- Paperback: 544 pages
- Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (October 15, 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0312245602
- ISBN-13: 978-0312245603
- Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 27 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,037,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Christgau's Consumer Guide: Albums of the '90s Paperback – October 15, 2000
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The stupid new, obnoxious "turkey," "dud," "neither" (here nor there) and honorable mention ratings are completely unnecessary. These are in addition to his letter grades, and the A's that he consistently gives out to his teacher's pets - the Beastie Boys, Ani DeFranco, Mekons, L7, Tricky, PJ Harvey, Janet Jackson?!, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Luna, Madonna (he's madly in love with her..er.."genius"), Youssou D'Nour, Randy Newman, Nirvana, Pavement, Pet Shop Boys, P.M. Dawn, Bonnie Raitt, Sleater-Kinney, Sonic Youth, Miles Davis, Cachao, Belle and Sebastian, The Go-Betweens, and just about all really old old-school rap. Many good choices, right? But pretty narrow. And Christgau can't stand artists such as Radiohead, Oasis, Tori Amos, Blur, Jeff Buckley (he rates "Grace" a turkey), John Mellencamp (says "Human Wheels" is a dud),The Cure, Counting Crows (claims August and Everything After is a turkey), Dinosaur Jr., The Flaming Lips, Emmylou Harris, Maxwell, Aimee Mann, Sam Phillips, Stone Temple Pilots, Sade, Elliott Smith, TLC, Uncle Tupelo,and U2 (he especially hates Bono and rates "Achtung Baby" a dud!). All you really have to know about this book is that the author gives the Backstreet Boys first album an A-, mainly because his 13-year-old daughter played them nonstop when it first came out, and he rates Radiohead's "OK Computer" a turkey, opining that Radiohead's "idea of soul is Bono, who they imitate further [on "OK Computer] at the risk of looking even more ridiculous than they already do." He also gives "The Bends" a lowly C. Ridiculous.
So if you want to waste your money to read how souless and plastic Radiohead are in comparison to the creative, spontaneous and soulful BS Boys, be my guest. Me, I'm going to pop in my Oasis "Definitely Maybe" CD (Christgau gave it a feeble honorable mention) turn it up loud, and kick myself for buying this damn book.
Why is Christgau better than even such venerable rock critics as Ken Tucker and Greil Marcus? He thinks and listens harder, for one thing. And in an age when most critics are little more than paid lapdogs for the corporate record industry, he remains immune to what he calls "autohype." (Which, as I interpret it, means "loving" a record because of the artist's public image rather than on its own merits.)
I have been following Christgau's monthly Consumer Guides in The Village Voice since the mid seventies, and I can honestly say that he has broadened my perspective on not only popular music, but politics, race, and sex as well. (Can reading a music criticism make one a better husband/father/citizen? In this case I'd have to say yes.) In short, he is, to quote that dreaded phrase "the thinking person's rock critic," albeit one who also possesses the occasional ability to make you laugh so hard beer shoots out of your nose. (He isn't known as "the king of the pithy one-liner" for nothing!)
Finally, I would take Christgau's own advice when deciding whether or not to purchase this book: Find a copy at a library or book store, and turn to the year-end best-of lists in the back. If at least a few of his higher ranked cds are also among your faves, then purchase immediately. If, on the other hand, you find yourself turning up your nose at most of them, then pass.