Rolling Stone record guides. Anyone else get irritated???

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by brent bomersbach, Jan 6, 2018.

  1. I had an old copy that belonged to my sister and then a newer edition after that. In my younger album buying days, I consulted them a lot to decide what to buy next. I discovered a lot of really cool albums through those books, so I'll always have a spot in the nostalgia section of my heart for them. That being said, as my tastes matured and I branched out, I found that there were plenty of records that they trashed that I ended up loving and began to put less stock in them. I also subscribed to the magazine for a good bit. I'll never forget the major turning point for me being their glowing 5 star review, written by Jann Wenner himself, for Mick Jagger's AWFUL "Goddess in the Doorway". I bought the album and would have a difficult time attributing anything worthy of even one star on that stinker.
     
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  2. beccabear67

    beccabear67 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Victoria, Canada
    Well, most of the great magazines that last do have a standard of quality, not so much a unified voice. Obviously Rolling Stone has lasted and has published all kinds of historic and quality pieces. I think in terms of reviews they wanted something sloppy and possibly even offensive to stir things up, that might be a quality of sorts but it also has hamstrung them as far as many are concerned in their name tied to a review having any added clout to it. Basically there seems often little editorial guidelines regarding reviews other than that as pieces of writing they should be colorful maybe or provocative, not necessarily function as useful reviews with knowable or broadly shared basic standards. Entertaining, gonzo, original, maybe very much, but useful, I'd put them fairly low, at least historically.

    There is of course a base of simply being exposed to what is out there which is useful. Goldmine, Bomp, Record Collector, Mojo, Ugly Things, Here 'Tis, Uncut and Shindig have led me better to artists, albums and songs I have valued over the years. Dark Star a little too, but it had a fairly narrow focus.
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018
  3. beccabear67

    beccabear67 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Victoria, Canada
    I was around but I just never felt Rolling Stone "thought", I found the reviews to be too all over the map and festooned sometimes in personal purple prose that served as a poor substitute for anything meaty about the actual music supposedly being guided to or away from. Some reviews would go off on really pointless tangents. Some would be all attitude or style to the max, the writer enjoying themself, but as a reader my finding them not helping in the least to interest me or tell me anything useful. Not all the reviews were like this but enough to make the "Rolling Stone gave it a _____" tag meaningless. It seems they even got the copy girl in the mail room to write something in reaction to Uriah Heep's album. I'm pretty sure I saw someone little kid write one. I don't think the people at RS really liked reviews at all some of the time. Collecting them later into 'guide' books is equally hit or miss. That entry on The Hollies as a lousy cover group based on one reprocessed U.S. album did a huge disservice long after it was written to everyone, except Mr. Bangs' ego maybe got off on it at the time.
     
  4. No Bull

    No Bull Forum Resident

    I have this version... really hard on The Doors... hated everything George Harrsion did after Bangle Desh... and the reviews are really mean spirited.
     
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  5. Ron Stone

    Ron Stone Offending Member

    Location:
    Deep Maryland
    The best may be the most recent 4th (teal) edition, which is funny but not mean-spirited. For example, the entry on Kiss is hilarious, but ALIVE! and DOUBLE PLATINUM are both awarded four stars.

    The band is introduced as "Paul Stanley (the Star Child), Gene Simmons (the Samurai Dragon), Peter Criss (the Cat), and Ace Frehley (the One Who Probably Didn't Save Any of His Money) . . ."
     
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2018
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  6. zebop

    zebop Well Known Stranger

    That book is 35 years old, who would hold a grudge that long? Even when I disagree, I like to read the reviews, that's basicially the point, isn't it? The only thing you're going to get to agree with 100% of the time is a journal entry.
     
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  7. Stu02

    Stu02 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    Still in the airport lounge w fog delay hour 3
    NP Herbie Hancock
    Mwandishi 1971
    ( after all this 70s talk here)
    I tend to find the very early seventies cross over
    some of the best of the decade

    Edit. Apologies wrong thread for this post
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018 at 10:26 AM
  8. pig bodine

    pig bodine Forum Resident

    Location:
    Syracuse, NY USA
    I can’t say I was irritated by them. I bought the red one and had the two smaller paperbacks that reprinted old magazine reviews. The thing that strikes me about the red book is how many albums, even those only a few years old at the time, were out of print back then.

    I remember skimming through the blue look at a bookstore, but I was familiar enough with Dave Marsh, whose taste is very different from mine to know I wouldn’t get very much out of it.
     
