Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Bus Boys

  • Minimum Wage Rock & Roll [Arista, 1980] B+
  • American Worker [Arista, 1982] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Minimum Wage Rock & Roll [Arista, 1980]
They climax with their own "Respect," which climaxes "If you don't like rock 'n' roll music you can kiss my ass." And they mean it, man, though their idea of rock 'n' roll--AOR guitar breaks, rhythms less funky than Jeff Porcaro's or Don Christensen's, harmonies that owe the Beach Boys and Steely Dan--is too uncool to break through the prejudices of the hipsters prone to cheer five blacks and a Chicano for putting it out. Sometimes they aim too straight for the charts, but when they play their existential joke--speaking up for dishwashers and shoeshine boys, for blacks who think immigrants are destroying the neighborhood and blacks who win one for the coach and blacks who join the Klan so they can join a band--I say cool. Inspirational Verse: "Bet you never heard music like this by spades." B+

American Worker [Arista, 1982]
At first I was no more impressed by this professional black arena-rock than I am by, say, professional lesbian folk-rock. Less, actually--bombast is annoying. But in the end I was disarmed by the audacity, esprit, and sheer versatility--not many arena-rockers are comfortable simulating funk, reggae, and surf music--and won over by the songs themselves, every one informed by the kind of middle-American compassion you might expect from a black band with enough soul to hope to touch the arena-rock masses. B+