Robert Christgau, excerpts from Consumer Guide, November 21, 1989

MEAT PUPPETS: Monsters (SST) Supposedly a combination of their two 1988 albums (a mirage omelet, thanks a lot), this is really the guitar-god record Curt Kirkwood always had in him–on all but a couple of cuts the arena-rock bottom that’s an interview fantasy for those who haven’t caught them on a ZZ Top night powers his chunky riffs and psychedelic axemanship. What’ll keep them from turning into plutonium is the utterly unmacho vocals, brother harmonies making even “Party Till the World Obeys” and the one that begins “Tie me up/Get it right” seem like critiques of power, which is what they are–psychedelic in the nicest way yet again. A MINUS

MEKONS: Rock ‘n’ Roll (A&M) If you love rock and roll (which is possible even if you slum the spelling with apostrophes), but don’t think Rock and Roll (much less Rock ‘n’ Roll) a propitious title right now, you could love this album, which takes their love-hate relationship with America to the bank. Musically, it’s rock and roll despite the fiddles sawing louder than ever, almost as Clashlike as the promo claims, with Steve Goulding bashing away louder than ever too. Lyrically, in great song after great song, rock and roll is devil’s-breath perfume, capitalism’s “favourite boy child,” a commodity like sex, a log to throw on the fire, a “shining path back to reconquer Americay.” Are they implicated? Of course. Do they love it? Yes and no. A

EDDIE MURPHY: So Happy (Columbia) The failure of this wicked Prince rip to scale the charts reminds us once again how difficult it is for defiant outsiders to fracture pop stereotypes. Murphy will never be El DeBarge, but he’s perfect for cartoon funk, and over the years his wheedling croon has gotten serious. Maybe the problem is that his sexual urges still don’t emanate from very deep inside. Often, in fact, they’re inspired by his bathroom reading–he’s big on locations, spends an entire song convincing her to do it in a chair. Inspirational Dialogue: She: “Are you close?” He: “If I get any closer I be behind you.” B PLUS

PIXIES: Doolittle (4AD/Elektra) They’re in love and they don’t know why–with rock and roll, which is heartening in a time when so many college dropouts have lost touch with the verities. You can tell from the bruising riffs, the rousing choruses, the cute little bass melodies, the solid if changeable beat. But not from any words they sing. They’ll improve in direct relation to their improved contact with the outside world. Getting famous too fast could ruin them. B PLUS

Robert Christgau