Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Slim Gaillard: Laughing in Rhythm: The Best of the Verve Years [Verve, 1994]
Operating so far to the left of Louis Jordan that he often passed as a weirdo, Gaillard stands as jazz's premier comedian-eccentric, the hepcat as novelty artist to end all novelty artists. Gaillard laughed in rhythm, barked in rhythm, clucked like a chicken in rhythm; he made up his own language, then adapted it to Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic, Incan; he was so fond of the suffix "rooney" (as in "You got the federation blues-o-rooney") that when introduced to Mickey Rooney he asked what his last name was. Although this 20-song collection from the '50s relegates "Flat Foot Floogie" to a medley and passes over "Cement Mixer (Put-Ti, Put-Ti)" and "Tutti Frutti" (o-rooney?), it swings and yucks whether the song is a remake, a new stroke, or a piece of Tin Pan Alley silliness. Having enjoyed a U.K. vogue before he died at 75 (or 80) in 1991, Gaillard is ripe. Be the first on your block. A