Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Millie Jackson: Totally Unrestricted! The Millie Jackson Anthology [Rhino, 1997]
Maybe the reason rock fans have never gotten this brassy, bawdy, moralistic yenta isn't that she's too black but that she's too country--starting with 1974's Caught Up, she's adapted a powerful yet not finally distinctive delivery to half-spoken sexual-domestic minidramas that still sell tickets in the South, often as fully scripted theater pieces. Of course, I mean country in worldview, not geography. The implicit locale here is the kind of black lower-middle class neighborhood that takes another hit with each new "economic downturn"--in bed as everywhere else. Jackson describes this world as if she's internalized Billie Holiday on God blessing the child. She's not nice or even all that compassionate about it. She's just strong, convinced that good feelings have to be stored up against times of trouble like everything else. A-