Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Scene Is Now

  • Burn All Your Records [Lost, 1985] B+
  • Total Jive [Lost, 1986] B
  • Tonight We Ride [Lost, 1988] B+
  • Shotgun Wedding [Lost, 1991] Neither

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Burn All Your Records [Lost, 1985]
Admirers of Red Crayola's Kangaroo?, the only album in history based on Marxist art criticism, will find this hauntingly familiar, not just in its often arcane leftism but in its apparent indifference to musical niceties like vocal pitch. Its pleasures are manifold, and its variety not of the obvious sort you might expect from four guys who play twenty-eight instruments. They combine awkwardness and grace, comedy and admonition, intellect and grunge in politically enlightened proportions. And borrow their pithiest lyric from Mao Tse-Tung. B+

Total Jive [Lost, 1986]
The rhythms and harmonies are properly knotty, the ideology grounded, the prosy, dissociated lyrics never corny. The singing is more tuneless than the tunes can afford, the politics more situationist than the sense of detail requires, the poetry insufficiently suggestive/evocative. Bohemia strikes again. B

Tonight We Ride [Lost, 1988]
My opposition to "good" voices is well-documented, and I admittedly find it impossible to hear the alternative I pine for in my mind's ear--something sweeter, softer, more murmured. (Paul Simon half an octave lower and cleansed of the cutes? Never mind.) But I know damn well I'd enjoy their pomo chamber-rock more if the singer could carry a tune. There--I said it and I'm glad. B+

Shotgun Wedding [Lost, 1991] Neither