Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2002-10-18

2002-10-18

Black Box Recorder: The Facts of Life (Jetset, 2001) See: Sex Tips for Teens. A

Billy Bragg & Wilco: Mermaid Avenue II (Elektra, 2000) See: Folksinger, Wordslinger, Start Me a Song. A-

Common: Like Water for Chocolate (MCA, 2000) See: Rising to the Top. A-

Del Tha Funkee Homosapien: Both Sides of the Brain (Hiero Imperium, 2000) See: Rising to the Top. A-

Steve Earle: Jerusalem (Artemis, 2002) See: Attack of the Chickenshits. A-

Elastica: The Menace (Atlantic, 2000) See: Five Years and Eight Hours: Elastica Out of Control. A-

Eminem: The Eminem Show (Aftermath/Interscope, 2002) See: White American. A-

Franco: Rough Guide to Franco (World Music Network, 2001) See: Franco de Mi Amor. A

Franco: The Very Best of the Rumba Giant of Zaire (Manteca, 2000) See: Franco de Mi Amor. A+

The Go-Betweens: The Friends of Rachel Worth (Jetset, 2000) See: A Short Long Story: The Go-Betweens in Love. A

MC Solaar: Paradisiaque (Polydor, 1997) See: Planet Rock. *

Old 97's: Satellite Rides (Elektra, 2001) See: You May Think It's Stupid, Rhett Miller Thinks It's Art. A

Steely Dan: Two Against Nature (Warner Bros., 2000) See: Doing It Again. A

Randy Travis: Inspirational Journey (Warner Bros., 2000) See: Striving for Ease. **

Randy Travis: The Randy Travis Anthology: Trail of Memories (Rhino, 2002) See: Striving for Ease. A

Tom Waits: Alice (Anti-, 2002) See: Effective but Defective. *

Tom Waits: Blood Money (Anti-, 2002) See: Effective but Defective. A-

Lucinda Williams: Essence (Lost Highway, 2001) See: Encore From a Utopia. A-

Badlands (Sub Pop, 2000) It's fine in principle for alt-etc. heroes to cover Bruce Springsteen's 1982 living-room bummer Nebraska in its exact sequence at a higher level of production. But tribute albums always come with artistic happenstance attached. The woeful Son Volt's generically mournful "Open All Night" generates more punch than the party song Los Lobos try to make out of "Johnny 99." Second-rater Deana Carter's eerily electronic "State Trooper" signifies more sharply than the great Ani DiFranco's bitterly electronic "Used Cars." And only Johnny Cash truly nails anything--"I'm on Fire," one of three bonus tracks. Dar Williams's perfectly well-sung "Highway Patrolman," which Cash once did better than Springsteen himself, typifies what's wrongest about the idea. Williams may think it's nifty for a woman to sing a lyric explicitly designed for a man without adjusting it for gender. But it also reduces a song that was a holy mission for its creator into a mere work of art--a museum piece that deserve better. [Rolling Stone: 3]
Hank III, "Atlantic City"; Deana Carter, "State Trooper"; Johnny Cash, "I'm on Fire" Choice Cuts

The Best of International Hip-Hop (Hip-O, 2000) See: Planet Rock. A-

Bosavi: Rainforest Music From Papua New Guinea (Smithsonian/Folkways, 2001) See: Chasing Waterfalls. A-

Free the West Memphis 3 (Koch, 2000) See: Dog Food for Justice. B+

'Til We Outnumber Them (Righteous Babe, 2000) Bruce Springsteen, "Ridin' in My Car"; Ramblin' Jack Elliott, "1913 Massacre" Choice Cuts

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