Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Alvin Crow and the Pleasant Valley Boys

  • Alvin Crow and the Pleasant Valley Boys [Long Neck, 1976] B-
  • High Riding [Polydor, 1977] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Alvin Crow and the Pleasant Valley Boys [Long Neck, 1976]
We can't be sure what it was like to hear Bob Wills's records as they came out in the '30s and '40s, but no matter what your Texas friends tell you it was a lot more exciting than this. For starters, Wills was an inventor rather than a flamekeeper, and he got clearer sound--he worked for major labels, after all. Also, Wills released singles, which means that unlike Crow he had to put out one A side for every B. Still, three or four A sides out of ten isn't bad. Just wish they were all as modern as "Nyquil Blues," in which Crow praises analgesics, decongestants, and antihistamines--by name. B-

High Riding [Polydor, 1977]
The cutting nasality of Crow's vocals is revivalism at its finest--he's not an original like Ray Benson, but he's got the style down. And as a swinging eclectic he borrows anything he likes, from the Cleftones to a dope-running epic to "Turkey, Texas (Home of Bob Wills)." Stop off in Turkey first. But if you like it there, put this on your Christmas list right after Asleep at the Wheel. B+