Recently I’ve been thinking about my whole project and wondering what the point of it all is. I mean, why do I spend my time pulling records out my stacks and giving what I feel to be an honest appraisal? Does anyone care in 2013 about my views on a 1985 EP by a band that no longer exists? Doesn’t everybody already know how great Sgt Pepper’s is?
Well, I think I’ve come up with a few answers, and I think they warrant a little discussion.
Firstly there is the question of how and why I choose the albums to review that I do. Why don’t I just stick to the latest releases? I think there is a very simple answer to this one, and it has to do with the very way we interact with music.
Who can honestly say that they all they ever do is just walk into their local record store, ask for the latest release, and take that home to listen to? Nobody does that, and if they do then they aren’t really a music fan in my opinion. Maybe they’re a popular music chronographer or something, but they aren’t truly a music fan.
No, when one’s looking for a new record to buy they go searching through a store for the genres that they like and for an artist they already know and like or for something they have heard would be good for them. And that’s where I come in.
I think it is unlikely that any of my readers would have already listened to every album currently in my collection, and so I hold out a tiny hope that maybe (just maybe!) one of them might respect my opinions enough to occasionally go out a purchase something that I have recommended. I hope that maybe I will be able to broaden people’s musical horizons, or at least let them know about a band they haven’t heard of before.
Also, if they do by chance already own one of the records that I am reviewing they have a chance to enter into a discussion about it. They might agree with my verdict, they might disagree vehemently. Either way I don’t really care, the important thing is that people are reading what I have to say, being critical, and interacting with me and other music lovers.
Secondly, it is true that many of the albums I talk about have already been reviewed by critics with much longer and more respected careers than mine. So why should I bother to discuss these records?
Well, because music critics are opinionated and represent their own tastes and personal opinions, hence all of the varied reactions to different albums. I am no exception to this rule. I am just as opinionated and biased as Robert Christgau, and who cares if he’s been doing it longer? My opinion is worth just as much as his and your opinion is worth just as much as mine! It’s all about being critical and honest. There’s no one way to listen to an album, and I’m just here to give my opinion.
So, to conclude, I shall say now that I am a musical historian exploring a long and glorious back-catalogue rather than a market researcher concerned solely with the latest musical trends and sensations. I am an impassioned music fan motivated by my love of recorded sound rather than an ivory-tower critic convinced that his opinions are somehow more valid and worthwhile than anybody else’s. My project here is essentially selfish; to broadcast my views to the world and to perhaps influence my reader’s thinking in some small way, but failing that, all I really want is a lively discussion.
So my friends, keep on reading (my reviews and whoever else’s), keep on listening, be critical, write your own thoughts, be part of the conversation, and, most important of all, stay snug.
Cheers, Lachlan J.