Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Sound of the City: Memphis [EMI, 2002]
Compiler Charlie Gillett is one of the rare guys who can make a virtue of getting dragged by obviosity. Although NYC, L.A., and Chicago proved too various to fold into accompanying musical cityscapes, he goes to town on a radio-ready two-CD mixtape that includes six songs with Memphis in their titles and three artists with Memphis in their names. It's got thematic segues, novelty instrumentals, stuff the historian-DJ plays wayfaring strangers in his living room, and known great songs now passed from the collective memory: "Tongue Tied Jill," "Trapped by a Thing Called Love," "I Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody's Home," the amazing "Third Rate Romance," more. Howlin' Wolf and B.B. King check in with early crudities; "Dixie Fried" packs thematic punch. And though some selections are only curiosities--Dan Penn must be one hell of a nice guy--the whole thing moves, slight dips being part of the ride. [Recyclables]