Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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CG-70s Book Cover

The Grades

An A+ record is an organically conceived masterpiece that repays prolonged listening with new excitement and insight. It is unlikely to be marred by more than one merely ordinary cut.

An A is a great record both of whose sides offer enduring pleasure and surprise. You should own it.

An A- is a very good record. If one of its sides doesn't provide intense and consistent satisfaction, then both include several cuts that do.

A B+ is a good record, at least one of whose sides can be played with lasting interest and the other of which includes at least one enjoyable cut.

A B is an admirable effort that aficionados of the style or artist will probably find quite listenable.

A B- is a competent or mildly interesting record that will usually feature at least three worthwhile cuts.

A C+ is a not disreputable performance, most likely a failed experiment or a pleasant piece of hackwork.

A C is a record of clear professionalism or barely discernible inspiration, but not both.

A C- is a regrettably successful exploitation or a basically honest but quite incompetent stab at something more.

A D+ is an appalling piece of pimpwork or a thoroughly botched token of sincerity.

It is impossible to understand why anyone would buy a D record.

It is impossible to understand why anyone would release a D- record.

It is impossible to understand why anyone would cut an E+ record.

E records are frequently cited as proof that there is no God.

An E- record is an organically conceived masterpiece that repays repeated listening with a sense of horror in the face of the void. It is unlikely to be marred by one listenable cut.

Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the '70s, 1980


The Criteria A