Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Marc Ribot [extended]

  • Rootless Cosmopolitans [Island, 1990] Choice Cuts
  • Marc Ribot y Los Cubanos Postizos (The Prosthetic Cubans) [Atlantic, 1998] A-
  • Muy Divertido [Atlantic, 2000] A-
  • Party Intellectuals [Pi, 2008] ***
  • Your Turn [Northern Spy, 2013] A-
  • YRU Still Here? [Northern Spy, 2018] ***
  • Songs of Resistance 1942-2018 [Anti-, 2018] *

See Also:

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Rootless Cosmopolitans [Island, 1990]
"While My Guitar Gently Weeps" Choice Cuts

Marc Ribot y Los Cubanos Postizos (The Prosthetic Cubans) [Atlantic, 1998]
This witty, beautiful, slightly bent tribute to the old-time trés-playing bandleader Arsenio Rodriguez--inventor of the son montuno, the Cuban conjunto, and practically speaking the mambo--reduces all that action to a guitar-bass-drums-percussion jazz quartet, sometimes with organ and once with a few horns. Deconstructing as it adores, enjoying the rhythms and melodies of arrangements that function simultaneously as dance music, dinner music, and art music, it epitomizes what it is to love something from a distance there's no denying, yet love it well. A-

Muy Divertido [Atlantic, 2000]
Less enchanting than the first one, in part because it's not a surprise and in part because the tunes are a touch duller and the playing is a touch broader. But the idea of subjecting presalsa to the affectionate indignities of a small, bent jazz ensemble remains muy divertido. And once you internalize the material--by Ribot's beloved Arsenio Rodriguez and several other Cubans, with Ribot's own "Las Lomas de New Jersey" and "Baile Baile Baile" holding their own--you'll love the vamp-ups, the is-that-a-jokes, the getting loud but not that loud. A-

Marc Ribot's Ceramic Dog: Party Intellectuals [Pi, 2008]
Avant-guitarist to the cult stars constructs power trio that can play every genre he's interested in, with--what else?--mixed results ("Party Intellectuals," "Break on Through"). ***

Ceramic Dog: Your Turn [Northern Spy, 2013]
Situated between the forlorn yowl "Lies My Body Told Me" and the impersonal slave chant "Masters of the Internet," the title track, a wordless showcase for leader Marc Ribot's guitar, redeems "rockism"'s raging glory days. I mean, these guys are pissed, yet without a hint of sexist strut or blues-boy self-pity. Six songs-with-lyrics, each with its own vocal signature although there's not a proper singer to be heard, and six instrumentals, some straight and some avant and one a loving yet crudely irreverent "Take Five" cover, converge toward the same goal: demolishing your musical illusions. Really, folks, don't try to download this one free. They want their money. When they say "We're not human like you/We live inside your iPod," that's called sarcasm. A-

Ceramic Dog: YRU Still Here? [Northern Spy, 2018]
Disruptive, radical, all that good stuff, Marc Ribot-Shahzad Ismaily-Ches Smith jams are nonethless strongest at their most ideological ("Fuck La Migra," "Pennsylvania 6 6666," "Muslim Jewish Resistance") ***

Songs of Resistance 1942-2018 [Anti-, 2018]
True politics, true musicianship, and true diversity, with barely an anthem or fight song to be heard ("John Brown [Feat. Fay Victor]," "Knock That Statue Down [Feat. Mark Ribot & Syd Straw]," "Ain't Gonna Let Them Turn Us Around [Feat. Steve Earle & Tift Merritt]") *

See Also