Hard to believe that this guy was, if only for about five minutes, the biggest rock star in the universe.
In the wake of Christopher Cross' surprising (to some of us) five-way sweep of this year's Grammys there will no doubt be a spate of mournful pronouncements from the critical left that if this kind of aural Valium is State of the Art for 1980, then the art is bankrupt and why even bother to give awards? This is understandable, perhaps even true. In fact, if you got me alone I'd probably say the same thing.To be honest, I'm not quite sure what the hell I was going on about in that second graf; clearly I was pissed off over something or somebody -- it may have been then Rolling Stone critic Dave Marsh's rhapsodies to the aforementioned Michael McDonald, although I have mellowed on McDonald since then, and in any case what was bugging me has been lost in the mists of memory.
Which misses the point, even if I'm not sure just what the point is. The fact is that it's not Cross' fault that he and his group dominated the Grammys, and, what's more (to paraphrase the truism), people get the pop music they deserve. There are, after all, a lot of acclaimed geniuses making music that is far more pernicious, and they are selling it in larger quantities. Bantam-weight a talent though Cross may be, he is decently accomplished at what he does, which is to make brainless, catchy, quintessentially California pop records -- no more, no less. If critics can bend over backwards justifying the Doobie Brothers (whose head honcho, Michael McDonald, is all over Cross' album) then it's the height of hypocrisy to mourn about Cross' fluffy appropriation of their sound.
Yes, there are people who make music in a similar vein that is both better crafted and addressed to somewhat weightier subjects (if Cross could rhyme June and moon, I'm sure he would) but that too is irrelevant. People like THIS stuff, so they buy it. Who, then, is the villain of the piece? Somebody once asked H.L. Mencken why he didn't leave America if he hated it so much, to which he replied, "Why do people go to zoos?" Why have more copies of Christopher Cross already been sold than of the last four Clash albums combined? Probably for the same reason that people ride in elevators. -- Steve Simels
CHRISTOPHER CROSS. WARNER BROS. BSK 3383
That said, the "aural Valium" crack is pretty good, and I have to admit that the Mencken/elevator joke at the end made me chortle mordantly.
And of course, as always, a coveted PowerPop No-Prize will be awarded to the first reader who gleans the review's relevance to the theme of tomorrow's Weekend Listomania.