Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Steve Gibbons Band

  • Caught in the Act [MCA, 1977] B+
  • Down in the Bunker [Polydor, 1978] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Caught in the Act [MCA, 1977]
Neither of Gibbons's first two albums convinced me that the world needed a young Bob Seger--which meant among other things a craftsman who hadn't yet mastered his craft. But this time he's writing 'em and picking 'em with a sharp nose for the cliche. Assholes the world over cover Berry and Dylan on the live album, but they won't risk unrecognized classics like "Tulane" and "Watching the River Flow," which is why they're assholes. And how many other craftsmen could imagine a mock myth called "Gave His Life to Rock 'n' Roll"? B+

Down in the Bunker [Polydor, 1978]
Transvestite to Mickey: "What's it really take to turn you on?" Mickey: "It takes all sorts. . . ." Well now, I've been hearing tales of Gibbons's plainspoken working-class wit for years, but that's the first time he ever zinged me good. And not the last. This postpub retrenchment is strewn with colloquial turns--the words knowing and compassionate, the instrumentation rock and roll understood as a mature language. Of course, the problem with colloquialism is that when inspiration flags even slightly it sounds ordinary, and that happens here, but on the whole this is an extraordinarily inventive step forward. A-