Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Gregory Abbott

  • Shake You Down [Columbia, 1986] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Shake You Down [Columbia, 1986]
The title single is a deceptively slight slow burn, a come-on so unassuming you don't notice you're being seduced until after you've slipped into something more comfortable, and most of the album works the same subliminally hooky con--harmless until it whispers "gotcha," it's a model of consumer calculation. The persona is green-eyed handsome man with the wherewithal to support his fine tastes and yours. The songs are tuneful ditties with Bacharach/Bell chords and harmonies. And the singing is generic Spinners--growling or crooning or letting his falsetto do the talking, Abbott has learned to make the most of the edgy strain that's his unavoidable vocal trademark. There's something all too '80s about his bid to create a great love man without a great voice--if in 1971 Bill Withers was a toilet installer expressing his higher self and in 1978 Ray Parker Jr. was a bizwise craftsman selling his irrepressible formal exuberance, then in 1987 Abbott is a brokerage grunt looking to maximize his profitability. But by reinventing a black pop of modest means, he takes a first step toward returning that great crossover in the sky to the people. Wouldn't it be nice if somebody else took another one? B+

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