Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 1973-00-00


Chicago: Chicago VI (Columbia, 1973) Any horn band that's reduced to writing songs about critics and copping (unsuccessfully) from both Motown and America must be running out of--how do you say eet?--good charts. C

Congress of Wonders: Sophmoric (Fantasy, 1973) This ought to be marked with a sic. They probably spell it humour, too, just like the phlegm in medieval medicine. E+

Bill Cosby: Inside the Mind of Bill Cosby (Uni, 1972) Hip, schmip--Cosby is a genius. Whether he is creating legends about growing up in the Philadelphia ghetto or embroidering his own ordinary experiences as a parent or working for the Electric Company, Cosby has one great subject--the minds of children. Asking him to become a satirist would be like asking Charley Pride to sing the blues. His ability to delve the fantastic convolutions of the non-adult imagination has no parallel. Like so many of the most widely popular artists, Cosby is blessed with a style of sentiment that is never dishonest--Will Rogers must have had a similar gift. His albums don't sell the way they used to, but they're still very funny and this is recommended. A-

Ray D'Ariano: Are You on Something? (Kama Sutra, 1972) Second generation hip comedy. The third time I listened to this record, the first side destroyed the two comedy albums I'd just heard--it includes the best ever Woodstock, Cheech & Chong & FM radio bits. It's very subtle, though, no yock-yocks. Potential. B+

Spencer Davis Group: Gluggo (Vertigo, 1973) Davis has been putting out moderately enjoyable records for as long as I kept track. This is a little less folky, worth investigating for non-charismatic, professional rock and roll. B

John Fahey: After the Ball (Reprise, 1973) I'm a rock and roll fan, too, and I'd rather listen to this collection of standards and acoustic blues and rag inventions than any rock record this side of the Allmans and the New York Dolls. Conditionally guaranteed. A-

Imus in the Morning: One Sacred Chicken to Go (RCA Victor, 1973) Souvenir with a difference. As WNBC radio's morning man, Imus is attuned to a kind of off-the-wall ear comedy that translates well to record. As a deejay, he is genuinely outrageous--he recently announced the time an hour later than it was for an entire show--and the tapes that capture his on-the-air bravado work best here. Other bits seem designed only to prove that he can use naughty words when he's not broadcasting. B-

Luther Ingram: (If Loving You Is Wrong) I Don't Want to Be Right (Koko, 1972) Great single--anyone who recalls "My Honey and Me" knows that Ingram runs into his share of good material--but in his Memphis way he's as colorless as Jack Jones. C

Michael Jackson: Music and Me (Motown, 1973) Having finally gotten it through my head that Michael isn't the black Donny Osmond--not only does he have a sense of natural rhythm, but he's a singer not a marionette--I listened hard and decided he's not a very good singer. Genuinely sweet and genuinely clean, when Motown provides the material. But if he's a real interpreter, I'm too old to understand where the interpretations are coming from. B-

Waylon Jennings: Lonesome, On'ry and Mean (RCA Victor, 1973) I can't say for sure whether it's him or me, but Waylon doesn't sound anywhere near so . . . strained this time out. Maybe it's just "Sandy Sends Her Best," as powerful a song about the guilty good will on the hurting side of a breakup as you'll ever hear. Still a touch or four melodramatic, though. B

Robert Klein: Child of the 50's (Brut, 1973) In person, Klein is quick, energetic, nasty, compassionate--very New York. This record captures about half of that, which isn't bad, and I bet the next one is better. B

Charles Lloyd: Waves (A&M, 1972) The usual vaguely cosmic jazz enlivened by some sensual percussion and the best Beach Boys chorale since Sunflower. It's called "TM," and I insist it stands for Terry Morgan because I'm afraid it stands for The Maharishi. Unfortunately, Mike Love reprises with a recitation, completing the eternal circle with a resonant zzzzzzzzzz. B

Johnny Nash: My Merry-Go-Round (Epic, 1973) Buried beneath three-and-a-half acres of violins are a couple of passable reggae songs and a mediocre-minus album. D+

Space Opera: Space Opera (Epic, 1973) Not a great group, but a lot better than their horrible name. Add space as in open to space as in outer and you get yet another version of the Byrds. Space as in opera yields "Guitar Suite," which is at least as bad as their horrible name. C+

Paul Winter Consort: Icarus (Epic, 1973) Kind of a classical/jazz mix but with none of the stiffness that suggests--inquisitive, contemplative, eclectic, peaceful. And eloquent, much more eloquent than my description, which does more for the music than the lyrics that obstruct a couple of cuts. B+

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