WHAT WE SHOULD EXPECT FROM CRITICS….

…Well, nothing really. But I present this as a reminder that Donald Trump’s Twitter feed–and Donald Trump’s America–did not spring from a vacuum. And that culture is the tail that wags the political dog:

Cass Elliot–Don’t Call Me Mama Anymore [RCA Victor, 1973]
How about Fatso? D

(Source: Robert Christgau, Christgau’s Consumer Guide, originally printed in The Village Voice…and, not by accident, a long way from Naomi Cohen’s face. She was known for giving better than she got.)

 

12 thoughts on “WHAT WE SHOULD EXPECT FROM CRITICS….

  1. NDJ

    Sorry, I agreed with Christgau then and see little reason to change my mind decades later. Compared to what she had done in the ’60s with The Mamas & The Papas, her solo albums were dreadful. Hell’s Bells, her first album referenced bubblegum music in its title!

    For those of us who bought the M&P albums as they came out (aah, those was the days), we were baffled as to who she thought her audience was: the people who bought 1910 Fruitgum Company records? Barbra Streisand albums? Was Vegas actually beckoning rock & roll has-beens in 1971?

    Oh well, as someone once famous once said, “La-di-da . . .”

    EDN

  2. For the record, I don’t think much of Cass’s solo career either. But she weighed just as much when she made records you, me and Christgau loved. It was pointless cruelty…and it was catching.

  3. I didn’t even pay attention to the comment. I just saw the ‘D’ grade.

    Needless to say, I agree that was nasty. Funny, but I don’t remember Christgau being a that kind of reviewer.

    • One thing I give him credit for is leaving it all on his site. He’s not running from it, at least, trying to cover up.

      I wouldn’t say it was typical of his reviewing style, but it’s a kind of running sub-theme. (Transgender joke about Stevie Nicks here, “cute little ass” reference to Tanya Tucker there. Almost always a woman thing. He learned to sublimate as the years went by, but I always wonder, in a case like this, if that thing that keeps popping up for no reason is the real person, lurking underneath the public persona. One can never know, but why else?)

  4. I find the lack of what would now be called political correctness refreshing. That’s one of the two positive things I get from that non-musical “review.” The other, given the fact that “critics” are useless anyway, is that he said a lot more about himself than Cass. In fact, he said nothing about Cass, really, and everything about himself.

    That’s one of the great things about the Freedom of Speech: He was able to publish that self-revealing bit of childishness, and as a result, anyone in his right mind would read it and think, “Okay, gotcha: Here’s a guy whose writing I never have to read again.”

    • Well, I’d never say I don’t need to read him again….might have a post on why in the near future. I would say I would never TRUST him again, after reading that.

      And, of course, I’m all for his right to say it. It’s a tad hypocritical, though, given the noises Christgau has made about his own sensitivity and “progressivism” over the years (and the dangerous nature of all those who disagree with him on pretty much anything).

  5. I’ve got a copy of Christgau’s “Any Old Way You Choose It” book, and while he is a good writer at times, reviews like the one you posted confirms that he sucks as a music reviewer.

    There’s no point in reviewing an album with a one liner that’s not even clever. Maybe it knocked ’em dead back in ’72, but that’s their problem.

    Having said all that, I do agree that the solo material is a bit too Adult Contemporary sometimes, but she has some good stuff. Her version of “California Earthquake” is pretty cool.

    • Those kind of reviews were definitely part of his schtick. My main issue with Christgau is that he’s one of the first to yelp when SOMEBODY ELSE DOES IT. This is a guy who was slagging the Eagles for their “woman problem” at the same time he was writing reviews like this. I really need to do a post on him and Greil Marcus, because, while I often find both of them interesting or even insightful, they wee allowed to determine WAY too much of the Official rock and roll narrative. That didn’t come without consequences.

      As far as Cass, goes, I’m lukewarm on her solo stuff. Never really taken with it, (despite the occasionally affecting things such as the one you mention) but I think she was a perfectly competent and sometimes engaging saloon singer…but, like a lot of performers, she worked better in a group. And, like a lot of performers, she was loathe to admit it.

      • Great insight into Cass’ material. I think that sums it all up very well.

        I love Marcus’ “Mystery Train” book, but I don’t remember right off hand if I’ve read much of his other stuff. I’m curious to read what you have to say about both of those guys.

        Personally, I’m a fan of Peter Guralnick. The two books he wrote on Elvis were really good, but I’m a casual Elvis fan at best, so I can’t really say my opinion holds much merit. Everything I’ve read by him is spectacular.

        • Agree on Guralnick. His trilogy of “american music” books were all among the best books on their subjects. And the Elvis bio was essential. Somebody needed to put it all in one place. Still need to read his Sam Cooke and Sam Phillips bios. (So much to do, so little time!)

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