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

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

  1. BrentB

    BrentB Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Midwestern US
    I have the second edition RS rrecord guide from around 1983(blue cover). It had served me well as somewhat of a discography in years past. The thing is the ratings and the obvious bias toward certain artists. It trashes anything progressive out of the mainstream fundamental rock and roll boundries of the early 60's. For example the Moody Blues, the Grateful Dead, and Black Sabbath are worthless. Nothing over 3 stars. Also Alan Parsons project has NO stars.
    Does anyone else get irritated with this? I hope no one really took these rating seriously at the time.
    jay.dee, Hey Vinyl Man, bzfgt and 3 others like this.
  2. Jackson

    Jackson Forum Resident

    MA, USA
    To answer your last statement, i'm afraid too many people took RS seriously at the time, and still do.
  3. ribonucleic

    ribonucleic Forum Resident

    SLC UT
    All of the first records I bought for myself were chosen based on its advice. I still remember the very first ones:

    Bruce Springsteen - Born to Run
    The Pretenders - self-titled
    Bob Marley - Live!
    The Clash - London Calling

    Those choices have held up pretty well, I'd say. :)

    I remember it did call "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" "the exception in an otherwise unlistenable career" or words to that effect. Of course Freddie hadn't died yet.
  4. adm62

    adm62 Forum Resident

    Toronto, Canada
    Today U2 and Springsteen get 5 stars for everything they release.
    TSWisla, jlf, Bill Why Man and 5 others like this.
  5. Dylancat

    Dylancat Forum Resident

    Cincinnati, OH
    The red edition is the one to keep. It had sections on jazz and gospel which were very helpful.
    Thumbnail sketches, but helpful.
    The blue.
    A certain critic who likes to use a thesaurus dominated the blue.
    This edition also ravaged the Doors.
    Also assigned single or two stars to bulk of Doc Watson and Pentangle catalog, and demonstrated to me that they could not have really listened to those albums.
    Found the blue to be nasty.
  6. detroit muscle

    detroit muscle Forum Resident

    Rightly so! :righton::hide:
    Chemguy likes this.
  7. Desolation Row

    Desolation Row Forum Resident

    Yes. When the magazine awarded Working on a Dream five stars I finally stopped paying any attention to its music reviews.
  8. Galactus2

    Galactus2 Forum Resident

    So true. And we should all keep in mind that it’s the same mag that gave a Yoko Ono album five stars. The one with John’s broken eyeglasses on the cover.

    That says it all about their ‘credibility.’
    TSWisla, sami, keyXVII and 4 others like this.
  9. Fields&Lanes

    Fields&Lanes Forum Resident

    Piedmont, VA USA
    I have the same edition. I got it during my college years to provide me with a resource for adding to my vinyl collection. I would read the reviews and, initially, focus on ones that were highly graded to put on an "acquisition list". I also talked to friends and acquaintances who loved music as much as I and shared their experiences and likes/dislikes. Like other experiences during those years, I soon found out that there was always more than one viewpoint and one person/side is not always right. Great life-learning tool and helped me to appreciate and enjoy all types of music...even bands I have "dug" since my youth but were critically slammed in that guide (for instance, some of the bands mentioned by the OP). I like (and agree with) your statement of having used it as a discography of sorts.
    lightbulb likes this.
  10. ribonucleic

    ribonucleic Forum Resident

    SLC UT
    It served its function better by splitting the jazz coverage off into its own yellow book.

    And to my taste, the reversals of opinion from the Red to the Blue - The Doors down, The Clash up - were warranted.

    But giving X's Wild Gift one star! ... that's a paddlin'.
  11. Ron Stone

    Ron Stone Offending Member

    Deep Maryland
    You can choose to read reviews for recommendations, historical background, or simply as a dialogue.

    But if someone insists that the value of a review is measured by how strongly it correlates with the reader's opinion, why exactly is he or she reading it?
  12. cdash99

    cdash99 Forum Resident

    The RS guides are similar to Christgau’s in that they both provoke outrage. The difference is that Christgau does it deliberately and lets you in on the joke while RS does so out of ivory tower, holier than thou obliviousness.
    TSWisla, Randon Ton, sami and 13 others like this.
  13. Dylancat

    Dylancat Forum Resident

    Cincinnati, OH
    I can't recall, but do you know if the yellow jazz edition had more artists reviewed in it.?
    The red skimmed the surface.
  14. pbuzby

    pbuzby Forum Resident

    Chicago, IL, US
    I had that early 80's blue edition around the time I started buying records in the 80's. It helped me discover some bands although I disagreed with some of the reviews.

    The previous, mid 70's red edition had a surprisingly respectful review of Yes's discography that was replaced by a more snide one for the 80's book.
    spindly and BrentB like this.
  15. zphage

    zphage Beatard

    Bucks County, PA
    The guides are very Beatles and singer songwriter centric missing everything else as did the magazine. They trash everything in the way that many fools do when they think the (musical) well will never run dry. They were careless during an age of plenty, now they simply look out of touch.

