked desperation makes for a horrifying song but any drug song that speaks any truth must do this. The man knows what he is talking about and strangely, right throughout the record Wainwright seems to be singing about Wainwright.

He has a very clever lyrical style. Watch this on 'Needless to Say' where he uses assonance in an incredibly clear lyric.

Make no mistake, take what you make
You make it, so it is for you
Nevertheless, the less you guess
So leave out guessing, you 've got to
Please remember my song.

'Dead Skunk' and 'B.Side' could be said to be examples of Wainwright's sense of humour. Oddly enough he was recommended by an overseas paper for his 'sense of humour'. I find his humour lacking and at its worst, very sick: too sick to quote.

'New Point' is another song — the title tells a lot about the song. Wainwright complains about getting older when it's harder to feel the same; to find the enthusiasm to continue.

I'm tired and hungry and I'm looking for my youth
I'm a little uncool and a little uncouth
Oh excuse me, excuse me if you will.

Wainwright is not a happy man and I suspect he drinks heavily. Alcohol might deaden the pain hut it finally becomes the source of it. But as he points out on 'Drinking Song": there hat vet to be a perfectly straight line.

On the best of these songs Loudon Wainwright seems to break through, to cry up to the joy he knows he can touch. He has none of the slickness or refined 'beauty' so many singers of this ilk aspire to. The man is coarse, sometime disgusting but he is honest. The songs are about Wainwright, be portrays a struggle but occasionally be seems to stop fighting and play some of the best music I've heard this year.

Image of a head with a line down the middle

Raw Velvet — Bobby Whitlock CBC

Bobby Whitlock has every right to sit proudly in his gilded hall of mirrors (see backcover); this is one of the best rock 'n roll records I've heard for a long time. Raw, gutsy, munching but with a distinctly softening velvet touch. Whitlock's tough, gravelly voice screams its way through exciting self-penned rockers like 'Bustin' My Ass', 'Case your Pain' and 'Tell the Truth' (a considerably better version than Eric Clapton's).

The sound is very similar to other bands he has been involved with such as the Shelter People, Delaney and Bonnie and especially Derek Dominoes (the guitarist, Rick Vilto, plays very like Clapton) and the recording has that same deliberately blurred quality.

'Bustin' my ass for a dollar in the hand
Oh, my lord, it's driving me mad
Some folks think it's easy, oh year'
Definitely groin music.

No Secrets by Carly Simon: Electra EKS 75049

If you've come to Carly Simon through "You're So Vain" then check out the other two albums before thinking of this one. The lyrics don't stand up to her first LP, and the melodies are weaker than in the second, in fact side one is almost just recitations to orchestral accompaniment. But for all that, her magnificent voice almost carries these songs off; the double cover packaging is excellent, some great photos, and helping out instrumentally are such talents as Paul Buckmaster, Lowell George and Mr Carly Simon. I wonder why "Waited So Long", easily the next strongest cut, wasn't chosen to follow up "You're So Vain". Did that "I'm no virgin" line scare somebody?