Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Moe Tucker

  • Moejadkatebarry [50 Skadillion Watts EP, 1987] B+
  • Life in Exile After Abdication [50 Skadillion Watts, 1989] B+
  • I Spent a Week There the Other Night [Sky, 1994] A-
  • Dogs Under Stress [Sky, 1994] *

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Moejadkatebarry [50 Skadillion Watts EP, 1987]
EPs are still supposed to showcase emerging bands, but many of the best are true ends in themselves if not totally sui generis, like this impossible answer record, which proves who was the body and maybe soul although not brains of the Velvet Underground. With forever-young Jad Fair playing front man, they run through three joyous VU obscurities, a Jimmy Reed blues, and a throwaway instrumental just the way the original guys might have if jaded hadn't been their thing. What does it answer? Not VU, I guess--VU's too alive. But definitely Another View--any VU that sounds like a last gasp. B+

Life in Exile After Abdication [50 Skadillion Watts, 1989]
The illusion of commercial potential that induced the Velvets to tighten up without squelching their experimental impulses can't be sustained by any Moe smart enough to have come this far, and so, encouraged by her loony Half Japanese bandmates, she wastes valuable minutes fucking around. Songs meander, her third "Bo Diddley" in three albums still doesn't get it, the endless instrumental is Sonic Youth in runny jam mode. Except for the jam, it's all nice enough--Tucker's modest middle-aged housewife is an innovation in much the way her drumming once was. But "Work," "Spam Again," and "Hey Mersh!" are Amerindie knockouts, lived postpunk takes on the grind and release of lower-middle class adulthood, a subject rock and rollers usually leave to Nashville company men. Somebody try and make a hit out of this woman. B+

I Spent a Week There the Other Night [Sky, 1994]
Tucker's genius as the found drummer in the greatest of all bohemian bands was knowing the shortest distance between two points, and she maintained the knack as a divorced mother of five who couldn't make ends meet working for a Wal-Mart in Douglas, Georgia. It's rare enough for any artist to give this American archetype its due; when the archetype turns artist, it's a gift from the pop muse. Backed by a claque that includes John Cale and two Violent Femmes on these 1991 sessions, the self-taught rhythm guitarist lays down a crude, almost skeletal rock and roll that never suggests anything so highfalutin as minimalism and says what she has to say about poverty, sloth, shyness, and the idiocy of provincial life. There's also a love song to a daughter who has trouble loving back. And an "I'm Waiting for the Man" that's pure found minimalism. A-

Dogs Under Stress [Sky, 1994]
saying less with more ("I Wanna," "Crackin Up") *