March 6, 2008 by A.C. Rhodes
have you ever changed your mind about a record you reviewed, months or maybe years later? If so, was it from a bad opinion to good or the opposite?
Category: Question of the Week
Both. For example, I initially thought Spoon’s Gimme Fiction was terrible until about six months later when it came up on shuffle and I loved it, listening to it for a week straight like a teenager, and I still rather like the record.
And there have been plenty of records I was legitimately excited about/enthraled with when I wrote about them that didn’t really hold my interest, say, a year later.
I’ve changed my mind about records, as have all of us I suspect, most often because I finally became old enough and mature enough to understand them (Pharoah Sanders springs to mind) or sensible enough to see past the hysteria to the drek (much Grunge falls into this category…). I am enamoured with different facets of music as the times and years pass and my critiques are no longer so black and white… good and bad…
it turns out that there’s much more great and good music out there than I ever gave credit for… and for that I issue a general apology..
but Blue Cheer really DID suck!!
I’ve changed my hairstyle so many times now… Yeah, this happens a lot for me, though moreso, I’m glad to say, in an upward direction — i.e., I’ve ended up liking many things I didn’t hear so well at first — than in a downward one. Context is all-important. One thing I’ve never enjoyed about reviewing albums for print is the pressure to listen to something in a short time span and form an opinion based on those very deliberate listens. Far more rewarding to just be captured by something unaware or have it “grow on you” naturally. (Also, sometimes just hearing something in the presence of someone else who likes it can rub off on me in a positive way… I’m extremely pliable that way!)
Which is maybe why I gravitated more to spinning records than to reviewing them.
To me, one of the most exciting things about reviewing records is getting re-exposed to Album X years later and suddenly finding something about it that’s redeeming where previously you thought it was horrible. (This would be the exception proving the semi-rule I was touting awhile back, about being able to tell if a band or a record has ultimate staying power… har har.) Perfect example would be the Posies: I thought they were a total shuck, and said so in a Bob review. Then sometime later I had the occasion to LIKE a particular song of theirs, so I went back to see if I’d missed something about them. Turns out I had. And I reviewed the new album by prefacing it with an apology to the band for misjudging them and their intentions. Years later I reminded Ken Stringfellow about this and he said he’d got a smile out of the incident and he suggested that a rock critic is no different from a musician: sometimes you just aren’t sure if what you’ve got there in front of you is any good, but you eventually have to put it out there in the public and be done with it.
I love revising my opinion about a band or a record. My instincts want to scream, admittedly naively, that all music has value and I should seek out that value no matter what. There’s never enough time, of course. But once in awhile, as I said later on, you get lucky.
Of course, with the Maxim model of record reviewing destined to become the norm, all bets are off. If you don’t even have to listen to the record, there’s no reason why you should have to stand by whatever you write about it. Be all things to all people and you will be loved.
I don’t see how you cannot change your opinion about records in time. Time passes, you get older, and you change, so should do your taste and sensibility. I mean, “Never mind the bollocks”, might seem great when your eighteen, but you might not like it as much five years later. It’s an extreme example, but valid, I think. Maybe you didn’t like Beck’s “Sea change” when it came out, but you a week later your heart might be broken and you might like it. Records are a part of life, and, as life, change in time, I think.
Both. And I’m actually going through this right now with Animal Collective’s Strawberry Jam and Panda Bear’s Person Pitch. Originally, I couldn’t get into Panda Bear’s effort but thought A.C.’s release was pretty amazing. I put both on a disc and have lately found myself enjoying Person Pitch a lot more, questioning if I may have been a little too hard on it at first glance.
Full disclosure: I was moderately high when I first heard Strawberry Jam and wrote the review immediately afterwards.
Revisions are something I get off on, particularly on records that I loved as a pre-teen/teenager. A few of them categorically fall into the “What was I thinking?” department (Axe Offering immediately comes to mind) while a few of them hold up remarkably well (The Cars Panorama and, gasp, Billy Squier’s Don’t Say No is a tremendous piece of fun, derivative rock)
And then there are those that (McCartney II) that I liked back in the day, hated by the time I was in my twenties, and now find a strange appreciation towards.
Troubling are those reviewers who merely “set it and forget it,” particularly the douchebag at Rolling Stone who originally awarded Galaxie 500’s entire catalog a one-star review.
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