Idiots getting the scholarly treatment...
So far and just this month, the NY Times Book Review (which I don't read much since the quota was instituted at the NY Times website) has given its valuable and limited space to reviewing books about or by idiots, I mean rock critics from the 1970s.
Here and here.
The rock critics of the 1970s were often drug addled, failed English majors who couldn't tell a diminished chord from a major chord, who had a politically correct sort of racism ("We will not criticize a black music artist") and wanted their rock and roll to remain stupid so they could try and find deep profundities lurking somewhere--though mostly their attempts at profundity were incoherent.
There's already been a book of Lester Bangs essays published, and Lester was the music critic's equivalent to Douglas Feith.
I'm surprised there is no Robert Christgau, Robert Hilburn or John Palmer retrospective coming, is there? These three guys did more damage to music as an art form than most critics, as Christgau came from ground zero in the counterculture, the Village Voice, and Hilburn and Palmer came from The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times, respectively.
You want to know why corporate radio is so lame? There are two main sources and one follower: The two main sources are the radio programmers who are like the music executives Zappa spoke about here, and the rock critics, who championed the stupid and attacked the musically talented (Christgau once wrote that King Crimson was one of the 10 worst rock bands of all time. QED). My disagreement with Zappa about record companies is that the record companies at least signed Gentle Giant, for example. It was the radio stations that said, "Sorry, too complex. Not enough like the commercials we are stuffing into every half hour." GG ended up on three or four labels in the US in the ten years of their existence, most of them mainline labels. They tried to promote GG, but again the attacks or ignoring of the band by these critics combined with the radio programmers did in GG as far as the record companies were concerned.
Zappa once got off one line about rock critics that was pretty good, but he overshot himself with the general disdain Zappa sometimes had for everyone. He in fact liked Gentle Giant and many progressive rockers, knew they were very articulate and knew there were fans of his and the progs who understood basic music theory and appreciated complexity and creativity in the musical art form.
The bottom line is that the rock critics of the 1960s and 1970s were dumb or worse cynical about music as an art form, and legitimized the reduction of music to a commodity.
Oh well. Phish understood who Genesis was at least, even if Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep didn't (watch those two iconic actors' faces as the leader of Phish is trying to explain the musical brilliance of Genesis in its early days of the 1970s before they became a housewife band in the 1980s)...
ADDENDUM: I found on the Internet my 1996 article The Los Angeles Times published on progressive rock, and going after Robert Hilburn's drive by shooting review of a Rhino Records compilation of progressive rock. The first paragraph is the "bio" of me, and the article begins in the second paragraph. Backstory: The editor of the Calendar section had started a feature, Counterpunch, which was designed to let readers comment on matters artistic. He liked my rant letter and said he would like to publish it, saying, "I didn't really know about progressive rock, and the bands you talked about. But I think there is something unfair in how Robert (Hilburn) handled the review and the genre in general." Oh, and don't call that phone number at the end of the review as it is not good by a long shot any more.:-) In the pre-Internet and pre-email age, it was so difficult for people with like interests and abilities to speak with each other. I think that is one of the more amazing things about the times in which we live....