Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

David Johansen: David Johansen [Blue Sky, 1977]
Balancing the unrecorded classics of the Dolls' rent-party phase--"Girls" ("I love 'em seizin' the power"), "Funky but Chic" ("Mama thinks I look pretty fruity but in jeans I feel rotten"), and "Frenchette" (as in laundrette)--against ground-breaking love/heartbreak songs like "Donna" and "Pain in My Heart," this is in many ways a "better" record than either Dolls LP. Sound quality is fuller, the rhythm section funks and flows, the guitarists play genuine solos and respond to the call, and Johansen's voice is as open and direct as his new songs, finding an almost soulful musical and emotional range. Conceptually, though, it's singer-with-backup in a post-garage mode, packing no distinctive structural or sonic kick, pretty conventional for the pied piper of outrageousness. A-