Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Trouble Funk

  • Drop the Bomb [Sugarhill, 1982] A-
  • In Times of Trouble [D.E.T.T., 1983] B+
  • Saturday Night Live! From Washington D.C. [Island, 1985] B+
  • Trouble Over Here/Trouble Over There [Island, 1987] B

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Drop the Bomb [Sugarhill, 1982]
Title track's the baddest antinuke music yet, not least because it'll offend the pious even before the rhythms put them out of joint--which is not to suggest that "Let's Get Hot" is Trouble Funk's version of the nuclear freeze, although in a way it is. Actually, "Drop the Bomb," "Hey Fellas" (which--oh that direct, unironic street culture--uses "backstabbers" as a compliment), and the primal "Pump Me Up" are all hotter (or maybe cooler) than the overarranged "Let's Get Hot"--which is to suggest that when it's pumping, this rapid Chocolate City street funk is the death. A-

In Times of Trouble [D.E.T.T., 1983]
MacCarey's timbales and Dyke Reed's synths give these loyal D.C. homeboys more instrumental distinction than most of their major-label competition, but on the studio half of this double-LP you'd almost forget what sharp rappers they can be. The crowd on the live disc reminds you. B+

Saturday Night Live! From Washington D.C. [Island, 1985]
The better half of D.E.T.T.'s In Times of Trouble kicks it live, as the saying goes--though 4th & B'way's "Still Smokin'" twelve-inch is even kickinger, and also more current, if that concept meshes with the go-go ideal of eternal recurrence. B+

Trouble Over Here/Trouble Over There [Island, 1987]
Rather than solving this party band's problems, lead and background vocals from guest producers Kurtis Blow and Bootsy Collins underline it--ain't a one of the four vocalist-percussionist-keybist/bassists up front who's trouble enough. B