Cameron Carpenter: Rock’n’Roll Rewind – The Early Reviews

Cam Profile Pic

Once again we re-wind to 1978 and 1979 and a series of record reviews I wrote for the New Music Magazine. I was still a teenager and the reviews definitely reflect that. I managed to write for every issue of the Chum-funded magazine although many an issue only included a single album review.

I remember going to see The Cars when they made their Toronto debut at The El Mocambo on September 14, 1978. There was a lot of hype about the band and WEA Canada was pulling out all of the stops. When I arrived at the venue my album review was blown up and plastered all over the club. I did praise the record but I think they may have missed some of my sarcasm. The show appeared on the King Biscuit Flower Hour across North America in October of 1978 and it soon became one of the band’s biggest selling bootleg records.

The Cars – Modern Tymes Rock’n’Roll

The Cars LP

“Welcome to the next big thing-The Cars. Who? The Cars are the latest graduates of the Roy Thomas School of Advanced Vocal Harmonies. This five-piece rock band hails from Boston and has just released its debut on Elektra Records, unoriginally titled The Cars. By the time the back-to-school parties start most of you will be finding this record on a lot of turntables. Why? Because the album contains nine hypnotic songs which will drive their way into your hearts.

From the opening cut, Good Times Roll, to the last cut All Mixed Up, the album flows with one constant motion. There are no real ballads to slow things down and no Ramone-rockers which make you want to hit someone. The none songs come at you at the same velocity; in fact there is only a split second between songs and often I didn’t realize that a new song was playing until a new chorus came along.

The major drawback to this album, is that the thing’s too bloody perfect. It reminds me of that obnoxious first album by Boston. And what happened to it is going to happen to this album. Three singles will reach the Top Ten, the band will do a whirlwind U.S./Canada tour and wait two years, or two months, to put together a second album which will probably be called Cars II. If you own a Boston, Foreigner, Queen or Starz album, The Cars are for you. Just remember: when was the last time that you listened to the first Boston album?”

Queen – Jazz – Rock A La Carte

Jazz

“Queen 1 and Queen II, were the Tiffany’s of rock records. Sheer Heart Attack brought Queen down to the Swiss Chalet level, and the three efforts after that, A Night At The Opera, A Day At The Races and News Of The World brought Queen down to the level of McDonald’s. Cheap, easy, unfulfilling rock records. With the release of Jazz Queen has elevated themselves to the ranks of Ponderosa: a cut above McDonald’s but nowhere near the elegance of Tiffany’s.

Jazz opens with a bothersome little hors d’oeuvre called Mustapha. This little vocal exercise by Freddie Mercury belongs on this record about as much as escargot belongs in McDonald’s. After this comes the salad, Fat Bottomed Girls, tasty but still an appetizer. Side One ends with the prime ribs of the album, Bicycle Race, If You Can’t Beat Them and Let Me Entertain You. These three songs epitomize the good rock’n’roll that Queen used to be known for back at the time of their first two albums.

Side two opens with another prime cut, Dead on TimeDreamers Ball, the next track, is like the potato after the meat, a bit of a letdown. Queen serves dessert with another Roger Meadows-Taylor classic, Fun It, but the rest of the side is just filler, except the last cut, which is like a combination after-dinner mint/burp. It’s a nice little rocker that suddenly starts regurgitating little pieces of songs that we’ve already stat through.

For Queen, Jazz is a step in the right direction but is still nowhere close to their first two albums.”

This is the ultimate teenage music snob in training record review. How many of us discovered the cool albums and then were pissed when the band went on to massive popularity? Guilty as charged.

Bryan Ferry – The Bride Stripped Bare – A Sign Of The Times

Bryan Ferry The Bride Stripped Bare

Bryan Ferry was at one time the staple source of energy behind the pre-New-Wave band Roxy Music.”

The Bride Stripped Bare is the latest solo album from Bryan Ferry. The album opens with the lyrically strong rocker Sign Of The Times. The song is reminiscent of Roxy Music but without the strong involvement Roxy would impart to it. The same can be said for the album. Instead of the bride being stripped bare, it is Bryan Ferry who is stripped bare. The underlying simplicity seems to be a contradiction of his Roxy Music days and, indeed, a sign of the times. This new Ferry trend is especially noticeable on the album’s second track Can’t Let Go. A smooth rock ballad aided by an acoustic guitar and an almost inaudible orchestra in the background.

The third track on the album is Hold On (I’m Coming) a nifty little rocker with some good slide guitar y Linda Ronstadt’s sideman, Waddy Wachtel. Next up is the J.J. Cale song, The Same Old Blues, on which Ferry’s vocals are outstanding, as is Watchel’s guitar work.

Side Two opens with a neat funk number Take Me To The River.

After this is That’s How Strong My Love Isa song that sounds like something Tim Curry might do, but Ferry does well with a romantic song and this is one of the strongest cuts on the album.

The best thing about this whole album is the fact that there are no synthesizers, and coming from a man once in Roxy Music, and is again, that’s hard to believe. Take note Eno!”

Have a pint and hear Cam spin cool retro tunes every Wednesday night beginning at 5 PM at The Kensington Lodge

=CC=

Cam’s column appears every Thursday.

Follow Cam on Twitter @CC59.

Contact us at: dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS ButtonCameron Carpenter has written for The New Music Magazine, Music Express, The Asylum, The Varsity, The Eye Opener, The New Edition, Shades, Bomp!, Driven Magazine, FYI Music News, The Daily XY, and New Canadian Music.

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