Appetite for Definition

Appetite for Definition: An A-Z Guide to Rock Genres Ian King HarperCollins My eyes rolled when I saw this book come in. The proliferation of alleged microgenres, particularly when applied to music made long before the critiques were composed, has produced some of the most boring and trite rock writing (not to mention everyday talk) that has ever been, and I am no innocent in this regard … Continue reading Appetite for Definition

Rock Critic Bill Wyman in Conversation with Chris Buck

Bill Wyman has been a music critic and arts editor for over 30 years but his ranking stories for New York Magazine’s “Vulture” section has recently raised his profile. In these epic pieces, which list every track from worst to best of some of the most important rock acts—the Beatles, Pink Floyd, the Clash and Led Zeppelin—Wyman justifies his rankings, while telling the band’s story. … Continue reading Rock Critic Bill Wyman in Conversation with Chris Buck

Rock Critic Laws

In his new book, Rock Critic Law: 101 Unbreakable Rules for Writing Badly About Music, Michael Azerrad takes on the clichés that pervade rock writing. His mode is tongue-in-cheek, with the book written as a sort of satirical ‘Strunk & White’ manual for album reviewers, to be followed at the writer’s peril. If you’ve written about music, you’ll find yourself nodding along in recognition at … Continue reading Rock Critic Laws

Roxy Music Songs Ranked From Worst to Best

Roxy Music’s career can be neatly sliced into three phases. Phase one includes 1972’s Roxy Music and 1973’s For Your Pleasure, tarted-up art-pop that absorbs “Telstar,” golden age Hollywood, Gil Elvgren calendar art, free jazz, and mutant-teens-from-outer-space hairstyles. The core lineup was Bryan Ferry (vocals), Brian Eno (synthesizers and tape manipulations), Phil Manzanera (guitar), Andy Mackay (saxophone and oboe), Paul Thompson (drums), and at various … Continue reading Roxy Music Songs Ranked From Worst to Best

Major Dudes: A Steely Dan Companion

Major Dudes: A Steely Dan Companion Edited by Barney Hoskyns The Overlook Press, 2018. Reviewed by Vic Perry “You can always look in the Steely Dan Listener’s Companion,” says Donald Fagen, helpfully answering a question about a lyric in an expansive 1977 interview with Sylvie Simmons originally published in Sounds, a British music paper.  It was a good joke, but maybe Fagen just saw the … Continue reading Major Dudes: A Steely Dan Companion

“what even is a review?”

A formidable question, posed by Mark Sinker at Freaky Trigger, and a fetching/daunting examination of its many contours and contradictions. The surgery begins with a complaint (from a friend of Mark’s) about Nick Tosches’ review of Black Sabbath’s Paranoid in Rolling Stone, I think because Tosches seems to not address the record itself. Which leads to a trail of thought that includes Flaubert, the Grotesque … Continue reading “what even is a review?”