Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Tom Tom Club

  • Tom Tom Club [Sire, 1981] A-
  • Close to the Bone [Sire, 1983] C+
  • Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom [Sire, 1989] C+
  • Dark Sneak Love Action [Sire/Reprise, 1992] Choice Cuts

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Tom Tom Club [Sire, 1981]
Vaguely annoyed by "Wordy Rappinghood"'s arch, prolix postverbalism, I resisted this record until the "Genius of Love" signature, already the basis of two rap covers, caught up with me in a club in Queens. Now I enjoy every cut, even the one with the radio transmission, a device I ordinarily regard as the worst permutation of the worst fad of the year. Between Tina Weymouth's childish vocals and the consistently playful pulse, the best kiddie funk since Motor-Booty Affair. A-

Close to the Bone [Sire, 1983]
As a one-off, this band was a delight, with a big push from the riff of the '80s and the help of consistently sly and kooky lyrics. But in rock and roll, delight is a fragile thing, and this codification flirts with the insufferable. The simplistic tunes and sing-song delivery do no service to the coy credos of freedom, equality, and happiness they accompany, and there are times when all this praise of jitney drivers and four-way hips suggests the kind of irresponsible exoticism cynics always suspect when rich white people find the meaning of life in the tropics. C+

Boom Boom Chi Boom Boom [Sire, 1989]
This spinoff seemed like a good idea at the time because a good idea was all it was. As a career alternative that lets them feel useful when David goes off on a tangent, it's product. The Arthur Baker-coproduced late-'88 stuff is arch, subfunctional dance music that transmutes "Wild Wild West" into "Wa Wa Dance" without the writing credit Sugarhill ceded "Genius of Love" way back when. The late-'87 is minimalist Europop, and in that it's not charmless. C+

Dark Sneak Love Action [Sire/Reprise, 1992]
"Who Wants an Ugly Girl?" Choice Cuts