Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Paul Young

  • No Parlez [Columbia, 1984] B+
  • The Secret of Association [Columbia, 1985] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

No Parlez [Columbia, 1984]
Unlike the interpretive singers of an earlier generation, Young projects a concern with emotion rather than emotion itself--an idea or a value rather than a passion. Where Joe Cocker and Maggie Bell played it hot, Young's take on the slightly archaic black singing styles he admires so candidly is cool and synthetic. while this aligns him neatly with urban contemporaries in the Jeffrey Osborne mold and helps him steal away with "Love Will Tear Us Apart," it puts a heavier burden on his powers of analysis than any rock-and-roller should risk. Fortunately, his delight in state-of-the-art production and arrangement, as well as in his own vocal resources, provides the underpinnings of authenticity any second-hand man needs. B+

The Secret of Association [Columbia, 1985]
His fat voice even more a sign of the times than Laurie Latham's baroque production, Young is Boz Scaggs for the '80s: an honorable soul fake. It's all too much at times, but Young writes as well as Boz ever did and is smart enough to go elsewhere for the meaty lyrics he loves, including two antiwar songs that could make more of an impression than Boy George's. Be nice to think music could still do that sometimes. B+