Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Terry Garthwaite

  • Terry [Arista, 1975] A-
  • Hand in Glove [Fantasy, 1979] B+

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Terry [Arista, 1975]
Anyone who can trace the genealogy of a "Rock & Roller" "from Bessie to Billie to B.B. to Boz"--that would appear to mean Boz Scaggs, folks--obviously has eccentric ideas about rock and roll. This turns out to be a virtue. Moving Joy of Cooking's folk-jazz fusion much closer to jazz, Garthwaite emerges as a kind of white, upbeat Esther Phillips, applying a gritty Dinah Washington cast to post-rock lyrics both metaphorical and incantatory. But she's more flexible, happier--her delight in pure sound suggests both scat improvisation and novelty nonsense--and if the long-windedness of the cuts here must be blamed on a singer who's worked too long outside the studio, we can credit their occasional stiffness to producer David Robinson, who deserves to be trapped in an elevator with the Tower of Power. A-

Hand in Glove [Fantasy, 1979]
I complained about production clutter on her quickly deleted Arista album, but I must admit that David Rubinson injected a brightness that I miss in El Lay jazzman John Guerin's more tasteful work here. That could even be why the songs seem a shade duller this time. But Garthwaite's rhythmic and timbral adeptness remain unique in rock, and I'm grateful these days for any explicitly feminist analysis that is also both heterosexual and antipuritanical. Anyway, the songs are still a lot brighter than most. B+