Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Del-Lords: Get Tough: The Best of the Del-Lords [Restless, 1999]
If 15 years later the anthem that goes "I believe that there's a heaven before I'm dead" seems almost as naive as the anti-imperialist title song, well, these guys were more a straw to be grasped than a future to be seized even at the time--an American version of the Clash just as the Clash was headed for the shredder, substituting for rootsy punk formalism a full embrace of rock and roll and its sources. Leader Scott Kempner and believer Eric Ambel were never dead-on songwriters or overwhelming singers, so this distillation is the perfect place to recall just how humanistic the straight stuff can be. Slightly out of time in their time, today they're just as likely to make you ask why the hell it couldn't happen again. A-