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December 10, 1976     The Texas Sun
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December 10, 1976
 

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14 ii 'i NO ONE HAS CHRISTMAS CARDS LIKE THE a and Gift Shop in Dobie Mall Mon-.Sat 10.9 477:0343 ....... by Bill Bentley Lou Reed, Rock and Roll Heart [Arista]. The Godfather of New York rock drops back five and punts. Or: Without the message, the musical medium becomes superfluous. Since his halycon days in the you-know- whos. Lou Reed has--more often than not- pulled his punches. At their best, the Velvets juggled irony and innocence as if the two were meant to exist side-by-side. (Best example: In "Heroin," Reed threw up his arms after taking his shot, singing "Well, I think but I just don't know." How's that for innocence?) On Rock and Roll Heart, somnambulance seems to take the upper hand. It could be a case of calculations over the proper amputations; but it's not "alllll right." In a phrase: Respectful redundancy. 6. Elvin Bishop, Hometown Boy Makes Good [Capricorn]. Bishop mixes more elements into his Southern rock than your other high-ridin' Dixie bands. Compared to Skynyrd's bully tactics and Wet Willie's simplistic str.ut, Bishop & Band sound close to complex. So despite the almost ordinary strength of the elpee--and lacking the bouncy goofiness that used to mark Pigboy Crabshaw as a card--hometown boy Bishop does make good, yes, but not great. 71/2. Rusty Wier, Black Hat Saloon [Columbia] Easy-listening outlaw muzak. It was bound to happen. 3. Billy Preston |A&M]. By way of musical explanation, try to imagine this difference. Where K.C. and the Sunshine Band probably spent their formative years backing up chitlin' circuit groups like the Juicy Fruits or the Temptuous Tantalizers, Billy Preston fronted for the Man himself, Ray Charles. The effects show: K.C. now has a locked-down formula and runs one of the best dance machines in the country (not necessarily a compliment). Preston opts for a bit more eclecticism, not always success- fully, and in the long run proves himself much more his own man. 7. Freddy Fender, If You're Ever in Texas [ABC-Dot]. That's right, Freddy; if you're ever in Texas you can hear a hot-blooded, authentico mix of norteno and country music. Not the saccarhine, MOR meander- ings that maestro Huey P. Meaux has Fender crooning here. Count on one luke-box hit a year from el Freddy (he's won the "Best Box Tune of the Year" twice), and LPs full of forgetable--albeit inoffensive-- product. 5. Arlo Guthrie, Amigo {Reprise]. Diligence has paid off for Arlo Guthrie. Other neo-folkies have fished around for trends like bounty hunters looking for a new score. Guthrie has kept his nose in front of his face and developed a personal voice, obviously Dylan-influenced, but still his own. Amigo is his most expansive set yet. 8 . Stevie Wonder, Song in the Key of Life [Motown, T-13-34062]. Twenty- one songs in the key of life. An album truly worth waiting two years for. Stevie seems to be acutely aware that as a performer, he can relay political and philosophical messages that carry weight and credence. For those of you who miss Black history listen to "Black Man" and become enlightened. And Black men who are still hung up over the worth and value of their mates may be sensitized by '~Ebony Eyes," which is a loving tribute to Black women. Songs like 'Tillage Ghetto Land," '%ove's in Need of Love Today," The Manhattan Transfer, Coming Out [Atlantic]. If you've got to get stylish, it might as well be with the Manhattan Transfer. Camp gets coupled with an uptown ambience, a dash of R&B and pristine production from Richard Perry. Replacing the stiffness of their first release, the Transfer shake a bit more action here, a svelte sort of highstepping. 8. Alexander Harvey, Preshus Child [Kama Sutra]. Usually in the background when'the lists of the lonesome on'ry and meanies are made up, Alexander Harvey can stay up with the best of them. He keeps his hardluck tales honed down to a fine edge, gives his vocals an extra kick and stays away from the dross that often is the bane of C&W. Progressivism be damned, for modernism in NhshviUe music, Harvey-- along with only a handful of others--is the real thing. 8. Jimmy Cliff, In Concert the Best of [Reprise]. When careers begin to have the sign of slowing down--as Cliff's has since his film The Harder They Come started losing its impact and the reggae floodgates were opened--it was only natural for the singer to gather his better songs together for a single shot. After all, Cliff's material has been his biggest problem of late. In concert, he still catches the tension and dynamism of the movie's Ivan, his presence tightly wound and his singing strong and free. All of which is only minimally captured on this live set. No doubt, these ten tunes are among his best, but the necessary volatilism is lost. (Suggested substitute: A&M's Wonderful World, Beautiful People. A J amaican hall-of-famer.) 6 . '"Saturn," and "Have a Talk with God" also reveal a maturity of thought. Other musicians adding their talent and inspiration included Herbie Hancock, Bobbi Humphrey, George Bensen, Bobbye Hall, Syree- ta Wright and Minnie Riperton. But not all this LP contains heavy, social commentary. For example, "Isn't She Lovely" is a touching piece about his daughter Aisha, and I Wish" (which is going strong on all the record charts) is a right-on-time Wonder classic that bemoans the loss of childhood. John E. Dee Producer Soul on F.M." I i A New Book By Michael Ventura Dan Hubig AVAILABLE AT BOOKSTORES EVERYWHERE Austin Sun Press 306 W. 16th Austin,Texas 78701 2908 San Gabriel We carry a complete line of camping and backpacking equipment and outdoor sportswear. Choose from our selection of lightweight tents, sleeping bags, packs, cooksets, knives, stoves, books, boots, parkas, sweaters, canoes and accessories. OPEN MON.-SAT. 9-6 THURS. 9-9 Inquire about our backpacking equipment rental. 476-3712