Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Guys and Dolls [RCA, 1992]
It's a measure of musical comedy's descent into technique that every principal in this revival has more pipes and less style than those in MCA's 1951 original-cast version. And it's a measure of the boundless melody and street cred of Frank Loesser's songs that only a curmudgeon or a critic would make the comparison. The score isn't impregnable--after enduring Debbie Reynolds's New Yawkese in Reprise's Rat Pack version, I remembered why I get paid for doing this. And to give technique its due, only diva wannabe Josie de Guzman (whose insatiable urge to peal out does actually make a kind of sense in "If I Were a Bell") fails to add entertaining details. Forget West Side Story--Damon Runyon's criminal-minded wiseacres and untragic romance are for every rock and roller who prefers Chuck to Elvis and the Stones to the Doors. A-