Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 1976-00-00


Ted Curson: Tears for Dolphy (Arista/Freedom, 1976) Considering how cheap they are to produce, jazz combo records like this one are shamefully rare, and even when they're tightly conceived and not excessively earthbound (not just Grover Washington but Joe Henderson) or ethereal (not just Mahavishnu but Kenny Wheeler) it's rare yet that they're as melodic, economical, and fraught with small pleasures as this one. B+

Fania All-Stars: Delicate and Jumpy (Columbia, 1976) I don't know much about salsa, but I know what it means when it says "arranged and conducted by Gene Page." In or out of clave, elevator music is elevator music. C-

Hidden Strength: Hidden Strength (United Artists, 1975) I get to play this once every two or three months, when it works down to the end of the shelf. I put on side one and enjoy the easeful nonsense chorus of "Happy Song." But nothing else--including "Hustle On Up (Do The Bump)," which UA foolishly slotted for a disco breakout--catches my ear. Someone in a position of authority should listen to "Happy Song." It's nice. C

Ray Wylie Hubbard & the Cowboy Twinkies: Ray Wylie Hubbard & the Cowboy Twinkies (Warner Bros., 1976) I've listened to the bracingly solid songs of this Austin mainstreamer two dozen times without once being tempted to turn them off. But there must be more to love than that. B

Barry Manilow: Tryin' to Get the Feeling (Arista, 1975) Inspirational Verse: "I've been alive forever/And I wrote the very first song/I put the words and melodies together/I AM MUSIC/And I write the songs." You've heard that one, eh? It figures. But do you know who wrote the song? Bruce Johnston. C-

Jane Olivor: First Night (Columbia, 1976) The three best-selling record albums of all time are Tapestry, Bridge Over Troubled Water, and The Sound of Music. One way of explaining how unmonolithic "mass" culture really is is to point out how few consumers are likely to own all three. And a way of explaining how stupefying Jane Olivor is is to guess that she not only owns all three, but would put them in her all-time top 10. Live, she enunciates Neil Diamond and John Denver lyrics with the intense credulity of someone who thinks poetry is anything that rhymes; her LP is marginally adventurous, but if she becomes a star it will be by embodying the half of Barbra Streisand that Bette Midler put in the garbage. Recycling should never go this far. C-

Pablo Cruise: Lifeline (A&M, 1976) You can take the Doobie Brothers out of the country, but you can't turn them into Three Dog Night. C-

Archie Shepp: A Sea of Faces (Black Saint, 1975) On a Milanese label distributed stateside by the good folk of Record People (66 Greene Street), this combines more of Shepp's chronic poetry-with-jazz with a nice boppish number on one side while the sax-solo-over-Latin-riff of your dreams flows over some 26 minutes on the other. Simple to execute, but I'm glad somebody bothered. It's danceable, too--but does it have disco potential? B+

The Stanky Brown Group: Our Pleasure to Serve You (Sire, 1976) You can take the Ozark Mountain Daredevils out of the country, but you can't turn them into the Doobie Brothers. D+

The Sylvers: Showcase (Capitol, 1976) Carola thinks they're cuter than the Jackson 5. I think their single is cuter than their album. C

Van Der Graf Generator: Godbluff (Mercury, 1975) Inspirational Verse (from Peter--note spelling--Hammill, yet): "Fickle promises of treaty, fatal harbingers of war, futile orisons/swirl as on in the flight, this mad chase,/this surge across the marshy mud landscape/until the meaning is forgotten." D+

Bill Wyman: Stone Alone (Rolling Stones, 1976) In which a unsung hero creates an unsung record, manifesting his delight in the pop, the catchy, and the cute even though he doesn't have the voice, or the vocal cunning, to go with it. The result is ingenious frills with no center, quite likeable and quite forgettable. Alternate title: If Ringo Can Do It . . . C+

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