Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Bruce Hornsby and the Range

  • The Way It Is [RCA Victor, 1986] B-
  • Scenes from the Southside [RCA Victor, 1988] C

Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Way It Is [RCA Victor, 1986]
Schlock has roots, too, which is why sentimental bizzers hail this mildly surprising platinum-plus debut as the second coming. Hornsby roughs up a piano that's more Elton John than Floyd Domino with a voice on the boogie side of country-rock and adds sometime folkie David Mansfield to songs that divide the same way--they sound like pop and read like something closer to the source. Title tune was my guilty pleasure of 1986 because what makes me feel guilty is succumbing to the blandishments of liberalism. The rest I don't have much trouble fighting off. B-

Scenes from the Southside [RCA Victor, 1988]
This unassuming platinum mine is compassionate, serious, literate. He plays a "real" piano. And he's a menace. I mean, in the privacy of your own mind, try crossing vague Bruce with '80s Elton. Then run it through Firefall. Finally--this is important--slow down those tempos. No no no, leave the drum sound up. See? C