Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Xgau Sez

These are questions submitted by readers, and answered by Robert Christgau. New ones will appear in batches every third Tuesday.

To ask your own question, please use this form.

June 15, 2022

[Q] After reading in your Lookback piece that you voted for A Tribe Called Quest for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame this year (good on ya), I was wondering if you'd re-assessed their '90s classic The Low End Theory? I generally agree with your ratings, or at least can see where you're coming from, but that one only being an honorable mention I've never understood. I love every track on the thing, it's got some of Q-Tip's and Phife Dawg's best verses ("float like gravity, never had a cavity" is my favorite ever nonsense rap boast), and it builds to a splendid climax with "Scenario." A plus by me. -- Oliver Hollander, UK

[A] I've been playing TCQ a fair amount since reading Dan Charnas's J. Dilla bio and certainly agree that Low End Theory is more than an Honorable Mention, but back to back I still prefer their de facto postscript cum summum, the relatively slept-on 2016 We Got It From Here. So let's just make it an A for the time being, OK?

[Q] Hi Bob, hope you're doing well. Any reason why you didn't review the last three Nas albums? King's Disease II in particular was really good (he sounds more focused than ever since Illmatic), I'd love to know your opinion. Also: still no regrets about not giving Illmatic an A plus? With every new year that album sounds more like an A plus to me (and a lot of other people). Even a principled vulgarian such as yourself should hear that! And the same goes for Enter the Wu-Tang; if that's not a A plus I don't know what is. -- Arthur Hendrikx, Brussels, Belgium

[A] Actually, I did review two recent Nas albums in February, subscriber-only of course. There was a third I thought negligible and skipped, as I have many others--thinks a lot of himself, does Nas. As for Illmatic, A not A plus for me pretty sure. Since getting into the Wu-Tang Clan due to their Hulu bioseries I've been meaning to replay their debut album. Would be surprised if it didn't sound like a full A. Would also be surprised if I thought it was an A plus.

Nas: King's Disease (Mass Appeal '20) Showcasing the powers, pleasures, responsibilities, contradictions, and elephantiasis of the ego that accrue to so many hip-hop tycoons ("Car #85," "10 Points") *

Nas: King's Disease II (Mass Appeal) Many hip-hop fans of a certain age consider Nasir Jones's 1994 debut Illmatic hip-hop's greatest album, and for sure the Honorable Mention I gave it in 1994 was way low. There was a leanness to his flow and timbre back then that the Pete Rock/Large Professor/Premier production honored and enhanced, and I admire how matter-of-factly unmoralistic lyrics from the Queensbridge Houses come to a proper climax with "Represent" and "It Ain't Hard to Tell." But that honest broker went what we'll call conscious gangsta with the thuggier I Am . . . and didn't regain his more humane voice until the mid 2000s trilogy Street's Disciple/Hip Hop Is Dead/Untitled--a voice that hasn't been approached again till this follow-up to its crasser namesake. I know I'm showing my age when I say EPMD, Lauryn Hill, and Eminem make it better and Lil Baby doesn't. But if you suspect I could be right let me remind you that backloading the humane stuff is an old hip-hop trick: "Composure," "My Bible," and "Nas Is Good" provide relief at the end. And oh yeah--the bottom falls out on the so-called Magic he released just four months later, summed up by this Insecure Verse: "You're top three, I'm number one, how could you say that?" B PLUS

[Q] I'll bet you're tired of grade grubbers but it's driving me insane that I'm Still In Love With You is still an A minus even though you've put it in the same tier as Call Me. You had no problem with changing the grades for Call Me and Al Green Is Love so why not ISILWY? If ever there was an A plus album it's this. Thank you. -- Ted Fullwood, San Jose

[A] I'm Still in Love With You is certainly an A not an A minus, and I can see making it an A plus. But note that the closing tracks that expand the CD version, "I Think It's for the Feeling" and "Up Above My Head," are both weak.

[Q] Do you have a favorite reaction from an artist to your negative review? -- Dario, Croatia

[A] Billy Joel reading or reciting a portion of my measured pan of I don't remember what from the Madison Square Garden stage, assuming it actually happened that way--eyewitness accounts vary and memories do fade. Maybe he just named me, which would also be cool, but less so. Having my prose trumpeted to his masses would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. (BTW, I gave his GH 1 & 2 an A minus. What a crybaby.)

