Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Lost in the Stars: The Music of Kurt Weill [A&M, 1985]
First time I heard this I started muttering, "Kurt Weill invented rock and roll," which I report only to indicate how turned on I was, because it's ridiculous--Weill really only invented rock. Milking abrasive pop for outreach and meaning, he had more in common with Dylan and Newman than with Porter and Berlin, and the rock artistes who take their turns on this sequel to Hal Willner's 1983 Monk tribute sound completely at home. You can imagine improvements on some of Willner's choices--David Jo rather than Sting on "Mack the Knife," the Clash rather than Stanard Ridgeway on "Cannon Song," etc.--but that's a parlor game. With Lou Reed's "September Song" and Marianne Faithfull's "Ballad of the Soldier's Wife" the unmitigated triumphs, every track on this hour-long disc holds its own. Introduce yourself to one of the century's greatest songwriters and composers. Or augment your Weill collection and be glad you did. A