- WINGS: WINGS AT THE SPEED OF SOUND: 1976: 2 1/2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: This is a poor album that has a few highlights that save it. It reminds me of the CCR album Mardi Gras where John Fogerty to prove a point let the rest of the band participate in the songwriting and singing. Reacting to criticism that Wings was just a glorified name for Paul McCartney albums- he let everyone including wife Linda sing songs on it. Out of the 11 songs only 6 are sung by James Paul. There are the two side openers and huge hits Silly Love Songs and Let’Em In but little else to recommend – but the album did go to #1 on the album charts.
- HOOTIE AND THE BLOWFISH: CRACKED REAR VIEW: 1994: 4 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: This album sold something around 15 million copies- and it was hard to avoid in the mid 90’s- it seemed like every song on the radio was either Hootie or Alanis. A nice pleasant pop album. I really grew tired back then of hearing them-overplay but i drag it out every year or so and listen to it and it’s a pretty good album. They were also predictable- you just knew they would never duplicate their success- although Darius Rucker has gone on to a successful country music career. I am sure the Dolphins still make him cry. 25 years later they are still awful.
- SAM COOKE: PORTRAIT OF A LEGEND 1951-64: 2003: 5 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: What a great singer Sam Cooke was- and another casualty of the 60’s shot to death at 33 in 1964. My first Sam Cooke was the fine Best of Sam Cooke which I bought back in the late 70’s- this is a big improvement because it takes in his entire career-30 songs in nearly 80 minutes. For those wanting more there is a box set out there.
- THE DECEMBERISTS: THE HAZARDS OF LOVE: 2009: 4 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: The Decemberists have always to me been consistently good and they always seem to be ambitious. In this case an album another rock opera like their previous album The Crane Wife. The theme here is a love story for the most part a successful and listenable album. Some critics believe they are a little too smart for themselves.
- DAVID & DAVID: BOOMTOWN:1986: 4 1/2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: I heard the single “Boomtown” on the local rock station back in 1986 and was impressed enough to just buy the album soon thereafter. An album of songs about people in hard times. The two best songs on the album come right at the beginning with Boomtown and Swallowed By The Cracks but the entire album is enjoyable. They have never released another album. There were reports they were working on the follow up in 2016 but three years later it has yet to appear. Axel Rose must be somehow involved.
- THE RASCALS: FREEDOM SUITE: 1969: 3 1/2 STARS OUT OF 5 STARS: The Rascal’s are remembered not for their albums but for their singles. From 1965-71 they placed 18 singles into the Hot 100 with 13 reaching the Top 40 and 3 #1’s- they were very successful but like The Lovin’ Spoonful for example -a band known then and now for singles not albums. With Freedom Suite they were trying to remedy that-it was a double album- the first one a regular album of songs- the second long instrumentals which can be skipped. It is an attempt at a concept album- influenced by the very political year and events of 1968. Successful in some ways especially with the big #1 chartbuster ‘People Got To Be Free.”