Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Sound of the City: Memphis

Memphis Celebrates 50 Years of Rock 'n' Roll
BMG Strategic Marketing Group

BMG's one-disc civic promotion never drags as it strides from obviosity to obviosity: "Blue Suede Shoes" to "I Walk the Line," "Soul Man" to "Dock of the Bay," early Elvis song to late Elvis song. But Charlie Gillett is one of the rare guys who can make a virtue of getting dragged by obviosity. Although NYC, L.A., and Chicago proved too various to fold into accompanying musical cityscapes, he goes to town on a radio-ready two-CD mixtape that includes six songs with Memphis in their twitles and three artists with Memphis in their names. It's got thematic segues, novelty instrumentals, stuff the historian-DJ plays wayfaring strangers in his living room, and known great songs now passed from the collective memory: "Tongue Tied Jill," "Trapped by a Thing Called Love," "I Feel Like Breaking Up Somebody's Home," the amazing "Third Rate Romance," more. Howlin' Wolf and B.B. King check in with early crudities; "Dixie Fried" packs a thematic punch lacking in BMG's "Blue Suede Shoes." And though some selections are only curiosities? Dan Penn must be one hell of a nice guy--the whole thing moves, slight dips being part of the ride.

Village Voice, Jan. 24, 2006

Jan. 24, 2006 Jan. 24, 2006