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

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

  1. PhoenixWoman

    PhoenixWoman Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lancaster, NY
    I have never seen the Red but own the Blue from the early 80s. I like it as a starting point for some artists and find the writing highly entertaining. But some of the biases - especially toward prog - make related entries useless. (I find it interesting that RS gave some props to Genesis and Rush - and AC/DC! - in those days.) If I like the Moody Blues, it's not useful for someone who hates them to give all the albums one star. Any of those one-star artists don't get enough depth for a potential fan to be informed. The 60s are held up as the be all and end all, a perspective I wasn't buying back in the 80s. And influence is overrated here. I give credit to the early influences but often enjoy those that build on a style more. Still, I found this a reasonable tool to search out a few choice things that sounded interesting and might match my tastes. This got me to buy Marianne Faithfull's Broken English, some Tom Waits, and a couple of Can albums. So credit where credit is due. Where tastes converge, this is useful.

    If you hate this Blue version, though, give the 2004 rewrite a very wide berth. The ratings there are as inflated as the ones in the 80s are deflated, presumably not to offend any possible magazine buyers. If it's popular or has a passionate fan base, it's gonna get 4 or 5 stars. And I think I prefer the terse dismissals of mediocre bands to the lengthy (not necessarily incisive) opinions on each and every act.
     
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  2. Norco74

    Norco74 You can tell me by the way I walk...

    I discovered UH a bit late in my quest for eternal classic rock music. I tend to prefer UH to Deep Purple but I like both bands.

    If something can be said about the Rolling Stones critics without been too harsh, is they were a bit musical genre short sighted for a magazine that was released internationally. Type of a Billboard extension for Yuppies focused on Made in America music. Nothing wrong there but obviously they missed the target on many reviews hence irritating many readers. It takes some passion and maturity to appreciate and review music. Something that a lot of their critics were missing. How often do you really ´get’ the essence of an album its first spin? Personally, not often.
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2019
  3. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    If you're talking about guide vs guide, I pasted upthread the names of the reviewers. 1st guide had 34 (?), 2nd guide had over 50 reviewers. I'm not sure if they just kept the old reviews "as is". I don't think so because of what you (and others) have pointed out (that the ratings have changed).

    If you're talking magazine vs guide, that's apples to oranges.
     
    PhoenixWoman likes this.
  4. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    Interesting! Thanks. I'll stay away from it, then.
     
  5. PhoenixWoman

    PhoenixWoman Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lancaster, NY
    Putting aside my skepticism at the dismissal of studio work among the Dead and Deadheads - I dislike the large majority of live recordings, and I'm not sure why would I'd ever see a band live if I didn't think the studio stuff had no merit - the point is not to rate them highly. The point is to distinguish between albums that are of use to potential fans and ones that are for completists.

    For the record, I love the Dead - though I wouldn't say I'm a Deadhead - and think their live recordings are exceptions to the rule. But I loved American Beauty and Blues for Allah first.
     
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  6. averica

    averica infinite rider on the big dogma

    wow,i had that blue one way back when. i still have my copy of AllMusic Guide though.rendered obsolete by the website i guess but i still like flipping through it every now and again
     
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  7. John Fell

    John Fell Forum Survivor

    Location:
    Undisclosed
    Back in the day, my brother and I liked flipping through my copy of the blue one and reading the snarky reviews.
     
    Zeki likes this.
  8. averica

    averica infinite rider on the big dogma

    ****in Dave Marsh! lol
     
  9. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    My red one is long gone but if I still had it I'd hang onto it as a journal (since I did make all sorts of notations in it).
     
  10. PhoenixWoman

    PhoenixWoman Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lancaster, NY
    They explain that the ratings change from the magazine publication to the guide publication because musical perspectives change, at least they do in the 80s Blue book. Not sure that's not just shorthand for going with what's popular. To use the example of the Dead again, ratings were much lower in the Blue book, published well into a fallow period for the band. (Thinking back to high school during that era, I knew nobody who was into the Dead.) Later editions rated them higher once they'd become cultural icons again.
     
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  11. Rfreeman

    Rfreeman Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lawrenceville, NJ
    I agree those are great albums. To be clear, I am not touting the live recordings so much as I am capturing the live shows. The live recordings are great souvenirs of the live shows, but are to me only about as close as photographs of a sculpture.

    For example, while I prefer recordings of live 1973 GD to recordings of live 1989 GD, no recording of live 1973 GD could touch actually being at a 1989 show.
     
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  12. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    I think I used the red one as a guide to purchasing blues albums: Champion Jack Dupree, Bukka White and a couple of others.
     
