Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia on May 26, 1974 · Page 79
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May 26, 1974

Sunday Gazette-Mail from Charleston, West Virginia · Page 79

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Charleston, West Virginia
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Sunday, May 26, 1974
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Page 79
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Women making their way on music scene By James I. Carnes The women have returned to rock. Or at least there are finally some single female singers producing excellent pop/rock albums again. There had been a lull during which only Aretha Franklin was producing, and she was often off being Aretha and not always giving quality. She is the undisputed queen of soul, and her new album, "I'm in Love" is her best in some time. She has exhibited a tendency in the past to descend into funkiness to preserve her soul image, but in the single "I'm in Love" she has come back beautifully. The new Atlantic LP also features "Till You Come Back to Me (That's What I'm Gonna Do)," the single that re-established the singer as a singles-seller. Each cut on the album is tightly-produced, with excellent musicians, and with Aretha in her best voice. It's a joy of an album. »· There are some new female singers with excellent albums in release now, too. Four of the best are Maria Muldaur, Wendy Waldman, Kathi McDonald and Maggie Bell. Ms. Muldaur formerly appeared with the Jim Kweskin Jug Band, while Ms. Bell was former lead singer with Stone the Crows. The other two albums are debut records. Wendy Waldman's "Love Has Got Me" (Warner Brothers BS2735) has a sense of excitement found on only a few debut albums. She has written all 12 songs on the album, and three of them are genuine classics. "Vaudeville Man" is, in style, beat and production, a thoroughly engaging song, while "Gringo En Mexico" is a delightful surprise because of its mariachi rhythm and south of the border atmosphere. Had Ms. Waldman been a man, the album probably would have been named after "Train Song." 1 It's the kind of tune -- a dream of wanting to hop the train and ride despite that friends say it can't be done --· that becomes associated forever with the singer. It is excellent. "Pirate Ships" and "Love Has Got Me" also are fine tunes. »· "Insane Asylum" by Kathi McDonald ( C a p i t o l ST- 11224) is a freaky rocker that puts Ms. McDonald into the group of "the-next-Janis-Joplin" female singers. Ms. McDonald lives in Mill Valley, Calif., with Joni Mitchell and a former San Francisco Cockette (a female- impersonater dancer). Her debut album features some excellent musicians and a very good song cowritten by the singer. "Bogart to Bowie" is the singer's lament of current trends in dress and attitude. "How can I be a woman when you won't be a man?" she moans. It is filled with humor, and Bobbye Hall's percussion work on the cut is excellent. "To Love Somebody" and l l j Heartbreak'Hotel-" also are · Disc-cussion excellent, as is the title tune, which was written by Willie Dixon. The best cut, however, is Neil Young's "Down to the Wire" with its easy yet tight music and a' feminine vocal as perfect as Young's was on the original. Other musicians on the set include Nils Lofgren, Pete Sears, Ronnie Montrose and John Cipollina. Papa John Creach plays violin on "Freak Lover." Thank goodness, singers like Kathi McDonald are appearing. *· Maggie Bell, who is scheduled to appear in Charleston June 9, has released her first solo LP since Stone the Crows days. It is "Queen of the Night" (Atlantic SD7293). Ms. Bell is the gruff-throated singer who is heir apparent to Janis' crown. It's about time someone filled the void and began singing hard-rockin', musically tight numbers again. There's a place for easy singers, but there's a need for tough female vocalists. Like Kathi McDonald, Maggie Bell is a tough singer. The best songs on this album are the first and last ones on Side one. "Caddo Queen" and "Queen of the Night" are perfect vehicles for Ms. Bell's voice, and the music on the cuts is expertly played and excellently arranged and produced. The musicians on the set, including Reggie Young on lead guitar, Hugh McCracken (who appeared with James Taylor in Charleston recently) on rhythm guitar and Barry Goldberg on keyboards, are equal to Janis' Full Tilt Boogie even though they're not a band as such. "After Midnight" on the album is merely adequate and "A Woman Left Lonely" shouldn't have been attempt- e d -- I mean, if people are calling you the new Janis Joplin you just don't sing Joplin material until you're better than she was. And Maggie Bell isn't. Otherwise, the songs are excellent. They appear selected to display a couple of facets of the singer's ability, and that's what a debut album should do. "Queen