Great albums Robert Christgau hates

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Yeah, he's an esteemed critic and all, but he makes me SO VERY ANGRY ARGH sometimes with shit like this:

Since I Left You [Sire/Modular, 2001]
using bits and pieces of dumb crap, which is ecological, to make smart crap, which is less so ("Frontier Psychiatrist," "Close to You") **

Paranoid [Warner Bros., 1970]
They do take heavy to undreamt-of extremes, and I suppose I could enjoy them as camp, like a horror movie--the title cut is definitely screamworthy. After all, their audience can't take that Lucifer bit seriously, right? Well, depends on what you mean by serious. Personally, I've always suspected that horror movies catharsized stuff I was too rational to care about in the first place. C-

Walking With Thee [Domino, 2002]
if not clinical, definitely formal ("Pet Eunoch," "Welcome") *

Free Your Mind and Your Ass Will Follow [Westbound, 1970-1]
This is as confusing and promising and ultimately ambiguous as the catchy (and rhythmic) title slogan. Is that ass as in "shake your ass" or ass as in "save your ass"? And does one escape/transcend the dollar by renouncing the material world or by accepting one's lot? Similarly, are the scratchy organ timbres and disorienting separations fuckups or deliberate alienation effects? Is this music to stand to or music to get wasted by? In short, is this band (this black band, I should add, since it's black people who are most victimized by antimaterialist rhetoric) promulgating escapist idealism or psychic liberation? Or do all these antinomies merely precede some aesthetic synthesis? One thing is certain--the only place that synthesis might occur here is on "Funky Dollar Bill." B-

Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables [I.R.S., 1980]
I do want there to be more punk rock--I do, I do. I do want there to be more left-wing new wave--really. By Americans--I swear it. But not by a would-be out-of-work actor with Tiny Tim vibrato who spent the first half of the '70s concocting "rock cabaret." Admittedly, I'm guessing, but I'm also being kind--it sounds like Jello Biafra discovered the Stooges in 1977. C+

Discovery [Virgin, 2001]
These guys are so French I want to force-feed them and cut out their livers. Young moderns who've made the Detroit-Berlin adjustment may find their squelchy synth sounds humanistic; young moderns whose asses sport parallel ports may dance till they crash. But Yank fun is much less spirituel, so that God bless America, "One More Time" is merely an annoying novelty stateside. The way our butts plug in, there are better beats on the damn Jadakiss CD. C+

This doesn't even cover the mentions on his website of albums that, without comment, are saddled with the dreaded "bomb" icon (like Broadcast's The Noise Made By People).

Oh, and just for yuks:

Ping Pong [Le Grand Magistery, 1998]
In one of his many clever songs, Nick Currie compares his quest for fame to God's and wonders why the big fella gets all the coverage. The answer is that God is a nicer guy. Performers like Currie believe "all interesting behaviors, whether moral or not, are salable in our culture" because they don't have much choice-it's that or a day job. But no matter how well-turned the lyric, very few listeners actually enjoy songs in which snobbish dandies trot out their sexual egomania and baby envy. Deep down, most people have some cornball in them. And this is a good thing. B-

Nate Patrin (Nate Patrin), Saturday, 7 December 2002 16:46 (sixteen years ago) link

(Actually that Funkadelic review is only truly bad for the rating and the odd patronizing racial tone)

Nate Patrin (Nate Patrin), Saturday, 7 December 2002 16:48 (sixteen years ago) link

man, some of those disses give me a newfound respect for the ol "dean". i'd say "hates" is a strong word for most of those, though, his tone is more dismissive than hateful.

Al (sitcom), Saturday, 7 December 2002 17:15 (sixteen years ago) link

I KNEW the first response I'd get would be something like "what are you talking about, Nate, those reviews are GREBT". Fah.

Nate Patrin (Nate Patrin), Saturday, 7 December 2002 17:18 (sixteen years ago) link

In my favorite review ever, 'Master of Reality' is dismissed as 'dimwitted, amoral murk', without saying why that's a bad thing! But then, I'm less impressed when he DOES attempt to explain why it's a bad thing, as in the hysterical (the Freudian sense, I mean) 'Appetite for Destruction' review

dave q, Saturday, 7 December 2002 17:53 (sixteen years ago) link

Re 'A4D' review, same hilarity ensues in his reviews of 'Suicide'(1st album), the Cramps' 'Psychedelic Jungle', AC/DC's 'Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap', where he seems to imply that B Scott DESERVED to 'asphyxiate himself on his own vomit' (Xgau's phrase) for being such a piggy. Actually all those metal/AOR reviews (Foreigner 'Head Games', 'Van Halen 2') where the guy has such a ridiculously overactive sexism detector that Andrea Dworkin herself would lend him some porn videos to calm him down.

dave q, Saturday, 7 December 2002 17:58 (sixteen years ago) link

I'd say worse about the avalanches. And while I love the Clinic album, he IS right - that album "more Internal Wranglin'" totally reaffirms that while Clinic has a unique sound, they aren't fuckin' with it too much. The chump is totally wack about metal I'll admit, his Def Leppard reviews - while funny, ignore the meat of the band. Since his unwarranted negative reviews are usually funny, make valid points and merely reveal that he just doesn't like the genre, I actually get more pissed off when he overrates things. His mooing over DJ Shadow (who can evidently do no wrong!), the Mekons, Sleater-Kinney and Spoon were especially embarassing. Plus his idea that the Hives are just mad about the Voidoids!

