Jack of All Parades wrote:Up until the recent reintroduction of this thread by Mr. Foyle I was ignorantly unaware of this book's existence or of the series of books of which it is a part. I have made up for that ignorance with its purchase and a full immersion within it over the past month. It has a thoughtfulness about it that is rare in rock album appreciations. Concise, cogent in its arguments and never straying into simple fan worship, it has opened up this album for me in ways I could never have previously contemplated. Its discussion of the political, social and emotional implications of 'Fascism' is invigorating. The discussion of the Columbus incident is eye opening. I have a renewed appreciation for this record and for the artist who struggled with its creation.
It's works like this, or Ian MacDonald's brilliant Revolution in the Head - the pinnacle of pop-music criticism, to my limited knowledge - that put the lie to EC's contempt for critics. Bruno's book enriches our understanding and our appreciation, which is one huge function of criticism; he also develops cogent arguments about songs (e.g., his critique of 'Busy Bodies') that force us to think through more clearly just what we make of them. (In the specific case of 'Busy Bodies,' I see the force of his argument, but tend to enjoy the song anyway, on the level of melody, sound, and band performance). EC's recent assertion that it's all 'just opinion' would tend to shut down this kind of dialogue. We'd all be the poorer for it.
EC's bitching only applies to bad criticism, it seems to me.
I enjoy Bruno's treatment of the album's referents and its context (including the author's biography state of mind, judiciously explored in such a way as to shed light on the work, which is precisely the way to do that); but what I like most of all is the close lyrical and musical analysis of the songs themselves. It seems all too rare to have that done in a way as knowledgable and well-judged as this author provides, at least in popular music.