Stunted notions

In the early 1970s certain journalists described James Brown’s music as boring. The reason they did so was because they were white and couldn’t see beyond their own stunted notions of what constitutes skill, intelligence, radicalism or social effect. They really believed that playing a 9th chord for 10 minutes was less intelligent than playing in odd time signatures for 40 minutes. The problem was … Continue reading Stunted notions

Critical Collage: Rush vs. the Critics

A by no means comprehensive or conclusive survey of a Canadian power trio who once upon a time (much less so now) got under the skins of more rock critics than any other rock or pop artist going.

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Creem, June 1981

“For the record, those three are drummer Neil Peart, who writes all the band’s lyrics and takes fewer solos than might be expected; guitarist Alex Lifeson, whose mile-a-minute buzzing is more numbing than exciting; and bassist, keyboardist and singer Geddy Lee, whose amazingly high-pitched wailing often sounds like Mr. Bill singing heavy metal. If only Mr. Sluggo had been on hand to give these guys a couple good whacks…”
Steve Pond, review of Rush live in Los Angeles, Rolling Stone, 1980

Geddy Lee’s high-register vocal style has always been a signature of the band – and sometimes a focal point for criticism, especially during the early years of Rush’s career when Lee’s vocals were high-pitched, with a strong likeness to other singers like Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin. A review in the New York Times opined that Lee’s voice ‘suggests a munchkin giving a sermon.’ Although his voice has softened over the years, it is often described as a ‘wail.’ His instrumental abilities, on the other hand, are rarely criticized.
Wikipedia entry on Rush

rush-rs-guide
Mark Coleman and Ernesto Lechner, The New Rolling Stone Album Guide, 2004

Continue reading “Critical Collage: Rush vs. the Critics”

Kid Rock

I have been a professional rock critic, more or less, for 15 years, and as such my friends and family naturally assumed I would be “music-training” my son from birth, regaling him with Sonic Youth and Sun Ra and Ghostface Killah from an early age so as to make him The Coolest Baby on the Planet. Not for him, the scourge of Raffi. But I … Continue reading Kid Rock