WP: "Considine later said it was the most famous thing he'd ever written in his three decades as a critic, while Hackett claimed the review actually helped sales of the album."
[Jimi Hendrix] came to Monterey recommended by the likes of Paul McCartney. He was terrible. Hendrix is a psychedelic Uncle Tom. Don't believe me, believe Sam Silver of The East Village Other: "Jimi did a beautiful Spade routine." . . . Grunting and groaning on the brink of sham orgasm, he made his way through five or six almost indistinguishable songs . . . He had tailored a caricature to their mythic standards and apparently didn't even overdo it a shade. . . . I suppose Hendrix's act can be seen as a consistently vulgar parody of rock theatrics, but I don't feel I have to like it. Anyhow, he can't sing.
Really? I read it as, "He's Woody Guthrie's son and this is all we get?"
I include many of these reappraisals (particularly of albums released between 1969-1975) not to demonstrate the critic was "wrong" or "stupid" for criticizing a band that later became popular, or that RS is worthy of ridicule simply because its opinions evolved over time. Intelligent people can and do disagree about any number of albums on this list. I do think it is fascinating, however, that the "classic" rock of the late 60s and early 70s, which RS now claims to be so much "greater" than everything else, was hardly perceived that way at the time. On the other hand, many of RS's reappraisals of more recent albums seem blatantly cynical.
[Their last piece of shit] and [the piece of shit before that one] were letdowns, but with [newest piece of shit], [flabby, past-their-prime rock artist] has rekindled the fire of what made them great, putting out their best collection of songs since [last record of theirs most people agree was good].
Big Brother & The Holding Company
Cheap Thrills (1968)
"Well, it's a real disappointment."
"Some of [my songs] actually make me nauseous."
In a 2002 interview, Nathan Brackett, a senior editor at Rolling Stone since 1997, commented on the star ratings in the record review section of the magazine: "I will say that I do have respect for a writer's tastes and I have reviews of countless records in the section that I've totally disagreed with. I've even raised the star rating for some reviews of records that I didn't like if, say, the review read like a four star review but the writer only gave it three-and-a-half stars. By the same token, I'll lower a star rating if it feels that the writer didn't make the case."
Sounds innocuous enough, right? But this admission seems more problematic in the context of S.H. Fernando Jr.'s review of Liquid Swords. I would say that Mr. Fernando certainly "makes the case" for this album: he seems very knowledgeable about hip-hop, does a good job of articulating why this record is important to the evolution of the genre, and seems genuinely enthusiastic about it. In other words, this reads like a four star review, and the three star rating seems to have obviously been imposed by the magazine.
Similarly, in the 10/29/98 issue, Kevin Powell wrote that Black Star's 1998 eponymous debut was "not only an eagerly awaited rap album but also a desperately needed one," but rated it only three stars.
And in the 3/18/99 issue, Natasha Stovall described Prince Paul as "the fantastical-fables mastermind" and A Prince Among Thieves as "Paul's answer to those who have dismissed or ignored him; it's revenge served up bold." Yet this LP, too, was only rated three stars.
If Mr. Brackett is comfortable fiddling with a critic's star ratings, I wonder if it is possible that he, or anyone else at Rolling Stone, has ever lowered a rating for reasons other than the reviewers' failure to "make the case"? A four star review to relatively obscure artists like GZA, Black Star or Prince Paul are obviously going to dilute the impact of an equally positive review of a more established artist, and I suspect each of these albums were downgraded for this reason.
For me a work of fiction exists only insofar as it affords me what I shall bluntly call aesthetic bliss, that is a sense of being somehow, somewhere, connected with other states of being where art (curiousity, tenderness, kindness, ecstasy) is the norm. There are not many such books. All the rest is either topical trash or what some call the Literature of Ideas, which very often is topical trash coming in huge blocks of plaster that are carefully transmitted from age to age until somebody comes along with a hammer and takes a good crack at Balzac, at Gorki, at Mann.
Although he is still alive, Cohen seems an imposing, almost mythical figure on these albums. Even on his debut he sounded like he was about 100 years old, but by Songs of Love and Hate he was God in the Old Testament - a depraved, isolated beast.
The Flaming Lips
The Soft Bulletin (1999)
Rating: 3 Stars
"Their music isn't, how you say, universally accessible, and the weirdness gets same-y, but no one else has posited a parallel universe in which the Sixties and the Nineties exist simultaneously, allowing for a peculiarly convincing brand of monolithic robotic swirl." (Arion Burger, 5/27/99 Review)
In the November 12, 1970, issue of Rolling Stone, [Mike Saunders] commented on an album put out the previous year by the British band Humble Pie: "Safe as Yesterday Is, their first American release, proved that Humble Pie could be boring in lots of different ways. Here they were a noisy, unmelodic, heavy metal-leaden shit-rock band with the loud and noisy parts beyond doubt. There were a couple of nice songs...and one monumental pile of refuse." He described the band's latest, self-titled release as "more of the same 27th-rate heavy metal crap."
To these ears, Hootie are the blandest extreme of a wave of bands for whom blame can be placed squarely on the Grateful Dead. The Spin Doctors, Dave Matthews Band, Blues Traveler, and most of the other "baby Dead" or "jam" bands try to uphold the Dead's ideals of exploring diverse musical genres such as jazz, bluegrass, and worldbeat from a rock perspective, as well as transcending the everyday through a combination of hallucinogens, music, and community. Hootie doesn't even attempt the first (though they do stretch things out a bit live), and they only succeed at the second if you consider Bud Lite a psychedelic drug.
Hootie music never rocks, and you certainly can't dance to it; at best, you just sort of do the awkward white-person wiggle so prominent at Dead and baby Dead shows alike.
Come hear Uncle Hootie's band, playing to the crowds. More than 8 million buyers can't be wrong. Or can they?
By this point there was probably even more rock music about sexual frustration than about sex, but Gordon Gano's wild, passionate vocals on the Violent Femmes' indelible debut certainly make his familiar travails compelling. His "unpleasantly nasal" delivery is fundamental to the band's appeal - a sonorous lead singer bellowing "Why can't I get just one fuck?" wouldn't have worked at all.
« Older An occupational safety training videogame for cons... | Eric Nusbaum tours the largest... Newer »
This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments
Buy a Shirt