Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Jackie Wilson: Reet Petite [Ace, 1985]
I know Wilson loved Al Jolson and Mario Lanza. I accept it. In a way I even applaud it--why shouldn't he have aspired to the universality of schlock? But on these 16 cuts, including only three from Epic's Jackie Wilson Story plus an earlier, altogether more subdued and thrilling "Danny Boy," you'd almost think he'd stuck with Berry Gordy, and is it a relief. The stiff choruses and big-band climaxes are still in evidence, but on these mostly uptempo album tracks they rarely intrude; occasionally you even notice some guitar. And since Wilson isn't really an interpreter---I said Jolson and Lanza, not Sinatra and Melchior--it's just as well that the songs are raveups and filler, leaving plenty of room for acrobatic workout. "Shake, Shake, Shake," "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!," "It's So Fine," "Do Lord." A