Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

When the Sun Goes Down: Poor Man's Heaven [Bluebird, 2003]
As music, the sixth volume in this all-over-the-place RCA series is even more all over the place. But by segregating the showbiz folk up ahead of the folk musicians, it suggests that citified pop dreamers were even angrier about the Great Depression than the rural immiserated. Jug-blowing Mississippi Sarah moaning "this depression has got me," the Cedar Creek Sheik denied credit in his Afro-Swedish accent, and Blind Alfred Reed entering heaven with "How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live?" are all hard hit. But they aren't as bitter as Bob Miller, whose 7,000 published songs included "The Rich Man and the Poor Man" ("Oh the rich man gets acquitted while the poor man gets the rope") and "It Must Be Swell" (death, he means). Between categories is the jazzified title tune by country pro Carson Robinson, which craves not just relief but revenge. Not that I myself would want some number cruncher serving me breakfast. But with a little training maybe he or she could do my filing. A-