Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Loudon Wainwright III: Career Moves [Virgin, 1993]
Wainwright has aged no better than most likable bad boys, maybe worse. His promising-to-excellent young songs turned gamy in the '80s--how many rueful immaturity jokes can one over-30 sing?--and though some claim he grew up with History, its Iron John sensitivity was a cover for the same old self-involvement. But by sampling the highs of his over-30 output while eliding its numerous flubs, this constitutes a summing up. Framed by two unembittered accounts of how he makes his living and dotted with illustrative patter, it has its heart-tuggers ("Your Mother and I," written to explain the inevitable breakup to his and Suzzy Roche's daughter), but mostly it presents him as what he is--a talented wag who came in his cummerbund, dropped clown acid, and never became a star. It should cheer any over-30 bad boy who can forget that his spotty sex life and pathetic adventures in substance abuse will never be as entertaining as this born entertainer's. It may also convince the bad boy's squeeze that things could be worse. A