Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Green on Red

  • Green on Red [Down There EP, 1982] B
  • Gravity Talks [Slash, 1983] B+
  • Gas Food Lodging [Enigma, 1985] B-
  • No Free Lunch [Mercury EP, 1985] B+
  • The Killer Inside Me [Mercury, 1987] C+
  • Here Come the Snakes [Restless, 1989] B+

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Green on Red [Down There EP, 1982]
Dan Stuart and friends are as hooky as the L.A. trash aesthetic gets, with Chris Cacavas's organ the nugget. But though lots of New York bands ought to wish they'd thought of "Aspirin" first, Stuart would be easier to take straight if he didn't favor the B-movie imagery so prevalent in the film capital of the world. B

Gravity Talks [Slash, 1983]
Static on stage, its records diverting but ephemeral, L.A. neopsychedelica is yet another nostalgic, romantic, "commercial" extension of/reaction to an uncompromising rock and roll vanguard; it bears the same relation to slam-pit hard core as New York neopop did to CBGB punk. Since psychedelica was fairly silly even in the '60s, I'm agin it, at least in theory. I must admit, though, that the dumb tunes on this album not only stick with me but grow on me, in their gauche way. Just wish I knew whether I was laughing with them or at them. And when the verse about the dead dad follows the verse about the dead dog, I suspect the worst. B+

Gas Food Lodging [Enigma, 1985]
They used to be fun, partly because you couldn't tell whether they knew how risibly their wacked-out postadolescent angst came across. So now they unveil their road/roots/maturity album, which extols heroic dreams and revives Americana--drunks, murderers, husbands who've "passed away." Fun it's not. And in addition to the melodies thinning out, as melodies will, the playing's somehow gotten sloppier. B-

No Free Lunch [Mercury EP, 1985]
Dan Stuart's not so much an acquired taste as an arbitrary one--though I find his phony drawl kind of cute, I understand those who find it kind of hopeless better than those who consider it the essence of populist substance abuse. But his booze roots aren't ready for the mulch pile quite yet, and after too many plays I was surprised to conclude that his second Americana move was far catchier and more good-humored than number one. If you think it's hopeless, though, I won't argue. B+

The Killer Inside Me [Mercury, 1987]
In which yet another pseudoauthentic unlocks the cellar door of the American psyche, revealing--gasp! horror!--the violence that dwells within each and every one of us. What horse manure. C+

Here Come the Snakes [Restless, 1989]
Just when you thought he'd wandered off into dipsomania, Dan Stuart reemerges on Jim Dickinson's shoulder as Neil Young and Mick Jagger fried into one bar singer. With Chuck Prophet playing the blues and Dan wailing about careless what-have-you, this is the Crazy Horse album Neil hasn't had the jam to toss off since Somoza. B+