Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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CG-70s Book Cover

Distinctions Not Cost-Effective
(Or: Who Cares?)

AC/DC: No sexual preference implied.

Ambrosia: Nominated for several engineering awards.

The Babys: Their demo was a videotape--in 1976.

Brownsville Station: They weren't smokin' in that boys' room--just taking a quick dump.

Terry Callier: The black Jim Webb, only warmer--and less talented.

Climax Blues Band: Did you quit yet? Did you quit yet?

David Allen Coe: Has never killed me.

David Crosby/Graham Nash: See Graham Nash/David Crosby.

Tim Curry: Hotter than Meat Loaf.

Rick Derringer: The first cut on his solo debut was called "Let Me In," and it should have. Later he started trying to knock down the door.

Earth Quake: Their "Friday on My Mind" (on Beserkley Chartbusters) cut Bowie and the Easybeats. The rest was Saturday-night swindle.

Focus: Out of it.

Frijid Pink: Not to be confused with the Frost--at least not if you come from Detroit.

Gentle Giant: The first "progressive" band ever produced by a "progressive" radio programmer--AOR theoretician Lee Abrams, who was to the '70s what Mitch Miller was to the '50s.

Graham Central Station: I ask you, is Sly's bassist going to name his spin-off Graham Cracker?

The Grass Roots: I found only one of their many hits tolerable--1967's tragically inaccurate "Let's Live for Today."

Sammy Hagar: He covered Patti Smith's "Free Money." He also covered Donovan's "Catch the Wind." And this is a heavy metal guy.

Peter Hammill/Van Der Graaf Generator: Jon Pareles argues that if we honor high school punks we should also honor high school poets. I say we stick to high school punk poets.

Michael Henderson: A very great bass player.

Peter Ivers: When he failed to cross Sparks and Randy Newman, he mutated into Rodney Bingenheimer.

Paul Kelly: One great song--"Stealin' in the Name of the Lord"--was good for a decade's worth of rep. And the song wasn't all that great.

Jackie Lomax: He was soulful, he had blues eyes, and it wasn't enough.

Harvey Mandel: Ron Wood made better solo albums. And Bill Wyman came close.

The Manhattans: I recommend their 1980 best-of, but for albums I'll take the Chi-Lites. Or the Detroit Emeralds. Maybe even Boston.

Phil Manzanera: Randy California made better solo albums. And Jay Ferguson came close.

The Moody Blues: In 1970, while under the influence of marijuana and my new Toyota, I bought "Question," which sure beats Mantovani, reportedly their greatest influence.

Giorgio Moroder: As a solo artist he was the Ross Bagdasarian of his time, but without Alvin Chipmunk who could care?

Michael Murphey: No longer needs borrow his Cadillacs.

Graham Nash/David Crosby: See David Crosby/Graham Nash.

Nazareth: If they were a carpenter you'd really get them confused with Lazarus.

Oregon: Deciduous.

The Partridge Family: At least the Osmonds were a cultural presence. All David Cassidy had going was nice nipples and prime time.

Pearls Before Swine/Tom Rapp: I never understood who they/he thought they/he were/was throwing their/his accretions at/before.

Player: Why didn't they just call themselves Pimp and get it over with?

Kenny Rankin: Invented folk-jazz.

Terry Reid: Persistence beyond the call of talent.

Renaissance: Truly pseudo-genteel art rock--they get into the country club, where the Moody Blues would be blackballed by some opera-lover.

REO Speedwagon: When the banality achieves a certain density, I thought, velocity no longer matters. Then they began to score hit ballads.

Cliff Richard: Everyone knows the only great rock 'n' roll record ever to come out of England was by Lonnie Donegan.

Biff Rose: Still stoned.

Sadistic Mika Band: Don't let the name worry you--it's a transliteration of the Japanese "No Pope, daddy-o."

Ben Sidran: Beware of Ph.D.s playing rock and roll. Or jazz. Or blues. Or whatever it is.

Sons of Champlin: Their claim to fame was as Haight-Ashbury's first rock band. They regrouped so stubbornly they may yet be the last.

John David Souther: Souther sounds insipid until you listen close. Then you realize he isn't that nice.

Michael Stanley Band: Cleveland's answer to Pere Ubu.

Ray Stevens: Like Jerry Reed, a novelty artist with lover-boy delusions, except that even when he was hot he was lukewarm.

Stuff: Stuffing. Or anyway, backing.

Sutherland Brothers and Quiver: Not as in "Shakin' All Over"--as in "I shot an arrow in the air."

Third World: Great name, but too often Fifth Wheel would be more accurate.

Jim Webb: Spent the decade sitting in his paper cup.

West, Bruce & Laing: Move me no mountains.

Paul Williams: The best thing he ever did in his life was to say he looked like a gym teacher from Bryn Mawr.

Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the '70s, 1980

Subjects for Further Research Meltdown