Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Thirty-five years after she died in a plane crash at 30, Patsy Cline is more bankable than ever. As with Jimi and Elvis, her image as well as her music fills a need. The strings and bland songs that some would say sapped her vocal gumption mark her as country's first modern--as contemporary in 1960 as Wynonna is today, way ahead of a time that Garth Brooks could only cash in on. But for those of us who don't need such an icon, her Nashville Sound can get pretty saccharine, and that's where Live at the Cimarron Ballroom (MCA) comes in handy. This Tulsa gig is how she sounded when she pursued country fans on the road instead of crossover dreams in the studio, and because her pickup band was a tough Western swing aggregation led by legendary steel guitarist Leon McAuliffe, she revs up her music a lot harder than she ever did with producer Owen Bardley. Shake, Rattle and Roll? Honey, why not?


Leicester, England's Singh brothers, Tjinder and Avtar, began Cornershop as a postpunk rock band that dipped into their Punjabi heritage. But although their Velvet Underground stylings had more distinction than most, it was only on their more Indian-sounding major-label debut, Woman's Gotta Have It, that they came into their tuneful own. At the very least, When I Was Born for the 7th Time (Warner Bros./Luaka Bop) proves that there are more fetchingly Asian melodies where those came from. And just for a giggle, it reclaims Norwegian Wood from the Beatles, sitar and all.


On the surface, the Murmurs' Pristine Smut (MCA) is where a cute little pop band gets its act together. Not too far below, it's where rock and roll's sexiest lesbians tell the world what they want--in bed, on the floor, wherever.

Playboy, Sept. 1997


Aug. 1997 Oct. 1997