Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Dave Van Ronk: Van Ronk [Polydor, 1971]
Although I've always thought Van Ronk was hard to listen to--after all, his range is about half an octave--what he does with songs by fellow "nonsingers" like Peter Stampfel, Leonard Cohen, and Randy Newman makes me think some more. He shoots his shot at big-label production here, and now and then the orchestration (not to mention the material) turns surprisingly schmaltzy, but for the most part this shouted melee of song collection is a riot. B+