[Q] Sometimes I think about Carola's uniquely effusive fondness for groups like Aztec Camera, or your shared adoration of Pretzel Logic-era Steely Dan. Or how she casually wrote the greatest-ever concert review of the Go-Betweens. Speaking as half of a great team, what do you consider your greatest distinctions--differences, I mean--as critics and listeners? -- Erin, Austin, Texas

[A] First of all, how did you know she liked Aztec Camera? Did she write about them and I lost it? But you're right, she does, and definitely still did when your note gave me the idea of pulling it out recently. The biggest difference between us, I guess, is that her formal knowledge of music exceeds mine, which is one reason I respond more readily to singer-songwriters than she does--music as mere accompaniment to words she's not necessarily focusing on doesn't grab her. The other big difference, critically, is that she writes very, very slowly--that Go-Betweens review may look casual, but I guarantee without recalling any details that it was hard to write. One reason I assigned her Riffs is that I figured correctly that deadline pressure would speed her up. But one reason my successors in the editor's chair assigned her pieces is that the results were invariably great and sui generis. A lot of her best music writing--cf. Go-Betweens, right, but also Cornershop, Latin Playboys, Fleetwood Mac, Guinness Fleadh, Reed/Smith, Steely Dan, Oumou Sangare, "Inside Was Us," just to name stuff off the top of my head--was done post-1990. (All can be found on her site.) And then she got her teeth into The Only Ones and that was that for rock criticism except insofar as she remains my chief musical advisor, ahead even of Joe Levy. Usually I play archival stuff at meals, including a lot of jazz, though after I got her to read Charles Shaar Murray's John Lee Hooker bio Boogie Man blues also became a deal--she was a bigger Hanging Tree Guitars fan than I was. But as deadline approaches I have permission to play "work music" and often sneak in stuff I want to know if she notices, whereupon I pick her brain and invariably learn something, often musical angles or details I hadn't brought to the surface.

May 18, 2022

And It Don't Stop.

Spreading out from NYC, Pulitzer to pop: drop dead, reviews not on the road to ruin, impressed by David Crosby (sorta), abundance and multiplicity vs. marginal differentiation, and wedding playlists.

[Q] Hi Bob, thank you for your many years of delighted, curious, knowing, sensitive music writing; I can't say enough about how much your criticism and alertness to pleasure has taught me. I was struck recently by this sentence in your A+ review The Rough Guide to Youssou N'Dour & Etoile de Dakar: "Maybe somewhere there was more exciting music circa 1980--punk L.A.? soukous Montreuil? hip-hop South Bronx? But don't bet on it." This hypothetical made me wonder: are there any periods and communities of musical ferment you wish you could have been personally present for, as you've been present for so many in New York? Years when a venue or a whole neighborhood or city felt alive with energy, history-being made? If you could revisit a cultural community or musical moment from the past--Dakar 1980, Kingston in 1967, Brazil in 1972--which do you think you would most joyfully choose? -- Jay Thompson, Seattle

[A] An interesting question that within a minute alerted me to two key facts. One, I write as a New Yorker, the best music city in the world during my lifetime. Second, ultimately I'm a record man, not a scene man. I'm intensely grateful I got to witness NYC punk close up plus been here for the very dawn of hip-hop plus disco at a distance and indeed the Monk-and-Coltrane jazz of the early '60s. And I'm also grateful to have covered other "scenes" journalistically: Monterey and the Summer of Love, Kingston in 1973 for Newsday, punk England for the Voice 1977, Akron for Pete's sake. Resided for eight months or so in both Chicago (Muddy Waters 1963!) and L.A. But I'm glad I'm such a New Yorker--it grounds me. And I'm glad too I've made album reviews my specialty, because strictly aural immersion in various regional musics has situated me virtually in Soweto and Dakar (though I'm also glad I've visited Africa twice), New Orleans and Seattle (both of which I've also visited more than once). I'm glad I've been so spread out. Because that spread is the most enlarging thing about music of all.

