Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Timbuk 3

  • Greetings From Timbuk 3 [I.R.S., 1986] A-
  • Eden Alley [I.R.S., 1988] B+
  • Edge of Allegiance [I.R.S., 1989] B+
  • A Hundred Lovers [High Street, 1995] Neither

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Greetings From Timbuk 3 [I.R.S., 1986]
Pat Macdonald and his wife Barbara K. are outsiders who don't make a big thing of it--not weirdos, really, just observers. Like most satirists they're strongest when they get inside their targets, as with the going-places nuclear science major who sings the hit, but they're capable of a certain sidelong lyricism, and Pat's way with words stays with him even when he's indulging in invective: "Just another jerk taking pride in his work," pretty nasty. The music is basically traditional, not averse to partying r&b licks, but appropriately detached. Also appropriately, Pat and Barbara play and sing every note on the thing. A-

Eden Alley [I.R.S., 1988]
True folkies, the MacDonalds evolve toward lyric sincerity--or on the debut single, an obvious stiff (which doesn't mean a terrible song), straight sarcasm. Occasionally they get away clean--"A Sinful Life" tugs at my heartstrings for sure. But crooked sarcasm remains their special gift. I'm happy not to know whether they consider the disco champs of "Dance Fever" winners or losers in the end. And I wonder whether their latest foray into tape technology, "Sample the Dog," couldn't break from further out in left field than "Future's So Bright" did. B+

Edge of Allegiance [I.R.S., 1989]
"Dirty Dirty Rice" is the single, and before you say, "Just what we need, another song about soul food," give them credit--that would be "Dirty Rice." Dirty dirty rice is a street delicacy available in the dumpster of your local Popeye's, and releasing singles about such stuff could keep them on "the B side of life" for the rest of their natural days. Since they not only cop to the prospect but can live with it--"I like my free time and I love my wife"--I predict that their songs will remain winsome and wise for as long as the record company puts them out. And that they could hit the jackpot again without trying. B+

A Hundred Lovers [High Street, 1995] Neither

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