Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Rachel Sweet: Fool Around [Stiff/Columbia, 1979]
Two compositions by (ousted?) svengali Liam Sternberg have been replaced on the U.S. release by prime, straightforward rockers. This makes sense. Like Tanya Tucker, Sweet thrives on simple material, and while I like Sternberg's catchy, thoughtful songs, their fussy, uncolloquial moments don't suit Sweet's hot-teen persona: Deborah Harry might sound charmingly klutzy on the rhythmically overwrought "Cuckoo Clock" or "Suspended Animation" ("I could wait for any duration"), but Sweet just sounds like she's following instructions. Unfortunately, both these songs were left on the LP, while natural Sweet stuff like "Just My Style" and "Truckstop Queen" (on Stiff's Akron anthology) were omitted. This doesn't make sense. B+