Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Howard Tate: Get It While You Can: The Legendary Sessions [Mercury, 1995]
The CD biz caught up with both Great Lost Soul Men in 1995. Razor & Tie's The Essential James Carr documents a Memphis depressive who feels everything and understands nothing, and although the half that wasn't on Blue Side's 1987 At the Dark End of the Street is markedly less distinctive than the half that was, it'll sure make you wonder what Eddie Vedder has to get so upset about. Tate is a blues-drenched Macon native who had the desire to head north and sounds it every time he gooses a lament with one of the trademark keens that signify the escape he never achieved. He brought out the best in soul pro Jerry Ragovoy, who made Tate's records jump instead of arranging them into submission, and gave him lyrics with some wit to them besides. In return, Ragovoy brought out the best in Tate. So corporate politics be damned--I'm docking this a notch for ignoring their great lost '72 Atlantic collaboration. A-