Album Reviews

Terry Callier “What Color Is Love” (1973)

Quite simply one of the greatest records ever made. I cannot believe that it does not get greater attention. It really is the perfect marriage of soul and folk. Callier’s songs are at times joyous and at others surreal and almost sad. They are all delivered in one of the most gentle yet expressive voices there is. Another major part of this album is the production and arrangement of Charles Stepney who was the producer at Chess/Cadet records at the time. He has a wonderful sound that has influenced the likes of 4 Hero heavily in todays age. He is also heard producing the Rotary Connection classics from the same label. –Jon

New Riders Of The Purple Sage (1971)

Anyone who enjoys the Grateful Dead should get the New Riders of the Purple Sage’s eponymous release. With Jerry Garcia and Mickey Hart of The Dead and Spencer Dryden of Jefferson Airplane in tow, they record their first album. The country rock sound which had been made popular by bands such as Dillard & Clark and The Flying Burrito Brothers was given a healthy dose of acid rock by a bunch of stoned hippies and it works. “New Riders of the Purple Sage” is some of the most spaced-out country-rock of the period. Highly recommended! -David

Kraftwerk “Autobahn” (1974)

A hugely important record that saw Krautrock outfit Kraftwerk switch direction and ditch the sound of the time for the sound of the future. It was to prove a great move as some of the records that followed this landmark LP were stunning. But what of Autobahn? Well it is always going to be talked about for the title track which was like nothing else of its time. Taking up the whole side of an LP but totally removed from most music coming out of the Krautrock scene and relying on a simple groove and trance-like quality to keep the attention. It’s still too long in my opinion and could have done with ten minutes shaving off but it is a classic for sure. This is of course the LP where the electronics start to take over and side 2 sees Hutter and Shneider really starting to experiment with mixed results. It is almost as they are learning about their new sounds and toys while in the studio. It doesn’t really work that well to be honest but does lay the foundation for the likes of The Man Machine & Computer World. –Jon

Sparks “Kimono My House” (1974)

I have to admit I hated this record the first time I heard it. Thankfully I’ve since come around! Weird, manic, loud and completely addictive glam rock with insanely over-the-top production: welcome to the world of Sparks! If you haven’t listened to them, start with this great LP (just give it a few listens). I guarantee it’s like nothing else you’ve heard come through your speakers! –David

Gene Clark “No Other” (1974)

Gene Clark’s “No Other” deserves its near mythical status today. A sprawling, ambitious work that brings elements of country, folk, jazz, gospel, blues, and rock together to reflects the mid-’70s better than anything from that time, yet sounds hauntingly timely even now. This album’s commercial failure in 1974 remains one of life’s great mysteries. –David

The Soul Searchers “Salt of the Earth” (1974)

The Soul Searchers were a large funk outfit from Washinton DC that were held in high regard in the seventies despite their limited output. This LP is perhaps their best known as it has been plundered heavily by hip hop artists such as Eric B & Rakim, Ice Cube, LL Cool J and Public Enemy. It is this use of the material that makes many of the tracks sound extremely familiar on first listen. The uptempo funkier tracks such as “Blow Your Whistle” and “Ashley’s Roachclip” highlight what a great horn section the band had and are the pick of the cuts. Things slip a little on the ballads which do sound a little dated. The exception is the strangely compelling cover of Bacharach’s “Close to You.” –Jon

Hall & Oates “Abandoned Luncheonette”

Some of our favorite albums were discovered in the 99¢ bin and “Abandoned Luncheonette” is one of them! Philly soul meets FM rock perfectly on this early Hall & Oates album. I know some of you are skeptical, but seriously, give this one a listen! –JT

“Daryl Hall and John Oates’ second album remains, even after thirty-plus years, their masterpiece. Here they created a masterpiece of blue-eyed soul which captured a sense of innocence, wistfulness and nostalgia.” -allmusic.com

Kool G Rap & DJ Polo “Road to the Riches” (1989)

Back when the Juice Crew was on a roll in the late 80s, Big Daddy Kane, MC Shan and Biz Markie had already gotten their start and even had their own Marley Marl produced albums out. By 1989, all three were at album number two and the remaining Juice Crew members that were yet to start were Kool G. Rap, Craig G and Masta Ace. Masta Ace didn’t debut till 1990, but Craig G and Kool G. Rap both came out in 1989 with their debuts. While Craig G’s The Kingpin sucked and killed any potential his career could’ve had, Kool G. Rap delivered with the backup from his DJ, Polo. Kool G. Rap is the hardest rapper from Juice Crew and therefore it makes sense that he’s the most skilled too. While the smooth Big Daddy Kane had crossover appeal, G. Rap was too raw for that and this album – Road to the Riches – is evidence of that. In here, Kool G. Rap most of the time spends the album’s length to simply brag and what a braggart he is! His rhymes are simply too good to be comparable. Just give “Men at Work” a listen to see what I’m saying. Kool G. Rap is ruthless on the mic and even though Road to the Riches is often associated with the creation of mafioso rap, it’s completely false and apart from the title track “Road to the Riches”, absolutely nothing is on that side. DJ Polo does the scratches and he’s excellent but Marley Marl takes care of the production duties and he gives the album a very good late 80s hardcore sound with use of samples mostly from James Brown (an obvious source for New York albums back then). Although the beats haven’t aged all that well, they are still very good and only help Kool G. Rap’s excellent rapping. The only thing to hold back this album from perfection are the crossover tracks which just don’t fit Kool G. Rap’s hardcore, raw style. I’m talking about “Truly Yours”, “Cars” (although I like that new wave sample) and “She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not”. But with those tracks aside, everything else is pure excellence. –Prt Cpt