Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

Consumer Guide:
  User's Guide
  Grades 1990-
  Grades 1969-89
  And It Don't Stop
  Book Reports
  Is It Still Good to Ya?
  Going Into the City
  Consumer Guide: 90s
  Grown Up All Wrong
  Consumer Guide: 80s
  Consumer Guide: 70s
  Any Old Way You Choose It
  Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough
Xgau Sez
  And It Don't Stop
  CG Columns
  Rock&Roll& [new]
  Rock&Roll& [old]
  Music Essays
  Music Reviews
  Book Reviews
  NAJP Blog
  Rolling Stone
  Video Reviews
  Pazz & Jop
Web Site:
  Site Map
  What's New?
Carola Dibbell:
  Carola's Website
CG Search:
Google Search:

Little Steven

  • Voice of America [EMI America, 1984] C+
  • Freedom No Compromise [Manhattan, 1987] C

See Also:

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Voice of America [EMI America, 1984]
I deeply respect Steven Van Zandt's brave translation of rock and roll libertarianism into internationalist antiwar propaganda, and I don't think he's done badly by the songwriting--somebody cover "Fear," or "Justice," or "Among the Believers." But please, please, please don't make me listen to him sing them anymore. His voice is devoid of dynamic or dramatic zip. When he's not bellowing, he's plodding. And he's got a band to match. C+

Freedom No Compromise [Manhattan, 1987]
There are good singers who moan and good singers who whine, but this doomed soul is neither. He's just a guy who longs to let all the love and pain and ambition inside him out, and who isn't even any good at imitating those who know how. Civic virtue, rhythmic responsibility, sartorial overkill--none of them will gain him an ounce more popular credibility than he's already gained on the coattails of this icon or that issue. As usual, it's only as a writer of protest songs that he shows any knack--Rubén Blades could probably lift "Bitter Fruit" the way Black Uhuru did "Solidarity," and without Steven's phony accent. One hell of an expensive demo. C

See Also