Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Playboy Music

Run-D.M.C. consists of two middle-class young men from the outskirts of New York City who admire Aerosmith and Harriet Tubman. They bill themselves kings of rock, they're certainly kings of rap, and their third album is where you may as well catch on, because they're not going away. Neither a collection of street hits such their debut nor an attempt to flatter white radio such as its follow-up, Raising Hell (Profile) has the single-minded musical movement of a true album; and while the heavy, staccato percussion and proud disdain for melody may prove too avant-garde for some, the style has been in the air for so long now that you understand it even if you don't know it yet. Do you have zero tolerance for namby-pamby bullshit? Do you believe in yourself above all? Then chances are you share Run-D.M.C.'s values.

Pet Shop Boys are two middle-class young men from the outskirts of London who admire David Bowie and Christopher Isherwood. Dominating the duo is Neil Tennant, who got his pop start puffing pretty boys for the British teen mag Smash Hits and soon realized he had the stuff of a pretty boy himself. Pet Shop Boys' debut album, Please (EMI America), sounds on the surface like the usual British pap, maybe a little catchier, but Tennant's not a writer for nothing. The yearning cynicism of his lyrics captures something sharp about the ambivalent romanticism of the people who create such product, and maybe consume it, too--before the rot sets in, that is. Do you want a lover for however long it lasts? Do you want to spend more money than you have? Then chances are you share the Pet Shop Boys' values.

Playboy, Oct. 1986

Sept. 1986 Nov. 1986