I thought that these record reviews from Billboard would be fun to share with you. It is especially interesting to read these because of their recommendations to dealers. You`ll see what I mean.
Read on and enjoy!
DAVID BOWIE-Young Americans, RCA APL 1-0998.
David Bowie is back with his latest musical look, this time an excursion into the land of soul. It works well. The key here is that Bowie’s sophisticated soul sound (with strings, big arrangements and lots of soulful backup voices) does not sound the least bit put on. He sounds as at home here as he has in all his other musical changes, and in parts, more so. The vocals do not sound nearly as strained as they have on some of his more raucous rockers, nor do they sound as camp. Guest artists John Lennon, Willy Weeks, Andy Newmark and Jean Millington add a fine touch to the set, which should not only endear Bowie even more to his current fans but should open up an entirely new avenue of fans for him. Expect soul play on this set, for he is truly handling the music, not copying. Some non-soul oriented cuts are also included.
Best cuts: “Young Americans,” “Fascination,” “Right,” “Across The Universe,” “Can You Hear Me.”
Dealers: Bowie is one of the major superstars in pop. All you have to do is display the set.
ALICE COOPER-Welcome To My Nightmare, Atlantic SD 18130.
Solo set from Alice is by far the best musical project he has yet undertaken. LP is soundtrack to upcoming TV special, and is vastly different in parts from his group efforts, but similar enough to retain old fans. Fine use of horns and strong arrangements throughout, as well as the powerful metallic sound (Dick Wagner on guitar) and razor sharp vocals Alice is associated with. More universally appealing than previous LPs, with the vocals simply better than on recent LPs, the arrangements more interesting and sophisticated and the package more commercial. There’s a John Lennon type song here that is beautifully arranged and sung, some material reminiscent of “School’s Out,” and a variety of other things. Alice has always been recognized as a masterful rocker, but we see here there is far more to him than that. He proves himself able to handle many kinds of music, though the rock is still dominant. A truly superb effort.
Best cuts: “Devil’s Food,” “Some Folks,” “Only Women Bleed” (the Lennon styled cut), “Department Of Youth” (like “School’s Out “), “Cold Ethyl.” “Steven” (a truly frightening piece of rock theater), “Escape.”
Dealers: First new product in over a year from this superstar, and he and his group are set for an 80-city world tour this spring.
KANSAS-Song For America, Kirshner PZ 33385 (CBS).
The group whose debut LP caught a lot of people by surprise with strong sales offers a much stronger effort this time around, mixing the kind of synthesizer oriented /harmonic vocal sounds that characterize groups like Yes with some more standard sounding blues-oriented rock and a touch of country added to both, courtesy of an electric violin. The long, electronic cuts lend themselves best to FM exposure. The mix of electronics and more familiar rock is a clever one which should broaden the base appeal of the band, and while there are touches of several other groups here, the set is undoubtedably the property of Kansas.
Best cuts: “Song For America,” “Lamplight Symphony,” “Lonely Street,” “The Devil Game.”
Dealers: Band built a loyal and strong following with first effort and this is a musically superior set. Expect this to be a big album.
ARGENT-Circus, Epic PE 33422 (CBS).
Back within several months of their charted live LP, veteran British rockers change format a bit and move from the metallic rock they are best known for to a concept type LP that is dominated by Rod Argent’s work on a variety of keyboard instruments and solo and harmony vocals that dart in and out of long instrumental solos. A general feeling of “flow” throughout the LP featured by the Yes school of bands. The change for Argent works well, for they are skilled musicians and vocalists, and the concept is present without being overbearing. Set should surprise fans, but will not alienate them. Several ballads help break up the LP’s general focus. FM should be the launching pad here.
Best cuts: “Highwire,” “Trapeze,” “Shine On Sunshine,” “Clown.”
Dealers: Another band with a strong following. You might want to display this with first solo effort of departed guitarist Russ Ballard, also on Epic.