[Q] I recently came across the Wikipedia page for the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism, which lists every winner since the award's inception in 1970. I may be mistaken, but it appears the award has never been given to a critic of non-classical music. Do you feel that rock/popular music has been unfairly overlooked by the Pulitzer Prize board? Are there any music critics you feel are particularly deserving of a Pultizer? -- Omar, Texas

[A] Sure, but what else is new? I'm always pleased when my paper or a pal or even acquaintance gets a Pulitzer or comes close, as has happened a few times--it's good for their professional autonomy and their pocketbooks. Sometimes too a Pulitzer will have a progressive political effect. But the kind of journalists I hang out with don't take the Pulitzer that seriously--it's quintessential stuffed-shirt stuff. (I notice Pauline Kael got shut out, which is disgraceful even though the '70s weren't her best decade.) In my world the critic most unfairly shut out would have to be the great jazz-plus specialist (and my longtime colleague and friend) Gary Giddins, a dynamo of enormous range and productivity.

[Q] I have to wonder why your reviews about MJ were so consistently negative and demeaning. Could it be perhaps be that the most famous and popular artist made you, someone who had to write about him in newspaper, jealous? Oh likely not. Well regardless of how many albums you downplayed (sentiments that ruined his life), every single album is on the top 50 best selling list, including the best seller (Thriller), and two others in the top 15 (Bad and Dangerous). In addition to the biggest music tours of the 20th century and being the most popular artist ever. I'll never understand the critics. -- Ahmed

[A] I only reprint this benighted question--"consistently negative and demeaning" for reviews that include three A's and two more A minuses, for instance--to highlight the benighted notion that bad reviews ruined MJ's life. Reviews very seldom ruin artists' lives, and don't believe they have without plenty of corroborating evidence. Fact is, I very much doubt MJ ever read a word of mine in his life. Instead his ruin began with his abusive father, systematic mistreatment that was likely transmogrified into his own fucked up and very likely abusive sex life. None of which in my opinion diminishes the artistic value of his music, though it does make it harder to get with emotionally.

[Q] Hey Bob, just sending in a silly music question while off work recovering from the plague. I'm curious to hear your thoughts on the public rehabilitation of David Crosby. In recent years he's gone back on the road, had a fairly sympathetic documentary released, and emerged on Twitter as a sort of curmudgeonly hippie grandpa, readily offering hot takes on other musicians of his day. It would appear that in the process, he's managed to shift his public perception from being a punchline to perhaps almost a respected elder statesman of rock 'n' roll. Do we all just naturally soften to figures from a previous era as they age and fewer of them remain? And while we're on the topic, I was always curious about your review of Remember My Name, where you advertised a competition for readers to "Rename David Crosby" -- were there any good entries? Did anyone win? -- Kevin, Dublin Ireland

[A] Writing about Déjà Vu, a Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young doc about Neil's CSNY Living With War documentary, for Film Comment, I found all three fifth wheels more likable than I once had. I was especially impressed by Stills, who electioneered for the Dems in his spare time. But I was also impressed by Crosby: "Older, wiser, and off crack, Crosby explains: 'CSNY is not a democracy. It's a dictatorship, a benevolent dictatorship. Neil is in charge not because he demands it. It's not because he bosses people around. It's because he thinks about this stuff All. The. Time.'" And in general Crosby too has been vocal politically, which I admire. But his supposed comeback album, 2021's For Free, lost me after one-and-a-half plays. Feel better. (P.S. I am highly unlikely to recall any response to second-rate jokes I concocted half a century ago.)

[Q] Not a question, but just one of no doubt too many lists of personal-favorite Neil Young albums, you'll be receiving. My #1 is Re*ac*tor which I--and practically no one else, including you--have loved with a passion for 40 years now. #2 Decade, which sums up his career brilliantly, and doesn't really replace Everybody Knows . . . , After the Gold Rush, Harvest, On the Beach, etc., but makes the list easier to make. #3 Way Down in the Rust Bucket, which stands in for all his great double lives (second only to James Brown). Each has its own special attractions. #4 Harvest Moon #5 Rust Never Sleeps #6 Americana #7 Tonight's the Night #8 Living with War #9 Mirror Ball #10 Trans. I hope someday you get around to rating all these 21st-century releases from the vaults, which are bewilderingly tough to keep track of. It would be a valuable service. -- Ken Stillman, Columbus, Ohio

[A] Not a bad top 10, though any truly accurate good one on my part would require more relistening than I will ever have time for--for business or pleasure, there's just too much other music to listen to and will be till the day I die. Which goes approximately tenfold for the vault releases, about which I have a far less indulgent attitude than you do. Egomaniacal profit takers is the short of it, and the same goes for all the Stones outtakes digging and Dylan arcana and to a lesser extent Beatles remasters and for that matter reconstituted jazz geniuses. If mad fans and specialists care so much about an individual artist they want to delve into one or more of these options, they're welcome to do so. I did it with that fine Monk in Palo Alto thing myself. But what I treasure most about the music I've devoted my life to is its abundance and multiplicity, not its marginally differentiatable manifestations of individual genius. Will there be an exception or two sometime in my future? Perhaps a serendipitous one, like via some especially compelling word-of-mouth or special request. But in principle I don't care.

