Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Playboy Column Notes

Most of the Playboy column pieces were taken from source files as handed in to Playboy. The filenames includes the dates, which were typically 2-4 months ahead of publication. Consequently, everything from 1989 forward is dated earlier than the publication dates. The earlier columns (up to Dec. 1988) have been entered from the published versions of the columns, and their dates match issue dates. The overlap is collected in the December 1988 file, which starts with the published column, followed by several columns written in late 1988 that were (presumably) published in 1989.

Starting July 1986 Playboy published a table called "Rockmeter" where each of the critics gave a 1-10 rating of five albums. We decided not to reprint Christgau's ratings with the columns. Many of those ratings were made under deadline pressure, and have been superseded by letter-grades in the Consumer Guide database, which is a much more authoritative source. Please look there.

We've tried to make the format consistent, which mostly means that the new albums reviewed are in bold italics. Other albums and song titles are in italics, whereas elsewhere on the web site song titles are generally in "quotes." Label addresses have been removed.

The following pages are missing or need more/less minor work:

  • Dec. 1988: this marks the transition from dating files by publication date (up to this point) and by submission date (from this point on).
  • Oct. 1989: two columns with same date, one with George Clinton and Neil Young, the other with just Neil Young (more on Neil Young). Current page keeps both drafts.
  • Dec. 1994: no file.
  • Nov. 1995: no file.
  • Dec. 1995: no file.
  • July 1996: no file.
  • Oct. 1996: appears to be chopped off, missing text at end.
  • Dec. 1996: missing.
  • Aug. 1999: appears to be chopped off, missing text at end.
  • Aug./Sept. 2000: both files had same date notation (Sept. 2000); one has been arbitrarily moved to Aug., which otherwise would be missing.
  • Oct. 2001 and following: not yet posted.
  • No date: piece on Snap: World Power, c. 1994, but no obvious gaps in 1994.


Tim Dabareiner has provided all of the files from Aug. 1985 (the first Christgau column in Playboy) up to the end of 1988, at which point the word processor (draft) files take over. He's submitted the following notes on when pieces ran, relevant to the list above:

  • 2/90: Re: The October 1989 entry, the second entry on Neil Young is what appeared in the February 1990 edition, which contained no mention of George Clinton.
  • 4/95: "Tina Turner, The Collected Recordings: Sixties to Nineties," "Endless Summer: The Best of Donna Summer," "I Like Ike: The Best of Ike Turner"
  • 3/96: Yoko Ono "Rising," Bonnie Raitt "Road Tested," Ornette Coleman "Tone Dialing"
  • 4/96: The Dogg Pound "Dogg Food," Coolio "Gangsta's Paradise," "Get Shorty"
  • 11/96: De La Soul "Stakes Is High," Prince Paul "Psychoanalysis (What Is It?)," Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan "Intoxicated Spirit"
  • 4/97: Spearhead "Chocolate Supa Highway," Sonny Rollins "Silver City"

It would probably make the most sense to move all of the post-1988 files to match up with their actual publication dates.