GROWN UP ALL WRONG by Robert Christgau


75 Great Rock and Pop Artists from Vaudeville to Techno
Email this review


Village Voice rock critic Christgau finally achieves life between hardcovers (although the paperback original collections of his justly famous “Consumer Guide” columns have long been in print) with this wildly variegated assortment of profiles. A book that skips directly from Elvis to Janis is clearly not intended to be a history of rock ‘n” roll, and Christgau makes no effort to pretend otherwise. Rather, the collection is a book of his enthusiasms, a cornucopia that allows him to include such odd-artists-out as the women’s rock band L7 and the blackface yodeler Emmett Miller. Christgau’s idiosyncratic selection omits a lot of key figures, and some of the volume’s inclusions—jazz sax player James Carter, country poseur Garth Brooks—are dispensable. Christgau is rightly revered for his wide-ranging taste and astonishing ability to make totally wacked-out connections. Who else would link Chuck Berry to post-punk lesbians Sleater-Kinney and make it work? Of course, the downside to that particular habit, which runs throughout Christgau’s oeuvre, not just this volume, is that when the connection is less apparent, the reference becomes alarmingly private, not to say downright abstruse. For a guy who claims to eschew musicological analysis, he is disarmingly adept at tossing in just the right detail to make a point; he’s one of the only Voice arts regulars who doesn’t seem intoxicated by the brilliance of his own prose style. As a result, this is a highly entertaining book to dip into at random. On the other hand, reading it in extended doses is like gorging on fudge. All of Christgau’s considerable strengths and weaknesses are on display.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1998
ISBN: 0-674-44318-7
Page count: 448pp
Publisher: Harvard Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1998


NonfictionBOOK REPORTS by Robert Christgau
by Robert Christgau
NonfictionIS IT STILL GOOD TO YA? by Robert Christgau
by Robert Christgau
NonfictionGOING INTO THE CITY by Robert Christgau
by Robert Christgau


NonfictionMJ by Steve Knopper
by Steve Knopper