Declaration Of Independence...
no, not really (I've been independent for at least a year).
Bill Of Rights...
wait, that's another story.
no way, that would be taking too much responsibility...
Ah, here it is:
Greetings to all of ye. I have been long planning on some sort of 'New Year congratulation', but I missed the time and I missed the point. Therefore, this is going to be as informal as possible: I just wanted to look back at all the endless (one and a half) years of hardship and toil and analyze some of this site's successes and some of its misfires, as well as announce some of my plans for the future.
And yeah, I do say 'some' of my plans. As I see it now, this site has taken full control of me - you may not believe me, but I never never never actually wanted to transform it into something it is now. Just see what I have managed to accomplish over these one-and-a-half years.
(a) More than 770 finished reviews of albums by more than 80 different bands and artists (I honestly neglect to mention all the gaps in discographies);
(b) Over 1,500 pages worth of original text (where's my Nobel prize?);
(c) Incorporation of over 800 worthy reader comments, ranging from dumbest of dumb to 'who's the real reviewer on here?';
(d) Three different album indexes, all of them performed manually (yeah, I still don't even hope the links are really working);
(e) Over 700 pictures of original album covers (mostly stolen from the All-Music Guide).
In other words, I've pumped my creativity as far as it would go, and it's mostly up to the reader to determine the distance. So far, I'm proud to receive about 80-100 visitors per day; I still have to beat www.teenporn.com, of course, but doubtlessly, such a day will come as the reviews become more numerous and people get older. (Heh heh).
The funny thing, of course, is that when I started out, my only intention was to get a bit more creative freedom than I possessed at the Mark Prindle site (God bless the man); not that Mark never gave you the possibility to feel free - you could do anything, but still, you always have to grow out of your pants no matter how big they are. My first reviews were scant, clumsy, and, to a large extent, fake: I was so heavily influenced by Mark that I subconsciously tried to mime his style - a severe mistake, as I now realize. We are all different human beings with different psychologies, and it's one thing to be influenced and another thing to pretend you are the same as somebody else.
Fortunately, I grew out of this - I dare say I have by now developed my own style. It has its advantages and its flaws, and for some, the flaws might be more obvious than the advantages, but at least this style is mine and nobody else's, and that makes me proud.
Another thing is the amount of info, opinions and simply useless rants I have incorporated. The task of web reviewing may be fun, but be warned, oh ye beginning reviewers - it sucks you in and you really don't know where to stop. Plus, there's competition: you have to work really hard to arrive at a certain position. So far, few sites have made it. Wilson & Alroy, on one hand, and Mark Prindle, on the other, had previously monopolized the 'independent reviewing' scene simply because they arrived there first, and so far, the only really worthy competition for them have been Brian Burks and me (yeah, I know that's not very modest, but hell, truth and modesty are not necessarily compatible). Right now, there is a whole bunch of freshly-arrived reviewers who'd want to try their luck as well (see my links section for that), but only Nick Karn's Music Junkies Anonymous tends to occupy a sginificant position, and that's mostly because Nick is not working on his own, having joined forces with several other reviewers.
What I really want to say is this: web reviewing business is no longer an innocent hobby. It has transformed into a serious job with plenty of competition, unless, of course, you simply write down all this stuff for yourself and that's that. Either you give it lots of forces and conviction and come out on top, or you abandon it and you end up in complete obscurity. And who wants to end up in obscurity?
So it all comes to constantly expanding the site, as well as expanding my catalog: originally, I started out with about 250 CDs (can you believe that?) Today, my collection counts over 800 CDs, and it's still bound to grow; and I haven't even yet begun to review bands or that formed after 1975. Ah, progress is indeed a terrible thing. Still, why complain? I've not lost sleep, I'm not hungry, I have my regular work, and I have my readers; ain't that a pleasure?
Needless to say, during all of this time I have also received a lot of recommendations and complaints about the site, most of which had been answered to in person. I'll just stress the most common and important ones below, and this will give you a hint at what I'm actually planning to do with the site in the year 2000.
Complaint # 1: I don't get your Artist/Band Rating thing.
This complaint has two subtypes, usually: (a) people who tend to ramble about how I got my priorities wrong and (b) people who disregard such an approach entirely, saying that it's ridiculous to rate 'artists'.
For the (a) complaint, I have no common answer: the problem of my rating Yes as a two-star band and Genesis as a three-star band or vice versa has to be discussed separately from the problem of why I don't rate Jimi Hendrix as a five-star artist. Keep in mind, though, that even a rating of ONE star does not necessarily suppose a 'bad' artist. Most of all, the 'stars' indeed indicate priorities: these ratings are relative to each other, not absolute, as there exists no such thing as an 'absolute' rating for a band or artist. So if Neil Young receives two stars, this doesn't mean I hate him; this just means that I generally like his records less than those of Genesis or Roxy Music, and I do have something to back it up with, as well.
Now the second aspect of the problem is more interesting. To be frank with you, I don't see why it would be such a strange idea to give out ratings to 'artists', or, at least, why it would be stranger than giving out ratings to 'albums'. Based on a purely mathematical basis, for instance, the overall rating of an 'artist' might be the average of ratings received for all of his records, etc. But never mind mathematics: I suppose, and it's an essential part of my creed, that an 'artist' can be 'valued' just as well as any record, or book, or picture, he has created. And no, that's not too cynical. Unless you're the supporter of the theory that art is really not so much the creation of an artist as an abstract, independent idea that has to be 'caught' by the artist and realized in a material way, in which case the artist is merely a vessel for transmitting such ideas. Me, I don't support this theory; but even if I did, you could regard my 'artist ratings' as a criterium to judge the functionality of these vessels - i.e. some vessels are more 'idea-proof' than others, etc.
In any case, such an approach does have its strong sides (and so far, I haven't really perceived any weak ones). An artist is a being: a monolith, organized, intellectual being, and, while some of the elements that constitute his inner world change with the passing of time, most of them stay the same. If you praise just one album of a certain artist and close your eyes on the others, assuming they're crappy or just not as interesting, you may be missing a lot of important clues on that artist. Separate, individual works certainly might be judged on a separate basis, but they have to be united in one large complex if you want to gain a complete understanding of a certain work's potential.
And in any case, since the hierarchy system works so fine with other genres, why shouldn't it work with rock? You know what I'm talking about. Nobody in his right mind will try and find proofs that Shakespeare is a better playwriter than Sophocles, or that Pushkin is a worse poet than Byron; however, for most people it is obvious that Shakespeare has to be regarded on a different level from, say, Christophere Marlow, and Pushkin has to be regarded on a different level from more obscure, but quite pleasant Russian poets like Delvig or Boratynsky. It's just as obvious for me that Yes don't hold a candle to Genesis and Lynyrd Skynyrd will never hope to beat CCR. This doesn't mean, though, that I'm so stubborn that I'll never change the hierarchy: I've already done some minor corrections, like upgrading Fleetwood Mac from a two to a three, for instance, and I'm always willing to discuss a certain band's qualities.
Complaint # 2: You are too scientific and cold. Why don't you just listen to the music?
Oooh, that's a complaint I've been receiving from many, many readers. The basic answer is: I do listen to the music. If you like a certain piece of music and I don't, this doesn't necessarily mean that I'm an earless idiot and you are the ideal of perceptability. Some people revel in the sound of Ricky Martin and Britney Spears, too. As for 'scientific and cold', that's basically what this site is for. If I just wanted to spill my emotions, I'd do it sitting in the kitchen with my family (like I often do). The site is for analysing music, not treating it as an object of passionate love or none the less passionate hatred. