Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Goran Bregovic: Alkohol [Wrasse, 2009]
An educated non-Roma Serbian-Croatian popularizer who hit the big time scoring Emir Kusturica's educated non-Roma Time of the Gypsies, Bregovic is resented by many Roma musicians, and insofar as he's copyrighted traditional tunes I sympathize. But insofar as he makes the music go boom I don't. For outsiders, the unsynched oompah sway that makes Gypsy brass so intoxicating differs only marginally from strange background blowing that doesn't, so for Bregovic's first U.S. release to stagger forward on its own groove is an impressive achievement. As befits a guitarist who long led his own rock group, Bregovic's Wedding and Funeral Band is more purposeful than the Boban Markovic Orkestar and more unified than Fanfare Ciocarlia. Of course, it's also more obvious than either. But it's not like anybody's Gypsy brass is deep into subtlety. Bregovic reports that this is the slivovitz half of Alkohol, to be followed by a champagne half featuring a chamber orchestra. I expect to stick with the hard stuff. A-