Since we’ve been reviewing reviews here recently, I remembered this 1 review I read that was shocking not only in how bad ’twas, but by the fact that the person who wrote it was a professional reviewer who was paid by a real, physical magazine to write it & who is renowned ’nough to have a Wikipedia article, & who is apparently known as the “dean of American rock critics”, which says something dire ’bout American rock criticism thruout the last half century if that’s true. No wonder this music genre’s dead. Luckily, there’s no chance this geriatric cracker will get anywhere near to deanship to hip hop criticism.
Anyway, let’s get to the review. Now, ’cause I like to focus on the arguments o’ the reviews & not having the “right” or “wrong” conclusions, I’m going to leave out the title o’ the work he’s reviewing, since it’s irrelevant. He could be reviewing the worst Puddle of Mudd album & this review would still be terrible.
Anyway, here it is, in all its majesty:
The plus is because Peter Townshend likes it. This can also be said of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Beware the forthcoming hype–this is ersatz shit. D+
Like I said in my previous review o’ reviews, it’s impossible to offer any substantial analysis with only ’bout 50 words, so relying on only half as many is an e’en bigger challenge. & yet e’en here Christgau wastes his words. Nearly half the words are making an irrelevant comparison to some other album. Mo’ are wasted on complaining ’bout other people liking the album, which would be fine, if this reviewer bothered to say why they didn’t like it or e’en to make a statement ’bout why others would like it. There are reasons one might like terrible art — oft shallow reasons, which may be worth bringing up for complaint, to try debunking them, to make people understand why popularity need not always mean greatness. He’s not e’en being funny in his snideness: “beware the forthcoming hype” sounds like bathos in its o’erwrought drama. ¿Why should I give a shit if a bunch o’ idiots like shitty music?
But the worst failure o’ this review is the 1st sentence, where the most substantial point he makes is that ’nother musician likes the work. This is a shocking L, as the zoomzooms say, for a critic to take — to hold up somebody else as an authority. You’re s’posed to be the authority: you’re s’posed to be the one who has to articulate why you think the album sucks. It’s a lame-ass “dean of American rock critics” who has to turn tail & quiver under the protective cover o’ some paternal rockstar authority — specially when it’s the leader o’ 1 o’ the most boomeresque of ol’ rock bands, The Who. The fact that this band was e’er considered interesting in the 60s is proof that the hippie generation were always ol’ grampas, e’en when they were in their 20s & smoking pot.
But the crux o’ this review, if we trim the empty fat, is the final 2 words: “ersatz shit”. It’s an unfunny AVGN review. But e’en here he fucks it up: “ersatz shit” is ersatz English, so awkward that I’m not sure what he e’en means by it. I’m guessing he’s calling it both fake & shit; but the problem is that in normal English people use “ersatz” before a word, “ersatz” applies to that next word, not to what is being described by both. So it sounds like he’s calling it “fake shit” — feces that fails to truly be feces. Maybe that’s what he’s truly trying to say. To be honest, I don’t know how deep his review scores go: maybe D+ is a lukewarm score, maybe he’s saying that this album isn’t e’en audaciously shitty ’nough to be shit, but is just halfhearted shit. Much as some say the glass is half full & others say the glass is half empty, while most critics say a 5/10 is half good, Christgau says it’s half shit. If this is truly what he meant to express, that would be ’head o’ its time. But I have an inkling that Christgau just wanted to call this album both fake & shitty, but wanted to look smarter by digging thru his thesaurus for a fancier synonym for “fake”.
By the way, this review is for King Crimson’s In the Court of the Crimson King. Yeah, I wouldn’t have guessed it, either. You can find it on Christgau’s website, lovingly created by his 10-year-ol’ nephew in the late 90s in FrontPage.
You know, e’en if one thinks In the Court of the Crimson King is shit, you’d think one would think it relevant to bring up its political themes & its discussion o’ mental illness, e’en if one thinks they’re trite themes & one thinks King Crimson’s takes are shallow or inane, or, you know, bring up the style or genre this music is in & how it compares or represents said style or if said style is bad in & o’ itself. My best guess is that this album is “ersatz” in that it actually sounds like the composers had to use artifice when composing these songs, whereas The Who sounded like they played whate’er notes came into their head @ the time & Townshend just squealed like a sea mammal in pain, which is mo’ real. Real, ordinary people aren’t creative or weird or have talents that stand out, but just stand there picking their noses. The Who was a band for the common man who picks his nose; King Crimson is for… well, 21st century schizoids, obviously.
Fuck, he couldn’t just wrote as his review, “Schizoids may like the album, but sane people won’t. D+”, & it would’ve been infinitely better. Christgau better flee to Argentina, ’cause a coup’s going on, & we’re getting a new dean o’ American rock critics, motherfucker. As the song goes:
The wall on which the dean o’ rock critics wrote
is cracking @ the seams…