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Saturday, 7 December 2002 18:19 (sixteen years ago) link

I've found it immeasurably easier to dismiss Christgau's opinions about everything since he made the Moldy Peaches his #2 album of last year.

Michael White, Saturday, 7 December 2002 18:40 (sixteen years ago) link

that album "more Internal Wranglin'" totally reaffirms that while Clinic has a unique sound, they aren't fuckin' with it too much.

If it ain't broke, etc. Leave Home and Nation of Millions didn't fuck with the sound too much either.

Nate Patrin (Nate Patrin), Saturday, 7 December 2002 19:17 (sixteen years ago) link

The Dead Kennedys review is spot on. The Daft Punk review isn't nearly as dismissive as what the Avalanches said (while being a lot funnier), and dissing Christgau for dissing Clinton is like saying Joe Torre can't win in the postseason becuz he lost to the Angels (Christgau did list George Clinton as one of his best artist of the 70s, alongside Al Green and Neil Young, something not too many critics, nevertheless white critics, would have done at the time). Walking With Thee has disappointed me more than any other album this year, and a lot of albums disappointed me this year - Clinic, suffice it to say, aren't nearly as, ahem, revolutionary as the Ramones or Public Enemy (nevermind Nations is a big advancement on Bum Rush), so regurgitations that seemed really fresh the first time round merely seem regurgitated the second time out. Am I to assume you basically agree with his opinion of Abba?

James Blount (James Blount), Saturday, 7 December 2002 19:21 (sixteen years ago) link

Not that I read him (or any critic really) to agree with him (I agree with him more than I do with Simon Reynolds, and you better believe I have blissblog bookmarked anyway), but one annoying habit of his I found a little odd was his tendency to despise lo-fi bands when they made their 'masterpieces' (Sebadoh III, Bee Thousand), and then turn around and love them years later when they made an astoundingly mediocre, albeit more slickly produced, album somewhere down the line.

James Blount (James Blount), Saturday, 7 December 2002 19:26 (sixteen years ago) link

But one non-Zeppelin hard rock/metal album does get a positive review!:

Evil Empire [Epic, 1996]
Three years late, it's the militant rap-metal everybody knew was the next big thing. Zack de la Rocha will never be Linton Kwesi Johnson. But collegiate leftism beats collegiate lots of other things, not to mention high school misogyny, and it takes natural aesthetes like these to pound home such a sledgehammer analysis. A-

sundar subramanian (sundar), Saturday, 7 December 2002 19:45 (sixteen years ago) link

god, he's such a hippie.

Anthony Miccio (Anthony Miccio), Saturday, 7 December 2002 19:50 (sixteen years ago) link

The Dead Kennedys review is spot on.

No it's not. Jello doesn't sound a damn thing like Tiny Tim - he sounds like Ethel Merman, har! And basing half the review on a "I'm not sure what his background is but I am GUESSING he's a punk-come-lately" sort of thesis is stupid. And how can you even review that album without mentioning the lyrics?

The Daft Punk review isn't nearly as dismissive as what the Avalanches said (while being a lot funnier)

Well, this is more of a "this is one of the greatest albums I've heard and Rob just shat on it" thread than anything - "dumb crap"? "smart crap"? "ecological"? And what's with the jingoistic bullshit in the Daft Punk piece? Talk about butts being plugged...

dissing Christgau for dissing Clinton is like saying Joe Torre can't win in the postseason becuz he lost to the Angels (Christgau did list George Clinton as one of his best artist of the 70s, alongside Al Green and Neil Young, something not too many critics, nevertheless white critics, would have done at the time).

Yeah, but when did he name Clinton to that list? I'm pretty sure he wouldn't've based solely on the early acid-rock Funkadelic (which I admit to liking more than is probably recommended); he didn't give any Funkadelic record higher than a "B+" until 1975 ("But at this point I'm inclined to trust the music, which is tough-minded, outlandish, very danceable, and finally, I think (and hope), liberating"). I still think he's mostly wrong about their early stuff.

Walking With Thee has disappointed me more than any other album this year [...] so regurgitations that seemed really fresh the first time round merely seem regurgitated the second time out.