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  9. Oliver

    Oliver Forum Resident

    I always thought of those RS record guides as essential to me as a young kid in the early/mid 80's with no internet but only as PART of my learning about music and decisions about what might interest me. I'd never use any one guide or site to decide things. For me it's always been about getting as much information as possible from books/magazines radio shows and then after researching multiple sources I felt like I had a better understanding of the music.
    Heck I actually last year re bought a used copy of the blue record guide as it was the first review book I ever had and it was fun to look at the reviews and how much my thoughts have changed or not changed.
     
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  10. troggy

    troggy Forum Resident

    Location:
    southern Illinois
    In the front of the blue edition, they listed all of the acts in the red book, who'd been cut out of the new one because their material had gone out of print. For example, there was no listing for The Flamin' Groovies in the blue edition.
     
  11. dance_hall_keeper

    dance_hall_keeper Forum Resident

    To be honest, I wish they'd reprint the original 1979 First Edition.
     
  12. sami

    sami Forum Resident

    Location:
    Jersey Shore
    I've felt he same way since those days, valuing the feedback of people whose opinions I trusted over any, as you so aptly put it, hack writer with an agenda.
     
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  13. bosskeenneat

    bosskeenneat Well-Known Member

    The best comparison to put the entire Rolling Stone album reviews into is alongside the Grand ol' Opry exec that told Elvis Presley in 1954, "Son, you seriously need to consider going back to driving a truck".
     
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  14. babyblue

    babyblue Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pacific NW
    I had the Red edition at it was my bible for a long while. Of course I didn't agree with all the reviews but it did point me towards a ton of music that I otherwise wouldn't have discovered. The later editions didn't seem as helpful to me. Maybe I outgrew them.
     
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  15. babyblue

    babyblue Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pacific NW
    Yes, I remember some of the albums I wanted to hear being impossible to find.
     
  16. brent bomersbach

    brent bomersbach Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Midwestern US
    Oh Hell I don't hold a grudge. If I took the reviews that seriously then they win. I still actually read the thing after 35 years. It is just blows my mind that the supposed "professionals" of the time write some of the things they do and dismiss the things they did. Whether you are fan of the Grateful Dead or not they are certainly an essential part of rock music history. There are many artists praised that I do not particularly care for (ie Fleetwood Mac, Tom Waits, Patti Smith). And many like Yes were mentioned that magically changed in importance in a few short years. Also someone mentioned that Dave Marsh had some very not so thoughtful and childish reviews. For instance read the BS&T or Chase reviews.
     
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  17. troggy

    troggy Forum Resident

    Location:
    southern Illinois
    Flee.
     
  18. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Could you quote or paraphrase? And is Marsh the reviewer? (Marsh and Swenson (?), were the editors but there were a slew of reviewers. Some by both Marsh and Swenson).
     
  19. brent bomersbach

    brent bomersbach Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Midwestern US
    Not really at the moment. I do remember Dave Marsh was the reviewer for Chase. Which had a one word review. Flee.
    I mean if that is all one had to say then why even say it?
     
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  20. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    And didn't it have a "bullet" ranking, too, for, iirc, "should be melted" (or something like that)?
     
  21. troggy

    troggy Forum Resident

    Location:
    southern Illinois
    Yes, I think the Chase albums all got a bullet.
     
  22. brent bomersbach

    brent bomersbach Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Midwestern US
    Yes probably. No Chase is not what I would consider an essential piece in the rock history of things, but is I have actually come to enjoy it on occasion.
     
  23. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    I can only remember "Get It On", which I like.
     
  24. dlokazip

    dlokazip Forum Transient

    Location:
    Austin, TX, USA
    Those guides weren't bad as a reference and they did help me prioritize some of my purchases, particularly Frank Zappa, Jimi Hendrix, and Warren Zevon. I probably would not have gotten into the comedy of the Firesign Theatre without first reading about them in those guides.

    I was always turned off by their disrespect of AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Rush, and the comedian George Carlin. Then, when I'd go and listen to one of their five-star albums, I'd sometimes find myself shaking my head.

    EDIT: On the other hand, I remember being upset that they mocked Triumph. In retrospect, they were probably right. :laugh:
     
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  25. kwadguy

    kwadguy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cambridge, MA
    The Red one, which came out when I was in college, was a bible for myself and may of those I know. I read it cover-to-cover. Some of it was, in retrospect, silly--listings that were merely an excuse for Dave Marsh to let loose a one-liner. And there were a few albums that appeared twice in different sections, with different ratings. But it was definitely a great resource for its time.

    One thing to keep in mind: The Red book attempted to review EVERY ALBUM CURRENTLY IN PRINT at the time it was printed. Think about that, and then look at the discographies listed for some artists. It shows you what it was like in the pre-CD age...Tons of stuff would go out of print and never come back.
     
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