Sal's flamenco soapbox
 

Passionless music critics

The Ugly
Not to be confused with well researched music historians, professional music critics must get a perverse high out of presiding over someone else's creations as self appointed judge and jury. As if anybody really cares what these non artistic arty-farts have to say. Well I don't care anyway.

 

Unfortunately, some people do care. These parasites get to air their biased, and often uninformed views in local newspapers and magazines where they are read and believed by members of the unsuspecting public. I'm talking about the really nasty types who seem hell bent on destroying careers with a few strokes of the pen. Objectively reviewing something is one thing, but some critics are downright evil. Having no talent of their own, least of all literary talent, their job is to.....well.....criticize.

God! I wish I had a job like that. How hard can it be? Critics who rarely have anything nice to say are strange creatures who seemed to be starved of emotion. They are apparently unable to "let go" of the left-brain thinking that characterizes their propensity to over analyze and find fault. But you know what? If I was a priest listening to the confession of one these buggers, I would just give them a couple of Hail Mary's and an Our Father to recite and send them on their way. Go in peace my son and get a life. There is no need to humiliate a total loser with a public flogging. They have enough to deal with coping with the consequences of a sad childhood.

The Good
On the other side of the coin however, there are the critics who don't criticize but intelligently review something without being nasty. Hell, they might actually like a stage performance and then go on to compose a really nice review as they enjoy a MacHappy meal and diet coke after the show. Fair enough. You can't fault someone who enjoys a show and wants to tell the world about it. A well balanced critic of this happy variety may even give a bad show a good rap after a night of unsophisticated sex.

The Bad
Then we have the critics who are worse than the nasty types because the shit they make up is guaranteed to be insincere and contrived. These are generally the happier types that moonlight as reviewers for record companies. It used to really amuse me to read the back cover notes of some of the old Sabicas records, for example. Passionless music critics - Pumpkin vomitI'm really sorry I gave these records away now because the back covers are state of the art hype. The fabulous guitar playing of Sabicas speaks for itself. I personally don't need some overpaid, effeminate wanker from nowhere-ville waxing lyrical about the record's contents. Too often it is painfully obvious that the reviewer can only rely on overused stereotypical imagery, peppered with uneducated musings to describe what they hear. This sort of tripe has more in common with a 19th century romance novel and has no relavence to flamenco. They must really think they sound intellectual and fab in a high society kind of way. In other words, because insight is sadly lacking, perspective is tainted by mediocrity and borders on pathetic. Inevitably, the comments are either over the top with flowery, poetic language or just plain bland. Either way, I usually have an overwhelming desire to stick my finger down my throat.

Most of the time they demonstrate a total lack of understanding about the "essence" of what flamenco represents to us as feeling human beings. That's what you get, I guess, when you are obliged to come up with descriptions that are targetted at the curious record store browser and are essentially designed to generate sales. Passion and fire are just descriptive words that are time honored stand-bys when more creative alternatives are nowhere in sight. The overuse of such words tends to render them meaningless and impotent. I begin to wonder if these people are capable of being "moved" at all at a deeper level. It seems to me their main purpose is to determine the status quo and then find fancy words to appease it.

The bottom line is that we don't need salaried intellectuals and music critics to describe to us what can only be experienced by our deepest emotions. Let's face it, the best way to determine the merits of a recording is to listen to it. To hell with the cover notes. If you find yourself loitering in a music shop with the intention of walking out with something, be brave and ask the nice lady at the counter if you could please hear a couple of tracks. Pump up the volume and close your eyes. Your instinct will decide if it's any good. You don't need intellectual arty farts to make emotional decisions for you. You either like it or you don't.