Yeah, it's disappointed lots of people, which leads me to wonder what the hell they were expecting - 12-minute free-jazz freakouts? It's their second full-length! The more people complain about how disappointing it is, the more I look for the great things about it, the more they stand out, and the higher it climbs onto my Best of 2002 list.
(I probably should have chosen less "revolutionary" examples and more examples of ordinary bands who continued to Not Suck when following up acclaimed albums with similar efforts. The Replacements' Hootenanny, maybe.)

Am I to assume you basically agree with his opinion of Abba?

I have better reasons for ignoring them besides "those fucking filthy evil Europeans like them".

Nate Patrin (Nate Patrin), Saturday, 7 December 2002 19:53 (sixteen years ago) link

But Sorry Ma wasn't that acclaimed and Hootenanny was a huge jump forward! Christgau has better reasons for ignoring Abba too (well not better reasons, but I'm pretty sure the same reasons as you). I do find it odd that Christgau can love Magnetic Fields so much and not bother to rethink his, um, position on Abba.

James Blount (James Blount), Saturday, 7 December 2002 20:01 (sixteen years ago) link

I think his Dead Kennedys review is OTM as well.

Sean (Sean), Saturday, 7 December 2002 20:06 (sixteen years ago) link

So "this singer sounds funny so I will guess what his backstory is and say nothing whatsoever about the music or the lyrics except for a possible tangential Stooges comparison" = OTM?

Nate Patrin (Nate Patrin), Saturday, 7 December 2002 20:07 (sixteen years ago) link

Okay, here's one just for laffs (um, U2 by the way) -

Boy [Island, 1980]
Their youth, their serious air, and their guitar sound are setting a small world on fire, and I fear the worst. No matter where they're starting off--not as big as Zep, maybe, but not exactly on the grunge circuit either--their echoey vocals already teeter on the edge (in-joke) of grandiosity, so how are they going to sound by the time they reach the Garden? What kind of Christian idealists lift their best riff from PIL (or from anywhere at all)? As bubble-headed as the teen-telos lyrics at best. As dumb as Uriah Heep at worst. C+

James Blount (James Blount), Saturday, 7 December 2002 20:14 (sixteen years ago) link

This, on the other hand, I take issue with -

Niggaz4life [Ruthless, 1991]
This is supposed to be where they finally slam nonstop. In fact, however, the music's just like the lyrics--market-ready. Catchy, yes, and funky in its laid-back electro way, but never hard enough to scare off the novelty audience. Which might be fun if they didn't outpig the LAPD in the bargain. Can Chuck D really believe they mean what they say? Sure they really hate women, and anybody else who looks at them funny. But unless they're even sicker than they seem, they're too greedy to murder anybody as long as they can make so much money fronting about it. And so they've calculated every rhyme to push somebody's button--to serve up the thrill of transgression to ghettobound and merely ghettocentric young-black-males, and also to the big score, culturally deprived white boys seeking exotic role models. That kids will take them at their word obviously doesn't concern niggaz who'll be hard-pressed to contain their pent-up hostility after the bubble bursts. It'd be nice to think they'll off each other when that great day comes, but I doubt they have the balls. So in the interests of public safety, pray they don't get taken by their investment advisors. C-

James Blount (James Blount), Saturday, 7 December 2002 20:18 (sixteen years ago) link

I am using OTM in this instance to mean I dislike the album, am annoyed by its good rep, and am glad Christgau slams it.

Sean (Sean), Saturday, 7 December 2002 20:20 (sixteen years ago) link

There was a "grunge circuit" back in 1980? I mean, besides the Wipers?

Nate Patrin (Nate Patrin), Saturday, 7 December 2002 20:21 (sixteen years ago) link

Thre was a 'grunge circuit' back in 1970! (See: that Sabbath review you posted for starters)

James Blount (James Blount), Saturday, 7 December 2002 20:22 (sixteen years ago) link

OH HELL NO

Nate Patrin (Nate Patrin), Saturday, 7 December 2002 20:23 (sixteen years ago) link

christgau hated Black Sabbath and most of Frank Zappa's oeuvre. so if you like either of the foregoing ...

Tad (llamasfur), Saturday, 7 December 2002 20:54 (sixteen years ago) link

I loved his Dead Kennedy's review. However his Funkadelic review seemed like he just reviewed the name of the album and the names of the songs.

David Allen, Saturday, 7 December 2002 21:09 (sixteen years ago) link

OTOH, Christgau is decidedly unimpressed with Sigur Ros -- i think the highest grade he gave them was a "B," respectable but hardly great -- so that has to count in the man's favor!

Tad (llamasfur), Saturday, 7 December 2002 21:11 (sixteen years ago) link

Also, someone please let me in on what OTM means. Thats been bugging me for a while.

David Allen, Saturday, 7 December 2002 21:13 (sixteen years ago) link

Play it backwards!

