Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Michael Nesmith

  • Compilation [Pacific Arts, 1977] B+
  • Infinite Rider on the Big Dogma [Pacific Arts, 1979] B-

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Compilation [Pacific Arts, 1977]
Nesmith began his career on RCA as a crackpot inventor and ended as a bankrupt cottage industry. The title of his final RCA LP, And the Hits Just Keep On Coming, was more wishful than sarcastic, which is why he's seen to its reissue, as well as that of Pretty Much Your Standard Ranch Stash, another pretty much standard country-song sampler. Seven of the twelve cuts on this compilation (another great title) come from those two albums. The side that concentrates on earlier stuff is an amazing contraption, one piece of zonked Nashville after another. The other side is a pretty much standard-plus display case. Among the missing: "The Grand Ennui," "Calico Girlfriend," "Mama Nantucket," "The Keys to the Car." B+

Infinite Rider on the Big Dogma [Pacific Arts, 1979]
The Smart Monkee has turned into the Young Herb Alpert, rock's most successful artist-businessman. Pacific Arts, which he owns outright, has purchased his RCA masters for reissue and released albums by such artists as Charles Lloyd. It's also put out Nesmith's ghastly boxed audio-allegory-with-book The Prison, his desultory reputed cult album From a Radio Engine to the Photon Wing, his live LP, and now this intelligent, hard-rocking item. What's not clear is whether the records make money--TV commercials are the company's staple. Though Nesmith hasn't sounded this good in years, there's a difference between the pop eccentric he's become and the country-rock eccentric he used to be--he's now a little behind the times instead of ahead of them. Still beats most of what the majors market as power pop. But the only necessity he conveys is a continuing compulsion to make music. And that's not sufficient. B-