Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Chris Butler & Ralph Carney [extended]

  • The Devil Glitch [Future Fossil, 1996] **
  • I Like You (a Lot) [Akron Cracker, 1999] Neither
  • This Is! Ralph Carney [Black Beauty, 2003] **
  • Carneyball Johnson [Akron Cracker, 2006] **
  • Ralph Carney's Serious Jass Project [Akron Cracker, 2009] ***
  • Oh, Pa [Pel Pel, 2012] *
  • Easy Life [Future Fossil, 2014] B+
  • Songs for Unsung Holidays [Smog Veil, 2018] **
  • Got It Together! [Smog Veil, 2018] **

See Also:

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Chris Butler: The Devil Glitch [Future Fossil, 1996]
one song with a shitload of choruses, or, "Sometimes you can fix something 550 times/there's special grace in repetition" ("Track 3: Mars Williams--sax player from the Waitresses"; "Track 15: Christopher D. Butler--computer music wiz") **

Ralph Carney: I Like You (a Lot) [Akron Cracker, 1999] Neither

Ralph Carney: This Is! Ralph Carney [Black Beauty, 2003]
A Buckeye Hornman--not quite as funny as a Hoosier Hotshot, but sweeter ("Turkey Neck," "Jug Gland Music"). **

Carneyball Johnson: Carneyball Johnson [Akron Cracker, 2006]
Mr. Ralph Carney and his small ensemble play the works of Zappa, Prado, Ra, Monk, Cream, Dekker, and others ("Jackie-ing," "Intensified Festival '68"). **

Ralph Carney: Ralph Carney's Serious Jass Project [Akron Cracker, 2009]
Serious by Carney's standards, which means teaching '40s honker Big Jay McNeely "Futuristic Rhythm," a Fields-McHugh song written in 1929 ("Backtrackin'," "Blow Big Ralph [aka Blow Big Jay]"). ***

David Greenberger & Ralph Carney: Oh, Pa [Pel Pel, 2012]
Starring 75-year-old smoker and verbal gymnast Fergie, with everybody else a sideshow ("The Fergie and David Show: The Meaning of Embarrassment," "Fergie's Gilligan's Island," "Reason to Get Up," "The Fergie & David Show: A Recording Session") *

Chris Butler: Easy Life [Future Fossil, 2014]
It has its slow spots, especially on a few fast-forwards from 1970, but this cobbled-together concept album by a long-scrabbling professional on the rock fringe earns its subtitle: "The Bohemian Dream & American Nightmare of Kent State 1970." The buoyant title track evokes the late-hippie mindset as accurately as Neil Young's melancholy "Don't Let It Bring You Down," and the surrounding historical detail powers an acute portrait of a movement that was simultaneously casual and righteous--a movement of young people who'd never seen their world contract and couldn't believe it actually might. Part one of the long tale that ends the album proper climaxes with a road trip to see the Dead in Cleveland, during which Butler sneaks onstage and plays beer can until Jerry tells him to shut the fuck up. In part two, the bummed-out kid gives his drum kit to Jeff Miller three weeks before Miller becomes one of four Kent State students slaughtered by the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970. The postscript is Creedence's "Fortunate Son," which lest you've forgotten is about not being one. B+

Songs for Unsung Holidays [Smog Veil, 2018]
Pan-instrumental dynamo and world's friendliest saxophone player collaborate one last time after the latter asks, "How come there are no more silly bands?" ("Salami Appreciation Day," "Blessing of the Bikes Day," "Day of the Dead") **

Chris Butler: Got It Together! [Smog Veil, 2018]
Seventy this month, the Tin Huey catalyst, Waitresses mastermind, and dB's bassist establishes his right to begin "Never Been Old Before" with an excitable "If you say you're bored then you're not paying attention." ("Songs for Guys," "Summer Money") **