Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper

  • Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper [RBI, 1985] C+
  • Frenzy [Restless, 1986] B+
  • Get Out of My Way [Enigma EP, 1986] B+
  • Bo-Day-Shus!! [Enigma, 1987] B+
  • Root Hog or Die [Enigma, 1989] A-

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Mojo Nixon and Skid Roper [RBI, 1985]
Folkies, I guess--front man Mojo on acoustic guitar, Skid on harp, washboard, etc. But with strange roots: the blues rant that leads off quotes both "Road Runner" and "I'm Waiting for the Man" as it rambles insanely from inspiration to inspiration. Mojo is definitely touched by something--he preaches like Jimmy Lee Swaggart in the devil's hands, gobbles mushrooms and sniffs turds, sleeps on your couch. But he also fucks your mama and your girlfriend from behind, solicits head from "art fag hags," and for his last trick beats up some gal who must have had it coming. Some white boys just can't handle the blues. C+

Frenzy [Restless, 1986]
Though it pulls up lame midway through side two and resorts to rape jokes that piss on the memory of Howlin' Wolf and for that matter Wolfman Jack, this album is as rude as it wants to be. Where competing raunch hands end at obscenity, Mojo starts there and moves on, saving his most raucous loathing for songs like "I Hate Banks" (and he don't mean Ernie or the Mississippi) and "Ain't Got No Boss" ("This is a personal phone call"). B+

Get Out of My Way [Enigma EP, 1986]
Pop anarchobeatnikism has its political attractions--hard to argue when a college band calls for mall-burning even if the moment isn't historically propitious. But if Mojo thinks freedom's just another word for passing me on the shoulder in a traffic jam, let him try it--I'll veer right and proceed at exactly the same speed as our fellow citizen-sufferers, which I know from experience will make their day as much as it'll piss Mojo off. And if Mojo rams me in extended adolescent frustration, I'll sue his ass for the rights to "Stuffin' Martha's Muffin." Always did think those royalties should redound to National Rape Crisis Headquarters. B+

Bo-Day-Shus!! [Enigma, 1987]
Art statements like "Wash No Dishes No More" and "I Ain't Gonna Piss in No Jar" can't be laughed off these days. "Elvis Is Everywhere" is for Phil Ochs in heaven, and by laying down cassette-and-CD-only tracks worth hearing they face up to their formal problem--making irresponsibility new. Not only would the agape-riven "Don't Want No Foo-Foo Haircut on My Head" and the primordial "Story of One Chord" fit quite audibly onto twelve inches of vinyl, they'd enlighten Mojo's collegiate followers. This cannot be said of the Americana-mongering "We Gotta Have More Soul!" and "B.B.Q. U.S.A.," much less Skid's "Lincoln Logs," in which the poor folkie misses his boyhood toys boo hoo. B+

Root Hog or Die [Enigma, 1989]
With Jim Dickenson's sparely applied sidemen adding the funky feel that Mojo previously sought to provide with Howlin' Wolf and Jimmy Lee Swaggart impressions, this is his finest artistic achievement. Skid's cut is the usual yawn, but everything else cooks with gas. "Pirate Radio" turns out to be a Shane-MacGowan-as-Captain-Hook chantey, "Chicken Drop" gets rids of his four-letter-word and junk-Americana obligations in the same song, "I'm a Wreck" warns against excess without moralizing, "She's Vibrator Dependent" is laced with a self-deprecation rare in his previous gynephobic forays. "Burn Your Money!," "Legalize It," and a "This Land Is Your Land" that features the Mojoland amusement park all voice a gonzo-leftist anarcho-populism that I trust has rubbed off on his MTV following. And the keynoting "Debbie Gibson Is Pregnant With My Two Headed Love Child," written in the supermarket-tabloid style that exerts such a strong influence on Mojo's poesy, is the humane version of "Stuffin' Martha's Muffin." A-

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