Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Red Hot + Rhapsody: The Gershwin Groove [Antilles, 1998]
Bacharachians please note: this AIDS-fighting Gershwin tribute is how great songwriters make themselves felt. Beyond near has-beens Bowie and Sinéad and the all-too-inoffensive Natalie Merchant, the contributors are marginal. Spearhead, Sarah Cracknell, Morcheeba, Finlay Quaye, to stick to standouts, flounder as often as they fly. But entrusted with this material they soar or at least flutter about, as do Smoke City and Majestic 12, both previously unknown to me. Defined by keyboard textures from sampledelica to Hammond B-3, this is a seductive showcase of the moody sensibility shared by acid jazz and trip hop. Now if only the sensibility had Gershwins of its own--well, soon they'd no doubt find themselves something better to do. A-