[Q] I'm going to marry soon. What are some songs you think would be great for a marriage playlist? -- Xo, Paris, France

[A] The best songs for any wedding playlist, assuming music has been an important part of the couple's lives, are those they arrive at themselves. Brainstorm; replay stuff; keep a list. That said, however, I can name a few that seem relatively universal to me: Chuck Berry's "You Never Can Tell," Al Green's "Let's Get Married," and the Beach Boys' "Darlin'," although that's a more subjective call. Listen hard to Brad Paisley's "Then," as good a marriage lyric as I've ever heard, and see if it moves you. Others that come to mind are chancier. Etta James's version of Otis Redding's "Cigarettes and Coffee," for instance, has become a favorite in this household, but cigarettes being the noxious things they are could well seem beyond the pale in your case. Thelonious Monk's take on "Tea for Two" is great only if you're familiar with the simplistic "Tea for two/And me for you" ditty it simultaneously celebrates and deconstructs. And Kate & Anna McGarrigle's "Walking Song" carries with it the pall of the marriage it references, which is a major reason it's the only love song Kate ever wrote.

March 16, 2022

And It Don't Stop.

On not grading on a curve, not loving Nina Simone, not pledging unqualified fealty to Bruce Springsteen, & not finding fun in fascism, Kid Rock, or Kanye West. Plus: the story of Nirvana's "Bluebaby."

[Q] Thank you for all your great work. It has increased the pleasure I take from music. My question: do you sometimes grade, even a little bit, on a curve? For example, you recently said that you'd give Beggars Banquet an A. Is that partly because it sits behind other albums by the same band, and you want your marks to reflect that? It seems to me that if Beggars Banquet were subtracted from the world, that would be a bigger loss than the subtraction of any number of other records you've graded as A+, and I imagine you might agree. But no doubt there are also better Stones albums, and if A+ is the highest grade you give, maybe you feel that some separation is lost if all their classic albums get bunched together under that heading. Thank you for any comment. -- Henry Baskerville, New York City

[A] That is not the way it works for me. I decided Beggars Banquet was worth a full A because I sat there with Carola with both of us saying, "Holy shit, that one" as familiar classic we hadn't heard in a while followed familiar classic we hadn't heard in a while. Context and oeuvre had nothing to do with these responses and in principle never should. For the same reason there is no A plus album I think better subtracted from the world than any A album. But to be clear that's the world and this response is mine and mine alone, so instead of "the" world it should probably be "my" world. Moreover, there pretty much have to be some albums currently graded A that should be A plus--quite a few, conceivably. The one I always think of is Wussy's Funeral Dress. Nor is it impossible to imagine hearing an A plus and deciding it's only an A. But only insofar as it's a good use of ear time to make such judgments every time you play something. I try not to. Makes the fun too much like work.

[Q] Have you thought about a reassessment of Nina Simone's body of work? -- William Boyd, Salt Lake City

[A] Many times, although not when Simone--who suffered from mental illness for most if not all of her life--sent me what amounted to a death threat after I gave Baltimore a B minus in 1977, my only review of her ever. When I signed on at NYU in 2005 I taught the Simone chapter of Daphne Brooks's terrific Jeff Buckley 33 1/3 book on the grounds that I ought to teach something I didn't like--two somethings, actually, since I don't like Buckley either. In both cases it's about what I hear as self-aggrandizing expressionism--she overdoes everything. So I tried to like her more then, with encouragement from Carola, a somewhat bigger fan although undying love it ain't. Tried again a few years later too. Nah. I should mention, though, that in 2014 one of my best students ever, an Anglo-Nigerian woman, wrote a Simone paper I admired with reservations I explained and came back with a rewrite so all-encompassing I gave it an A plus and sent it to none other than Daphne Brooks.

