Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Hamell on Trial: The Happiest Man in the World [New West, 2014]
Aside from the protest song itself, not a dud in 13, although the rock-and-rolling solo-acoustic leadoff "Artist in America"--"I fought the law and the law won, and my mailbox read Mr. Pitiful. Fulfilling the prophecy of the bad moon on the rise, I had lost my race with the devil, I was moaning at midnight, I was Mr. Dyingly Sad . . ."--does tend to blow the rest away. So listen up. The album rocks frantically even though there are drums on only two tracks. It includes five songs about the lowlifes he knows so intimately, including the title manifesto and the feminist "Jennifer's Strippin' Again." "Gods at Odds" is feminist, too--matrideistic, even. "Mom's Hot" features his son Detroit and lusts after women or a woman missing a total of one leg and one breast. A-