Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly

Further Notes:

Subjects for Further Research [1980s]: Nobody having told this long-running Oakland pro that soul music was dead, he racked up noncrossover hit after noncrossover hit, singing in a relaxed church-of-the-immaculate-cocktail-lounge tenor similar in general feel to whatever Isley brother you think you like. Totally uncountry and not even secondhand Southern, he cultivated a light funk bottom, a few years behind the times rather than proudly conservative; he sang about Africa and the pain of the ghetto without irrelevance or self-righteousness. All of which reads great but doesn't sound all that compelling unless you happen to be one of the middle-class black folk who turned him into gold. If you still think he reads great, try his 1986 live double, his 1989 greatest hits, or his 1989 Warners debut.