Jay Z Kanye West/Classic Rock Gold
Masters of All They Survey
Jay Z Kanye West: Watch the Throne (Roc-A-Fella)
The three minutes of silence that rope off the first 12 songs signify that those songs constitute a unity and the deluxe edition's four bonus tracks are too much. Soon, as if on signal, two matched operatic choruses take the project's regal grandiosity over the top. But nowhere else does this gorgeous show of power trigger your gag reflex; in fact, the echoing grunts and swooping oohs of the Pete Rock-produced, Curtis Mayfield-keyed 16th track would have provided a hell of a regular-album finale with no loss of unity whatsoever. The only question is whether these guys' regal glory is of any intrinsic interest to those of us who regard power as something to speak truth to, and the answer is hell yeah, because it's been forever since stars of this magnitude were also so dominant artistically. Predictably, Jay's power is more interesting than Ye's, which was funnier and sicker on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. Think the patron's proximity made the protegee nervous? Think the patron figured it would? I do. A MINUS
Classic Rock Gold (Hip-O '05)
Its 33 tracks duplicate only four acts and one song from Dazed and Confused, to which it cedes the mission of recalling a subculture while it does the dirty job of recapitulating a radio format. At first I was theoretically offended by such pop and new wave ringers as Elton John, Eddie Money, Billy Idol, and the Cars. But the only picks that don't fit are Rod Stewart's "Maggie May," because it's too good, and Whitesnake's "Here I Go Again," because it's too godawful. More than a useful compendium of name bands whose albums you may never play again, it's sonic history. Yes, children, there really was a time when whole radio stations were devoted entirely to brawny-sounding white guys bellowing, moaning, and even singing over electric guitars, electric guitars, and electric guitars. "Born to Be Wild," "American Woman," "Show Me the Way," and "Cold as Ice" you know you love. But watch out. "Hair of the Dog" could grow on you. A MINUS
The funny thing about vintage superhero comics, esp. "Golden Age" so-called "classics" is how damned dull and formula they seem nowadays to well ... almost everybody. (I've wondered if this applies to radio dramas.) The comics themselves, as opposed to their re-inventions.
Jack Kirby (visually and later story-telling) and Jack Cole [Plasticman] are the big exceptions I've found.
Tentative personal verdict on Watch the Throne: It's good, it is. But I still think it's really weird. And not in that compelling, delicious way so much as that ca.-'69-Xgau-on-Neil-Young-and-Captain-Beefheart way. Not on my list. But then my list is about three albums long, because I'm stuck in a past I have no business visiting and my appetite is not half as voracious as it should be.
And before this thread rides into the sunset I have to agree with whoever posted way back there saying they weren't a big "Cold as Ice" fan. I think instead the compilers should've gone for a big closer, one of the great power ballads: "I Want to Know What Love Is."
Jim, I have a few thoughts on your Zevon post, but it'll probably take a little time to wrestle them into shape. Stay tuned...
If someone has a copy of this, please type it up and send it in. It wasn't even in the bibliography.You know, I'd wondered about that. My copy of the Wolfe anthology is buried in a box in the warehouse, and while cleaning out the warehouse is a hard-and-fast project for the next year, it might take almost that long to uncover the book.
The immediate priority is organizing and selling the Marvel comics collection.
Recommended reading: the Tom Wolfe-edited anthology The New Journalism, which includes an important very early piece by Bob, "Beth Ann and Macrobioticism," which . . .
If someone has a copy of this, please type it up and send it in. It wasn't even in the bibliography. By the way, check the bibliography on Christgau's website for other known unknowns. Any help filling in those gaps would be much appreciated. Then there are the unknown unknowns, which would take the efforts of someone with more library skills (not to mention a better library) than I have. Scott Manzler has done some heroic work in this regard over the last year, but he's about the only one.
Current listening: Lykke Li, Wounded Rhymes. Lykke is no Ronnie and Bjorn is no Phil, but together they make a rapturous, pomo pop racket. If only the lyrics were as arresting as the music.
I feel an obvious example out there on the tip of my brain, but I just can't think of it right now.Me too maybe-New Sensations, Mistrial and New York by Lou Reed? Nah. This is killing me.
Alex- Was having a Seussian/Python moment at the end of a long day.
about the blogger
Starting in 1967, Robert Christgau has covered popular music for The Village Voice, Esquire, Blender, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and many other publications. He teaches in New York University's Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, maintains a comprehensive website at robertchristgau.com, and has published five books based on his journalism. He has written for MSN Music since 2006.
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