Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes: To Be True [Philadelphia International, 1975]
Black suffering above the poverty level is the lyrical twist of "Bad Luck" and "Where Are All My Friends" (written not by Gamble-Huff but by Carstarphen-McFadden-Whitehead), and to Pendergrass's credit he seems to get it--even makes a few asides. He also generates tremendous romantic authority--you really believe he wants to meet up with her "Somewhere Down the Line." He doesn't do the impossible for "Pretty Flower," though, and given the credibility of most of what remains--not to mention the intrusion of the mysterious Sharon Paige--the impossible is all that would push this over the line for me. B+