Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Reba McEntire: Have I Got a Deal for You [MCA, 1985]
Finally her own award-winning, best-selling woman, she assumes coproducer status and sheds Harold Shedd, whom some would say got her this far. And indeed, with a little help from Jimmy Bowen she refines the formula-no backup choruses, no newfangled keyboards, no bedroom lyrics. She's a lot more her own woman than hot-to-trot centerfold candidates like Janie Fricke. But though occasionally her music defeats country's sex-role divisions--the self-composed I-never-actually-cheated song "Only in My Mind" is so proud and virtuous and deeply regretful it could give a fella bad dreams--she suggests that female country singers are going to have trouble rebelling neotraditionally. Especially with men providing the material. B