Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Huey Lewis and the News

  • Picture This [Chrysalis, 1982] B-
  • Sports [Chrysalis, 1983] B+
  • Fore! [Chrysalis, 1986] B-
  • Small World [Chrysalis, 1988] C-
  • Hard at Play [EMI America, 1991] Dud

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Picture This [Chrysalis, 1982]
The onetime Marin country-rocker and Elvis C. backer-upper is now working a working-guy variation on Rindy Ross (Quarterflash, dummy), cutting his macho strut with pop moues and knowing nods at women's lib. Though he has none of Springsteen's feeling for narrative and sings from the diaphragm rather than the gut, he's canny enough to pick good covers and writes his share of reasonable facsimiles: "Workin for a Livin" could be primo Bob Seger and "The Only One" is worthy of Geldof or Lynott if not the master. But Chris Hayes's metal furbelows soon remind you how much Huey sounds like Louie (Gramm) (Foreigner, dummy). I mean, Dewey really need one more rock pro bulling his way through options that just aren't as limited as he makes his living pretending? B-

Sports [Chrysalis, 1983]
You said it, the man's an utter cornball, but on this album I simply succumb to the stupid pleasures of his big fat rockcraft. Even though I know it isn't the "same old back beat" that keeps rock and roll alive, but rather musicians brave or bored enough to fuck with it, something same-old has me grunting with pleasure at that song every time I let down my guard. No guard required: "I Want a New Drug" (recreational), "Bad Is Bad" (bad), and "Walking on a Thin Line" (when are Vietnam Veterans Against the War putting together their compilation album?). B+

Fore! [Chrysalis, 1986]
Last time he said bad is bad, this time he says hip is square, and there you have the difference between a straight-shooting album and a conventional one, between one that catches your elbow and one they ram down your throat. B-

Small World [Chrysalis, 1988]
Miffed when the Dems rejected the title tune as a campaign song--"It just doesn't rock hard enough," an unidentified Harvard pol complained--Huey offered it to George, who found it bland and pointed out that its call for a kinder, gentler planet wasn't very specific. So then Huey took it to the radio. C-

Hard at Play [EMI America, 1991] Dud