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

“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?”

“The destruction of the Village Voice” (Artforum)

Artforum gathers obits from Christgau, Greg Tate, Molly Haskell, J. Hoberman et al. The photo by Sylvia Plachy of Alexander Cockburn leading an editorial meeting is terrific; it provides the sort of romantic anti-romantic vision of what it must have been like to work at the Voice, at least in the minds of every writer who dreamt of doing such a thing. (I was lucky, … Continue reading “The destruction of the Village Voice” (Artforum)

Five minutes to ecstasy

5 Minutes That Will Make You Love Classical Music In which the New York Times asks several artists to provide an entry into classical for non-classical listeners. An idea which I’m sure has been done to death, but which is kind of irresistible anyway. And which in fact syncs up nicely with my own recent mission to finally explore the stuff. My exploration is two-fold—and … Continue reading Five minutes to ecstasy