Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Ten Wheel Drive With Genya Ravan [extended]

  • Construction No. 1 [Polydor, 1969] B
  • Brief Replies [Polydor, 1970] C+
  • Urban Desire [20th Century-Fox, 1978] B
  • . . . And I Mean It! [20th Century-Fox, 1979] B

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Ten Wheel Drive: Construction No. 1 [Polydor, 1969]
I don't much approve of jazz-rock, and Genya Raven, this group's resident Janis Joplin, can get a little too harsh and samey at times, but this is so superior to anything (arghh) Lighthouse or (polite belch) Blood, Sweat, and Tears have done that I feel obliged to kind-of recommend it. I wish I believed their live performance shows as much taste, but I'm not making any bets. B

Brief Replies [Polydor, 1970]
This beats Lighthouse (arrghh) and Blood, Sweat & Tears (urrp), but with their intricate charts and printed music Michael Zager and Aram Schefrin make like they paid their dues in a conservatory. Which I'm sure they did. The intensity of Janis surrogate Ravan is a little less harsh and wearying on the follow-up, though. And it all comes together on "Morning Much Better," about when rather than how to make love. C+

Genya Ravan: Urban Desire [20th Century-Fox, 1978]
She oversings, the band's ordinary, and the lyrics (both hers and those she chooses) often get blowzy; the only grade-A cuts are "Jerry's Pigeons" and (A plus) "The Sweetest One." So maybe I'm soft--maybe I just can't resist a real New York doll. In a woman who combines the hip cool of Lou Reed with the emotionality of Springsteen, a case of Joplinitis--a rare disease these days--is rather endearing. B

Genya Ravan: . . . And I Mean It! [20th Century-Fox, 1979]
Some find this teen-identified sexy mama--in "Roto Root Her" (her title, don't blame me) she demands an I.D. chain--embarrassing, others politically incorrect. Ian Hunter (on this album) and Lou Reed (on the last) could care less, and I prefer her to any incarnation of Suzi Quatro. Fave: "Night Owl"'s autodoowop. B