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Dave Marsh & The Rolling Stone Record Guide '83

I just got this book in my mailbox today. Expect ratings being added to Acclaimed Music soon, although personally I don't think it will move the AM list in the right direction. Up to this date I have really liked Dave Marsh for all the music recommendations he has given me. But now I disrespect him for the artists he hates and especially for his reasons to do so.

First I found the low ratings for heavy metal in general. Judas Priest's entire catalog get one star ("Grunting, flailing hard rock, as vulgar as its name, but less euphonious"). Black Sabbath's entire catalog also get one star ("These would-be English Kings of Heavy Metal are eternally foiled by their stupidity and intractability") although BS were not reviewed by Marsh himself. Well, after all, I had expected something like this.

More surprisingly, I then found several great and truly unique artists being panned as well. This include Kate Bush "sort of like the consequenses of mating Patti Smith a Hoover vacuum cleaner" (would ANYONE make such a statement about her today?), Devo ("manipulates the minimalist and abstract ideas associated with new wave into a series of complete clichés") and Sparks ("All-American weirdos Ron and Russ Mael").

Being different is obviously not a good thing in Dave's ears. Luckily for him, he can still listen to Woody Guthrie and Elvis Presley.

I on the other hand almost want to throw away my whole Byrds collection after reading this book.

Even Iggy Pop gets punched on the nose. Wait a second, maybe Dave Marsh was responsible for the whole 'alternative' movement?

Re: Dave Marsh & The Rolling Stone Record Guide '83

Come on, Henrik, you don't mean to say you've only now become aware that Marsh has a seriously retrograde and conservative (despite his lefty-progressive politics, and despite his growing up in ever-musically-adventurous Detroit) view of what's good and bad about rock? You _do_ own a copy of THE HEART OF ROCK 'N' SOUL, correct?

This 1983 version of the GUIDE was the second edition; do you have the initial 1978/9 version? If so, the ratings in this one (if memory serves; I got rid of mine a long time ago) aren't much different from what was in the first, it's just updated.

My development as a rock fan was seriously warped for years because I used this book - and Marsh's dominant ratings in particular - as a consumer guide; I got into the Velvets and the Dolls and their progeny much later than I would have otherwise, because I had so internalized Marsh's seemingly innate revulsion of anything too "different" (I recall almost his entire summation of Pere Ubu being a sneeringly dismissive "Boo-wop", which not only says nothing about why he hated them but makes no sense to boot). I would have been much better off, as an impressionable novice, following Christgau; he can be just as doctrinaire a jerk as Marsh sometimes, but at least his ears are open.

Re: Dave Marsh & The Rolling Stone Record Guide '83

Yes yes, I have THE HEART OF ROCK 'N' SOUL (which I still think is a great book) and I have read about his hatred of some particular artists. I thought I was prepared but I didn't know he would be this far off.

Re: Dave Marsh & The Rolling Stone Record Guide '83

This guy sounds like a complete dickhead.

Re: Dave Marsh & The Rolling Stone Record Guide '83

Well, I don't find a problem with someone with personal distaste for personal artists, it doesn't seem fair for a critic to completely pan an entire genre. I would give the entire Beatles catalog zero stars, but I also recognize that I am by no means a critic. Why are you including this work if it bugs you so? After all, it is "your site"!

Re: Dave Marsh & The Rolling Stone Record Guide '83

I've always liked his HEART OF ROCK AND SOUL book and especially the rationale for it ("People don't hum albums"). I do think that R&B and "girl" performers usually get short critical shrift and not on the basis of what's in the grooves (or on the shiny aluminum disc as the case may be). I do think it's kind of goofy for books to more or less say nothing worth listening to came out after Elvis went into the Army until the Beatles came on the scene, but a lot of "Best Albums Ever" books seem to make this case.