George Starostin's Music Reviews - Taste Over Content

George Starostin's Music Reviews - Taste Over Content

Joined: May 21st, 2006, 2:53 pm

May 21st, 2006, 3:12 pm #1

After careful examination of the majority of reviews on the site (http://starling.rinet.ru/music/index.htm, for those readers with an absent-minded predisposition), I can only come to one conclusion: an extremely high Rolling Stone-factor.

Or, in more intelligible terms: personal taste and a desire to live up to quasi-intellectual expectations by far overshadows objective reviewing.

Take for example Jefferson Airplane; because the reviewer doesn't like their lengthy 'jams', they get put down. However, the content and importance of these jams, many of them based upon highstanding works of art, such as Miles Davis and John Coltrane in jazz (as well as Charles Mingus, in my personal opinion) and especially Spanish composers of the romantic era of classical music, are completely ignored, because the reviewer doesn't like the music.

A similar case here is Lou Reed; the reviewer makes clear by his downgrading Reed and even explicitly stating so, that he does not like the experimentation. That's perfectly all right, but not when one writes what should appear as a professional review. Experimentation is an essential part in music, and often it takes getting used to. This is the case with Reed, but I shall use another example here, namely Pink Floyd. Overall rating: B. Ok, that sounds reasonable enough, but whereupon are they attacked: avant-gardism. Pink Floyd's avant-gardist works, especially on the first few albums, are not haphazzard or random, but complicated and highly interesting on a theoretical level as well. The reviewer ignores this, and lets taste prevail over knowledge.

Back to Lou Reed, who brings us to yet another problem: factual inaccuracies. There are plenty of these, but just one example should do for now, namely 'The Bells'. I quote from the text: "expert jazzy saxophone playing by Don Cherry"

Cherry's work on this album is not "jazzy"; it's full-blown modal free-jazz. Quite a difference. "saxophone playing" however, is what bothers me most. Anyone who cannot hear the difference between a saxophone and a TRUMPET, which is what Cherry plays (he COULD'T even PLAY the saxophone) is in my books no longer reliable when it comes to reviewing. The difference between a woodwind and a brass instrument is about as big as the difference between a ukelele and a double-bass.

After this metaphorical 'tip of the iceberg', I can only say that my impression is very negative. The reviewer does not seem to be capable of seeing through the density of personal taste (granted, difficult, but essential) and makes factual mistakes which affect credibility. So, in conclusion, this is a nice effort for a set of rainy afternoons, but in no way professional or even in any way seriously interesting.
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Joined: October 27th, 2005, 6:50 am

May 21st, 2006, 5:52 pm #2

"George Starostin's SUBJECTIVE Music Reviews" just so everyone knows from the very start and we don't get any confusion.

As I understand it, these reviews are in no way meant to be objective. They are 100% George's opinion. He rates artists by his own standards of quality, rather than some kind of objective system.

But really, how can you rate any art objectively? I tend to think the Oscars and similar award shows are pretty ridiculous to begin with, as well as all those top 100 lists by rolling stone magazine, etc. I mean, they're fun to think and argue about, but art is about FEELING. How does the music MOVE you? So there's no universal measure for art just like there's no universal measure for feeling.

I don't agree with everything George writes, clearly neither do you, and I doubt that anyone does. To paraphrase Miles Davis, "If you agreed with everyone George wrote, you'd be George." Or maybe that was Sammy Davis Jr.....

Anyway, enjoy this site for what it is: a well-written collection of opinions by a knowledgeable, entertaining and insightful bolshevik.
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Joined: November 10th, 2005, 4:41 am

May 21st, 2006, 7:42 pm #3

After careful examination of the majority of reviews on the site (http://starling.rinet.ru/music/index.htm, for those readers with an absent-minded predisposition), I can only come to one conclusion: an extremely high Rolling Stone-factor.

Or, in more intelligible terms: personal taste and a desire to live up to quasi-intellectual expectations by far overshadows objective reviewing.

Take for example Jefferson Airplane; because the reviewer doesn't like their lengthy 'jams', they get put down. However, the content and importance of these jams, many of them based upon highstanding works of art, such as Miles Davis and John Coltrane in jazz (as well as Charles Mingus, in my personal opinion) and especially Spanish composers of the romantic era of classical music, are completely ignored, because the reviewer doesn't like the music.

A similar case here is Lou Reed; the reviewer makes clear by his downgrading Reed and even explicitly stating so, that he does not like the experimentation. That's perfectly all right, but not when one writes what should appear as a professional review. Experimentation is an essential part in music, and often it takes getting used to. This is the case with Reed, but I shall use another example here, namely Pink Floyd. Overall rating: B. Ok, that sounds reasonable enough, but whereupon are they attacked: avant-gardism. Pink Floyd's avant-gardist works, especially on the first few albums, are not haphazzard or random, but complicated and highly interesting on a theoretical level as well. The reviewer ignores this, and lets taste prevail over knowledge.

Back to Lou Reed, who brings us to yet another problem: factual inaccuracies. There are plenty of these, but just one example should do for now, namely 'The Bells'. I quote from the text: "expert jazzy saxophone playing by Don Cherry"

Cherry's work on this album is not "jazzy"; it's full-blown modal free-jazz. Quite a difference. "saxophone playing" however, is what bothers me most. Anyone who cannot hear the difference between a saxophone and a TRUMPET, which is what Cherry plays (he COULD'T even PLAY the saxophone) is in my books no longer reliable when it comes to reviewing. The difference between a woodwind and a brass instrument is about as big as the difference between a ukelele and a double-bass.

After this metaphorical 'tip of the iceberg', I can only say that my impression is very negative. The reviewer does not seem to be capable of seeing through the density of personal taste (granted, difficult, but essential) and makes factual mistakes which affect credibility. So, in conclusion, this is a nice effort for a set of rainy afternoons, but in no way professional or even in any way seriously interesting.
>Or, in more intelligible terms: personal taste and a desire to live up to quasi-intellectual expectations by far overshadows objective reviewing.

There ain't no such thing
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Joined: December 27th, 2005, 10:23 pm

May 21st, 2006, 9:26 pm #4

After careful examination of the majority of reviews on the site (http://starling.rinet.ru/music/index.htm, for those readers with an absent-minded predisposition), I can only come to one conclusion: an extremely high Rolling Stone-factor.

Or, in more intelligible terms: personal taste and a desire to live up to quasi-intellectual expectations by far overshadows objective reviewing.

Take for example Jefferson Airplane; because the reviewer doesn't like their lengthy 'jams', they get put down. However, the content and importance of these jams, many of them based upon highstanding works of art, such as Miles Davis and John Coltrane in jazz (as well as Charles Mingus, in my personal opinion) and especially Spanish composers of the romantic era of classical music, are completely ignored, because the reviewer doesn't like the music.

A similar case here is Lou Reed; the reviewer makes clear by his downgrading Reed and even explicitly stating so, that he does not like the experimentation. That's perfectly all right, but not when one writes what should appear as a professional review. Experimentation is an essential part in music, and often it takes getting used to. This is the case with Reed, but I shall use another example here, namely Pink Floyd. Overall rating: B. Ok, that sounds reasonable enough, but whereupon are they attacked: avant-gardism. Pink Floyd's avant-gardist works, especially on the first few albums, are not haphazzard or random, but complicated and highly interesting on a theoretical level as well. The reviewer ignores this, and lets taste prevail over knowledge.

Back to Lou Reed, who brings us to yet another problem: factual inaccuracies. There are plenty of these, but just one example should do for now, namely 'The Bells'. I quote from the text: "expert jazzy saxophone playing by Don Cherry"

Cherry's work on this album is not "jazzy"; it's full-blown modal free-jazz. Quite a difference. "saxophone playing" however, is what bothers me most. Anyone who cannot hear the difference between a saxophone and a TRUMPET, which is what Cherry plays (he COULD'T even PLAY the saxophone) is in my books no longer reliable when it comes to reviewing. The difference between a woodwind and a brass instrument is about as big as the difference between a ukelele and a double-bass.

After this metaphorical 'tip of the iceberg', I can only say that my impression is very negative. The reviewer does not seem to be capable of seeing through the density of personal taste (granted, difficult, but essential) and makes factual mistakes which affect credibility. So, in conclusion, this is a nice effort for a set of rainy afternoons, but in no way professional or even in any way seriously interesting.
This post is just hilarious. It's just the biggest load of... do you actually believe that some sort of thing called "objective reviewing" when it comes to music?

Even if I would agree with you that for example Coltrane's work is "absolutely undisputably good" (which I won't, even if I might like it on a subjective level), why would a Jefferson Airplane jam session that's based on that be undisputably good? That would mean that I could write four random notes and say "I was inspired by Mahler", and then it's automatically grreat stuff!

And even if it's an undisputable fact that Pink Floyd's avantegarde experiments are "complicated and highly interesting on a theoretical level" (which it CERTAINLY isn't), would that mean it's indisutably good? No it would mean it's nothing but "complicated and highly etc...". The question is: do I LIKE that sort of thing? Do I find it adequate in this form and environment? And do these specific notes, chords and rhythm patterns that are played, no matter if they are "complicated and highly and so forth...", please me?

And when it comes to the factual errors... well, firstly, George never claimed to be an expert on these field, and I've spotted many mistakes myself that seem to be due to his lack of knowledge/interest in for example the more technical side of things. And secondly, does it really surprise you that some mistakes can be found on a page where thousands of albums have been reviewed? Really?

And George might prefer to speak for himself on this topic, but he's never claimed that there is an "absolute" when it comes to music, he only states his opinion on this site. Do you care for his opinion? I do, since he seems to be an intelligent guy, since he's listened to such an amount of music, since he keeps the pages very organized, and since I like his writing style. You might not like it. Well, surf on then.
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Joined: September 2nd, 2004, 4:34 pm

May 22nd, 2006, 12:06 am #5

After careful examination of the majority of reviews on the site (http://starling.rinet.ru/music/index.htm, for those readers with an absent-minded predisposition), I can only come to one conclusion: an extremely high Rolling Stone-factor.

Or, in more intelligible terms: personal taste and a desire to live up to quasi-intellectual expectations by far overshadows objective reviewing.

Take for example Jefferson Airplane; because the reviewer doesn't like their lengthy 'jams', they get put down. However, the content and importance of these jams, many of them based upon highstanding works of art, such as Miles Davis and John Coltrane in jazz (as well as Charles Mingus, in my personal opinion) and especially Spanish composers of the romantic era of classical music, are completely ignored, because the reviewer doesn't like the music.

A similar case here is Lou Reed; the reviewer makes clear by his downgrading Reed and even explicitly stating so, that he does not like the experimentation. That's perfectly all right, but not when one writes what should appear as a professional review. Experimentation is an essential part in music, and often it takes getting used to. This is the case with Reed, but I shall use another example here, namely Pink Floyd. Overall rating: B. Ok, that sounds reasonable enough, but whereupon are they attacked: avant-gardism. Pink Floyd's avant-gardist works, especially on the first few albums, are not haphazzard or random, but complicated and highly interesting on a theoretical level as well. The reviewer ignores this, and lets taste prevail over knowledge.

Back to Lou Reed, who brings us to yet another problem: factual inaccuracies. There are plenty of these, but just one example should do for now, namely 'The Bells'. I quote from the text: "expert jazzy saxophone playing by Don Cherry"

Cherry's work on this album is not "jazzy"; it's full-blown modal free-jazz. Quite a difference. "saxophone playing" however, is what bothers me most. Anyone who cannot hear the difference between a saxophone and a TRUMPET, which is what Cherry plays (he COULD'T even PLAY the saxophone) is in my books no longer reliable when it comes to reviewing. The difference between a woodwind and a brass instrument is about as big as the difference between a ukelele and a double-bass.

After this metaphorical 'tip of the iceberg', I can only say that my impression is very negative. The reviewer does not seem to be capable of seeing through the density of personal taste (granted, difficult, but essential) and makes factual mistakes which affect credibility. So, in conclusion, this is a nice effort for a set of rainy afternoons, but in no way professional or even in any way seriously interesting.
never go to markprindle.com. You may have a heart attack while writing him a comment

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Joined: December 21st, 2005, 1:58 am

May 22nd, 2006, 2:58 pm #6

>Or, in more intelligible terms: personal taste and a desire to live up to quasi-intellectual expectations by far overshadows objective reviewing.

There ain't no such thing
I just don't understand what objectivity is. Can someone please show me how a human being can possibly be objective?

Last edited by dumbly on May 22nd, 2006, 3:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Joined: November 10th, 2005, 4:41 am

May 22nd, 2006, 5:03 pm #7



Ya can't. No such thing as a "pure" fact--facts reiterated by human beings shaped by sociological forces will inevitably involve placing some degree, however large or small, of "spin" on things.

