Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Playboy Music

Fishbone (Columbia): Sometimes you can judge a record by its cover, which is why I played Fishbone's 26-minute debut EP the moment I got it. Six black teenagers from L.A. whose jacket-photo dress and deportment suggest postmodern vaudevillians who've just admitted themselves to a mental hospital, they sound like . . . a polka band that doesn't yearn for the old country? I don't know, and neither do they yet, probably--the basic approach is akin to Specials-style ska. But, like most black teenagers, the Fishbone teens dig heavy guitar and know their Devo and George Clinton; and, like some other black teenagers, they think bebop was a great attitude. The EP is full of life, if a little all over the place. Worth the chance, I'd say.

Ready for the World (MCA): In the world of Prince clones, a tawdry place dominated by disaffected allies and guys who think it's commercial to wear purple, Ready for the World's Melvin Riley, Jr., has his own line. Harking back to such classic falsetto love men as the Chi-Lites' Eugene Record, Riley is above all sincere, but, like Prince, he's sincerely lubricious: The glorious "I even want your tongue, love" (from the first LP, Tonight) ranks with the master's "I want to come inside you," a real score from back when nobody knew who Prince was except for a few hundred thousand horny black girls. After breaking Tonight in its home town of Detroit, an early hotbed of Princemania, Ready for the World did this album for MCA. It includes several dance tracks that indicate that Gordon Strozier also studies up, and two more slow sizzlers that sound very much like--how about that?--Tonight. I like them anyway and only hope that next year we get a Madonna clone who's sexier than the original.

Playboy, Nov. 1985

Oct. 1985 Dec. 1985