Super Lawyers
William C. Altreuter

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

One of the pleasures I get from reading Robert Christgau's anthologized "Consumer Guides" is that I can revisit my own thoughts about particular albums or artists along with The Dean. Some time ago Christgau himself decided to play this game, and reviewed a bunch of sides from 1967-- a year or so before he started writing Consumer Guide columns. 1967 is a ways back for me, although, naturally I have music from then, not all of it was stuff I purchased then. Looking at his findings, I think I'd be inclined to dissent on "Surrealistic Pillow" (I like Grace Slick, or at least I used to); "Satanic Majesties" (the Stones album I never play); and the Mothers of Invention (I've always found Zappa pretty useless). I have no opinion about several others, and doubt that I could form an opinion on "Sgt. Pepper"-- it is too deeply engrained to even listen to, and I almost never do.

The reviewer exists to answer a very focused question: "How do I feel about this now?" Because Pop music incorporates as an essential quality it's evanescence, the question of whether the music will endure is usually not addressed; I would say that this is as it should be. (When Rolling Stone went to a star rating system, I knew it was rubbish because five stars meant that the album was a "classic". How would they know?) Still, the question of how something stands up is a legitimate one, even if critics seldom explore it.

I am of a mind to play the game myself, pick a year that I feel is particularly noteworthy for the music that affected me in a personal way, and attempt to revisit the music as though it is new to my ears. In 1978 I was an undergraduate who pretty much knew everything: as Bob Dylan says, "I'm younger than that now". Let's see how the things I was listening to back then sound in the Twenty-first Century. I'll post two a day for the remainder of the week.

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