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Lit  and  Crit




by Kevin Salveson


What is music criticism anyway?  Why would anyone bother writing it or reading it? Basically, there are about two worthwhile forms.


First, there are reviews you scan to get an idea if the album is any good at all. 

Did Beck's latest get a measly 55 score?  Not worth buying, and you'll demo it when you come across it rather than take the time to pursue it.


(That'd be the right call. For some reason, that album is instantly forgettable while being totally polished and professional. It doesn't even really sound like Beck in the end to me).


If you were smart --unlike me-- you'd have read that on a blog somewhere first before you dropped a dime on it in the record store sound unseen and regret it like I did.


So there's that kind of a review. 


Reading those might also involve schadenfreude or other types of rubberneck reasons for diving in and investing time in reading words about music at all when you could be hiking the Appalachian trail instead.


Then there's the other kind. It's when you already love an album or artist so much that you want to read more about it. They are the bees knees.  Every utterance and fashion choice is significant and ripples out in waves of cultural impact.


You want to have your opinion about them confirmed, share the love, join a community of the like minded or dispute someone's erroneous distaste of it.


That's the kind of reviews these are. 


After all, who in the world is going to care that Richard Wright should have sequenced his first inconsequential solo album slightly differently?  That observation... exactly who does it serve? Is Richard Wright going to read it personally himself and pass the suggestion on to the powers that be? No.


No, of course not.


But when we enjoy music, we listen along to it. We play games with what we expect to be coming next, or what we know and enjoy is coming along that flow of vibrations in the air to our ears, as if we were a leaf on the rippling stream of watersound as it redoubts in the earth's wet atmosphere. Indeed, that's part of it too.


We listen and we study the artwork, read the liner notes, check a review online as the songs play. Then we like it so much we restart the song and get lost in it, get up and wiggle our butts, or close our eyes, sit back and enjoy the fireworks exploding deep in the space between our ears. 


So if anyone reads it and wants to make their own little compilation of tracks for personal use, they'll know how to do it right.  Doing it right: not a bad aim in the end.


That's the kind of reviews I write. They're for people who already love Alan Parsons and who want to read more about him, glean more insight, share appreciation. I do offer that, with full plate reverb.


Good writing is good writing, and good music is good music, and when the twixt shall tangle then we tumble into it all like greedy schoolchildren diving into a bag of new candy.


Ear candy, that's what I should call this book I'm working on now, because it's the only thing I have an appetite for: delicious sounds, synethstasical ecstasies of the ear, the quivering follicles of infinity inferred from the vibrations of the universe in the local atmosphere of earth.


Yeah, so that's what a music review is all about.


Combine that with my deep deep knowledge of the history of music and by golly you've got a polly-blog stew goin!


Well, enough of my yakkin, let's get to readin'.


With that in mind, let's start throwing ratings out there and see how it goes!


NEXT:  Read Our Review of Phil Collins' Career






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