Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

John Prine: Bruised Orange [Asylum, 1978]
In the title tune, Prine reports that he's transcended his anger, and I'm happy for him, but a little worried about his music. Common Sense was agitated to the point of psychosis, but it had an obsessive logic nevertheless. Here Prine sounds like he's singing us bedtime stories, and while the gently humorous mood is attractive, at times it makes this "crooked piece of time that we live in" seem as harmless and corny as producer Steve Goodman's background moves; no accident that the closer, "The Hobo Song," is Prine's most mawkish lyric to date. Still, Edward Lear's got nothing on this boy for meaningful nonsense, and just to prove he's still got the stuff he collaborates with Phil Spector on a surefile standard: "If You Don't Want My Love," with lyrics worthy of its title. B+