Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

James Taylor: Greatest Hits [Warner Bros., 1976]
As egotists go, Taylor is a talent--a gifted guitarist, a better-than-average melodist, a pithy lyricist whose feeling for Americanese is warm if corny. And his voice you can get used to--it's soulful in its way, and he can phrase. But melodies aside, he's not a star for his virtues. He's a star because he's an egotist--because he vaunts his sensitivity so expertly. So it's inevitable that this best-of should shortchange his sense of humor ("Gorilla," "Chili Dog," "Money Machine") and horror ("Knocking 'Round the Zoo," "Junkie's Lament") and preserve his disgraceful covers of "You've Got a Friend" and "How Sweet It Is." If you want "Fire and Rain," buy Sweet Baby James. At least it's a piece of history. C