Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Billy Swan: I Can Help [Monument, 1974]
As befits an unknown one-shot who names his album after his big single--especially a single that advances the rockabilly moment eighteen years--Swan has made an LP with a B side. Only it's one of those B sides thrown together so casually that you find yourself attracted by its elan. Programmed with "I Can Help" are four listenable examples of Swan's detached singing style, all separated from nostalgia by wacky absurdist touches. But on side two the absurdism is provided solely by Swan's willingness to waver perversely off pitch on otherwise straightforward tunes from Elvis Presley, Charlie Rich, and C. Boone, whoever he is. It's only a sloppy quickie, but I like it. B+