Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Playboy Music

Dreaming of solo glory, Mick Jagger doesn't have much time for The Rolling Stones these days--just lyrics and a few key musical ideas added to tracks created by Keith Richards and Ron Wood for Dirty Work (Rolling Stones). And not since Some Girls, in 1978, have these guys sounded so committed. Oh, purists of dirty may not agree--coproducer Steve Lillywhite's cavernous clarity and booming drum mix add a suspiciously "now" feel to the classic riff tunes. But gritty lyrics and vocals open a direct line to love rockers such as "One Hit" and "Had It with You," an "Angie"-caliber slow one called "Sleep Tonight" and songs of conscience that only these well-known sons of bitches could get away with. Here's hoping CBS sends a copy of "Winning Ugly" to Ronald Reagan, Peter Ueberroth and every other archcompetitor who has it coming.

I don't know how seriously anybody takes Laurie Anderson's avant-garde origins anymore, but, really, there was never anything to be afraid of--this is one performance artist who always emphasized the performing, not the art. On Home of the Brave (Warner), the sound track to a self-directed movie her label hopes will do a David Byrne on her, she combines the timing and signature delivery of a stand-up comic with unmistakable art rock that has only one pretension--it means to put her across. Old fans may find it slick and resent the occasional remakes, but it's a fine howdy, and this old fan likes it as much as any album she's done except United States Live, which is four hours long.

Tsk, tsk--"Party Train," which leads off side two of the Gap Band's The 12" Collection (PolyGram), repeats the formula of "You Dropped the Bomb on Me" and "Early in the Morning." I mean, wotta formula. Matter of fact, "Party Train" is what they should have called the only Gap Band album anybody need own (and I also mean need).

Playboy, July 1986


June 1986 Aug. 1986