Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide by Review Date: 2011-05-13


Blaze Foley: Duct Tape Messiah (Lost Art, 2011) With Foley's posthumous albums patchier than need be, this documentary soundtrack is where to pay your respects. Before he passed at 39, Foley's resonant voice had been roughed up by alcohol and the crusty life, but his easy flow was always something to hear. Without the five keepers it shares with the Morlix tribute, its slow ones would be hard to take--"Our Little Town" makes six minutes feel like a sermon so long the roast gets burnt--but Morlix doesn't do "Let Me Ride in Your Big Cadillac," "Living in the Woods in a Tree," or "Cosmic Doo Doo," and all are candidates for canonization. Too bad both records pass on "WW III," "Oval Room," and the jokingly, shockingly sadistic "Springtime in Uganda." Foley clearly never thought living in a car diminished his citizenship one little bit. B+

Gurf Morlix: Blaze Foley's 113th Wet Dream (Rootball, 2011) Eccentric even for a city that brags about its eccentrics, Austinite Blaze Foley inspired Lucinda Williams's "Drunken Angel" and had the best luck of his star-crossed career when Merle Haggard made "If I Could Only Fly" the title song of an excellent 2000 comeback album that didn't sell much. By then he'd been dead a decade, killed by the gun-toting son of a friend he was standing up for. His legend hasn't been helped by master tapes that kept getting lost, stolen, or seized by federal agents, but on these 15 songs his guitarist friend Gurf gets to cherry-pick and hook up with a drummer. Irresistible as John Prine for an opening section capped by the homelessness ditty "No Goodwill Stores in Waikiki," they sink into a slough of despond that starts feeling right comfy before the record rises up with "Small Town Hero," in which the duct tape abuser gets the last word on the high school sports star. Foley never mistook his dysfunction for a cause or felt sorry for himself about anything but women, and even there not much. He made his bed wherever. A-

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