Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Arthur Lee

  • Vindicator [A&M, 1972] B-

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Vindicator [A&M, 1972]
As the brains behind Love, the Los Angeles equivalent of the Velvet Underground in both critical and commercial clout, Lee majored in popsong and minored in instrumental excursions of unusual long-windedness. On this record his brush with Jimi at the time of False Start seems to have fused these two interests. At its worst--which is nowhere near as bad as the second side of Da Capo--Lee elaborates Jimi's vocal style while Charles Karp strives fruitlessly to keep up on guitar. At its best--which is nowhere near as amazing as the first side of False Start--he offers readymade blues-based popsongs of undeniable drive and charm. What tips the balance for me is the only phrase that stays in my mind: "Ooh what a dish, she smelled just like a fish." Jimi was too sweet ever to make his sexism that nasty. B-