Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

John Prine: John Prine [Atlantic, 1971]
You suspect at first that these standard riffs and reliable rhythms are designed to support the lyrics rather than accompany them. But the homespun sarcasm of singing that comes on as tuneless as the tunes themselves soon reveals itself as an authentic, rather catchy extension of Nashville and Appalachia--and then so do the tunes, and the riffs, and the rhythms. Anyway, the lyrics are worth accompanying--not the literary corn of the absurdly overpraised "Sam Stone," but the cross-generational empathy of "Hello in There" and "Angel from Montgomery," the heartland hippieism of "Illegal Smile" and "Spanish Pipedream." And Arif Mardin hooks up "Pretty Good" pretty good. A