Just kidding. Means "on the money" (though I recently thought it meant "on the mark" - and originally "of the moment")

Nate Patrin (Nate Patrin), Saturday, 7 December 2002 21:22 (sixteen years ago) link

Christgau's review of Àgaetís Byrjun is a classic:

"Once there was a sensitive, conceited young fellow named Jonsi Birgisson who lived on a permafrost island surrounded by a cold, dark sea. Jonsi was a well-meaning person who loved music, and he yearned to put more warmth in the world even though he wasn't exactly sure what warmth was. Not just "throwing an electric blanket on the corpse of electronica," that he knew. Jonsi longed to blaze "inspired new avenues in sonic landscapes," to deliver "shamelessly tear-stained epics" in "the falsetto cadence of angels," to turn "4AD-styled, sepia-toned instrumental passages" into "awe-inspiring new-religious mantras." Stuff like that. He did all this and more on a thematically linked work where some of the sonic landscapes were entrancing (although not warm). Because he was conceited, sometimes he would announce that these soundscapes were destined to change musical history, and then sometimes mean people would make fun of him. But he always had the perfect retort. "You have to admit I'm smarter than Enya," he would say. And about that he was certainly right. B"

Hard to top that, really.

Tad (llamasfur), Saturday, 7 December 2002 21:27 (sixteen years ago) link

he's way too kind to the Dead Kennedys

dan (dan), Saturday, 7 December 2002 21:59 (sixteen years ago) link

I am using OTM in this instance to mean I dislike the album, am annoyed by its good rep, and am glad Christgau slams it.

Certainly doesn't have a good rep on ILM...

Daniel_Rf (Daniel_Rf), Saturday, 7 December 2002 23:15 (sixteen years ago) link

And what's with the jingoistic bullshit in the Daft Punk piece?

Remember Nate, we are at CULCHER WAR! The American underdog must defend himself from the hordes of evil Europeans trying to shove Cliff Richard, Heino and Johnny Hallyday down his throat!

Daniel_Rf (Daniel_Rf), Saturday, 7 December 2002 23:26 (sixteen years ago) link

According to his rockcritics.com interview, Christgau doesn't rate Pet Sounds, Astral Weeks or Crossing the Red Sea with the Adverts. (Predictably the last one is the only one that offends me)

Justyn Dillingham (Justyn Dillingham), Sunday, 8 December 2002 00:30 (sixteen years ago) link

You all are just trying to get him to come post again, right?

Hey, so when that kind of thing happens with various celebrities, do we assume that they find the reference of them using google? and since that type of response is relatively prompt more often than not, does that mean that they're googling their own names, like, almost every day!?

Dan I., Sunday, 8 December 2002 01:13 (sixteen years ago) link

or maybe some of them are just already reading. or someone they know is, and tells them to go look at a thread.

Josh (Josh), Sunday, 8 December 2002 01:34 (sixteen years ago) link

I admit, that Sigur Ros review does rather rule. :-)

Ned Raggett (Ned), Sunday, 8 December 2002 04:03 (sixteen years ago) link

Christgau may well be right about a culture war but I am absolutely on the opposing side so I don't read him much! I think every American I do read probably swipes stylistically from him though.

Tom (Groke), Sunday, 8 December 2002 10:00 (sixteen years ago) link

it's hard not to, Tom--he pretty much invented the tone and language (and plenty of the catchprhases) a lot of U.S. rockcrits use (that mix of jargony, high- and lowbrow).

also he is unphased by Luomo's Vocalcity and DJ DB's History of Our World Pt. 1 and he is WRONG WRONG WRONG.

M Matos (M Matos), Sunday, 8 December 2002 10:19 (sixteen years ago) link

does that mean that they're googling their own names, like, almost every day!?

What, you DON'T?

Tom Millar (Millar), Sunday, 8 December 2002 10:21 (sixteen years ago) link

Critics are most usefully defined by what they love rather than what they hate. He panned the N*E*R*D album but is still THE MAN.

B.Rad (Brad), Sunday, 8 December 2002 10:36 (sixteen years ago) link

Interesting ... I've never read this guy before (in fact I never even heard of him until I started reading ILM.) This is a guy for whom the word "twat" was clearly invented. Does he write about ANYBODY in a non-patronising way? And why isn't he just ignored?


phil jones (interstar), Sunday, 8 December 2002 10:47 (sixteen years ago) link

Phil if you ended your post with a letter grade it almost could be one of Christgau's own capsule reviews.

Sean (Sean), Sunday, 8 December 2002 10:53 (sixteen years ago) link

"This is a guy for whom the word 'twat' was clearly invented." - are you saying that Christgau's some sort of Big Daddy Kane playa cuz in America at least 'twat' refers to a woman's onion.

James Blount (James Blount), Sunday, 8 December 2002 11:01 (sixteen years ago) link

Why isn't he just ignored?

