Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Butch Thompson

  • Yulestride [Daring, 1994] ***
  • Thompson Plays Joplin [Daring, 1998] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Yulestride [Daring, 1994]
hymns laced with standards and bent quietly into cocktail-piano wassail ("Silent Night," "Jingle Bells") ***

Thompson Plays Joplin [Daring, 1998]
One reason Scott Joplin's rhythmic revolution comes through so faintly on record is that it was swallowed whole by the tempo of 20th-century life. Though it's true enough, as anyone who's ventured near Treemonisha knows, that Joplin craved respect, that's no reason to forgive all the concert pianists who've arted up and toned down his beat since Joshua Rifkin. With a firm hand, the man from Lake Wobegon sets them straight. His Joplin doesn't rock, swing, or anything like it. But at their most liltingly delicate these rags are set in motion, as he says, by "the same driving pulse that underlies all of America's truly original music." Marvin Hamlisch go back where you came from. A-