Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Half Japanese: 1/2 Gentlemen/Not Beasts [Armageddon, 1980]
Beloved of their art therapist, their parents, Lester Bangs, and whoever owns Armageddon, Jad and David Fair's boxed three-record set is enriched with a poster, a (truncated) lyric sheet, and a one-pic-per-thick-red-page comic entitled "Becky the Monkey." Most of the budget went into the display--the sound suits the one-take learning-our-chords musicianship and vocals that make Jonathan Richman sound like Vaughan Monroe. Originals usually concern girls and sometimes mention artists; covers include "Funky Broadway," "Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out," and "She's Cracked." Also included are several lengthy instrumental experiments and a live disc. Won't these superstars ever learn to boil their self-indulgences down into one tight, well-selected album? C+