Jazmine Sullivan: Love Me Back (J)
Although overdoing the soulful melodrama doesn't beat overdoing the suave cool as decisively as the retro-nuevo believe, the songwriting here is a big extra difference maker, with enough pop moves to lighten the overall mood. Except on a multi-sampled opener shared by a record-seeking 19 creative partners, Sullivan is front and center, role-playing with unflinching intelligence: fluttery in "Stuttering," steadfast in "Love You Long Time," unable to break it off in "U Get on My Nerves," giddy to be free in "Luv Back," sure-likes-to-ball in "Don't Make Me Wait." Sure these could all be personal history, with the crack whore/domestic abuser one added for consciousness points. But it's simpler just to wish every pro was such an astute student of the female condition. A MINUS
Neither thug nor thug wannabe, he's plenty talented, but pretty shallow and without much focus as a mack. That's why his very first official album, pleasing and hookful though it be, consistently bemoans the confusing emoluments and accoutrements of fame. Given his limitations, his famous friends are a mixed benefit, because they show him up. Weezy schools him with wheezy jokes from jail. Nicki Minaj's nasty mouth comes as a turn-on. And Jay-Z's 16 takes up the self-doubt theme not to explore that narrow seam of his expanded consciousness but to show the young man how it's done: "And since no good deed go unpunished/I'm not as cool with niggaz as I once was/I once was cool as the Fonz was/But these bright lights turned me to a monster." B PLUS
Put that list into a database and let people you trust rate and annotate them and you should get something almost as good as working our host to death.
Okay, I'll start with 1979's Strange Spirits by Chuck Eddy favorites Skatt Bros. Anybody wanna try their hand at that one?
"Working our host to death"? Bit of a dramatic statement, but it does bring up an amusing image of cracking the whip over poor ol' Xgau down there in the record-reviewing salt mines.
Go-Go boots an A-?!
I'd hate it if people said you gave something an A- and now you're going to agree, with Xgau, that it's a ***?! Well, in the case of the new Ghostface Killah, I, basically, did! On first hearing, it sounded like an A- but I now understand why he gave it a *** - it's a little too over-produced and lacks the song-form to back it up! Now, I half-expect people to say - well, you gave it an A- - stick to your guns?! Problem is, if I didn't agree with Xgau - I would!
Matt Bernier - thanks alot, man!
Current viewing: Urgh! A Music War
Care Bears did the Runaways' "Saturday Night Special," which they said will be issued on a Runaways tribute album to benefit lung cancer research. They said the NY Dolls will also be on it.
I picked up a hard copy of their EP, which has a bonus cut and several videos into the bargain.
It's not new, but I also strongly recommend the second side of Time Peace: The Rascals' Greatest Hits. Maybe The Best of Spinners, too. Best not to be sleazy.
JY: Total shots in the dark, partly related to what you listed already, partly out of thin air, and also without knowing what is on Vol. 1, so just for the fun of putting them in writing more than anything else --
Woman's Gotta Have It -- Bobby Womack
Ten Commandments of Love -- Neville Bros.
I'm So Proud -- Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions
Pretty Little Baby -- Marvin Gaye
Everything I Own -- Ken Boothe
Oh Girl or Just One Kiss or Stay in Love -- Raphael Saadiq
something from House of Music by Tony Toni Tone
Another Night -- Aretha
Heaven -- El DeBarge
All I -- Jill Scott
Lover Man -- Etta James
Funny That Way -- Etta James
Makin' Whoopee! -- Dr. John with Rickie Lee Jones
I don't know if any of these fit your concept, seems like I fell back on some real old sounds, so like I said, just putting them out there is fun by itself.
One of the many great things about robertchristgaudotcom is that Tom Hull and Xgau maintain it together and have the freedom to revise/correct/update Xgau's words/opinions/grades if they so desire. It would be great if albums Xgau had upgraded over time were reflected in new grades as was done in the 70s CG. I know he considers Bob Marley's Exodus a full "A" nowadays (original grade: B+), and lately T.Heads '77 was upgraded from Aminus to A. Why not put the new grades up on the site? The other 4 known albums that Xgau almost certainly thinks are better than their existing grades are:
1. Marvin Gaye: Here, My Dear (original grade B+)
2. James Brown: The Payback (original grade B+)
3. Funkadelic: Maggot Brain (original grade B+)
4. Sonic Youth: Murray Street (original grade HM)
STB also wished for a bigger, more comprehensive CG '70s book. Were one serious about this, the first step would be to figure out what wasn't in the CG '70s book. The CG database has 3157 records released in the '70s, and you may (or may not) want to add whatever the endnotes cover, so try building a list of everything released and then knock out what Christgau covered. At least then the problem would be reduced to what Rumsfeld calls a "known unknown." Put that list into a database and let people you trust rate and annotate them and you should get something almost as good as working our host to death.
Mark, for more recent romantic sounds, the new El Debarge and Nellie McKay's Doris Day tribute are surefire. (Both are hits with the lady of this house.)
Can't believe I never knew the Rock n Roll Animal doc existed on our host. Finally checked it all out on Youtube, and enjoyed it greatly. That NY Press guy did a great job playing the villain, corporate attire and all...talk about strident. Reminded me of the way another NY Press critic savaged Klosterman five or so years ago for just about every crime against humanity.
Like many of the good people here, I'm totally against hero worship. It's been a mild source of pleasure, though, thanks to Rock n Roll Animal and these comments, that I found out I have two things in common with Xgau. I was also hopelessly obsessed with Crime and Punishment at 17, and I own the same Oakley's Car Wash t-shirt he wears in Part 1 of the doc. Wouldn't mind owning that Tommy Boy jacket either, but not because he wears it, but just that it looks sort of cool (and ties in with one of my favorite periods and genres of music).
about the blogger
Starting in 1967, Robert Christgau has covered popular music for The Village Voice, Esquire, Blender, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. He teaches in New York University's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, maintains a comprehensive website at robertchristgau.com, and has published five books based on his journalism. He has written for MSN Music since 2006.
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