Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Leon Redbone

  • On the Track [Warner Bros., 1975] B+
  • Double Time [Warner Bros., 1977] B-
  • Christmas Island [August, 1988] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

On the Track [Warner Bros., 1975]
On record, he's an exemplary folkie, making up in organizational intelligence what he lacks in inventive spark. Melding antique songs of varying origin into a mature New Orleans instrumentation absent from his unaccompanied stage appearances--which are at first intriguing, then stultifying and/or annoying--he offers an alternative to the narrowness of both stylistic commitment and audio reproduction that makes the original New Orleans recordings inaccessible. Worthwhile work. B+

Double Time [Warner Bros., 1977]
People who consider this a one-joke act aren't going to change their minds now. People who dismiss the joke for its lameness, torpor, and eccentricity will gloat over this disappointing second LP. I myself wonder why I liked the first one so much. Hint: compare the credits. B-

Christmas Island [August, 1988]
Beyond sacred schlock-by-association and rock and roll gifts, Christmas is a pop holiday that plays best in the background, which suits Redbone's forgettable old-timey lassitude. Who needs a major stylist interpreting "White Christmas" and "Frosty the Snowman"? Both material and occasion call for a pleasantly anonymous medium, and if he sticks in a pleasantly distinctive obscurity like the hula-tinged title tune, don't look it in the chord changes. B+