Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Jerry Butler: Only the Strong Survive: The Legendary Philadelphia Hits [Mercury, 1984]
Like Billy Paul, who struggled vainly to fill his slot at Gamble & Huff Inc., Butler was pretty jazzy for pop, but unlike Paul he wasn't vain about it--instead of italicizing the artistry of his big voice, he phrases so you can hear him talkin' to ya. And of course it's just this unassuming sophistication, this taste too considerate to acknowledge its own exquisiteness, that makes a simple 12-hit chronology so imposing. Dream merchant indeed. A-