Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Rank and File

  • Sundown [Slash, 1982] A-
  • Long Gone Dead [Slash, 1984] A-

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Sundown [Slash, 1982]
As rock concepts go these days, the idea of making like the fourth-best bar band in Wichita Falls is plenty warm-blooded, so that even though I disapprove in theory of the loud, klutzy dynamics of this ex-punk country-rock, its zeal wins me over every time. Helps that they leave "Wabash Cannonball" etc. off the album and explain their excellent motives in their own words, fleshed out with a few of the guitar licks they found lying around that bar. A-

Long Gone Dead [Slash, 1984]
There's definitely something off about these country punks, and I think it's that they're serious. Where the Scorchers, Meat Puppets, and Replacements come on crazy, the good times here give off an aura of formal discipline and military rhythm that isn't much like fun. But in a disquietingly cerebral way the music is very moving, with the Kinman brothers' wide-spaced close harmonies adding a unique sweet-and-sour lift to their defiantly doomy tunes. At a moment when the word "rain" has become rockese for all human suffering, I can't help but like folks with enough sense to pay attention to the way it falls. A-