Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Gene Vincent

  • Gene Vincent [Kama Sutra, 1970] B-
  • The Bop That Just Won't Stop (1956) [Capitol, 1974]  
  • The Best of Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps [Capitol, 1985]  
  • Capitol Collectors' Series [Capitol, 1990] B+
  • The Screaming End: The Best of Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps [Razor & Tie, 1996] A

Consumer Guide Reviews:

Gene Vincent [Kama Sutra, 1970]
Vincent was never a titan--his few moments of rockabilly greatness were hyped-up distillations of slavering lust from a sensitive little guy who was just as comfortable with "Over the Rainbow" in his normal frame of mind. And despite what the '50s revivalists believe, this comeback is a return to form only in the formal sense--simple songs, Tex-Mex backing. Some of it's very sweet--Doug Sahm meets "Over the Rainbow." But even when he slavers he does so quietly. B-

The Bop That Just Won't Stop (1956) [Capitol, 1974]
[CG70s: A Basic Record Library; CG80: Rock Library: Before 1980]  

The Best of Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps [Capitol, 1985]
[CG80: Rock Library: Before 1980]  

Capitol Collectors' Series [Capitol, 1990]
He lived in England after almost dying young there, which was all this greasy-looking, airy-sounding ex-sailor needed to become a rockabilly legend. But Stateside he's remembered, when you get down to it, for precisely one record: his first and biggest, "Be-Bop-a-Lula." I bought it in 1956 and instantly adjudged its Elvisoid B side, "Woman Love," a perfect cartoon of slavering lust, an opinion I hold to this day. Although he's a better legend than artist, Vincent and his Blue Caps also deserve credit for the chart-certified "Bluejean Bop" and "Lotta Lovin'" as well as a string of lesser rockers. Topped by "B-I Bickey-Bi, Bo-Bo-Go" and the barely chart-certified "Race With the Devil," these include "Git It" and "Baby Blue," neither of which I'd heard before his company put Vincent back in catalogue with this overenthusiastic CD-market compilation. But there's also the inexplicably omitted "Who Slapped John?" and "Five Feet of Lovin'," and "She She Little Sheila," supposedly slated for a followup devoted to his Later Work. I await the second Fats Domino. And swear you should hear "Woman Love" once before you die. B+

The Screaming End: The Best of Gene Vincent & His Blue Caps [Razor & Tie, 1996]
Sticking to 1956 tracks featuring the wild and quick guitarist Cliff Gallup and the propulsivey light-handed 15-year-old drummer Dickie Harrell, 20 songs in 47 minutes add not so much flesh as spirit to the tales told of lesser rockabilly legends--Carl Perkins, Eddie Cochran, Johnny Burnette, Charlie Feathers, Rick Nelson and his studio pal Charlie Burton, every one of whom this gimpy weirdo outruns to the poontang. The compositions may not be much, but that's what they said about Bo Diddley. "Race With the Devil," "Jump Back, Honey, Jump Back," "Woman Love," "B-I-Bickey Bi, Bo-Bo-Go"--they be rockin', and in a dialect no one would get so right again. A