Because he wrote or co-wrote the standard critical lines on the Stones, the New York Dolls, Al Green, the Clash, Public Enemy and any number of lesser-known artists of a similar level of achievement... More importantly, he and Greil Marcus brought SLEATER-KINNEY to the world's attention and thus is one of the greatest Americans not named Corin, Carrie or Janet.

B.Rad (Brad), Sunday, 8 December 2002 11:10 (sixteen years ago) link

He gave the Kinks notice at a time they were written off Stateside (ie the late sixties).

James Blount (James Blount), Sunday, 8 December 2002 11:16 (sixteen years ago) link

The thing about Christgau is that he reviews so much stuff that even if he was right 95% of the time there'd be heaps of blunders. He's one of my favourites though, just for having such a great critical "voice". Often when I'm listening to something and I'm struggling to articulate my reaction, I'll just read the relevant Consumer Guide entry and borrow Christgau's opinion wholesale.

The cultural war thing doesn't interest me much though, mainly because I don't listen to much self-consciously American music.

Tim Finney (Tim Finney), Sunday, 8 December 2002 12:12 (sixteen years ago) link

If he's a culture warrior tho he's a pretty fucking weird one becuz any true USA patriot would defend the values of the Eagles, Dr Dre Van Halen (and perhaps Genesis) over those of Elvis Costello and Sinead O'Connor (and perhaps Chuck D, Pere Ubu, and 'praised-by-Guardian-&-Spectator-both!-as-'contemporary Swift' Eminem). It's almost like he desperately wants Americans to be a 'credit to the race' so to speak. [Maybe the critical 'lines' he wrote are even worse than the ones Marsh did, as by paradoxically celebrating America while attacking anything that's actually GOOD about it he helped to destroy the country! I mean look at the way they're acting now, all scared of their own shadows'n'shit!] Getting back to the original thread question - I'm as anti-Euro as anybody ever, but I still think justice would've been served had Xgau been, locked in a room with a tooled-up Christian Vander, Giorgio Moroder, and Nico for five minutes

dave q, Sunday, 8 December 2002 13:06 (sixteen years ago) link

(also - remember when the anti-gangsta coalition used to refer to NWA as 'the KKK's favorite rap group', well whether or not that's true (and who gives a fuck what the KKK think anyway rite) you can see what they sort of were getting at - anyway, maybe a clue as to why Xgau likes Oasis so much?)

dave q, Sunday, 8 December 2002 13:10 (sixteen years ago) link

for the hell of it, i went over Christgau's "New Wave" list from his Eighties guide. these were alt/new wave/whatever groups that he didn't out-and-out dismiss, but simply didn't listen to or didn't have time to properly grade. here are some of those acts that had an impact (good or bad) during the Nineties (take Christgau's failure to properly review them to mean whatever you want it to mean):

american music club -- falco -- the wipers -- screaming trees -- mudhoney -- the verlaines -- the proclaimers -- flaming lips -- the misfits -- swell maps -- pop will eat itself -- durutti column -- the primitives -- henry rollins -- the chameleons -- band of susans -- skinny puppy -- christmas -- social distortion -- talk talk -- squirrel bait -- felt -- everything but the girl -- gene loves jezebel -- swing out sister -- nitzer ebb -- the shaggs -- 24-7 spyz -- modern english

Tad (llamasfur), Sunday, 8 December 2002 13:27 (sixteen years ago) link

Sean : Doh! Attention to detail always blunts my satire

James : Assuming I know what you're getting at, given that in England an onion is a vegetable. The British use the word comes with an attmosphere of patrionizing derision (as opposed to "cunt" which comes with straight out agression)

B.Rad : This intrigues me. What are the "standard" lines on these artists? Is he famous because he invented lines everyone agrees with?

Tim : "Often when I'm listening to something and I'm struggling to articulate my reaction, I'll just read the relevant Consumer Guide entry and borrow Christgau's opinion wholesale." This is irony, right?


phil jones (interstar), Sunday, 8 December 2002 13:33 (sixteen years ago) link

speaking of the dawn of the thread, i'm curious what lead you to reviving it. were you looking at xgau reviews, wanted to discuss it, and then searched for the appropriate thread? were you searching for christgau threads, found this one - started in 2002, last revived in 2011 - and then went looking for reviews that fit the bill?

da croupier, Sunday, 19 April 2015 15:53 (four years ago) link

Wasn't xgau notably complaining about rockism back in the late 80s?

SurfaceKrystal, Sunday, 19 April 2015 15:57 (four years ago) link

i think just made someone change screennames

da croupier, Sunday, 19 April 2015 15:59 (four years ago) link

speaking of the dawn of the thread, i'm curious what lead you to reviving it. were you looking at xgau reviews, wanted to discuss it, and then searched for the appropriate thread? were you searching for christgau threads, found this one - started in 2002, last revived in 2011 - and then went looking for reviews that fit the bill?

