Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

The Disco Years, Vol. 4: Lost in Music [Rhino, 1992]
The first two volumes were so brilliant that too much of a good thing was sure to follow. Keyed to the dumber-than-ever "Rock the Boat" and "Boogie Fever," volume three is obvious when it's listenable at all; volume five at least re-exposes obscurities on the order of Secret Weapon's "Must Be the Music," Hot Chocolate's "Mindless Boogie," and Cheryl Lynn's mad, shrieking "Star Love." But this sharply conceived anthology transcends hodgepodge, by tracing Chic's influence on the music of disco's deformularized commercial decline. Ken Barnes is right, damn it--not only did Chic inspire rips like René & Angela's "I Love You More" and imitations like Change, they also created the market that would dance to experiments like the Peech Boys' "Don't Make Me Wait" and C-Bank's "One More Shot." And as producers they were auteurs from Nile's impossible coda on Norma Jean's "I Like Love" to Diana Ross's single-entendre "I'm Coming Out" to Sister Sledge's uncoverable title tune--which tunnels deeper into club life than anything Elvis Costello ever wrote, and which wouldn't mean a thing without Nile and 'Nard sucking us in. A-