Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Tanya Tucker

  • Would You Lay With Me (in a Field of Stone) [Columbia, 1974] B-
  • Tanya Tucker's Greatest Hits [Columbia, 1975] B+
  • Livin' and Learnin' [MCA, 1976] B
  • TNT [MCA, 1978] C+
  • Super Hits [Columbia, 1998] ***
  • My Turn [Saguaro Road, 2009] ***

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Would You Lay With Me (in a Field of Stone) [Columbia, 1974]
If you think the inflatable dolls they sell with the Orgy-Gell in the back of cheap skin mags are sexy, then you will doubtless find this fifteen-year-old wonder of nature the hottest thing since that waitress who brought you the screwdrivers the time you blew $220 playing blackjack in downtown Winnemucca. A cute little ass, better-than-average pipes, and Billy Sherrill's usual "who gives a shit if the title cut is commercial" country album. Up a notch for no strings. B-

Tanya Tucker's Greatest Hits [Columbia, 1975]
As if recalling Appalachian roots, the youngest superstar and sex symbol in country music history adds rape, murder, and bastardy to familiar themes like drunkeness, poverty, abandonment, and love-is-the-answer. Kid stuff it ain't. Her burred contralto is an American dream, some weird hybrid of Buffy Sainte-Marie, Marilyn Monroe, and Will Rogers--dirty plainsong. But though I enjoy almost everything she does as soap opera--the bloodier the better--I don't believe a word. B+

Livin' and Learnin' [MCA, 1976]
The gain in assurance and excitement should put to rest all narrow-spirited suspicions that only Billy Sherrill's cracker acumen can shape Tanya's voice. But the voice remains a dirty one, which means that those songs that broaden her appeal by forcing her to play the ingenue tend to unfocus the persona behind subtler lyrics like Sterling Whipple's "Makin' Love Don't Always Make Love Grow." Highlights: two rockers, one from Fats Domino, the other from the Eagles. B

TNT [MCA, 1978]
The problem with Tanya's crossover is her functional but rather tiny brain--if only she had some real idea of exactly what she wanted to become, her pipes would put it across. Despite the heavy hoopla, the rock move here comprises three of the '50s classes that have always been her meat, and all that distinguishes this from earlier MCA Tanya is that Jerry Goldstein, her new intellectual adviser, has contributed three unusually bad songs. C+

Super Hits [Columbia, 1998]
Adding "Greener Than the Grass (We Laid On)" to the kiddie-porn Greatest Hits, a boon; replacing the rape-Gothic "No Man's Land" with "You Are So Beautiful," an obscenity ("Would You Lay With Me [in a Field of Stone]," "The Man That Turned My Mama On"). ***

My Turn [Saguaro Road, 2009]
It's never too late not to get above your raising ("Love's Gonna Live Here," "Lovesick Blues"). ***