Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Best of Ace Records--The R&B Hits [Scotti Bros., 1993]
Like all Billy Vera compilations, this one isn't immune to collectoritis--gosh, not the B side of Al Collins's very rare "I Got the Blues for You"? 'Cept even the B side epitomizes the wry, insouciant cool of the New Orleans groove, con, and worldview--and the A goes "Baby with the big box/Tell me where's your next stop," or is that "Tell me where your legs stop"? Too full of itself by half, New Orleans has shoveled out enough generic music to shanghai anybody's fantasy of geographical genius. But with the right producer (Johnny Vincent) and piano player (the jocose Huey Smith plus the usual suspects) and drummer (first Earl Palmer, then somebody named Charles "Hungry" Williams), its generic music is Grade A. And with Huey behind eight of these 14 cuts (seven of 12 on cassette), generic is beside the point. "Rockin' Behind the Iron Curtain"? Generic? Not exactly. Not hardly. A