Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Selecter

  • Too Much Pressure [Chrysalis, 1980] A-
  • Celebrate the Bullet [Chrysalis, 1981] B-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Too Much Pressure [Chrysalis, 1980]
Except for songwriter-guitarist Neol Davies, these two-toners are black, reassuring in a movement that calls up fears of folkie patronization. Lead singer's a woman, too, a refreshing piece of progress no matter how self-consciously progressive its motives. Taking a folkie risk like their confreres the Specials, they honor their undercapitalized roots by emulating the two-track sound of the cult hits they love. Fortunately, Davies has an amazing ability to recapture the ska spirit without pretending it's 1965--impossible to tell whether "Time Hard" or "Too Much Pressure" is the new one without external clues--and it saves them, just barely. Play loud. A-

Celebrate the Bullet [Chrysalis, 1981]
With Pauline Black fallen under the influence of Lene Lovich and the groove wavering along with her, it's up to the songwriting. Which features more dreams, water, reflections, stormy weather, and "jagged imagery" than is healthy for bomb scare victims or ska bands. B-