Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Todd Snider: Todd Snider Live: Near Truths and Hotel Rooms [Oh Boy, 2003]
Folkies with a sense of humor are always better off cracking jokes than waxing lyrical. With Snider, though, the differential is near absolute--the one tolerable serious song among these career highlights is the 12-step memoir "Long Year." Snider's live-studio differential is steep as well--a crowd sharpens his timing and intonation. "Beer Run" was funny enough on 2002's New Connection, but both versions here, including one of those annoying bonus cuts where the artist's buddies can't stop laughing, are eternal nonsense classics. Because he's funny, he does sardonic and bittersweet right. Also because he's funny, the monologues are why you replay the record. A-