    Ironically, a lot of their criticisms and dismissals are very similar to what would much later become a millennial anti rock stance.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2018
    Lightworker, altaeria, troggy and 2 others like this.
  16. Barnabas Collins

    Barnabas Collins Forum Resident

    They're just opinions. I used to have one of the RS record guides and got rid of it years ago. They were really hard on prog bands, metal bands all that sort of stuff. Then several years later, I thumbed through a newer edition at a bookstore and they gave high marks to a bunch of Yes albums-I think Topographic Oceans got 4 stars. Reviews mean nothing to me. I'd rather trust someone's opinion on this forum than that of a "clever" hacky journalist.
    Norco74, Lightworker, sami and 9 others like this.
  17. ribonucleic

    ribonucleic Forum Resident

    SLC UT
    Yes, it definitely expanded the coverage.
    Dylancat likes this.
  18. egebamyasi

    egebamyasi Forum Resident

    Worcester, MA
    That was half the fun. They got it wrong on some many records but at least they had an opinion.
  19. Stone Turntable

    Stone Turntable Dedicated Listener

    New Mexico USA
    Want to get a hallelujah chorus on the forum?

    Bash Rolling Stone.
    spindly, zebop, keef00 and 2 others like this.
  20. fmfxray373

    fmfxray373 Forum Resident

    san diego
    Rolling Stone like all periodicals had a certain viewpoint about music and politics plus like everyone else in the 1970s and 1980s tended to look at the industry from a 1960s paradigm, which is understandable.
    They were pretty hard on the big guys like the Stones (Read the reviews of Some Girls and Emotional Rescue). They would put people on their covers and then sort of dog them in the record reviews.
    Probably should not have started using the star system for reviews beginning near the late 70s. However it was a good place to learn about new music that wasn't getting big airplay. I first read about the Clash in their magazine.

    A lot of their negative reviews about major stars was because they were comparing an artist's output with what they had done during the 60s. Dylan suffered a bit that way.
    They did give praise to Neil Young when Rust Never Sleeps came out saying something like "unlike everyone else Neil is better today than he was in the 60s." I am paraphrasing from memory.

    The internet did not exists, so unlike today the average person did not have a megaphone to complain about stuff online lol. In a way Rolling Stone did our complaining for us. They had their favorites but overall I am glad it was not really a gush about every new release by every star.
    sjaca, mschrist, keyse1 and 1 other person like this.
  21. OldShiftyEyes

    OldShiftyEyes Forum Resident

    The books were just an extra tool for me in the 80's when I was first discovering the joys of music -- I didn't give them a lot of weight, especially the negative reviews. They will always have my appreciation, though, for introducing me to Moby Grape.
  22. DPK

    DPK Forum Resident

    Lexington, SC
    Couldn't care less. Life's too short to get irritated over something like that.
  23. dmiller458

    dmiller458 Forum Resident

    Midland, Michigan
    I bought Sandinista off of their five star review and the fact that I loved their first three albums. I found that three record set to be half filler.
    Gavinyl, seed_drill and a customer like this.
  24. johnebravo

    johnebravo Forum Resident

    Upstate New York
    In the early 70s I had a book of their compiled reviews that I read thoroughly; they were notorious for being prejudiced in favor of California and especially San Francisco bands. Sometimes there would be extravagant reviews of bands that would now be considered obscure and insignificant. They just hated the first two Led Zeppelin albums. After the first review, there were so many complaints from readers that they published a sarcastic review of the second one.

    Led Zeppelin I
    Led Zeppelin II

    Eventually, they had to come around on some bands that were clearly very popular.

    You just have to take reviews in general with a grain of salt. There's no good reason for automatically assuming that the reviewer must know more than you do, or that their taste somehow trumps yours.
  25. lightbulb

    lightbulb Not the Brightest of the Bunch

    Smogville CA USA
    My brother used to subscribe to Rolling Stone. (Since the first issue, with the John Lennon photo from “How I Won the War”.)

    So, as I grew up and absorbed music and related info, I’d read their reviews.
    Being all too impressionable, I’d naively believe the critic’s opinions, as if their judgement was the absolute final word, from a wise sage, that have unique powers of analysis.

    Then I realized that Music Critics are just writers with an opinion.

    Yes, they may have gathered some musical knowledge, and thus perhaps can write from a musical perspective, so they can seemingly critique music with some “intelligence”.

    (Which also aptly describes many of us, here... :laugh::p;) )

    The Music Critics have a regular “soapbox”, and are paid to write about the music they possibly get for free.

    To me, that’s the major difference between Us and Them.
    Beatnik_Daddyo'73 likes this.

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