Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Jim Croce

  • You Don't Mess Around With Jim [ABC, 1972] B-
  • I Got a Name [ABC, 1973] C+
  • Photographs and Memories [ABC, 1974] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

You Don't Mess Around With Jim [ABC, 1972]
A nice, original persona here--the truck driver, world-weary machismo with a heart of gold--plus a song that should be even better than the title hit, "Operator." More than a novelty, less than the big star he doubtless wants to be, he'll be around. B-

I Got a Name [ABC, 1973]
He was an engaging, rather repetitious minor artist when he was alive, and still is. C+

Photographs and Memories [ABC, 1974]
Death hasn't changed this engaging, rather repetitious minor artist into a genius, but it's reminded us why he was (and is) engaging. His short-haul trucker persona (world-weary machismo with a heart of gold and a soul of beaten copper) and detached lowlife portraiture (he doesn't mess around that much with Jim himself) were a relief from post-hippie confessionalism, and his music was sweet and tough, never an easy combo to bring off. But like so many tough guys, he does get mawkish--only "Operator" adds insight as well as terse melody to our romantic mythology--and though his four albums do include a few good songs that didn't make it onto this fourteen-track compilation, they're enough like those that did that you can live without them. B+