Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Gang of Four: Hard [Warner Bros., 1983]
This record is damn near dead on its feet, but I don't think the missing ingredient is Hugo Burnham's human chops so much as his humane spirit. The sick-soul-of-success lyrics are part of it--even their most received new-left truisms always had a sloganeering hookiness about them. What really makes the difference, though, is the detachment of Jon King's delivery. If I didn't know better, I'd wonder whether now he really wants to turn into Phil Oakey. And actually, I don't know better. B