Not that you shouldn't strive to de-bias yourself somewhat when doing a review. It's sort of like, well, you don't know that you won't get hit by a car tomorrow, but you still have to try and walk down the street.

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Joined: February 23rd, 2006, 4:31 pm

May 23rd, 2006, 12:53 am #8

This post is just hilarious. It's just the biggest load of... do you actually believe that some sort of thing called "objective reviewing" when it comes to music?

Even if I would agree with you that for example Coltrane's work is "absolutely undisputably good" (which I won't, even if I might like it on a subjective level), why would a Jefferson Airplane jam session that's based on that be undisputably good? That would mean that I could write four random notes and say "I was inspired by Mahler", and then it's automatically grreat stuff!

And even if it's an undisputable fact that Pink Floyd's avantegarde experiments are "complicated and highly interesting on a theoretical level" (which it CERTAINLY isn't), would that mean it's indisutably good? No it would mean it's nothing but "complicated and highly etc...". The question is: do I LIKE that sort of thing? Do I find it adequate in this form and environment? And do these specific notes, chords and rhythm patterns that are played, no matter if they are "complicated and highly and so forth...", please me?

And when it comes to the factual errors... well, firstly, George never claimed to be an expert on these field, and I've spotted many mistakes myself that seem to be due to his lack of knowledge/interest in for example the more technical side of things. And secondly, does it really surprise you that some mistakes can be found on a page where thousands of albums have been reviewed? Really?

And George might prefer to speak for himself on this topic, but he's never claimed that there is an "absolute" when it comes to music, he only states his opinion on this site. Do you care for his opinion? I do, since he seems to be an intelligent guy, since he's listened to such an amount of music, since he keeps the pages very organized, and since I like his writing style. You might not like it. Well, surf on then.
J.S. Bach was a God-like genius.
Yngwie Malmsteen is heavily inspired by J.S. Bach.
Therefore, Yngwie Malmsteen's neo-classical shredding is God-like genius.
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Joined: May 27th, 2006, 12:28 am

May 27th, 2006, 12:38 am #9

After careful examination of the majority of reviews on the site (http://starling.rinet.ru/music/index.htm, for those readers with an absent-minded predisposition), I can only come to one conclusion: an extremely high Rolling Stone-factor.

Or, in more intelligible terms: personal taste and a desire to live up to quasi-intellectual expectations by far overshadows objective reviewing.

Take for example Jefferson Airplane; because the reviewer doesn't like their lengthy 'jams', they get put down. However, the content and importance of these jams, many of them based upon highstanding works of art, such as Miles Davis and John Coltrane in jazz (as well as Charles Mingus, in my personal opinion) and especially Spanish composers of the romantic era of classical music, are completely ignored, because the reviewer doesn't like the music.

A similar case here is Lou Reed; the reviewer makes clear by his downgrading Reed and even explicitly stating so, that he does not like the experimentation. That's perfectly all right, but not when one writes what should appear as a professional review. Experimentation is an essential part in music, and often it takes getting used to. This is the case with Reed, but I shall use another example here, namely Pink Floyd. Overall rating: B. Ok, that sounds reasonable enough, but whereupon are they attacked: avant-gardism. Pink Floyd's avant-gardist works, especially on the first few albums, are not haphazzard or random, but complicated and highly interesting on a theoretical level as well. The reviewer ignores this, and lets taste prevail over knowledge.

Back to Lou Reed, who brings us to yet another problem: factual inaccuracies. There are plenty of these, but just one example should do for now, namely 'The Bells'. I quote from the text: "expert jazzy saxophone playing by Don Cherry"

Cherry's work on this album is not "jazzy"; it's full-blown modal free-jazz. Quite a difference. "saxophone playing" however, is what bothers me most. Anyone who cannot hear the difference between a saxophone and a TRUMPET, which is what Cherry plays (he COULD'T even PLAY the saxophone) is in my books no longer reliable when it comes to reviewing. The difference between a woodwind and a brass instrument is about as big as the difference between a ukelele and a double-bass.

