Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Taana Gardner

  • Taana Gardner [West End, 1979] A-
  • "Heartbeat" [West End 12-inch, 1981] A

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Taana Gardner [West End, 1979]
If Diana Ross wants to go disco, here's how--wholeheartedly, a good way to go anywhere. Mixing Diana's knowingly sexy little-girl soprano with a touch of Shirley Goodman party novelty, Gardner shrills and coos and cools through a total of five cuts on this two-disco disc album, and even the slow dances are worthy of use. "Work That Body" works that idea. "When You Touch Me" is what it's working toward, and "Paradise Express" is recommended to Merle Haggard, who's always ready to learn something new (and funky) about trains. A-

"Heartbeat" [West End 12-inch, 1981]
This classic one-shot is the hottest r&b record in the city right now for two self-evident reasons. First is the beat, which is like what it says only deeper and more deliberate (in the drums and handclaps) with palpitations (provided by a slow-humping bass). Second is Taana, who'd combine the melodic dislocations of Esther Phillips and the girlish screech of Diana Ross if she had the technical control of either. Because she doesn't, she also recalls another timbre-sister, Shirley Goodman (of & Lee and "Shame, Shame, Shame"). First I played the 6:30-minute "party" version; now I prefer the 9:34-minute "club" version. One-shot, eh? A