Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Big Joe Turner: The Very Best of Big Joe Turner [Rhino, 1998]
Atlantic was the site of Turner's "dumbing down," saith Jim "James" Miller, by which he means it's where the noble shouter streamlined, speeded up, and otherwise refused to act his age. The sound on this strictly hit-bound single-disc is one Turner devised himself in self-produced New Orleans sessions featuring a band-not-combo whose single-minded unison will pass for first r&b and then rock and roll. It's perfected with "Shake, Rattle and Roll," cut in New York with Atlantic sharpsters including drummer Connie Kay, whose sock means even more to the song than the sun shining through Jesse Stone's lyric. Until the niche marketers catch up with him, this fat (fat) 43-year-old is set to flip, flop, and fly all over America's teenaged heart. A