Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Mother Earth

  • Make a Joyful Noise [Mercury, 1969] A
  • Satisfied [Mercury, 1970] A-
  • Bring Me Home [Reprise, 1971] B+

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Make a Joyful Noise [Mercury, 1969]
Another excellent album from this underrated group. The "city" side is like much of "Living with the Animals" and the "country" side is almost what it says, including two superb songs by R. P. St. John. It is even better, on the whole, than . . . [Mother Earth Presents Tracy Nelson Country] A

Satisfied [Mercury, 1970]
Tracy Nelson doesn't touch everyone, but once she does, she carries you away. She can be sexual and spiritual not successively but on the same note and breath; she seems to suffer and to transcend suffering simultaneously. Vocally, Mother Earth is now Tracy Nelson, and although in theory I miss the male voices--especially Robert St. John's, whose songwriting always added something too--I'm not really complaining. Yet this record is a slight disappointment. I love it, but I know that my prejudices are strong and that only once--on her own composition, "Andy's Song"--does Tracy burst calmly into free space as she does so often on the two previous Mother Earth lps and on Tracy Nelson Country. Recommended unequivocally to her cadre and equivocally to the benighted. A-

Bring Me Home [Reprise, 1971]
On the face of it this is a slight improvement, introducing three major songs--the Eric Kaz side-openers and Steve Young's "Seven Bridges Road." And if the powerful, arresting arrangement of Kaz's "Temptation Took Control of Me and I Fell" isn't as far out as what the original band used to try in San Francisco, it's certainly played with more assurance. Still, when you've boiled it down to backing up a singer and the songs, both had better be special all the time. And they ain't. B+