A rare week for on aging rocker
By BRUCE POLLOCK
' . Ocassmnally. down here in the dog days of rock
n roll 8 endless doldrums. you come into a week
like this, when every other day brings a long-
antncnpated album. a must-play disc that hops from
postman to turntable‘without its requisite three
months in the circular file.
An LP or two like that every six months or so is
what keeps us rock critics forever young. gurgling
like a schoolkid over the latest by Dylan when he
was gonng from folk to electric. the new one by the
Beatles when they were moving from rock to
eclectic. the new, imported second one by Kate
Bush. who just might be another Laura N yro—the
new one by Laura Nyro (or the Laura Nyro
interview! ) It‘s what makes us crazy about the
proeess. believers in a never—ending dream, and
wulling to suffer the trash and the cacaphony disco
that dominates the circular file.
But never in my 23-year career as a teen-ager
(second only to Dick Clark) have I come upon such a
delerious week as the one just past. Not only have I,
as an individual crazy been rejuvenated. ready to
buy myself an iridescent imitation nylon high-school
Zipper jacket and love my radio again. but so have
the individual rock ’n‘ rollers represented on tour
(count 'em) such eminently playable discs to come
hurtling from four labels, each the rejuvenated
product of an aging vet (or group of vetS).
Didn't i always tell you rock ‘n‘ roll was wasted
on the young?
The Who—Face Dancer (Warner Brothers)
I mean, when you stop to contemplate it, why
not'.’ If it's rage you're thinking ol‘. that makes this
thing called rock ‘n‘ roll tick. adolescent rage is
pretty damn tame compared to l'ull-grown-mature-
man-child-growing-old frustration. I mean, ‘take out
the papers and the trash‘ compounded to the nth
degree! Nobody knows this better than Pete
Townshend. His battles with the mythology of
adulthood take rock into an entirely barren field.
See. every other post30 rocker must have felt
compelled to follow the drift, into the California hills
of obscurity, or complaccency. growing fat with
Jackson Browne or decadent with the Eagles. Not
much good bone-hard rock in that. Townshend has
stayed closer to his roots. The middle class muddle.
always a festering ground for the seeds of angry
rock. The Who are his night out with the boys, his
weekly card-game, softball league. escape clause.
He's not about to let go of them. This one's for all the
old fogeys who can still show the young fogeys a
thing or two in one on one.
J amen Taylor-Dad Loves His Work (CBS)
The title of the year—the back cover photo of the
year (the year being still young yet). But Taylor
seems to feel some guilt about his chosen line of
work. Not a man’s way to earn a living, easy money.
Like he ought to be working in a foundry. Or maybe
it's all the same to him. Producing assembly-line
songs like some Motown mediocrity. Surely some
years his albums have gone down that way. easy
glibness from a remarkable motherlode of talent—
Edsels of the imagination. Not this year. This year
he’s honed his wits into a Ferrari (while the record
industry continues on its Chrysler pace ). And it’s a
good thing, too, because, otherwise. Taylor's life. in
song anyway, seems to be sliding down the tubes.
You never know how much to take of anyone‘s songs
as pure autobiography. but some of these invite
speculation. When he tosses off a line like “She gets
the house and the gardenhe gets the boys in the
band,“ You immediately want to send Carly a
condolence card. Meanwhile. if it's divorce that’s
stalking Taylor, or merely a midlife recapitulation.
he sings like a passionate man. especially on "I Will
Follow" and "Her Town T00" and “London Town. "
Phoebe Snow—Rock Away (Mirage)
Phoebe Snow has been off the circuit for a while
to partake of the stronger music of motherhood. By
the results herein the transition has only aided her
already able and willing pipes. She comes out
rocking—joyous and robust. (Ann Murray‘s career
also came into an unprecedented fruition upon the
occasion of giving birth.) Pheobe exhibits a maturity
unknown to the dizzy darlings strutting their' stuf f in
the minor leagues of punkish new wave—mere
callow teens. This gal knows the gritty turf as well
or better than any of them. the gutter lowlives. the
runarounds. Any number of hit sounds. My own
favorite is the Allen Toussaint song, ”Shoo Rah Shoo
Rah." which sounds Biblical.
Garland Jeffreys-Escape Artist (Epic)
When the man speaks of escaping from Brooklyn.
the man is speaking directly to me. I know where
he's coming from. Sheepshead Bay, to put it on a
map. Sheepshead Bay of the soul. To escape from
that bleak locale (although the smell of lobsters at
Lundy‘s isn‘t all that bad) Jelfreys has gone all the
way to Paris for his latest batch of street laments
and celebrations. At times he‘s a bit too prone to
spell everything out (in fact spelling out l-o-v-e-r-s to
begin side oneand r-o-c-k to star. side two ). Maybe
it‘s because he‘s been out there, on that fishy reef of
vulnerability. reggae-inspired mulatto strung-out
outcast cast-out alienation, for so many quality
years—since way before it was chic. If the man has
given upon his audience. who could blame him.
Lucky for us he never gave up on the music.
BRUCE POLLOCK writes on the rock and pop
scene for Gonnett Westchester Rockland Newspapers.