– Frank Owen, Spin, Jan 1990
Category: Nik Cohn
And in the End
The Beatles: For 15 Minutes, Tremendous
Nice–Nik Cohn reviews Abbey Road in The New York Times, Oct. 1969. After praising the medley on side two (“there are maybe 15 tunes in as many minutes — all of them instantly hummable, all of them potential hits”), Cohn laces into the rest of the disc: “…the words are limp-wristed [er, ouch–Ed.], pompous and fake. Clearly, the Beatles have now heard so many tales of their own genius that they’ve come to believe them, and everything here is swamped in Instant Art.” Elsewhere: “The badness ranges from mere gentle tedium to cringing embarrassment. The blues, for instance, is horribly out of tune, and Ringo’s ditty is purest Mickey Mouse.”
cf. (if you can find it–I had no luck online) Richard Goldstein’s takedown of Sgt. Pepper, also published in the NYT just two years earlier. From what I recall, Goldstein’s response to SPLHCB was much more hedged, but then, Goldstein himself was a much more hedged critic than Cohn (who wasn’t?). Goldstein’s piece sparked a wave of controversy (apparently), but this is the first I’ve even heard of Cohn’s review. What a difference two years makes?