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Amusical Man

April 10, 1988

Taking into consideration the almost complete lack of standardized criteria and values for either critical or commercial success in the pop music industry, the rage over Terrence Trent D'Arby is still mystifying, and Robert Hilburn has followed the pack of hype that has been building around this performer for several years now ("Pop's Latest Mystery Man," March 20).

How a man can who lacks the technical prerequisites of successful singing--understanding pitch, placement and phrasing--have an "intoxicating musical promise"?

The supposed "highlight" of his album so raved about by critics, "As Yet Untitled," is a compositional disaster, a mess of "gospel" cliches thrown together, meandering, wallowing and plowing through a formless mess of phrases that are delivered completely out of tune and without regard for key relationships, if indeed he means to change keys.

I guess a simple change of format such as singing a cappella is really impressive to a critical audience who can hear . . . what a snow job!

Although D'Arby may possess a warm, interesting voice and an undeniably musical mind, his "unique" vision "recalls" and is "reminiscent" of past truly great artists. Why are these kind terms otherwise applied as "unoriginal" or "rip-off" to those less of a darling?

D'Arby's live performance (as reported by the punters present at the Roxy engagement), confirmed my opinion as being self-conscious and calculated, with not even a close relation to any of the legends he claims to go beyond in evidence.

To claim "genius" (and then to safely deny it) at this point in his development and indeed at any point in his talent, then to be so coddled by the critics, shows the clear lack of ears, judgment and values on the part of the musical press.


Beverly Hills

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