Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Asleep at the Wheel: The Wheel [Capitol, 1977]
I began by wondering what unsuspecting big band had provided the horn riff on "Am I High?" and ended by wondering whether they'd made it up themselves, as with so much that is good on this group's most satisfying post-debut. By now the songwriting has become almost straight; you might conceivably find "Somebody Stole His Body" on a white gospel album or "My Baby Think's She's a Train" on a Sun outtake. The distance that remains comes across as healthy, good-humored respect, especially for banality, which with this band often turns into dumb eloquence, as on the love song "I Can't Handle It Now." Inspirational Verse: "In French Baton Rouge might mean red stick/But to me it means broken heart." A-