Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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New York post-punk compilation unearths treasures along with garbage

With its Deborah Harry intro and Rammellzee envoi, this soundtrack to a quasi-documentary starring the late painter Jean-Michel Basquiat makes as if to encompass all the NYC music of its title's post-punk moment. Unfortunately, that moment was oft full of shit, as Walter Steding, Lydia Lunch, Japan's Plastics and a Basquiat band called Gray demonstrate. But sometimes it was anything but, and here you will hear not just all you need of Liquid Liquid, Suicide and graffitist Rammellzee (the indelible rap one-off "Beat Bop"), but--improbably--specially recorded versions that top the hard-to-find originals. The secretly funky avant-noise trio DNA sound more muscular on this "Blonde Redhead" and "Detached" than on the 2004 CD believed to contain all their recorded works. And the two numbers by August Darnell's suavely articulate Kid Creole and the Coconuts rock and/or disco harder than anything in their catalog.

Rolling Stone, Dec. 13, 2007