Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Allen Toussaint: Motion [Warner Bros., 1978]
I've always found pleasure in Toussaint's hackwork and clucked sympathetically over his ambitious failures, but complaints about Jerry Wexler's conventional soul production here miss the point--it's Toussaint himself who aspires to conventionality. Abandoning the infectious, melody-shy chanting of his best LPs, he now sings with all the passion of James Taylor, which is probably as close to Glen Campbell as he can get. Auditioning for "Southern Nights II" there are various mild concoctions--I forget which is which, but the title tune could well be with Barry Manilow at this moment--that are not offset by several mixed successes and one reminder of eccentricities past. "Optimism Blues" indeed. C+