― da croupier

i found this christgau site via wiki chronic page, and then searched for "christgau". why?

Arctic Noon Auk, Sunday, 19 April 2015 16:27 (four years ago) link

Hadn't noticed his thing or thang against Bernie Worrell until now, but will choose to ignore it, as one has to sometimes do with the Dean. In other words, Treeship otm.

You Play The Redd And The Blecch Comes Up (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 19 April 2015 16:29 (four years ago) link

i was curious, auk - there have been a lot of xgau threads over the years, and plenty in the last few months. for someone to open an old one with "HAHA Music Critics" with a piece of 20+ year old criticism - just wondered what would lead to that.

da croupier, Sunday, 19 April 2015 16:31 (four years ago) link

because music criticism is really all a big joke, it should be laughed at, because it's funny. i'm not saying i'm anti it, or hating on it, it's just a thing not to take seriously.

Arctic Noon Auk, Sunday, 19 April 2015 16:50 (four years ago) link

also not to say good music criticism isn't interesting. but when the most famous (?) music reviewer labels such albums as "duds" is funny.

Arctic Noon Auk, Sunday, 19 April 2015 16:59 (four years ago) link

lots of people think music criticism is a joke - that doesn't lead to them posting 20 year old examples on 3 year old threads

da croupier, Sunday, 19 April 2015 17:04 (four years ago) link

sorry, 13 year old threads last updated more than 3 years ago

da croupier, Sunday, 19 April 2015 17:04 (four years ago) link

but anyway, yeah - xgau! what an ironically dismissive clown. makes weird word choices, has obvious biases. only nerds like him can even parse his shorthand. xgau!

da croupier, Sunday, 19 April 2015 17:05 (four years ago) link

The scales have fallen

You Play The Redd And The Blecch Comes Up (James Redd and the Blecchs), Sunday, 19 April 2015 17:08 (four years ago) link

And I'm not even a big fan of Doggystyle and Chronic. They're not albums I have been interested in listening to that much.

deej loaf (D-40), Sunday, 19 April 2015 17:32 (four years ago) link

Dirty Dancing [RCA Victor, 1987]
Five pre-Beatle classics plus six postmodern horrors equals the soundtrack to the world's longest rock video, a brutally depressing top-forty apotheosis. The comparisons are torture--revolting as the contempo material is, it sounds even worse in among the Five Satins and Mickey & Sylvia, who are in turn rendered unlistenable by the commercial manipulations that bring them back to commercial life. Even accessory before the fact Phil Spector sounds not just innocent but simple up against the technocratic ardors of Medley & Warnes's Grammy/Oscar-validated "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" or Eric Carmen's merely radio-validated "Hungry Eyes." The new songs epitomize AOR as CHR, turning everything rock and roll taught us about rhythm and emotion into the melodrama that prerock schlock left behind when it abandoned operetta and the drawing-room ballad. They're almost as good a reason to hate mass culture as Ronald Reagan. D

Mr. Snrub, Monday, 20 April 2015 11:33 (four years ago) link

I'd hesitate to call the Dirty Dancing soundtrack a "great album", but that review is so incredibly wrongheaded and stupid that I had to post it here.

Mr. Snrub, Monday, 20 April 2015 11:37 (four years ago) link

he did finally get Illmatic a couple years ago, enough to reevaluate:

Illmatic [Columbia, 1994]

In Mo' Meta Blues, Questlove describes "hip hop's funeral": the battle of the debuts at the Source Awards, when Biggie's Ready to Die buried Nas's Illmatic, already a critical and in-crowd legend, and he watched Nas "wilt in defeat" in the Tommy Hilfiger shirt his manager had just financed. Sez Quest to Black Thought: "He's never going to be the same. You just watch." And he was right. Nas immediately transformed himself into a hit-seeking faux gangsta of depressing conventionality and didn't make another good record for eight years. That still begs the question, however, of exactly how good this spartan effort was and is. Better than I thought at the time for sure--as happens with aesthetes sometimes, the purists heard subtleties principled vulgarians like me were disinclined to enjoy, especially beatmaking where Large Professor along with such fellow New York smoothies as Pete Rock, Q-Tip, and the great Premier convert samples into haunting looped groove elements. Also enjoyable is Nas's ability to transform simple lines like "I never sleep because sleep is the cousin of death," "I'm out for presidents to represent me," "The world is yours," and even "One love, one love" into de facto hooks. And my mind tells me that I have to admire how cagily he walks the line between doing the crime and hanging with homies for whom nothing else is "real" even if my heart isn't in it. All that said, however, Ready to Die still gets my vote. A-

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 20 April 2015 13:07 (four years ago) link

And my mind tells me that I have to admire how cagily he walks the line between doing the crime and hanging with homies for whom nothing else is "real" even if my heart isn't in it. All that said, however, Ready to Die still gets my vote.

xp - I don't think he did.

