Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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  • Fanny [Reprise, 1970] C
  • Charity Ball [Reprise, 1971] B+
  • Fanny Hill [Reprise, 1972] B-
  • Mother's Pride [Reprise, 1973] C+

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Fanny [Reprise, 1970]
Rather than getting all hot and heavy, Burbank's entry in the Ladies' Day Derby emulates the circa-1965 sound of groups like the Hollies and (says here) the Beatles. Execution is competent enough--axpersonship isn't an issue with the style. But the Hollies (forget the Beatles) always had pretty good material--better than these four women can provide, although making an AM novelty out of Cream's "Badge" is a cute idea. Also, as producer Richard Perry must know, the Hollies always had amazing arrangements. C

Charity Ball [Reprise, 1971]
Seeing this band live was a revelation--for women, playing old-fashioned tight commercial rock and roll was a challenge rather than a self-conscious historical exercise. But that's not why there's been such improvement in the studio, although the live show held a clue--drummer Alice de Buhr was the most exciting musician on stage. This record exploits her chops and presence, sinking the pop harmonies in a harder, funkier frame. The title tune is a pure raver that oughtabeahit, but almost every song has something--or several somethings--to recommend it. Which is a lot more than I'd say of the Hollies' latest. B+

Fanny Hill [Reprise, 1972]
Three albums in not much over a year is two too many, and though half the new material is catchy enough, they give themselves away by opening sides with Marvin Gaye's "Ain't That Peculiar" and the Beatles' "Hey Bulldog." Several lyrics do groundwork in important women's themes (autonomy, motherhood, like that), but not one--not even "Wonderful Feeling," a disarmingly happy-sounding breakup song--offers the kind of concentrated perception that makes a song work or the kind of "Charity Ball" hook that makes you stop wondering whether a song is working. B-

Mother's Pride [Reprise, 1973]
In which Richard Perry bows to Todd Rundgren, June Millington aims for the balls and shoots some guy through the knee, and Alice de Buhr sings (off key) (best thing here). C+