Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Robert Gordon

  • Rock Billy Boogie [RCA Victor, 1979] B
  • Bad Boy [RCA Victor, 1980] C+
  • Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die [RCA Victor, 1982] B-

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Rock Billy Boogie [RCA Victor, 1979]
Gordon's nouveau rockabilly has always been a mite slick and a mite fast, and this is his best album because he's no longer hiding it--his blown notes are just blown notes, not stigmata of authenticity. Credit Chris Spedding's unnaturally adaptable guitar, which drives the music more aptly than Link Wray's raw protohippie licks, authentic though they may have been. I mean, half the time Gordon actually sounds as though he belongs there. Blows some notes, though. B

Bad Boy [RCA Victor, 1980]
As our increased familiarity and his increased facility reduce his dependence on ironic context, he becomes unnecessary--totally unnecessary, I mean. Sure he uses his excellent voice better than genre loyalists give him credit for. But that makes him either a "real" rockabilly or an interpreter with moldy-fig tastes--competition for either Ray Campi or Roomful of Blues. I mean, like wow. He was more interesting, and more emotionally effective, as a joke with no punch line. C+

Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die [RCA Victor, 1982]
A shame Brian Setzer beat him to it, I suppose. But given his by-now veteran status and RCA's failure to beef things up with the rockabilly ballads that have always set him apart from the other cats, this compilation has four too many words in its title. B-