Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Classic Rock Gold [Hip-O, 2005]
Its 33 tracks duplicate only four acts and one song from Dazed and Confused, to which it cedes the mission of recalling a subculture while it does the dirty job of recapitulating a radio format. At first I was theoretically offended by such pop and new wave ringers as Elton John, Eddie Money, Billy Idol, and the Cars. But the only picks that don't fit are Rod Stewart's "Maggie May," because it's too good, and Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again," because it's too godawful. More than a useful compendium of name bands whose albums you may never play again, it's sonic history. Yes, children, there really was a time when whole radio stations were devoted entirely to brawny-sounding white guys bellowing, moaning, and even singing over electric guitars, electric guitars, and electric guitars. "Born to Be Wild," "American Woman," "Show Me the Way," and "Cold as Ice" you know you love. But watch out. "Hair of the Dog" could grow on you. A-