Bob Dylan has always sealed his decisions with the unexplainable. His motives for withholding the release of the magnificent 'Basement Tapes' will be as forever obscure as Brian Wilson's reasons for the destruction of the tapes for 'Smile.'
James Taylor may be an all-American boy but he isn't Horatio Alger, and the lionizing of many rock stars by the rock press has as much to do with old fashioned rags-to-riches stories as does the straight culture's deification of its idols.
I saw rock n' roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen.
Bob Dylan may be the Charlie Chaplin of rock n' roll. Both men are regarded as geniuses by their entire audience. Both were proclaimed revolutionaries for their early work and subjected to exhaustive attack when later works were thought to be inferior. Both developed their art without so much as a nodding glance toward their peers.
The Who, England's most self-conscious band, have released 'Quadrophenia,' which in turn freezes in time our image of the mid-Sixties Mod sensibility.
In the end, the sign of Aretha Franklin's artistry is that she always leaves her mark - first, on the music, then on us.
The only criticism heard with any frequency of Elton John's first American album, 'Elton John,' was that the production was too grandiose. The melodies were superb, and lyrics frequently very good, and the performances flawless.
The early Bob Dylan was compulsively drawn to the conflict between stability and the search for immortality.
Elton John can be a master of the sleight of hand. The arrangements make it seem like there are substantial melodies underneath the tracks - but almost nothing demands repeated listenings. Similarly, he always sounds like he's singing up a storm, but his voice glosses over the material, reducing most things to an uninteresting sameness.
It is by now beyond question that Elton John is a competent and classy entertainer. Few people who have achieved his popularity have succeeded in maintaining his standards for performance and professionalism.
Often, equipment can as easily function as a security blanket for musicians unwilling or unable to risk anything personal in the studio. Whether one catches the feeling on a record is a subjective matter. How can you be sure? The machinery can hold out the promise of at least mechanical perfection.
On the surface, rock and roll changes at an amazing pace. The influence of a figure like the Maharishi can appear and disappear in a matter of months. Talk about old fashioned rock and roll finds itself dead before it begins.
One gets the impression that Elvis Presley does what his business advisors think will be most profitable. My advice to them: Put Elvis Presley in the studio with a bunch of good, contemporary rockers, lock the studio up, and tell him he can't come out until he's done made an album that rocks from beginning to end.
The early Stones were adolescent rockers. They were self-conscious in an obvious and unpretentious way. And they were committed to a musical style that needed no justification because it came so naturally to them. As they grew musically the mere repetition of old rock and blues tunes became increasingly less satisfying.
The Rolling Stones have been the best of all possible worlds: they have the lack of pretension and sentimentality associated with the blues, the rawness and toughness of hard rock, and the depth which always makes you feel that they are in the midst of saying something. They have never impressed me as being kitsch.
What makes the Stones' arrogance so divine is that we all believe that long ago and far away they weren't rich and famous but poor and struggling, just like us.
There is a 'patrician arrogance' to James Taylor that accounts in part for his popularity while it at the same time explains the critical resistance to his work.
'Let's Get It On' is a classic Motown single, endlessly repeatable and always enjoyable.
My ambition was to be a record producer, and I had started doing that in the late '60s with my work with the MC5 and my friend Livingston Taylor.
As a performing group, the Beatles began by playing old rock favorites, for dancing, to tough audiences in Liverpool and Hamburg. When they began writing seriously, they discovered that they couldn't compose in the early American rock tradition.