Friday, August 29, 2008

Music Critics, gotta hate'em, part 685.3

Like an alcoholic bum stumbling down the street mumbling to himself, I have a favorite topic that I worry on when nothing else is more pressing: the savage influence of music critics on artists and the music scene in general.

So when I read this paragraph below recently, I said - to no one there (again, going with the mumbling bum metaphor): "SEE!"

Steve Miller: "In 1983, everything was pretty much over for me," says Steve Miller, smoking a cigar in a posh New York hotel room. "Bands like X were the big thing in L.A., and my work was being called unmitigated slop. I said to myself, 'I get it! I'm outta here! Stop kicking me, I'm leaving.' " For five years, Miller — who rang up hit after hit in the Seventies with ultracatchy rockers including "Fly Like an Eagle" and "The Joker" — went on hiatus. - Rolling Stone

I recently read Don Felder's biography on his time with the Eagles where he points out that the primary reason the Eagles stopped talking to the press was a Rolling Stone review.

TLD: Btw, wasn't much in the Felder book that you probably don't already know. I'd wondered why Meisner left, but it was just because Don H. and Glen F. took over the band, which had originally been a democracy. The only other fun fact was Don Felder worked at a shoe store for a brief while as a teen, but had to quit because kneeling at the feet of cute women, and (direct quote) "inhaling their scent", basically drove him nuts. I chuckled because it had never occurred to me that that particular occupation would be hard on a teenage guy.

But back to the music critic thing. Rolling Stone is notorious for having dogged Led Zeppelin, the Eagles, Steve Miller (obviously), and other names that have persevered. You'd think they'd wonder about their track record.

Now positive reviews can have some impact, but I think all bad reviews should be read only for entertainment, then consigned to the bin.

On a completely unrelated tangent, I recently borrowed Lindsey Buckingham's recent live set from the library, and lo and behold it came with a companion DVD of the concert. Tres cool.

However, on the DVD is a "documentary" Buckingham put together on his Mac, and, oh dear, what a ... document. Fully one quarter of it are slow motion shots of walking over grass or light bouncing off water and other totally stoned footage. He plays the occasional song, too, but behaves as if he's doing it at gunpoint. The scant snatches of narration come off as Marlon Brando lost way up a river somewhere. But, worst of all, he filmed himself talking with record companies and agents trying to get a record deal. Suffice to say, his solo stuff has mostly tanked and I can see why. Outside of the first album, which I liked, the rest have been just ... weird. He behaves, though, like they're turning down the guy who made one of the best albums ever (and he did), but that doesn't mean that he hasn't been all that great lately. My point is that he must not have enough self-perception to realize that putting something like that out there just kind of makes him look pathetic. The whole of the documentary made me wonder if he's lost his mind somewhat.

The music is good, though. You've heard all the songs before, in better versions. Sometimes, though, it's nice to have an alternative take on an old favorite song so you can toss it on a CD and freshen things up a bit.

While looking up the Amazon link for the live set, I see he did land a label and is kicking out a new CD in Sept. However, the cover photo and his ramblings in the "Product Description" tend to bolster my claim that perhaps Mr. Buckingham needs to get his meds readjusted.

(Final note: He did actually name an album Go Insane, so maybe he is aware that the wheel is still turning but the hamster is dead.)


Whisky Prajer said...

I was astonished to see Rush profiled in a recent ish. After over a quarter-century of relentlessly slagging the Canadian prog-rock trio, the piece amounted to little more than a back-handed compliment. More to the point, I was especially astounded to see the band-members treat the writer with hospitality and good manners. I wouldn't be surprised if the sales figures for their most recent album didn't eclipse current RS subscription-figures. A terse two-word response to Jan Wenner's request for this belated profile would have been completely understandable.

yahmdallah said...

Wasn't that Rush article funny though? The writing was top-notch.

For those who haven't read it yet:

And a little nibbling of crow for Rolling Stone:

Anonymous said...

I also read the Rush article, and was astonished at how polite it was. The writer didn't even note that Rush hasn't recorded a good song in 20 years. Amazing.

In the late 80's and 90's Rush fans used to say that the new albums are crap, but they're still worth seeing live. (I, myself, said that many times.) Back when their post-loss-of-inspiration material was still a small fraction of their repertoire it was certainly true. But nowadays only a third or less of their setlist is pre-1990 material, so even their live show is a drag.

Which is all by way of noting the irony: back when Rush was great, RS trashed them; now that Rush is mediocre, RS fawns over them.