Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Red Crayola with Art & Language

  • Kangaroo? [Rough Trade, 1981] A-
  • Black Snakes [Recommended, 1983] B

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Consumer Guide Reviews:

Kangaroo? [Rough Trade, 1981]
What the hell is it with radio anyway? A great concept album elucidating Marxist aesthetics and does AOR give it a shot? Nah--all we get is Stevie Nicks and AC/DC. So take my word for it. Not only could John Berger have written "A Portrait of V.I. Lenin in the Style of Jackson Pollock"--"They say it's art killed Pollock/As if that could be/In fact he missed a bend/And drove his Ford into a tree"--but he'd approve of the triumphant pseudo-operatic warble with which Lora Logic stretches out that last word (and no, Berger doesn't like the Essential Logic album either). Also instructive are "The Milkmaid" and "The Tractor Driver," twin parodies of capitalist idealism and socialist realism. And the Au Pairs and the Gang of Four are directed to the side-closers, both of which are dubious about romantic love and one of which is entitled "The Principles of Party Organization." Does it rock? Not much. Does it work? You bet. A-

Black Snakes [Recommended, 1983]
Here they extend themselves thematically, and while it ain't bad for what it is, what it is is arty satire--"Sloths" is smarter than "The Devil Lives in My Husband's Body," but if it were really smart I couldn't make the comparison. Lora Logic has flown, as is her wont, leaving Mayo Thompson to vocalize, with the result that the same song which nails Jackson Pollock on the first album leaves me feeling sympathetic in this version. To paraphrase Pollock: "An Englishman's an Englishman in thought and act/And you'd expect this analysis to be qualified by that fact." B