Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Sidewalks of New York [Winter & Winter, 1999]
Tin Pan Alley represented, not re-created--with hyped tempos, with maestro Uri Caine arranging like a time-traveling Kurt Weill, with homage to James Reese Europe's boys rather than the white studio stiffs who backed Nora Bayes on the original "Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly?" and Bert Williams on the original "Nobody," with multiethnic buddies making passes and kidding around. Compensating for well-meaning missteps like Barbara Walker's 11-minute soulification of "Some of These Days" are well-deployed sound effects and singers who achieve intonation in the vernacular--sprightly contralto Nancy Opel, talky baritone Stuart Zagnit. And while favorites inevitably get missed--I nominate "Bully of the Town"--the material proves there is such a thing as the test of time. A-