After this metaphorical 'tip of the iceberg', I can only say that my impression is very negative. The reviewer does not seem to be capable of seeing through the density of personal taste (granted, difficult, but essential) and makes factual mistakes which affect credibility. So, in conclusion, this is a nice effort for a set of rainy afternoons, but in no way professional or even in any way seriously interesting.
I haven't threw my two bits on a George Starostin-related board for a long time, but I had to take this one on because I found it so hilarious that someone would accuse George -- who has gone to greater (and often fruitless) lengths to develop an "objective" scoring system than any rock critic I've ever read -- of being "too Rolling Stone." It seems to me that RS champions every hot new musical trend in the name of sales -- any countercultural courage it once had to harshly criticize popular groups is long gone.

And for the record, to the original poster, I'm pretty influenced by John Coltrane too -- that still doesn't mean anyone should pay 15 bucks to hear my amateur ass blow into a saxaphone.
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Joined: September 2nd, 2005, 10:20 am

June 6th, 2006, 10:40 am #10

After careful examination of the majority of reviews on the site (http://starling.rinet.ru/music/index.htm, for those readers with an absent-minded predisposition), I can only come to one conclusion: an extremely high Rolling Stone-factor.

Or, in more intelligible terms: personal taste and a desire to live up to quasi-intellectual expectations by far overshadows objective reviewing.

Take for example Jefferson Airplane; because the reviewer doesn't like their lengthy 'jams', they get put down. However, the content and importance of these jams, many of them based upon highstanding works of art, such as Miles Davis and John Coltrane in jazz (as well as Charles Mingus, in my personal opinion) and especially Spanish composers of the romantic era of classical music, are completely ignored, because the reviewer doesn't like the music.

A similar case here is Lou Reed; the reviewer makes clear by his downgrading Reed and even explicitly stating so, that he does not like the experimentation. That's perfectly all right, but not when one writes what should appear as a professional review. Experimentation is an essential part in music, and often it takes getting used to. This is the case with Reed, but I shall use another example here, namely Pink Floyd. Overall rating: B. Ok, that sounds reasonable enough, but whereupon are they attacked: avant-gardism. Pink Floyd's avant-gardist works, especially on the first few albums, are not haphazzard or random, but complicated and highly interesting on a theoretical level as well. The reviewer ignores this, and lets taste prevail over knowledge.

Back to Lou Reed, who brings us to yet another problem: factual inaccuracies. There are plenty of these, but just one example should do for now, namely 'The Bells'. I quote from the text: "expert jazzy saxophone playing by Don Cherry"

Cherry's work on this album is not "jazzy"; it's full-blown modal free-jazz. Quite a difference. "saxophone playing" however, is what bothers me most. Anyone who cannot hear the difference between a saxophone and a TRUMPET, which is what Cherry plays (he COULD'T even PLAY the saxophone) is in my books no longer reliable when it comes to reviewing. The difference between a woodwind and a brass instrument is about as big as the difference between a ukelele and a double-bass.

After this metaphorical 'tip of the iceberg', I can only say that my impression is very negative. The reviewer does not seem to be capable of seeing through the density of personal taste (granted, difficult, but essential) and makes factual mistakes which affect credibility. So, in conclusion, this is a nice effort for a set of rainy afternoons, but in no way professional or even in any way seriously interesting.
I believe there’s no such a clear meaning as ‘objectivity” in valuating music. Valuating is highly subjective. It depends on your “musical ideal” or “musical basis”. If I believe that the Beatles’ music language and style and everything are perfect, then Beatles are some kind of standard to me. Or, let’s say, Beatles’ music is paradigm for me in approaching different styles of music. Well I just narrowed paradigm a little bit.

We all know George’s paradigm, he stated it very clearly. I think that these A-rated bands (Beatles, Dylan, Stones Who) they form GS’ musical paradigm. And, of course, we can include some B-rated (or even some C-rated) bands for our own paradigm. So, if you subscribe his paradigm then it’s alright. Otherwise nothing in this world will convince you that Bob Dylan is a great singer and Smokie always will be better for you.

Personally, after reading 10cc reviews I bought mp3 collection of all their LPs. And I agree with George 80 percents. And this 80 percents supposedly is the measure of my musical paradigm coinciding with his. Or maybe it is not. And I’m glad that I have read his reviews BEFORE buying 10cc collection. They helped me to get more pleasure from music. This time I’ll buy ELO before reading the reviews and see what happens.
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