Rock Criticism Is Dead

It’s funny that Jim Dorling chose that old Creem review of Physical Graffiti, presumably to show how much times have changed in his recent put-down of Stereolab in Rock, Etc [October 29]. Funny because Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night is the first album to come out in quite a while that I couldn’t wait to get my hands on to take home and listen to, much like one of those Zeppelin-crazed fans in 1975.

Dorling proclaims rock is dead, but really it’s more like rock criticism is choking on its own smugness. Record-store listening posts and the Internet now clue fans in on new music, so who needs a highfalutin writer?

Critics used to uphold the hegemony rock long enjoyed. Just like a critic, Dorling jestingly speculates how Les Baxter might be cool after all, but only because he anticipated Robert Fripp’s experiments. Unlike critics, Stereolab sincerely salute the cheerful Free Design, implying that it’s OK if you happen to like saccharine vocal groups.

Sure, Jim, in the 70s critics listened with the audience, but today they’re too hopelessly self-absorbed, trying to out-hip each other with vacant cynicism (nothing in your “review” indicates you even listened to the disk) to realize the public doesn’t need them anymore.

Frank Youngwerth