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  13. Tristero

    Tristero Touching from a distance

    Location:
    MI
    When the album first came out, I think that a lot of critics were just happy that he was alive and producing new music, so they were inclined to judge it more kindly. Despite a few noteworthy high points, the production has not aged well.
     
    tedg65 likes this.
  14. tedg65

    tedg65 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Weymouth MA USA
    Ehhh, I still like it as much as I did back then when I bought it!....you could argue about featuring then "current" guests like Terrence Trent D'Arby but I think the songs are still good for the most part...
     
  15. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    This is kinda interesting in a behind-the-scenes sort of way:

    Tom Hull, one of the 2004 edition's contributors actually put out a book of drafts/notes on his contributions.

    "Christian Hoard invited me to write a batch of entries for the 4th edition of The Rolling Stone Album Guide. This was in early 2003. They had already divied up much of the book, but had a number of big entries from the '70s that nobody had signed up for: Lou Reed, John Cale, Pink Floyd, Donna Summer, Nick Lowe, Dave Edmunds, like that. I offered to do those and a few more, including most of the very few jazz and country artists who made their target list, plus a little alt-rap and reggae. By the time I joined in, the schedule left us something like two months to crank out 25 entries. Rounding up the records was a terrible ordeal. So was the writing, and the sheer amount of listening took its toll...."

    Snip

    " In some cases I link to entries from the 3rd edition, which I had the option of merely revising. (In all such cases I rewrote from scratch.)"
     
  16. averica

    averica infinite rider on the big dogma

    i believe i had the red one at some point too...
     
  17. Freezerburn

    Freezerburn Spendin' Monopoly Money

    Location:
    Pennsylvania USA
    I have the 1978 Edition with the red cover. For the most part, the writers for RS in my opinion were metal hating idiots.
    Especially Dave Marsh, whose review of Queen Jazz has got to be one of the most stupid diatribes I've ever read.

    It was always obvious to me that the writers for Rolling Stone held the general public in contempt, and had to bring their stone tablets down from the mountain top once a month to set all of us straight. Of course they have been proven to be the pompous failed writers we all knew them to be, with bands like Black Sabbath and Rush standing the test of time, and selling millions of records. And also still being played on the radio some 40 years later.

    Most of these two legendary bands' albums were given "squares" in their toilet paper record guide, a rating even LESS than a 1 star review. David Lee Roth summarized them best: "Critics who look like Elvis Costello like Elvis Costello." :righton:
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2019
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  18. kwadguy

    kwadguy Senior Member

    Location:
    Cambridge, MA
    Reality set in. That wasn't a 4 star album.
     
  19. kwadguy

    kwadguy Senior Member

    Location:
    Cambridge, MA
    When the third (1992) version came out, I had an argument with one of the primary contributors (maybe it was J.D. Considine?) on Usenet regarding lots of should have been caught blunders. He was indignant over the assertion that there were such blunders. I posted a list of a bunch of them, and he quietly disappeared.
     
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  20. NettleBed

    NettleBed Forum Resident

    Location:
    new york city
    The two books were edited and compiled by different personnel. Of course they would be different.

    Also... biased? Biased to/for what?
     
  21. Zeki

    Zeki Forum Resident

    :D Look at the names listed in post 360. Click on the active links. Somehow their resumes don't read like failed writers! It appears just the opposite. They're successful writers/editors.
     
  22. Freezerburn

    Freezerburn Spendin' Monopoly Money

    Location:
    Pennsylvania USA
    In my mind they are because they spew garbage.
     
  23. jimac51

    jimac51 A mythical beast.

    Location:
    Allentown,pa.
    That needs to be repeated throughout this discussion. Add to that,when does revisiting to a piece of art with a revised opinion look bad? Or a different voice? Add to that,publishers like Rolling Stone,have been dominated by young white men. Colors,genders,ages-more is more. Literature,politics,visual art,music-one hopes that a maturing mind can change.
     
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  24. tmoore

    tmoore Forum Resident

    Location:
    Olney, MD
    I have all 4 record guides (latest one being out about 2002, at least to my knowledge).

    I have used the first one as a reference even now.
    There are artists in there that are not in later editions (even the blue one from 1983). Example - Joy of Cooking.

    I don't really pay attention to the reviews (e.g., the ratings or the snarky comments). But I will pay attention if they discuss what the music is. In that sense I guess I'd say I use it as a reference.

    I like All Music Guide more because it (generally) has writeups for individual albums. RS Record Guides do not do that.
     
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  25. troggy

    troggy Papa-Oom-Mow-Mow

    Location:
    Benton, Illinois
    There are a great number of reviews that I don't agree with in those guides, yet I appreciate that they were willing to take a stand. Most so-called music criticism during the past 30 years hem-haws around, too afraid that someone may get his feelings hurt.

    That's the main reason I'm not a big fan of books like the All Music Guide. That book has merit but their policy has always been to rate an artist's releases only compared to one another and not against every release out there. Thus, a four star album for one artist may be a completely different thing than a four star album for another. It's okay but is essentially the wimp's way out.
     
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