Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Paul Kelly & the Messengers

  • Under the Sun [A&M, 1988] B

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Under the Sun [A&M, 1988]
Disinclined though I am to believe that styles just wear out, I note that when this inspired wordsmith doesn't get it right he sounds corny--not just on a gaffe like "Desdemona," but on the sex tropes of "Happy Slave" or the frontier boogie of "Forty Miles to Saturday Night." Problem's those foursquare Messengers, the rock and roll band of a wordsmith's dreams--never threaten his suzerainty for a second. Granted, when he's outlining a young fool's marriage in "To Her Door" or the story of his life in "Dumb Things," it's just as well they don't. But you know his admirers feel all warm inside when they hear that moderate four-four, never suspecting that "Forty Miles to Saturday Night" would sound corny from Hüsker Dü. B