Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Recyclables

BLIND WILLIE MCTELL
Statesboro Blues
(Bluebird/BMG Heritage)

"His Victor recordings, made between 1927 and 1932, are complete here for the first time." Including "Stole Rider Blues," "Dark Night Blues," and "Loving Talking Blues," presumably omitted from Yazoo's superior 1927-1933: The Early Years because they're not very good, though that never stopped Yazoo before. So why did Yazoo's blues worshippers omit the lubricious Ruby Glaze duets ("Rollin' Mama Blues," yum)? Didn't they know anyone who'd lend them the 78s? Bluebird, meanwhile, must have omitted "Broke Down Engine Blues," "Georgia Rag," "Talkin' to Myself," and other glorious 12-string showcases because they weren't on Victor. Punctiliousness, just when we don't need it.


SLIM HARPO
The Best of Slim Harpo
(Hip-O)

Supplanting AVI's deleted Hip Shakin' twofer, Hip-O's new Slim Harpo twofer, The Excello Singles Anthology, offers mellower and more "natural" sound, which I'm too boorish to appreciate. Ditto for the selection, which on AVI's dozen-out-of-40-odd nonduplicates tended toward the oddball (though Hip-O's "Folsom Prison Blues" is pretty funny). Blues, schmooze--lowdown novelty with a mudcat beat was Mr. Hipshake Kingbee's métier. So here's an idea: this old one-volume Hip-O. It'll cost you half as much--while it's in print.


DIGITAL UNDERGROUND
Playwutchyalike: The Best of Digital Underground
Tommy Boy/Rhino)

This is the only way to hear "Doowutchyalike" and "The Humpty Dance" on any single disc except their frat-sexist debut and the miss-or-hit new Tommy Boy's Greatest Hits. It unceremoniously dispatches 2001's No Nose Job: The Legend of Digital Underground, from which it omits their third-best song, "Return of the Crazy One," still available on the excellent Body-Hat Syndrome. Is this why Black Stalin wrote "Burn Dem"? Kinda.

Village Voice, Jan. 27, 2004


Dec. 16, 2003 Mar. 9, 2004