Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

Consumer Guide:
  User's Guide
  Grades 1990-
  Grades 1969-89
  And It Don't Stop
  Book Reports
  Is It Still Good to Ya?
  Going Into the City
  Consumer Guide: 90s
  Grown Up All Wrong
  Consumer Guide: 80s
  Consumer Guide: 70s
  Any Old Way You Choose It
  Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough
Xgau Sez
  And It Don't Stop
  CG Columns
  Rock&Roll& [new]
  Rock&Roll& [old]
  Music Essays
  Music Reviews
  Book Reviews
  NAJP Blog
  Rolling Stone
  Video Reviews
  Pazz & Jop
Web Site:
  Site Map
  What's New?
Carola Dibbell:
  Carola's Website
CG Search:
Google Search:

Consumer Guide Album

Chaka Khan: Epiphany: The Best of Chaka Khan Volume One [Reprise, 1996]
Of her enormous gift there's no question--not just a sumptuous voice, those are commonplace, but sonic character. She sounds somehow nasal, sensuous, and "trained" all at once, like Sarah Vaughan with adenoids, and also with the rhythmic hots. On her great Rufus tracks (cf. MCA's best-of) Khan was uninhibited enough to sing funkier than any woman since. But though the solo "Ain't Nobody" and "I'm Every Woman" and "I Feel for You" top "Once You Get Started" if not "Tell Me Something Good" (wisely reprised live here), too often she's striven toward vacuity, as on the "five new songs" her label stickers so proudly--when she signs on with David Foster or asks Arif Mardin to do up a ballad for her, I remember that her voice also reminds me of Heatwave's synthesizer. But Luther Vandross, Melle Mel, Bird 'n' Diz, even Billie Holiday--these tributes and collaborations she's been equal to. Makes you wonder. A-