Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Bonnie Koloc

  • After All This Time [Ovation, 1971] C
  • Bonnie Koloc [Ovation, 1973] B-
  • At Her Best [Ovation, 1976] B-
  • Close-Up [Epic, 1977] B+
  • Wild and Recluse [Epic, 1978] B-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

After All This Time [Ovation, 1971]
On the first side she wishes to combine Grace Slick's priestess with Joan Baez's bowdlerizing aesthete, and the strain is gruesome, especially on the high notes. On the second side she shows the makings of a likable folkie, especially on a blues she wrote herself. But the high notes are still a strain. C

Bonnie Koloc [Ovation, 1973]
After a bland follow-up complete with standard singer-songwriter covers, this fulfills perhaps half the promise of her more attractive pretensions. Her songs drift off into their own imagery, and I've caught her rhyming "warm" and "morn," but she has more to say about her father than Judy Collins and more to say about snakes than Alice Cooper. Her melodies are durable. And the cleanliness of her voice is saved from antisepsis by a cornfed openness that has Waterloo, Iowa, written all over it. B-

At Her Best [Ovation, 1976]
Her most consistent album to date is marred by chummy material (who is David Van Delinder and why did she release his "Roslyn" once much less twice?), half-assed commerciality (two is one too many Jim Croce songs), and dumb experiments (arting up Jackson Browne is carrying grass to Topanga). Fortunately, it's also marked by a goodly selection of her more consistent originals--the eighty-percenters is how I think of them--as well as the definitive version of "You're Gonna Love Yourself in the Morning" (not to mention Jim Croce's "Hard Way to Go"). But the real reason I continue to listen through the bad tries is that she sings the way Lily Tomlin has always wished she could. B-

Close-Up [Epic, 1977]
This is where Koloc's modest, unmistakable intelligence--and voice--finally make a record work. Not that the old problems don't persist--I disapprove of songs about silver stallions, I'm sick of "We Had It All," and I guarantee that Koloc's own unaccompanied "I'll Still Be Loving You" requires more camouflage than her Marxophone (?) coda. But the two Lil Green compositions that kick off side two vie with the originals and would set the right tone even if they didn't. She does all right by Hank Snow's "Rhumba Boogie," too. B+

Wild and Recluse [Epic, 1978]
I still like Koloc's individualism--anybody who can sing Willie Dixon's "I Need More" like a B-movie schoolmarm who's sexy when she takes off her glasses is jake with me. But despite her ear for songs and her willingness to experiment (a wino provides running commentary on side two) she still gets boring. Maybe she should try contact lenses. B-