Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Terence Trent D'Arby

  • Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D'Arby [Columbia, 1987] B+
  • Neither Fish Nor Flesh [Columbia, 1989] A-
  • Symphony or Damn [Columbia, 1993] Choice Cuts
  • TTD's Vibrator [Work, 1995] Neither

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent D'Arby [Columbia, 1987]
He can sing sweet or gritty, write sweet, gritty, or pretentious. His rhythms and arrangements show a sense of roots and a sense of style. He's got black consciousness and pop ambition. Which sums up why everybody wants this record to achieve what it promises. Summing up what it does achieve is the best cut, a Smokey Robinson song--which you'll think is his own until you check the fine print. B+

Neither Fish Nor Flesh [Columbia, 1989]
The tortured imagery and spacey affectations of the first five minutes had me regretting my professional obligation to listen to it again. So believe me, I don't love this record for its ambition--I love it for its achievement, which turns out to include the first five minutes. D'Arby's worst lines are so bad they tempt you to believe he'll never straighten out, but in fact there are three or four superb lyrics here, led by "Billy Don't Fall," humbly literal in the face of difference and death. And even at its most forced the music proves D'Arby a master of the black spectrum from the trad r&b of "I'll Be Alright" to the reconstructed Prince-funk of "This Side of Love"--even though psychedelic pop is just as much the album's category. Believe me--if you let his pretensions put you off, you'll be missing something. A-

Symphony or Damn [Columbia, 1993]
"She Kissed Me" Choice Cuts

TTD's Vibrator [Work, 1995] Neither