Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Taana Gardner: "Heartbeat" [West End 12-inch, 1981]
This classic one-shot is the hottest r&b record in the city right now for two self-evident reasons. First is the beat, which is like what it says only deeper and more deliberate (in the drums and handclaps) with palpitations (provided by a slow-humping bass). Second is Taana, who'd combine the melodic dislocations of Esther Phillips and the girlish screech of Diana Ross if she had the technical control of either. Because she doesn't, she also recalls another timbre-sister, Shirley Goodman (of & Lee and "Shame, Shame, Shame"). First I played the 6:30-minute "party" version; now I prefer the 9:34-minute "club" version. One-shot, eh? A