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Album Review

Don McLean released several albums between 1981 and 1991, but all of them could be considered side projects, including a live record (Dominion), a compilation containing some new tracks (Greatest Hits Then & Now), a couple of collections of covers (For the Memories and For the Memories, Vols. 1 & 2), a country LP (Love Tracks), and a holiday release (Christmas). What he did not do for ten years was make an album like the ones he was known for, consisting entirely or mostly of his own original material. Headroom, with ten new McLean compositions, was his first such recording since 1981's Believers. On it, this 45-year-old '60s liberal looked at America a decade into the Reagan/Bush years and did not like what he saw. His criticism began with the lead-off title song, which featured topical lyrics touching on such contemporary matters as the Savings & Loan scandal, set to a rock & roll arrangement. The second song, "Fashion Victim," had a synthesized dance/pop sound, all the better to support a lyric attacking media trends in the social and political realms. "How did the land of Jefferson, how did the land of King/Become the land of hamburgers and raisins that can sing?," McLean asked. "Roosevelt was crippled, Lincoln was a geek/They'd never get elected, their clothes were never chic." The musical track might have sounded like something on MTV, but it wasn't likely to turn up there, and that was the idea. Next came the ballad "1967," in which a man recalled his friend who went to Vietnam with him and never came back. After this trio of socially conscious and bitter songs, the album turned somewhat more philosophical and occasionally romantic, including the love songs "One in a Row" and "Siamese Twins (Joined at the Heart)," but Headroom remained, on the whole, a collection of bitingly critical songs on which McLean, with his usual eloquence, set out his indictment of the state of things, circa 1991.


Born: 02 October 1945 in New Rochelle, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Famed for -- and ultimately defined by -- his perennial "American Pie," singer/songwriter Don McLean was born October 2, 1945, in New Rochelle, New York. After getting his start in the folk clubs of New York City during the mid-'60s, McLean struggled for a number of years, building a small following through his work with Pete Seeger on the Clearwater, a sloop that sailed up and down the eastern seaboard to promote environmental causes. Still, McLean was primarily singing in elementary schools and...
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Headroom, Don McLean
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