There is little

Critical language has for the most part been borrowed from other fields — few writers have been able to shake their liberal arts educations. The few new terms (tight, together, heavy) are vague and undiscriminating. A rock erudition has been established, and writers talk casually of ‘influences’ and ‘development,’ but it is all very distant. There are more reviewers, whose main function is commercial, than … Continue reading There is little

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

Mark Coleman and Ernesto Lechner, The New Rolling Stone Album Guide, 2004

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

Someone With a True Grasp of the Reality

Many thanks for Ralph Gleason’s review of Albert Goldman’s Ladies and Gentlemen, Lenny Bruce… I didn’t know Lenny Bruce… but I am acquainted with Albert Goldman and his ambition to stake out a monopoly position for himself in a culture of which he is no more a part than I am; and I have been hoping that someone with a true grasp of the reality … Continue reading Someone With a True Grasp of the Reality

Would-be English Kings

These would-be English Kings of Heavy Metal are eternally foiled by their stupidity and intractability. In the early Seventies their murky drone was all the more appealing for its cynicism — the philosophy that everything is shit, and a flirtation with pre-Exorcist demonic possession. Time has passed them by: their recent stuff is a quaint bore. – Ken Tucker on Black Sabbath, The Rolling Stone … Continue reading Would-be English Kings

Bubblegum Satanism

What Black Sabbath fan hasn’t plotted revenge on that scumbag Nick Tosches, whose infamous Rolling Stone review of Paranoid railed about Black Sabbath’s ‘bubblegum Satanism,’ and then went on to attack lead singer (in reality of Black Widow) Kip Treavor??? – Wayne Davis, “Further Thoughts on Those Marvelous Loud Heavies,” photocopied pages from unknown fanzine, 1972 [Tosches’ review] Continue reading Bubblegum Satanism


“‘Who’s Crying Now,’ the hit single off Journey’s hit LP, isn’t super hip, super deep or even real, real hooky. But it does sound good. What I’m talking about is the way the song’s soft, soapy bass redeems its soft, dopey sentiment by diving beneath tiny fillips of acoustic guitar and bubbling up around a dream-sized dollop of fat harmonies. Every shimmery cymbal tick pays … Continue reading Journey