Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Arena heroes retrofitted from the druggy depths, Aerosmith have an as yet unimplemented Sony megadeal that symbolizes corporate rock. Renowned for ugly noise, the Butthole Surfers are so alternative you can't name them in a daily newspaper. Beyond the givens of race and gender, they could hardly seem to have less in common. Only don't bet on it, OK?

Although it occasionally exploits their rap connection, Aerosmith's Get a Grip (Geffen) says absolutely nothing new. Musically it's fast ones and slow ones; lyrically it's fuck me and fuck you. But they go about their business with such superpro crunch and commitment that no good-timing headbanger will give a shit. The classic is the hard-rock ballad Cryin', the closest thing to a duff cut the "meaningful" Livin' on the Edge, which could be a hit anyway.

As surprising as the vitality of Aerosmith's professionalism is the professionalization of the B-holes' vitality. The symbol of their major-label debut, Independent Worm Saloon (Capitol), is producer John Paul Jones, who got his start with a band called Led Zeppelin, but its agent is the band itself. For all their gross-out sensationalism, the B-holes have always been hard-working road rats, and that they should now crank out an album of dynamite riffs--cut with trademark weirdness, natch--makes as much sense as leader Gibby Haynes's accounting degree.

Just goes to show you--white boys' music is white boys' music. Sometimes the givens of race and gender count for a lot.


Fast Cuts: On Flying Down to Mono Valley (Epic/One Little Indian), the two girls who run the Popinjays do their damnedest to hook up with a guy and stay cute enough to convince you it isn't their fault they can't. On So Tough (Sire), the woman who does the singing in Saint Etienne makes clear that nice and interesting aren't mutually exclusive. Just in case you were wondering.

Playboy, May 1993


Apr. 1993 June 1993