Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Gotta Have Faith

The re-release of George Michael's Faith early this month had me thinking about what has been going on with the relaunch of music critic Robert Christgau's Consumer Guide column, now a twice-weekly at Expert Witness.
Christgau was one of many critics who helped shape my musical knowledge back when I first started listening and learning about Records past and present. But he had his weaknesses. I didn't think he was that good on 70's R&B. For that I went to Dave Marsh, whose love of Philly Soul and others from that Golden Era fit more comfortably with what I was hearing.
I also didn't think Christgau was that good on old time Country. For that there was a marvelous book by John Morthland called Country Music. And Greil Marcus' Mystery Train, and Peter Guralnick's Lost Highway and Feel Like Going Home.
And Christgau didn't seem to jibe with my love for Abba, Queen or Phil Collins. But what I love about his Consumer Guide is you never know what will come up. He was one of the few critics who praised KC & The Sunshine Band or Garth Brooks.

But for albums like Faith, Christgau's grade of B+ never did it for me. I heard a classic, he heard product. It was the same with Lionel Richie's Can't Slow Down and Huey Lewis' Sports. A book by critic Chuck Eddy had a core collection that included those 2 as personal faves.

In other words, trust your own ears. Use critics as guides, but not the final say.
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