R.A.T.W   Page 13

REFLECTIONS IN A VINYL DISC

DOMESTICS

LED ZEPPELIN 'PRESENCE'

Swansong 8416

Led Zeppelin burst open during their very first tour of the States, back in 1969. Virtually ignored by the serious critics, they have otherwise amassed one of rock's largest followings, and continue to impress fans on an international scale. For the first time in their career, they have released two albums within a year: 'Physical Graffiti' and 'Presence'.

Both bear striking affiliation with each other and offer similar approaches toward a new Zep sound. In the span of seven years, Led Zeppelin have gradually gravitated from heavy metal to heavy acoustic to heavy funk-rock. Somehow, pidgeon-holing the band doesn't work well...shall I just say that Led Zeppelin is a slow progression?

Right from the start, the band bears down with incredible energy. 'Achilles' Last Stand' - the stand-out song of the album, similar in impact to their earlier opuses ('Stairway to Heaven', 'Since I've Been Loving You', 'In the Light') - flows forth from the churning rhythms of Jimmy Page and John Bonham. The tune builds within itself - stopping and starting with maximum effectiveness - capped with a stunning Page solo, urged on with an ascending bass run that picks up the intensity level even more...and Plant's vocalizing maintains the pace of the band, crooning in that high-hard tenor and then soaring into-through his famous banshee-falsetto. A truly inspiring song, - enthusiastically performed. The rest of the album proceeds to display the syncopated - (aka 'funk') rock Led Zep are presently playing, with even customary nod towards the blues ('Tea for One'), but even that sounds familar immediately.

Well   Page, Plant, Jones, & Bonham have
struck again with a well-produced, well-performed, well-packaged ( yea! Hipgnosis) presence. Now, will we have to wait another year?

( P.S. - Best wishes for a continued recovery to Robert Plant & his family.)

Selected Cuts:   'Achilles' Last Stand',
'Nobody's Fault but Mine'

RUSS BALLARD "WINNING"

Epic PE 34063

This is Russ Ballard's second solo album, and like its' title states, is a winning record. Russell has never had trouble writing pleasant tunes-just ask Roger Daltrey; but it did seem that the songs on 'Russ Ballard' were recorded to make a point, said point being his wide-ranging musical abilities. With 'Winning', however, Russ appears to be much more in control of his talent, and assured of his ability. Songs like 'Winning', 'Free At Last' and 'Weekend' are almost bursting with good cheer. It should also be mentioned that Russ no longer seems afraid

to let other people handle some of the playing-, unlike the first album, Russ does not play the drums, bass harmonica, or sing the backing vocals. As a result, there's more of a band sound to the album. All that remains in light of this album, is for Russ Ballard to organize his own band and get back on the road properly. He's got too much talent to be content with being Roger Daltrey's guitarist when Rog tours as a solo artist.

WIN PLACE AND SHOW SELECTIONS: Winning, Fakin' Love, Since You Been Gone (all potential singles)

AYERS ROCK "BEYOND"

A & M SP 4565

A pleasant surprise from the land of the Kangaroo; Ayers Rock have had one album out previously in this country that showed promise but got lost in the charts. They're back again with 'Beyond', a much more sophisticated effort. There is a small army of violin, cello and harp players, all adding to a sound that owes more to jazz than rock.

Taken as a whole, the album is kind of homogenized; since it was recorded in L.A., the similarities to other albums may perhaps be inevitable, but 'Beyond' isn't any imitation. Ayers Rock have their own ideas on song construction, perhaps best exemplified by 'Catchan Emu'.

It's been said that rock is an international language; Ayers Rock prove that point with this heady mixture of sounds, carrying the influences of L.A. along with the rhythms of Melbourne. Good stuff!

SELECT SLICES: 'Angel In Disguise', 'Place To Go', 'Catchan Emu'

NILS LOFGREN 'CRY TOUGH' A & M 4573

When pop-rock (sans 'title') broke through as a major form of rock and roll, it must have left many a young teenager starry-eyed. In the mid-60's, the Beatles, the Stones, the Buffalo Springfield, the Byrds, the Hollies, etc...dr illed roots into the rock and roll idiom,

always unaware of their own impact. They just kept playing music of the moment......til today when there seems to be a purpose or a need for creating exciting music...