Arctic Noon Auk, Monday, 20 April 2015 13:33 (four years ago) link

If you think an ambivalent reaction is less interesting or honest than canned enthusiasm, then flap your wings, flightless wonder.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, 20 April 2015 13:35 (four years ago) link

He placed Black Messiah at 17th best album of 2014. Above was things such as Azealia Banks, Beyonce and Kate Tempest mediocre run of the mills.

The man is not to be taken seriously.

Arctic Noon Auk, Monday, 20 April 2015 13:42 (four years ago) link

If you think an ambivalent reaction is less interesting or honest than canned enthusiasm, then flap your wings, flightless wonder.

― The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Monday, April 20, 2015 2:35 PM (

Less interesting? You said he "finally got it". I said, he clearly states he didn't. And then compared it to his preference of Ready To Die. I declare: He doesn't get it.

Arctic Noon Auk, Monday, 20 April 2015 13:44 (four years ago) link

we had a poster a while ago who would praise people for "getting it" and criticize them when they didn't "get it". people seemed to resent him.

Treeship, Monday, 20 April 2015 14:18 (four years ago) link

The man is not to be taken seriously.

Quack and Merkt (Tom D.), Monday, 20 April 2015 14:21 (four years ago) link

As far as xgau and nas/rap generally are concerned, arctic noon auk ... Otm

deej loaf (D-40), Monday, 20 April 2015 14:54 (four years ago) link

I've gone through a period where I've really disliked this guy; so many albums I've loved or were important to me have been dismissed with just a bomb or a scissors, kind of the equivalent of a guy rolling his eyes and going, "meh". And yes, his writing often makes no sense or makes you question whether or not he's actually heard the album. I only know him through the guides, which (similar to Allmusic) makes his grading system look silly, there are a lot of "really? you like this album and not that one?" moments when the reality is that it's more about how he's feeling on a particular day. But even I can't deny that he's a great writer who sort of conquered the concise-but-deep-and-thoughtful style of reviewing that nobody else I know of has done (now I think we'd call that 'Twitter-esque'). I'll still read what he has to say.

frogbs, Thursday, 23 April 2015 14:05 (four years ago) link

oh wow is Dirty Dancing up for rehab now too?

Vic Perry, Thursday, 23 April 2015 16:16 (four years ago) link

man, remember when frogbs was our raccoon tanuki

♛ LIL UNIT ♛ (thomp), Thursday, 23 April 2015 16:25 (four years ago) link

I've gone through a period where I've really disliked this guy; so many albums I've loved or were important to me have been dismissed with just a bomb or a scissors, kind of the equivalent of a guy rolling his eyes and going, "meh". And yes, his writing often makes no sense or makes you question whether or not he's actually heard the album. I only know him through the guides, which (similar to Allmusic) makes his grading system look silly, there are a lot of "really? you like this album and not that one?" moments when the reality is that it's more about how he's feeling on a particular day. But even I can't deny that he's a great writer who sort of conquered the concise-but-deep-and-thoughtful style of reviewing that nobody else I know of has done (now I think we'd call that 'Twitter-esque'). I'll still read what he has to say.

― frogbs, Thursday, April 23, 2015 3:05 PM (2 hours ago) Bookmark Flag Post Permalink

That's just style over substance. No great connoisseur gets so much wrong in the way of taste as he does. It's like those art critics who dismissed Monet, turns out they were wrong, and clueless, and didn't get what they were seeing. The good ones get it. Xgau doesn't.

Arctic Noon Auk, Thursday, 23 April 2015 16:45 (four years ago) link

but what exactly is getting it "wrong" w/r/t musical taste? I agree that album to album he's weird, he loves the Beastie Boys (especially Licensed to Ill) and gives all their albums A's, except for Check Your Head which is a big ol' bomb

frogbs, Thursday, 23 April 2015 17:53 (four years ago) link

he actually gave check your head a "neither" not a bomb. dude loved jokey pop culture cut-ups, had several meters albums and didn't need one by these guys, though he grew to accept their noodling, judging by later reviews

da croupier, Thursday, 23 April 2015 17:56 (four years ago) link

there's basically a check your head review in the ill communication review

Ill Communication [Grand Royal, 1994]
Another you-gotta-believe record, just like Check Your Head--only less so, thank God, whose appearances herein are frequent and auspicious. Although once again it's short on dynamite, at least it starts with a bang. Two bangs, actually, one hip hop and one hardcore--their loyalty to their roots closely resembles an enlightened acceptance of their limitations. With each boy having evolved into his own particular man, the rhymes are rich and the synthesis is complex. You-gotta-love the way the ecological paean/threnody emits from a machine that crosses a vocoder and the p.a. at a taco drive-through, but their collective spiritual gains peak in the instrumentals, which instead of tripping up the Meters evoke the unschooled funk of a prerap garage band. If they've never run across Mer-Da's Long Burn the Fire, on Janus, maybe I could tape them one? A-

