Category Archives: Review Reviews

Criticism Of Criticism – Part Two

MTV Unplugged in New York [DGC, 1994]
Not only did Kurt Cobain transcend alt-rock by rocking so hard, he transcended alt-rock by feeling so deep. On this accidental testament, intended merely to altify the MTV mindset by showcasing the Meat Puppets and covering the Vaselines, Cobain outsensitives Lou Barlow and Eddie Vedder in passing. His secret is sincerity, boring though that may be–he cares less than Barlow without boasting a bit about it, tries harder than Vedder without busting a gut about it. The vocal performance he evokes is John Lennon’s on Plastic Ono Band. And he did it in one take. A” – Robert Christgau

This is one of his best.

You know he means every word because he always does: there is no hint of camp follower in this or any of his other reviews. This is what he does…and he clearly takes it very seriously.

‘Part One’ was a throw-away; the tone displaying his opinion as much as the words.

This is NOT a throw-away.

He gives his opinion, as always, very distinctly. He’s an authentic, and even though I often disagree strongly with his opinions, it’s comforting to know that he HAS them, that they are FELT.

The tone displays his opinion as much as the words, because this (IMPO) is genuine. Authentic. He didn’t insert random words from a thesaurus to make it look smarter, he didn’t suck up to popular opinion; he displayed his “feeling” towards the music, as much he feels the music itself displays feeling.

This is as raw (in a verbose way) and genuine as Cobain was, and to me it is as fitting a tribute to the man as any I’ve ever seen.

Grade: A

Criticism Of Criticism – Part One

Let’s start with the best of them…critics, that is.

Arrival [Atlantic, 1977]
Since this is already the best-selling group in the universe, I finally have an answer when people ask me to name the Next Big Thing. What I wonder is how we can head them off at the airport. Plan A: Offer Bjorn and Benny the leads in Beatlemania (how could they resist the honor?) and replace them with John Phillips and Denny Doherty. Plan B: Appoint Bjorn head of the U.N. and Benny his pilot (or vice versa) and replace them with John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Plan C: Overexpose them in singing commercials. Plan D: Institute democratic socialism in their native land, so that their money lust will meet with the scorn of their fellow citizens. C” – Robert Christgau

This is what you call the “so unnecessary you can just randomly mock it” archetype.

Since everyone, by this point, already knew what ABBA sounded like, and since he saw no change in their music, and really no point in them continuing to churn out the same music – which he saw as bad, his “C” does not mean “Average” – he decides to simply indulge himself in mostly-silly musings, incorporating references you may (or may not) get and may (or may not) like. The point is, he does, and he does.

And really…think about it: would you rather read this, or an “in-depth” examination of the music, when that examination would be pretty much exactly the same as an examination of their PREVIOUS album, which would basically say, not in so many words: “This is annoyingly-catchy cr@p.”

I go with this. It’s not one of his best, but it’s an intro.

Grade: B-