Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Joe "King" Carrasco & the Crowns

  • Joe "King" Carrasco and the Crowns [Hannibal, 1980] A-
  • Synapse Gap (Mundo Total) [MCA, 1982] A-
  • Party Weekend [MCA, 1983] B
  • Tales From the Crypt [ROIR, 1984] B
  • Bordertown [Big Beat, 1984] A-
  • Royal, Loyal and Live [Royal Texicali, 1990] *

See Also:

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Joe "King" Carrasco and the Crowns [Hannibal, 1980]
Genuine punk Tex-Mex, Sir Doug meets Them meets the Shadows of Knight meets Sam the Sham, and the only problem is that the Ramones thought of it first: toons stripped down to their hooks, with Kris Cummings's friendly Farfisa doodles replacing Johnny's monomaniacal strum and echoes of polka and norteņo in the jerky propulsion of the thing. Minimalism with roots, kind of--the irony in these calls to fun is a lot sweeter, a lot surer of its ground, than New Yorkers commonly get away with. A-

Synapse Gap (Mundo Total) [MCA, 1982]
A man of simple beliefs, I count as good any album comprising twelve unprepossessing tunes I can hum after half a dozen plays, and my cheer increases when half of them pique my simple aesthetic sense. I hear Joe "King" is overreaching--defying the three-minute rule, polymultitracking, gimmicking around. But as far as I'm concerned nothing drags, nothing protrudes, and the Zorba solo and reggae number could come off a Sam the Sham album. In short, the main reason I prefer the debut is that it came first. A-

Party Weekend [MCA, 1983]
Even when he was nervoused out Joe King always used to be fun because what kept him going was high spirits--at worst, a little extra adrenalin. Now he sounds as hyper and overextended as Richard Gottehrer's production. Good parties are such fragile things. B

Tales From the Crypt [ROIR, 1984]
Seven numbers previewed on these "basement tapes 1979" made the Crowns' Billy Altman-produced debut, and though some claim the demos have more spirit, nobody's ever accused Altman of slick. Not that I'm accusing these of sloppy, but on songs alone I'll take the vinyl whenever a turntable is available. B

Bordertown [Big Beat, 1984]
Problem with King's pared-down Tex-Mex party-up has always been that it leaves him nowhere to go--got away with baroque jokes for an elpee, but when he tried to pop it up he schlocked it up. Yet now he comes bursting out of his dead end with his spunkiest music ever, and the secret--I didn't believe it either--is politics. "Who Buy the Guns?" ("That kill the nuns yea yeah") and "Cucaracha Taco" ("When they drop el bomb on everyone") are only the most successful experiments on an album that manages to be silly/cautionary and harmless/seditious as well as hedonistic/humanistic and stoopid/smart. A-

Royal, Loyal and Live [Royal Texicali, 1990]
acceding to local custom, they beef up their party with horns, guitar solos, and the appropriate frat-rock faves ("Hey Joe," "96 Tears (Every Woman I Know)") *