[Q] This is a question that has confused me as to what the answer is based on reading your reviews dating all the way back to 1976. I can't really tell if you like or don't like Bruce Springsteen. Could you please clarify? At times, you seem to be admiring of his songwriting and ability to tell a story, but then there seems to be an equal amount of other times where you find him overly sincere and overtly dramatic. The same seems to be true when it comes to his live performances--you've admired his recent performances on Broadway, yet you don't seem impressed by his legendary shows with the E Street Band. You've always made clear your admiration and love for classic artists like the Beatles, the Stones, Dylan and Neil Young, but I've never been able to get a handle on your overall feelings about Springsteen. I guess I'm asking because I'm a big Bruce fan. -- Bob, Milwaukee

[A] Springsteen fans can be so single-minded. They expect unqualified, uninterrupted fealty. So for starters, let me point out that pre-1976 includes three positive reviews of his first three albums--well before Jon Landau, I was promoting Springsteen's early work with no thought he'd ever be a superstar, though note that the Landau-overseen Born to Run that marks Bruce's pop breakthrough was actually released 1975, hence before 1976, and got a full A. His 1984 superstardom breakthrough Born in the U.S.A. got an A plus. As of 1992, however, I began to feel he was overextending himself, and it was 2005 before I gave him another A (for Devils and Dust), with only one more subsequently not counting Springsteen on Broadway: 2012's Wrecking Ball. I awarded 2020's Western Stars a one-star Honorable Mention; I gave its follow-up Letter to You a lot of time and did not find it worthy of even that. So say that as a songwriter and album-maker I assume he's pretty much run out of gas as so many veteran geniuses do. In addition, however, I gave Springsteen's Born to Run memoir such a rave that I not only reprinted the review in Book Reports but named the book itself in that collection's introduction is one of the very best there reviewed. In addition, I should note that below the CG stuff on my site are five relevant links. The one I recommend most heartily is "Singing Along With Bruce," a rave account of his performance at 2012's Roskilde Festival in Denmark. Finally, but unlinked, there is a very enthusiastic account of back-to-back live shows by Bruce and Michael Jackson in 1984 in my Harvard collection Grown Up All Wrong. Since Harvard doesn't let me post its contents, you'll have to buy the book to read it, which as a completist I'm sure you will.

[Q] Hi, Robert. Hope everything's fine. Just wanted to know what the backdrop is to the fictional dialogue in your review of In Utero. I seem to be missing a reference point or something! -- Keiro Kitigami, Kyoto, Japan

[A] That's always been a favorite of mine, but it does rely in part on its long-gone historical context. When In Utero came out Nirvana epitomized a certain subset of what we'll just call young people--the suddenly booming and perhaps even hegemonic though as history turned out actually fleeting alt-rock "subculture," footloose and fancy free. My review was among other things an oblique reminder that these youths would before too long engender their own younger generation, as the cover of Nevermind, the title of In Utero, and indeed the fact the Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love were parents of a one-year-old all portended. It imagined two probably male Nirvana fans charged at that future juncture with babycare responsibilities deciding which of their favorite band's albums to play. It did not by any means imagine that Kurt would be dead in six months, rendering the imaginary Bluebaby a tragic joke.

[Q] So Kid Rock. Devil Without a Cause seems to have finally found a cause. Should I give it a listen anyway? Would you give it another yourself? It sounds like it would be fun but how would I feel in the morning? -- Drew Wawin, Montreal

[A] Hadn't heard tell of this--the Kid Rock Radar Kit I got when I bought Frosted Flakes by mistake crapped out years ago, piece of shit that it was. So I watched "We the People" on YouTube--twice, I'm such a fussbudget--without having any "fun" whatsoever. Fascism is never fun. So when I reread my old review I did think about replaying that 1998 album but decided life is too short. "Fuck Fauci," what a card--the demonizing of one of the most gifted, diligent, and honorable public servants ever is odious beyond my ability to crack jokes or Citizen Ritchie's ability to keep a thought worthy of the name in his head.

[Q] Hello! Any thoughts on Kanye West's Donda? -- James, Liverpool

[A] Approximately two. One, it's two fucking hours long, three if you count Donda 2. And though I thought its first five-six tracks sounded OK, the plausible rumor that it was radically front-loaded scotched what little desire I had to proceed. Two, West is even more mentally unbalanced than the average Trump stooge.

February 16, 2022

And It Don't Stop.

Old men's poems, some two dozen Dead shows (and not counting), Radiohead and Mingus and classical music, and grading the late-'60s Stones.

