Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Legal Weapon

  • Death of Innocence [Arsenal, 1982] B+
  • Your Weapon [Arsenal, 1982] B+
  • Interior Hearts [Arsenal, 1985] B-
  • Life Sentence to Love [MCA, 1988] B-
  • Take Out the Trash [Triple X, 1991] ***

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Death of Innocence [Arsenal, 1982]
Since like so much L.A. gothic this punk metal cultivates melodrama with an enthusiasm that could be campier, I don't quite know how to take Kat Arthur's tales of young woe. If she really did get sodomized by daddy on the floor, the hooky crudity of her response is guts ball. But if she just thought incest a fitting hook for such a crude grabber of a riff, she should have thought some more. And the strain of such distinctions renders the crudity less satisfying than its hooks warrant. B+

Your Weapon [Arsenal, 1982]
The follow-up is less unrelenting, but it's also subtler in crucial little ways--tempo change here, Byrdsy decoration there, burr in the throat all over the place. Kat Arthur may well be turning into Joan Jett with something to say and something else to say it with. She's still young and she still means it, but she's gained perspective on her bombed-out blues. B+

Interior Hearts [Arsenal, 1985]
You look at Kat Arthur's mascara and chains and listen to the band's simple hard rock and wonder whether they're HM or punk. If Arthur were a guy, this would bode ill, but a guy she definitely ain't, so she still has Joan Jett to look up to. And like Joan Jett she's got more instinct than brains, which is why her third indie album isn't quite what her cult and well-wishers have been long awaiting. B-

Life Sentence to Love [MCA, 1988]
Kat Arthur makes her belated major-label debut too damn late, carrying the eternal Joan Jett comparison far into love-is-pain cliché. The tunes are even further from Jett's best than Jett's latest, with the dark undertow that once colored Brian Hansen's music succumbing to upbeat hooks that rise out of the locomotion like bluebirds fluttering hopefully around Kat's erotic doom. B-

Take Out the Trash [Triple X, 1991]
Exene without sensitivity, folk music, a notebook--with hard rock and a voice like a fire alarm ("Under Fire," "96 Tears") ***