Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Arlo Guthrie: Amigo [Reprise, 1976]
When you wrap one good-but-not-great album a year around a voice so frail and a sensibility so quirky, you're liable to find yourself pigeonholed--as a miniaturist, an odd duck if not a small fry. On the other hand, if just a few of those LPs are a little better than anyone has a right to expect, people might start thinking you're an auteur or something. I don't go for that frog talk myself, but this release has me pulling out my old Arlo albums and discovering how ideally the limitations of his voice have always suited his wry and complex understanding of things. Especially recommended: "Guabi Guabi," an absurdly cheerful African ditty that ought to be a novelty hit, and "Victor Jara," the most painful protest song in recent memory (including "Hurricane"). A-