Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Danny O'Keefe

  • Danny O'Keefe [Cotillion, 1970] B-
  • O'Keefe [Signpost, 1972] B

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Danny O'Keefe [Cotillion, 1970]
Though he thinks too much about smog and winos, O'Keefe sings the blues like a good old boy and takes his "mama" with him when he leaves town--in short, handles standard new-troubadourisms with some originality. And every once in a while he writes a potential standard like "Sweet Rollin'" (femme fatale) or "Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues" (a rounder's tragedy). But producer Ahmet Ertegun stifles "Saturday Morning" in Shoals soul, arranges "Steel Guitar" sans steel guitar, and indulges all of his boy's most misguided pretensions. B-

O'Keefe [Signpost, 1972]
Arif Mardin has neutralized O'Keefe's folk-Muzak potential by embellishing it--better his studio-rock "Good Time Charlie" than Ahmet's folkie-rockie-with-flute one, and not just because it got O'Keefe on the radio. In a neon romantic like O'Keefe--who sounds most at home telling junkie stories or covering "Honky Tonkin'"--spectral percussion, a steel guitar mixed for eerieness, even a clarinet function as intelligent new-schlock shading that acknowledges his fundamental commercialism. And commercial he is--just about every song has a melodic hook. Though we'd be better off without one on "Shooting Star" ("the morning is waiting for Electra"?) and "The Valentine Pieces" (don't ask). B