Nils Lofgren seems enamored with the 60's...his songwriting style (especially on his last great LP: 'Nils Lofgren') contains that mysterious effervescence that eludes many of his contemporaries...he doesn't maintain a perfect sense of balance, or perhaps even, consistency - but, his belief (and thus, his presentation) in rock can make your ears dance with delight.

'Cry Tough' eases up in the lyrical-melodic vein a bit to let the power of his instrumentation shine through...the punk guitar, once mostly chordal, now becomes a biting counterpart to his sweet, raspy voice...Lofgren squeezes his notes over and under the band, creating an inspiring interplay reminiscent of ( mmmm?) Hendrix...and, his piano work, reflective of his poignant nature, remains simple and spacious, yet always exuberant...plus, with Al Kooper to round out arrangements as producer, the album bears some similarities in sound to Springstein, but without any of the (melo) dramatic dynamics   this album could bring a lot of attention to an up-and-coming underground-hero. Nils Lofgren cries tough!

Selected cuts: 'Cry Tough', 'You Lit a Fire', 'Can't Get Closer'

ELIOT MURPHY "NIGHT LIGHTS" RCA APL 1-1318

The third album from the New York social chronicler, finds Mr. Murphy lost in the streets, searching for romance and communion. The music issues forth bleak and restrained. Eliot prefers to let his stories speak for themselves - very rarely does the instrumentation interfere with Eliot's voice. Sometimes, you could almost beg for relief, but that, no doubt, is part of the urgency that makes Murphy so enigmatic.

...Producer Steve Katz (ex-B.S.T.) has kept musical embellishment to a minimum: i.e. -adding a grade - school chorus on "Isadora's Dancers"   

Jerry Harrison's use of ARP string ensemble is highly evocative ( more so than an orchestra would be - the synthesized-feel is perfect for Murphy's tunes). But Eliot remains the focal point, spitting out his tunes or crooning a pseudo-ballad with an edge of cynical romanticism: a precarious situation that should resolve itself with a few more stronger tunes...sometimes words get caught up in themselves, in an attempt for literal clarification...images become entwined in another, so all that is left of their importance

is Eliot's insistent delivery   Bruce
Springstein (a regular, contemporary model for singer-songwriters), in his early albums, displayed the thin line between 'rock-poetry'

and verbosity   music is the immediate

emotion, and lyrics require that extra few perusals...( printed lyrics must be regarded for more serious deliberation) somehow, a union of the two requires careful preparation and understanding...Eliot Murphy, on 'Night Lights', has almost approached the nexus...

Selected Cuts: 'Diamonds by the Yard'

STEVE HACKETT

"VOYAGE OF THE ACOLYTE" Chrysalis 1112

The long awaited solo venture from Genesis' quiet guitarist offers a captivating semi-departure from the compositions of that band. Aided by band-mates Mike Rutherford and Phil Collins, Hackett explores a variety of moods and sound textures, from the acoustic beauty of 'The Hermit' to the massive buildup drones of the closing song, 'Shadow of the Hierophant'.

Coaxed and sparked by Hackett's subtle intensity 'Voyage of the Acolyte' is a worthy first effort which gives valuable insight concerning his influences on Genesis albums past and present.

Best cuts: 'Ace of Wands', 'Shadow of the Hierophant', 'A Tower Struck Down'

ETHOS

"ETHOS   (ardour)"

Capitol ST    11498

...Ethos is a new addition to the growing ranks of stateside Anglophiles with an inclination for the "progressive rock" genre pioneered by King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, Gentle Giant, etc. Under the songwritingleadership of guitarist, Will

Sharpe,    

'Ethos (ardour)' introduces eight tracks of intricate, finely textured music infused with traces of early grim so and Genesis while maintaining their own character and originality.

Recorded over a two month period in autumn of 1975, 'Ethos (ardour)' reflects the thoughts and efforts of six young artists and one listen will prove this to be no copy group. If they don't take themselves too seriously, Ethos could become very big.

Airplay advocates: 'Space Brothers', 'Spirit of Music', 'Dimension Man'

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