Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Linton Kwesi Johnson: Live in Paris With the Dennis Bovell Dub Band [Wrasse, 2005]
Though he's only released two albums since his last live one, 20 years ago now, LKJ retains the calm confidence with which savvy ideologues generate authority--so much more convincing in the long run than fervent rhetoric. With leftists everywhere twisting in anxiety or flailing out in defensive contempt, his voice alone is a comfort; announcing "a couple of old anti-fascist numbers" or matter-of-factly explaining the economic program that will bring everyone the precious gift of "more time," he sounds so intelligent, decent, and uncompromised that you feel political struggle can be a sane and rewarding life choice. His voice quieter but undiminished, his band subtler but no less tricky or effective, he unblushingly repeats five songs from the 1985 set, and although I wish he'd tapped Tings an' Times more--"Sense Outa Nansense," certainly--I sure didn't mind hearing the early material again. A-