Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Eddie Murphy

  • How Could It Be [Columbia, 1985] C-
  • So Happy [Columbia, 1989] B+
  • Love's Alright [Motown, 1993] Dud

Consumer Guide Reviews:

How Could It Be [Columbia, 1985]
"Singers get all the pussy," the fledgling songwriter and vocalist observed on his last album, devoted to the comedy for which he is best known. "You sing, women go crazy." Poor guy, is he that hard up? Or is it just that like all comedians he longs to prove that he's not as nasty as we know him to be in his finest moments? Well, women aren't gonna take him on down because he sings like this--his voice is so thin that in the end Rick James ("Comedians get all the pussy. You crack a joke, women fall into bed with you") wastes his best track in years on it. And though Stevie Wonder donates two songs, Murphy doesn't bring out his Stevie impression except on his own "I, Me, Us, We," which as a result is the strongest piece of music here. It also typifies the one-worlder cheerleading of a lyricist who can't be as bright as we'd hoped him to be in his finest moments--he's got politics like Jerry Lewis, only with less soul. C-

So Happy [Columbia, 1989]
The failure of this wicked Prince rip to scale the charts reminds us once again how difficult it is for defiant outsiders to fracture pop stereotypes. Murphy will never be El DeBarge, but he's perfect for cartoon funk, and over the years his wheedling croon has gotten serious. Maybe the problem is that his sexual urges still don't emanate from very deep inside. Often, in fact, they're inspired by his bathroom reading--he's big on locations, spends an entire song convincing her to do it in a chair. Inspirational Dialogue: She: "Are you close?" He: "If I get any closer I be behind you." B+

Love's Alright [Motown, 1993] Dud