Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Burt Bacharach

  • The Look of Love: The Burt Bacharach Collection [Rhino, 1998] B-
  • At This Time [Columbia, 2005] C-

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Look of Love: The Burt Bacharach Collection [Rhino, 1998]
Now it's official: Dionne Warwick and Burt Bacharach were the best things ever to happen to each other. She's a bore without him, and he brings out the best in none of the other singers here. If anything, his fancy hackwork diminishes them-whether it's starters like the Drifters, the Shirelles, and Dusty Springfield or second-stringers like Gene Pitney, Jackie DeShannon, and end-of-the-bencher Chuck Jackson, all sound about as good as you'd expect and all peaked elsewhere. Then there are Lou Johnson, B.J. Thomas, Bobby Vinton, and the hapless Bacharach himself, not to mention horrid one-shots by Richard Chamberlain, Bobby Goldsboro, Trini Lopez, Jill O'Hara, gad. It's enough to renew your faith in Elvis Costello. B-

At This Time [Columbia, 2005]
When I ask myself which of the many horrible things about this adoringly promoted "political" record is the very worst, I'm tempted to go for broke and say the arrangements. For in truth, it is difficult to imagine circumstances under which the pop paragon's latest instrumental divertissements would signify. Chris Botti provides a few high points on trumpet--that's right, Chris Botti, high points, canceled out and then some by the anonymous saxophone soloist, who sounds to my unschooled ears like a moonlighting Kenny G. Then there are the weak yet obtrusive beats hired out to such humanitarians as Kon Artis and Dr. Dre. Rufus Wainwright doesn't really believe "Love's the answer like I said before/It's the one thing needed maybe now even more," Elvis Costello maintains a suspicious distance from "Who Are These People?" before belting it with equally suspicious enthusiasm, and both outsing--by a lot--John Pagano (?), Josie James (?), and Donna Taylor (?), who in turn outsing--by a whole lot--chief vocalist Bacharach. Who are these people? C-