Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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The Treacherous Three

  • "The Body Rock" [Enjoy 12-inch, 1981] A-
  • Old School Flava [Wrap/Easylee, 1993] B+

Consumer Guide Reviews:

"The Body Rock" [Enjoy 12-inch, 1981]
Though the Three's speech rhythms are heavier than I'd like, both their records are hooked inspirationally by Enjoy house band Pumpkin. I prefer the bass (synthesizer?) throb on this obsessive piece of rap minimalism to the keyboard (synthesizer!) squiggle on the more conventional "At the Party," but each sustains seven minutes of newfunk almost automatically. A-

Old School Flava [Wrap/Easylee, 1993]
Their would-be comeback has the inconvenient and probably fatal peculiarity of gathering strength as it goes along. Cassette buyers should fast-forward to side two, which excites from "Ain't Nothin' Changed"'s hype beat to "Feel the New Heartbeat"'s eternal hook. And cultural nationalists should ponder "A True Story," in which ordinary show violence is made to seem both memorable and contemptible. Sure somethin's changed, and they know what it is. But they refuse to let it suck them in. B+

Further Notes:

Subjects for Further Research [1980s]: From Bobby Robinson's defunct Enjoy to Sylvia Robinson's defunct Sugarhill, from dance-party basics ("The Body Rock") to up-the-race traditionalism ("Yes We Can-Can"), their only rivals among the seminal rappers were Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five. They spawned the record-holding Kool Moe Dee. Will some music-loving entrepreneur please buy the rights and release a compilation? Immortality awaits.