Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Matthews' Southern Comfort

  • Matthews' Southern Comfort [Decca, 1970] C+
  • Second Spring [Decca, 1970] C
  • Later That Same Year [Decca, 1971] B-

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Matthews' Southern Comfort [Decca, 1970]
In which Ian Matthews splits from Fairport Convention, hires a (good) pedal steel player, and sings like an angel. As you know, angels keep their intelligence discreetly concealed--no one would suspect that the song that goes "Alright, everything's alright" bears the title "A Commercial Proposition," or that the drip who begs "Please Be My Friend" is off his rocker. The sobbing overlaid on Steve Barlby's "The Watch" does hint openly at irony. But what can the man who wrote "Colorado Springs Eternal" know from irony? C+

Second Spring [Decca, 1970]
Disappointed though I am by the folky localism cum chauvinism of recent Pentangle and Fairport, Matthews's mid-Atlantic compromise is worse. Basically, he's James Taylor--without the whine, which I'd consider a real improvement if I could imagine Taylor "interpreting" the bitter "Jinkson Johnson" so bright and upbeat it sounded like Poco. C

Later That Same Year [Decca, 1971]
This one really is pretty--except when guitarist Carl Barnwell gives him love letters to read (long-winded, too: "Sylvie" runs 6:08 and "For Melanie" 6:50), he selects very lissome melodies. And no dumb lyrics, either. But when you're so single-minded about singing pretty it's hard to convince anyone you care what the words mean. B-