Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 1972-00-00

1972-00-00

Stephen Ambrose: Gypsy Moth (Elektra, 1972) Inspirational Verse: "Mary's arms reach out for me/We're sorry to leave you, mama/But this poor wanderin' boy/Is about to settle my karma." D+

Brian Auger's Oblivion Express: Second Wind (RCA Victor, 1972) Auger is a keyboard virtuoso and so what? Like most jazz-rock, this is a mishmash, not a synthesis, a loud version of the jazz of a decade ago. A voice is used not for human dimension, but for "dynamics" and the lyrics are so empty they might as well be Ray Conniff doodly-doodly-doo. D+

Ruth Brown: The Real Ruth Brown (Cobblestone, 1972) In which the young r&b singer becomes the mature jazz singer. Ruth Brown gave us some wonderful times way back when (remember "Mama, He Treats Your Daughter Mean"?) and there are wonderful times here, too (I vote for "Snap Your Fingers" and "All Around the World") but they're cut with a lot of club-act schlock. How about a one-year moratorium on "Walk A Mile In My Shoes"? B-

Mike d'Abo: Down at Rachel's Place (A&M, 1972) Normally, I only play the first side of just plain dull records like this one, but because d'Abo wrote "Handbags and Gladrags" I not only played side two but played it twice. A waste of time. D+

Yvonne Elliman: Yvonne Elliman (Decca, 1972) Clean production, tasteful song selection, winsome singing. Bleh. C+

Al Green: Al Green (Bell, 1972) If Al decides to turn into Otis Redding after all, we may look back at this repackaging of his earliest recordings as the beginning of a great stylist. If he decides to turn into Diana Ross, as seems at least possible, we will forget it quickly enough. B-

John Lee Hooker: Never Get Out of These Blues Alive (ABC, 1972) The Hook, being the Hook, almost never makes a bad album, but he does tend to be a little too boogieing even. This one breaks the pattern, with an agonizing version of "TB Sheets," an apt contribution from Van Morrison, and great studio work from guitarist Luther Tucker, Mel Brown, and Elvin Bishop. A-

The Johnstons: The Johnstons (Mercury, 1972) What do you call it when an honest and political Irish folk duo adds strings and horn arrangements for no perceivable purpose, including increased sales? How about sham-rock? C

Eric Justin Kaz: If You're Lonely (Atlantic, 1972) James Taylor without panache. D

Looking Glass: Looking Glass (Epic, 1972) This automatic good time doesn't even have the courage of its own slickness. C-

Ian Matthews: Tigers Will Survive (Vertigo, 1972) I know that Matthews (Fairport Convention, Matthews Southern Comfort) is one of the best acoustic-type performers around. I enjoy him at clubs. But they tell me that all the tunes on the record catch up to you, and after listening a dozen times I'm up to two--"Da Doo Ron Ron," which had a head start, and "The Only Dancer." B-

The Mothers: Just Another Band From L.A. (Bizarre, 1972) You said it, Frank, I didn't. C

The Osmonds: Phase III (MGM, 1972) No, I'm not being perverse. In fact, the first side to this lp--which includes two great singles ("Yo-Yo" and "Down by the Lazy River") and two good white soul-rockers and an acceptable-plus ballad--is such great AM music that I'm tempted to go higher. Unfortunately, the other side is a stinker, from Jesus-rock to studio jollity. One album a year and they might be very good indeed. B

Savoy Brown: Hellbound Train (Parrot, 1972) Creedence Clearwater survival. B-

James Taylor: One Man Dog (Warner Bros., 1972) James Taylor with panache. C+

Uriah Heep: The Magician's Birthday (Mercury, 1972) Third-hand heavy metal fantasies, like Led Zep only more literal, hooked to some clean, powerful arrangements, and a good melody or two. Okay stuff. B-

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