Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes: Black and Blue [Philadelphia International, 1973]
The lead singer's name is Theodore Pendergrass, not Harold Melvin, which you'd only know by reading Soul or Jet--he's not mentioned anywhere on the record or double-fold jacket. Pendergrass boasts just about the most powerful voice ever to hit soul music, though not the richest or most overwhelming. Although his smashes are dance tunes like "The Love I Lost" and "Satisfaction Guaranteed," his real calling is big ballads, especially ones that assert dependence--"Is There a Place for Me," "I'm Weak for You." But did they have to kick things off with "Cabaret"? B+