Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Pete Townshend

  • All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes [Atco, 1982] D+
  • Psychoderelict [Atlantic, 1993] Dud
  • Psychoderelict (Music Only) [Atlantic, 1993] C+

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes [Atco, 1982]
What intelligence must have gone into this album! What craft! What personal suffering! What tax-deductible business expenditure! In 1982, at 37, Townshend has somehow managed to conceive, record, and release a confessional song suite the pretentiousness of which could barely be imagined by an acid-damaged Bard drama major. That is, it's pretentious at an unprecedented level of difficulty--you have to pay years of dues before you can twist such long words into such unlikely rhymes and images and marshal arrangements of such intricate meaninglessness. A stupendous achievement. D+

Psychoderelict [Atlantic, 1993] Dud

Psychoderelict (Music Only) [Atlantic, 1993]
Shorn of the voice-overs and bad dialogue designed to make the "dramatic" version as explicit as multileveled self-referentiality can be, what I'd dreamed might be his sparest, strongest, sweetest set of songs in years turns out to have needed all the camouflage it could get. It's long been evident that what turned Tornshend on about pop art was the art rather than the pop--he didn't want to drag opera down to rock's level, he wanted to raise rock to opera's. In practice, this means he has a fatal weakness for long synth intros. After the jagged surprises of the lead "English Boy," there are far fewer intelligent moments than a guy this intelligent out to keep in his back pocket. If he's so damn worried about the postinformation age, it's because he's in the information business and is afread of getting left behind. And he damn well should be. C+

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