of the Night" is well above average as a rock album, and it's extraordinary as a debut album. Welcome aboard, Maggie Bell. k Maria Muldaur is both the singer's name and the title of her first solo LP (Reprise MS2148). It takes a little nerve to stick only one's name on an album, especially when it's the first and nobody's likely to recognize the singer. But Maria Mul- daur's got both the nerve and the singing ability to carry it off. The album has been in release for a short while, and already "Midnight at the Oasis" has streaked into the Top Ten. It is only one of 11 excellent cuts on the album. After "Oasis," my favorite cut is "Don't You Feel My Leg (Don't You Ge Me High)," a beer-hall number with humor and some excellent horn work. Two Wendy Waldman tunes, "Vaudeville Man" and "Mad Mad Me", are included, as is a delightful Dr. John ditty called "Three Dollar Bill." This LP definitely is one of the year's best (Rolling Stone's Jon Landau calls it 'one of the half dozen best albums of the year); it's a tasty, listena- ble, distinctive set of songs. There's a good deal of punch and vibrancy in Ms. Mul- daur's songs. "Long Hard Climb" becomes .something entirely different from Helen Reddy's version; Dolly Parton's "My 'Tennessee Mountain Home" takes on new character, and "I Never Did Sing You a Love Song" positively glows. The musicians on this set are excellent, the production is firm yet fine, the care in its preparation is obvious, and Maria Muldaur's voice is a treat on each cut. This album will always be near my turntable. »· A few of the old-time female singers have released new products lately, and some of them are little gems. Linda Ronstadt, who began with the Stone Poney and moved on to be backed by a band that became known as Eagles, has a new album called "Don't Cry Now." The LP (Asylum SD5064) is excellent in every respect. There is not one weak cut, and there are several that are extraordinary. "I Believe in You," for example, is an incredibly beautiful tune, as is Randy Newman's "Sail Away." Miss Ronstadt spent some time floundering as a singer between folk and rock and country before settling on country-rock as her thing. She is the best singer of country-rock there is. In previous albums she has tackled "I Still Miss Someone" and "I Fall to Pieces." Here she does "Silver Threads and Golden Needles" as well as anyone ever will. The arrangements on this album are up-beat, heavy on rhythm, but designed to put the vocal up front where it belongs. Linda Ronstadt handles "I Can Almost See It," which has an excellent harmonica line, and "Love Has No Pride" as the exquisitely-crafted themes they "are, and goes all-out "Memphis horns on "Everybody Loves a Winner," "Colorado" and "The Fast One" are excellent tumes, as is the title number. As a bow to her former backup band, she performs "Desperado" as if it had been hers, not theirs. It's an all-around outstanding set that will establish the singer as a real force in pop music. It's about time. »· Carly Simon, who appeared in Charleston recently with her husband James Taylor, has an album called "Hotcakes" (Elektra 7E- 1002). Critics, when they want to be kind to Ms. Simon, call her work inconsequential. They should lay off the criticism and listen more to her work; much of it is very good. On previous albums, she has written and sung some real gems, including "Anticipation," "That's the Way I've Always Heard It Should Be" and "Legend in Your Own Time." She is best when dealing with material that is personal in n a t u r e . On "Hotcakes," she sings three songs that appear autobiographical, and they are uniformly fine. One, "Older Sist e r / ' concerns sibling rivalry and is pretty honest in its expression of envy for a sister who, simply because of age, gets to ride in the front seat of the car and give hand-me-down clothes to the younger girl. "Grownup" is another expression of longing for advancement in age. The third song is "Think I'm Gonna Have a Baby" and was written while the singer awaited the birth of her first child. It is a personal piece that is quite nice. The hit single, "Mockingbird," also is on the set, as is her new re- Kalhi McDonald. lease, "Haven't Got Time for the Pain." The only inconsequential song on this set is one written by Taylor; it's "Hotcakes," and while the music is interesting, the lyrics are lacking. Carly Simon is a very talented singer-songwriter who shouldn't be dismissed so easily. Finally the music business is attracting some fine female voices. When the singers. can also write, as a few of those mentioned above can, it's an added bonus. The summer listening months promise to be very interesting now that there are some interesting new sounds to mix with the usual male- dominated rock on the airwaves. ; 16s CHARLESTON, W. VA. Wav'2'6:1974. 'Sunday Gazette-Maii

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