Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Chitlin Circuit Soul [Rhino, 2001]
Although the notes downplay the music's Southernness and never mention the audience's mean age, it's as impressive that five selections postdate 1989 as it is telling that eight predate 1980. Slowly but surely, soul is dying. But all the proof you need that it ain't dead yet is 16 great tracks by stalwarts who, beyond Bobby Bland and one or two others, only loyalists will remember. Proof of their collective maturity is that almost every song concerns married love, and not the newlywed kind--by now, soul focuses far more obsessively on cheating than country. Another self-sufficient world that only a CD can unlock, complete with more grit than a laundromat slop sink and more sex than you got last week. A-