Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Judds

  • Wynonna and Naomi [RCA Victor EP, 1984] A-
  • Why Not Me? [RCA Victor, 1984] B
  • Heart Land [RCA Victor, 1987] C
  • Greatest Hits [RCA Victor, 1988] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Wynonna and Naomi [RCA Victor EP, 1984]
They've got a gimmick--not only are they a mother-and-daughter act, you can't tell who's who. But the music's simply solid--three fine ones plus three pretty good ones equals the most actively pleasurable Nashville of the year. I especially like the way "Isn't He a Strange One" and "Mama He's Crazy" tweak the same trope twice. A-

Why Not Me? [RCA Victor, 1984]
They harmonize with uncanny consanguinity. Their six-piece production is neotraditionalist (which in Nashville means liberal, right?), totally violinless (fiddleless, even). But after defying convention by indulging not a single soppy song on their tryout EP, they've flabbed the follow-up several times. And I bet they get even more complacent. B

Heart Land [RCA Victor, 1987]
This which-one-had-the-baby mother-and-daughter act was cute for about fifteen minutes. They've long since revealed themselves as neotraditionalism's most shameless nostalgia pimps, and the only way their sexual politics could get more disgusting is if their songwriters slipped them wife-swapping jokes. To honor this achievement, their label herewith institutes a nine-track limit for country LPs. I remember when twelve down to eleven was a scandal, and submit that in this case like so many others zero might be a more socially responsible target. C

Greatest Hits [RCA Victor, 1988]
Although it recycles a full one third of their only worthwhile long player (their debut mini) and returns to life both "Love Is Alive" (". . . at the breakfast table" vomit) and "Grandpa (Tell Me 'Bout the Good Old Days)" ("Did families really bow their heads to pray?" fuck goddamn), this is pretty close to a worthwhile long player itself. Even at their most neocon they sound confidently prog-trad, and they have a knack for finding tunes that transcend their titles. B+