Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Donny Hathaway

  • Donny Hathaway [Atco, 1971] D-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Donny Hathaway [Atco, 1971]
Jerry Wexler and Atlantic, who would seem to know more about this sort of thing than I do, are pushing this refugee from the production booth as the Man Who Will Revitalize Soul Music. Could be, as I say, but if having soul means digging on all this supper-club melodrama and homogenized jazz then I'm content to be sterile, square, and white. Yeah yeah yeah. D-

Further Notes:

Subjects for Further Research [1970s]: "Bourgeoisification at its genteel worst," I once called the Atlantic best-of, and while I'm no longer comfortable with that judgment it suggests why most white rock critics find him so impenetrable. Hathaway was a synthesizer of limitless cultural aspiration--he could never have contented himself with the classbound pop fantasies of Ashford & Simpson, whom I much prefer, and unlike, say, Nancy Wilson, whom I really can't stand, he conveyed a sense of roots. Perhaps the idealistic credulousness of a project that incorporated pop, jazz, a little blues, lots of gospel, and the conservatory into an all-over black style is linked to the floridity that mars much of his work.