da croupier, Thursday, 23 April 2015 17:58 (four years ago) link

like, whether or not you agree, i don't think it's hard to get why someone who experienced the 70s as an adult dug licensed to ill and paul's boutique wouldn't have been happy when check your head showed up

da croupier, Thursday, 23 April 2015 17:59 (four years ago) link

so the frowny face is "indifferent"? didn't know that and yeah it makes more sense that way. and yes I get why, I just find it weird to praise that they've 'grown up' or that they're accepting their limitations here, when Check Your Head was basically where all that started, right? they're very similar records imo

frogbs, Thursday, 23 April 2015 18:10 (four years ago) link

well sometimes things take time to process - xgau def strikes me as the kind of writer where the grade for one album is sometimes a corrective for the previous

da croupier, Thursday, 23 April 2015 18:11 (four years ago) link

compared to say, a rolling stone album guide entry, consumer guide takes are mostly in the moment, though occasionally amended in hindsight for one of the books, but only in really egregious cases

da croupier, Thursday, 23 April 2015 18:13 (four years ago) link

I think that (correction of earlier grade) too --- the other explanation is that he is unusually considerate to late-career / post hotness offerings.

One of his more endearing qualities, although it messes with reliability (which, frankly, get a life critic-critics....write your own damn reviews, be better than what you complain about).

Vic Perry, Thursday, 23 April 2015 18:15 (four years ago) link

the other explanation is that he is unusually considerate to late-career / post hotness offerings.

haha yeah he's got a lot of "these old people are still full of life and just as vital as ever!" glances into the mirror imo

da croupier, Thursday, 23 April 2015 18:17 (four years ago) link

dude went out from the voice giving that first new york dolls reunion album (which is a decent new david johansen album even if the band sounds like paul schaffer's in it) an a+

da croupier, Thursday, 23 April 2015 18:18 (four years ago) link

he did it recently with Jay Z – reevaluated everything he'd underrated and missed.

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 23 April 2015 18:22 (four years ago) link

Yeah his A+ just doesn't carry the same oomph later than the 70s book or at the very latest the 80s.

Vic Perry, Thursday, 23 April 2015 18:22 (four years ago) link

The time we had our first chat I gave him shit about the Dolls album and he got defensive ("What's the matter? It speaks to me!" or something).

The burrito of ennui (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 23 April 2015 18:23 (four years ago) link

yeah i never assume this shit is disingenuous - dude seems enough of an unrepentant screwball that his "and they mentioned Gore by name. A." shit represents an earnest salute to the cd player

da croupier, Thursday, 23 April 2015 18:26 (four years ago) link

Hey anybody who mentions Lesley Gore gets an A in my book.

Vic Perry, Thursday, 23 April 2015 18:29 (four years ago) link

oh come on, i clearly meant Martin.

da croupier, Thursday, 23 April 2015 18:37 (four years ago) link

exactly. I enjoy reading him even if I wouldn't take a music recommendation

frogbs, Thursday, 23 April 2015 18:57 (four years ago) link

" Like a lot of young black pop artists, Missy deals in aural aura rather than song, which means that even after you connect--as I did with "Izzy Izzy Ahh" well before "The Rain" hit MTV--she can take awhile to absorb."

I like that

Arctic Noon Auk, Thursday, 23 April 2015 22:03 (four years ago) link

Reminder that Christgau gave To Pimp a Butterfly the same score as Rae Strummond in the same week https://medium.com/cuepoint/robert-christgau-expert-witness-9fa87a06ebde

utter fool.

Arctic Noon Auk, Monday, 27 April 2015 22:04 (four years ago) link

which of those two scores are you complaining about?

fact checking cuz, Monday, 27 April 2015 22:06 (four years ago) link

hehehe

Arctic Noon Auk, Monday, 27 April 2015 22:48 (four years ago) link

That A- he gave Kendrick feels a little low for the review he wrote

thom yorke state of mind (voodoo chili), Monday, 27 April 2015 23:08 (four years ago) link

four years pass...

Rob Unkut has been posting his reviews of classic hip hop stuff, just awful

SCHOOLLY-D (Schoolly-D) From the beginning, rap has been a music of aggressive, expansive possibility, claiming the world on beat and boast alone. This Philadelphia street tough claims only his turf. His powerful scratch rhythms are as oppressive and constricted as his neighborhood, and his sullen slur conveys no more hope or humor than the hostile egotism of his raps themselves. I'm not saying he isn't realer than all the cheerful liars the biz has thrown back to the projects, or that his integrity doesn't pack a mean punch. But he's still an ignorant thug, and he's cheating both his audience and himself by choosing to remain that way. B PLUS

Blues Guitar Solo Heatmap (Free Download) (upper mississippi sh@kedown), Sunday, 7 July 2019 14:58 (four months ago) link


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