Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

No New York [Antilles, 1978]
Especially with Adele Bertei on organ, the Contortions can be a great band, extending Ornette Coleman's Dancing in Your Head into real rock and roll territory, and it's exciting to be able to hear them minus James Chance's stupid stage shtick. (Maybe they'll become a studio group, like Steely Dan.) But the rest of this four-band compilation has the taint of marginal avant-gardism: interesting in occasional doses, but not as significant as it pretends to be. Arto Lindsay's hysterical blooze singing holds DNA together--wish they were on side one with the Contortions. I like the relentless music of Mars's "Helen Fordsdale" (the words are incomprehensible even with a lyric sheet, which if the lyric sheet is any indication is just as well) and the paranoid poetry of "Puerto Rican Ghost." And although in the wake of Chance's theme song, "I Can't Stand Myself," I've begun to tolerate Lydia Lunch droning "The leaves are always dead" etc., she credits herself with too much maturity by publishing as Infantunes. Abortunes would be more like it. B+