Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Soul Coughing: Ruby Vroom [Slash/Warner Bros., 1994]
If it was down to M. Doughty's hipster cynicism and summer-stock declaiming, this would be a novelty act not unlike Tonio K., whose shouted studio speed-rock provided a nonpunk corrective to Jackson Browne. But the music isn't just second-rate poetry-with-fusion backup. Standup bassist Sebastian Steinberg (dig his "Misterioso" under "Casiotone Nation") and chopswise drummer Yuval Gabay (hear him threaten to fly off the track on "Blueeyed Devil") remain up front, while keyb man M'ark De Gli Antoni (that's what it says) orchestrates synthesizer and sampler for atmosphere, commentary, and plain old cheap thrills. Not that the music isn't more compelling when Doughty hits his satiric targets, the easy ones included. A