Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Edwin Starr

  • Involved [Gordy, 1971] B+
  • Clean [20th Century-Fox, 1978] B-
  • The Best of Edwin Starr [20th Century-Fox, 1981] B
  • Liverpool 8 [Capitol, 2008] Dud

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Involved [Gordy, 1971]
Starr is more naturally strident than any of the Temptations, which suits both "War," a song he simply takes away from them, and "Stop the War," Barrett Strong's most strident protest yet. But he can also bring off the peaceful denouements Motown-political requires: Smokey's "Way Over There" changes the pace, and then "My Sweet Lord" helps you forgive "Stand!" Although he wastes twelve minutes on "Ball of Confusion," this is Norman Whitfield's peak production. B+

Clean [20th Century-Fox, 1978]
Disco! Where do its hits go? Absolutely nowhere! But they do give deserving old soul singers another moment, now don't they? B-

The Best of Edwin Starr [20th Century-Fox, 1981]
He's more exciting at his best--check out the five tracks on Volume 3 of the Motown's Preferred Stock series, if you can find it and don't wear a pacemaker--but one reason he suits the disco format better than, for instance, Johnnie Taylor, is that he isn't as good as Johnnie Taylor. That is, his excitement inheres mostly in his formula. Just as you expected, the formula here isn't up to full-speed Motown like "Agent Double-O Soul," "War," or (the here reprised) "25 Miles," though "Accident" comes close. Not only that--to salve his conscience they let him have some full-length ballads. B

Liverpool 8 [Capitol, 2008] Dud