George Starostin's Albums Reviews Blog APPRECIATION THREAD

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by Adam Pajda, Sep 21, 2018.

  1. John54

    John54 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    I've read his reviews on occasion, though not for several years. I might even have found them prior to joining this forum in 2005.

    Oddly enough the one thing I recall is his tagging New Horizons as the best song from Seventh Sojourn. I prefer the opener Lost in a Lost World, although all of Side 1 is excellent ...
     
  2. Lostchord

    Lostchord Dr. Livingstone, I presume

    Location:
    Poznań, Poland
    His old site was quite important to me as a platform of clashing my musical experiences against his. I guess I enjoy reading reviews of the music I know more than of music I don't know.

    Of course we had different opinions (I'm definitely more into the "atmospheric" aspect, which he mostly shrugged off as self-indulgent), but he was quite consistent and reliable in his approach. I guess it was a natural consequence of his scientific background. As far as I remember, his initial goal was to be "objective within [his] subjective criteria", and I guess he kind of achieved this in practice, though in theory it still sounds bad to me, an extreme subjectivist.

    A big plus was a very clever balance he got between two extreme possible approaches: an "objective" one ("this album is good, period") and a "personal" one ("I like this album a lot etc."). He was informative enough to be credible, but he also added some personal touches to keep it warm and lively. Contrary to some previous posters here, I did find his writing witty and colourful (whilst McFerrin, whose taste is much closer to mine, seemed slightly more boring to me).

    As usual in such cases, much of the criticism in the readers comments sections was about people having different taste, which was ridiculous (though I agree that he needn't have reacted sometimes). Sometimes he deserved the flac he got, as he was occasionally flippant (I still haven't forgiven him for calling Byrds' Lady Friend "a brassy waste of vinyl", ugh!) and cursory (he tended to confuse instruments, lead singers and sometimes the authors of songs). I guess he never really played or recorded music (for pleasure or otherwise), which could have deepened his scope.

    I didn't really get his complex evaluation system, but I liked the idea of red/blue songs a lot - when I started my own little reviews blog (in Polish), I made the layout quite similar to his old site, as a nod, though I'm nowhere as prolific and systematic as him.

    I like the blog version too, though I miss some of his old exuberance and irreverence (I know I'm contradicting myself here, but I can't help it ;) )

    Anyway, huge respect and all that. I noticed he copy-and-pasted some of his old reviews on the Rate Your Music site at some point, so I wouldn't be surprised if he turned out to be a reader or even a poster here, in this case - kudos :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2018
    jay.dee likes this.
  3. Adam Pajda

    Adam Pajda Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Poland
    905 likes this.
  4. Parachute Woman

    Parachute Woman Forum Resident

    While I appreciate John McFerrin's writing and the fact that he has kept his site going all these years (and, I think, has gotten out from under the 'George Clone' cloud that haunted his early years) he's got a major blind spot against female artists. He has done in depth reviews of the complete discographies of over 60 artists and not a single one of them is a solo female or female-fronted act. The only women discussed on his entire site are members of male dominated groups (Talking Heads, Sly & the Family Stone and Velvet Underground). I tried to overlook this for a long time, because tastes are tastes, but it's really become a glaring omission for me in recent years.

    In fact, if I look over his list of the music he owns, he barely owns anything by women. In addition to the three groups above, he's only got albums from the following artists:

    Mixed Gender Groups: ABBA, Arcade Fire, Blondie (1 album), Fleetwood Mac, Mamas and Papas (1 album), Wings, Pixies, Renaissance, Sonic Youth (1 album), X
    Solo Female Artists: Kate Bush (only 3 albums), Neko Case (1 album), Carole King (1 album), Joni Mitchell (only 2 albums, and they are Clouds and Blue)

    For someone who has taken such pains to educate himself in jazz, classical, rock, etc., it seems like he is really overlooking the contributions of women to popular music. :shrug:
     
  5. AidanB

    AidanB Forum Resident

    Location:
    Indiana, USA
    Wow, so he’s a misogynist now?
     
  6. Parachute Woman

    Parachute Woman Forum Resident

    I did not say that at all. I merely said that he has not reviewed any female artists at all, which is a major oversight in my eyes. Especially because an artist like Kate Bush seems right up his musical alley. He has also proven to be a huge fan of Bob Dylan, but doesn't seem to have looked into Joni Mitchell at all. It honestly confuses me.
     
  7. AidanB

    AidanB Forum Resident

    Location:
    Indiana, USA
    Ah gotcha, my bad for jumping to conclusions. I don’t know, perhaps he just doesn’t care for female voices. They’re different for sure. I don’t think it has anything to do with ignoring a certain gender’s contributions to music.
     
    Parachute Woman likes this.
  8. Ma Kelly

    Ma Kelly Forum Resident

    Location:
    Bristol
    I used to love his old site - kinda stopped with the new one when he was just going through things alphabetically, which seems a little boring to me. Maybe I was impatient, but I didn't want to wait years to get to the second half of the alphabet. Anyway, I loved his style of describing things - he seemed to be on the same wavelength as me as to how he responded to music, even if I didn't always like what he liked and vice versa: some of his opinions on the Byrds infuriated me, but at least I understood why he felt like he did. His review of the String Band's Hangman's Beautiful Daughter is my favourite review I've ever read of that particular album.
     
