Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Taraf de Haïdouks: Of Lovers, Gamblers and Parachute Skirts [Crammed Discs, 2015]
A great band, I'm beginning to think, regroups for the 25th anniversary of its formalization by gadje record men in the blessed Romanian mountain village of Clejani. Where the "second generation" of their Andalusian opposite numbers the Gipsy Kings proved even more anodyne than the first, this aggregation hasn't lost a wink or a flourish even though its eldest generation has died off. I wish I could tell you who takes the first violin break on their old "Clejani Love Song," a 20-second countermelody that sums up their collective pizzazz so irresistibly that all three violinists join in when it comes around again, and again, only to change it up around the seven-minute mark, and that ain't all--the track clocks in at 11:11. Most of the 13 songs are briefer, but their immersion in tradition never reins them in. The male voices are somewhat less grizzled, but you know they'll roughen too. And then there's soprano Viorica Rudareasa, who adds a welcome female principle to this highly masculine posse. Sweet she's not--too much sob and swagger there. Anodyne she's definitely not. A-