Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Bellamy Brothers

  • Greatest Hits [MCA, 1982] B+
  • Strong Weakness [Elektra, 1983] B
  • Greatest Hits Volume Two [Curb, 1986] B+
  • Howard and David [Curb, 1986] B+
  • Greatest Hits Volume III [Curb, 1989] B-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Greatest Hits [MCA, 1982]
Shameless, hooky, and slick, their country is about as pure as Mike Curb, who signed them, but if you can resist "If I Said You Had a Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me" you don't eat fried food, and I say the hell with you. Nonpuritans are directed to "Get Into Reggae Cowboy," which I'm glad I never heard on the radio because it might have palled there--in controlled doses it's the equal of "Lovers Live Longer" and "Redneck Girl." B+

Strong Weakness [Elektra, 1983]
The problem with the lesser songs of these country slickers isn't that they're too dumb--it's that they're not dumb enough. I love their harmonies, but I prefer to keep their minds at a safe distance. B

Greatest Hits Volume Two [Curb, 1986]
Whatever its pretensions, all country music offers the same primary reward: tuneful variations on the verities of the ordinary. These harmonizing eclectics sometimes outdo themselves. The rueful, nostalgic "Old Hippie" is Nashville's own "Born in the U.S.A."--"He ain't tryin' to change nobody/He's just tryin' to adjust"--and "Lie to You for Your Love" is a generic paradox that puts their strong weakness for ass-man smarm in perspective. Climax: "I Love Her Mind"--because her mind controls her body, naturally. B+

Howard and David [Curb, 1986]
The untoward success of Dwight Yoakam sent me scurrying to my shelves to compare and contrast. And from next big purist Pake McEntire to last big expurists the Judds, from Hollywood celeb Kenny Rogers to Nashville everyman Mel McDaniel, from who-he? T. Graham Brown to whoo-ee Waylon Jennings, these harmonizing eclectics were as good as I could find. Which ain't great and never has been, but will do. No matter its pretensions, all country music has the same primary reward: tuneful variations on the verities of the ordinary. The second side, which proceeds from a Marshall Crenshaw cover to the generic paradox of "I Would Lie for Your Love" to the rueful "Old Hippie" to filler, is exemplary. B+

Greatest Hits Volume III [Curb, 1989]
As they paunch out, they're passable humorists in "Hillbilly Hell" and fascinating sociologists-cum-chroniclers in "Rebels Without a Clue" and "Kids of the Baby Boom." But their harmonies have never had that fraternal magic, a failing that renders their maturing love songs inoperable. B-