  9. Dylancat

    Dylancat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cincinnati, OH
    Certainly looks that way
     
  10. Dylancat

    Dylancat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cincinnati, OH
    Hard to fathom why one “doesn’t care for female voices”?
     
  11. manxman

    manxman Forum Resident

    Location:
    Isle of Man
    That is curious, but then again I only review albums by women and bands including women on my own site.

    http://rf3769.wixsite.com/richardfalksreviews
     
    Big Swifty and jay.dee like this.
  12. Andersoncouncil

    Andersoncouncil Forum Resident

    Location:
    upstate NY
    Loved the Starostin site. My only problem (and it's a big one) is he is TOO harsh and critical. Even artists he seems to love (Pink Floyd) he really picks apart. He comes off as very grumpy, but the reviews are well written and fun to read.
    I actually like Mark Prindle better, but can't stand his puerile, childish attempts at humor. YMMV
     
    Parachute Woman likes this.
  13. Dylancat

    Dylancat Forum Resident

    Location:
    Cincinnati, OH
    Agree with this
     
  14. arem

    arem Forum Resident

    I'm internet friends with Mark and he's a very different guy these days. At the end of his run he was going thru a failing marriage and a drinking problem which made him incredibly negative and caustic. Since he quit doing reviews and interviews he's re-married, become a father, gotten sober, and become a generally more mature person. He's a good one. I do have to admit that I found him very funny (if occasionally overly offensive on purpose) and miss his reviews.
     
  15. Hombre

    Hombre Forum Resident

    George Starostin's Music Reviews has very complete and detailed reviews, he's really done a great effort. I got to read him about 8 years ago and I already knew the discography of most of the '60s groups he reviewed, so his site was not a great impact to me, but I really enjoyed reading him. Beyond the natural fact that sometimes one may disagree strongly with some record reviews, I think his rating system was unnecessarily complicated and incoherent. He classified the artists within different classes: A, B, C, D, or E; and then he rated the supposedly best album of class A with 15, class B with 14, class C with 13, class D with 12, and class E with 11. That was annoying because a class C artist could have an album deserving a 14 or 15 rating, but his system wouldn't allow that. For instance, he put Jimi Hendrix as class B, so the groundbreaking Are You Experienced just got a 14. I think nothing is better and more clear than the classic system of 5 stars.

    The first site that really introduced me to a lot of '60s rock music I hadn't known before was Wilson & Alroy's Record Reviews, quite more modest but still very informative. I devoured that page in the year 2000 and it really expanded my musical life. At that point I was 21 years old, but had recently become a Beatles fan and knew few things about other '60s rock music.
     
    ajsmith likes this.
  16. Adam Pajda

    Adam Pajda Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Poland
  17. Michel_LeGrisbi

    Michel_LeGrisbi Far-Gone Accumulator ™

  18. Adam Pajda

    Adam Pajda Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Poland
  19. JoeOnWheels

    JoeOnWheels Forum Resident

    Location:
    Loveland CO USA
    Wonderful, George S is back and with a long, thoughtful essay. Perfect for a Sunday morning.
     
    ajsmith likes this.
  20. tagomago

    tagomago Original Wrapper

    I was the same as you it seems. Agree 100%
     
  21. ilash

    ilash Forum Resident

    I'm a huge fan of Mr Starostin. His old site was pretty much my road map when, in my late teens, I finally decided to give musical artists who weren't a member of the Beatles a chance. And, no, I'm not joking: the Beatles got me into music and for about eight years I listened to nothing but them and their solo careers, as well as the odd song here or there of other artists that I happened to come across. Anyway, once I decided to step out of my comfort zone, his tastes seemed to line up with mine enough that I pretty much took his reviews as gospel.

    I ave now, of course, expanded my musical tastes well beyond the fab four and have found numerous examples where I strongly disagree with him but I'm about as big a fan as ever because his new reviews on the Only Solitaire are just exponentially better than those on the old site. And, bringing it all back to the Beatles, his new reviews of their catalogue are phenomenal; easily the best reviews of their albums that I've read and ranks right up there with Ian McDonald as some of the best writing about the Beatles, period.
     
  22. Scott in DC

    Scott in DC Forum Resident

    Location:
    Washington, DC
    While I liked much about his reviews he can come off and snarky and patronizing. I like more of a normal album review like on Allmusic.com.

    Scott
     
    Another Steve likes this.
  23. Sear

    Sear Forum Resident

    Location:
    Tarragona (Spain)
    I usually disagree strongly with his reviews
     
  24. jay.dee

    jay.dee Forum Resident

    Location:
    Barcelona, Spain
    His new essay is quite thought-provoking. Here are some noteworthy excerpts:
    Only Solitaire blog: Music: Where The Hell Is It Heading To (Twenty Years After)? - An Anniversary Essay
     
    zphage likes this.
  25. Adam Pajda

    Adam Pajda Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    Poland

Share This Page