Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Nona Hendryx

  • Nona [RCA Victor, 1983] B+
  • The Art of Defense [RCA Victor, 1984] C+
  • Mutatis Mutandis [Righteous Babe, 2012] ***

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Nona [RCA Victor, 1983]
Charged with curbing Nona's insatiable desire to make rock records, Bill Laswell and Michael Beinhorn were abstemious enough not to make a Material record instead--just a slightly cerebral who-is-that-singing? funk record, with the cerebration mostly Nona's. As you might deduce, it could be smarter, but you can dance to it without losing your mind. B+

The Art of Defense [RCA Victor, 1984]
Nona earns her loyal insider support. She's honest; she cares about the right music and the right issues in the right way. But she just isn't as talented as you wish she was, and on this follow-up her undifferentiated melodies come back to haunt her. Her singing is surprisingly careful. Material's groove surprisingly careful, Material's groove surprisingly straight-ahead, and I can guess why--everybody involved knew how thin the ice was. C+

Mutatis Mutandis [Righteous Babe, 2012]
After a lifetime of well-regarded overstatement, her straight protest album embraces r&b subtleties no one who starts with "Strange Fruit" will believe are there ("When Love Goes to War," "Strange Fruit") ***