Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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VARIOUS ARTISTS
New York Rocks
Koch

The late-'70s NYC scene that invented punk, compiled in 14 songs and 48 minutes

Some might carp that this efficient little celebration of New York punk is both too obvious and too obscure. Ramones, Patti Smith, Velvet Underground, Television, Richard Hell? Buy the albums, five unchallenged classics. And why the Mumps' "Crocodile Tears"? Why not the Contortions' "Contort Yourself"? Or anything by the New York Dolls? Nevertheless, the famous songs gather force back to back, and, the Mumps excepted, compiler Bill Crowley has mixed in some canny arcane: Mink DeVille, Suicide, Dead Boys? Skip the albums, save $50. All told, the disc evokes a scene worthy of that stupid term almost as well as closer Wayne (now Jayne) County: "The kids are jumpin' around everybody's doin' loop-do-loop/Just makin' the rounds like a speed freak in a telephone booth."

Blender, Mar. 2005