[Q] Hey Robert, just wanted to know how you and Carola have been faring. Hoping all is well. Hoping this isn't too familiar a question. Love your work, you filled a void that Roger Ebert left. What was your favourite review of his? I know I just asked a question, but I also wanted to know what your favourite poem is. Mine is William Carlos Williams' "The Red Wheelbarrow." I've always found it charming in its simplicity, but that's just me. Love and peace. Would love to talk about Nick Cave with you someday, when you have the patience. -- Jen Friendship, Brisbane, Australia

[A] Carola is recovering--fairly well, it would appear--from February 11 eye surgery. Neither of us has (yet) contracted Covid. We continue to greatly enjoy each other's company in our forced seclusion, though social occasions, which are very occasional, always feel enlarging. As for Roger Ebert, I respect him enormously from a distance on reputation alone but have not checked out much of his criticism--I read a lot, but mostly in the areas of fiction, politics/history, and of course music. As for my favorite poem, there are two: Yeats's "Vacillation" and Williams's "The Dance." (Clarification: Carola reminds me that Williams wrote two poems called "The Dance." This is the later one, which begins: "When the snow falls the flakes/spin upon the long axis/that concerns them most intimately/two and two to make a dance.") These I write about at some length to close out the college chapter of my Going Into the City memoir, because college is when I really cared about poetry. Pages 122-124, to be precise--good stuff. An excerpt: "Both are very much old men's poems, and both very much grabbed young me. I'll say too swiftly that 'Vacillation' is about death and quite confidently that 'The Dance' is about love, then admit cheerfully that both are also about Time [n.b.: a bugbear of mine]; 'The Dance,' however, is more about death than 'Vacillation' is about love, never Yeats's area of expertise." I still read both Yeats and Williams on occasion, and of course I love "The Red Wheelbarrow"--who doesn't? Also Robert Creeley. Other poets much less, which is not to say never.

[Q] How do you feel about Dead and Company or just the current rise in popularity of the Grateful Dead? You seem to have been an early fan based on your reviews of their first few records. I know they've built a dedicated fanbase over decades but it seems like their presence and influence has risen a lot in musical circles in the last few years imo. -- Brian, Atlanta

[A] If this is true I'm not aware of it. It's my observation is that many aging rock stars continue to play to aging audiences I assume are nostalgic for their youths and happy to shell out the big bucks they now have to revisit or recall those relatively carefree, innocent days. It's also my observation that for most of these artists the conceptual excitement and creative spark have long since dimmed. I have no objection to this fan-artist transaction and not the slightest desire--or, given how absorbing I continue to find current music, need--to partake of such transactions myself. Offhand I can think of only three aging artists who I'd love to see right now. One is Neil Young, whose 2021 album was my number one. Another is Randy Newman, who has never made a bad album and whose 2017 Dark Matter was my favorite of that year. The third is Maria Muldaur, who as it happens was a childhood friend of my wife but who in addition has recorded plenty of top-notch music since she turned 60. But as one of the few critics to love the Dead in a prime that began to fade in the mid-'70s and whose early records are still big favorites in my house, I can say that the last time I saw them was at the Garden circa 1977 and I thought they stunk. So with plenty of other live music to enjoy and some two dozen Dead shows behind me, I stopped going. As the extraordinary 2017 documentary Long Strange Trip establishes, they didn't--their audience kept getting bigger and also, in many respects, stupider, though I found several good late live albums more or less at random. Then I don't remember exactly when there was a solo Bob Weir album I tried and failed to get behind, and now this Dead and Friends thing, which may indicate the rise in popularity you posit but I'd adjudge not worth my time. Once again, everyone should have a good time if that's their idea of one. There's nothing remotely shameful about it. But I'm busy.

[Q] You seem not to have much love for Radiohead. Why's that? -- Will Son, Nigeria

[A] This seems like the perfect chance to remind readers of this monthly feature that comes equipped with a search function that makes it easy to look up my Consumer Guide reviews of any artist, all of which include links to longer pieces on the same subject such as, in this instance, "No Hope Radio"--which, I can further point out, also appears in my National Book Critics Circle finalist Is It Still Good to Ya: Fifty Years of Rock Criticism 1967-2017. Moreover, the Google Search function of the site enables you to search for other mentions of that band's distinctive name. I recommend you start with "No Hope Radio" and, if so inclined, proceed from there.

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