Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Rare Rave Review

Not really.  No reviews at all.  I do write reviews, sort of, for records for radio stations.  & lots of my reviews are raves.  I really dug, for example, the new record by Robbie Fulks & Linda Gail Lewis.  But I don't write those reviews for the public, but for deejays who might want to know what I think the band or performer sounds like, what the record's about, etc.  At some point at WRFL, the management wanted me to share my reviews on their Tumblr page or something, but, again, the reviews were for deejays.  So I didn't share them.

Reviewing CDs is how I got involved in radio, actually.  I saw a sign one day in the summer of 1994 about KVRX, & went to the station & asked if I could help.  I had no intention of deejaying.  The Music Director at the time, a nice fellow named Andrew, gave me a stack of CDs, & I've been pretty much reviewing them ever since.

The first reviews I wrote on sticky labels which were then stuck onto the CD cases.  They're mostly lost to time (unless some of them are still in the KVRX library) but after a while I wrote them in Microsoft Word files & just tapped them onto the CD.  The printed copy is probably long gone, too, but I've saved the files.  Would you like to hear one of my earliest saved reviews, from the summer of 1996?  Here's one, for the self-titled debut of a band called The Tender Idols:

"Like Austin’s Stretford, this Georgia band has a British transplant who's appeared & brought something from his country with him, in music form.  That Stretford guy likes punk & his band is pretty much The Jam in Austin; this limey brought the Stone Roses, the Charlatans, even a little bit of Blur.  He's got a whiney poppy voice, he's got jangly guitars, & if every song isn't about love or heartbreak, they sure sound like that.  So, no, this isn't a very fresh or new CD.  No, it's not a sound that's going to blow you away with its innovative quality.  Heck, it's not even (in the end) too terribly interesting.  So caveat emptor.  A transplant, a little energy, sometimes even a clever lyric or two.  But pop needs a certain ingredient, a voice or a sound that lifts it above the limitations of its genre.  This band sounds like a British pop band.  Maybe, being from Georgia, they think it's their strength.  Whatever."

Okay, I was a bit of a snot back then.  My more recent reviews have less attitude.  This one is from twenty years later, for the long-delayed release of the Robert Bensick CD:

"In the summer of 1975, a Cleveland-based musician & artist named Robert Bensick took some of the city's soon-to-be-legendary musicians (including members of Pere Ubu) into the studio to record his debut record.  It was never released – deemed too uncommercial by record company hacks of the time.  & maybe you can hear why: it’s almost an outsider classic, with hints of jazz, glam (track 11 sounds like a Sparks imitation, complete with a Mael-ist lyric like “Oriental thou art mental”), folk (track 13 sounds like a Nick Drake outtake), Broadway musical (track 11), & outright oddity (really, all of it, but for a sample, how about track 1? or the title track?).  This is a record both profoundly of its time, & amazingly outside of it.  Bensick’s arty side shows through with ridiculous metaphysics like track 9, a spoken word piece, & the Bowie-meets-Yoko-Ono hypnosis of track 14.  Mainly it’s just a fascinating, sometimes unsettling, trip, ambitious but unfocused.  & if I haven’t made it clear, utterly utterly brilliant.  It’s hard to imagine someone being unselfconscious enough to make a record like this today.  Which is why I celebrate it now!  You should too."

Oh look!  This post contained reviews after all!  & whaddaya know!  A rave review too!

No comments: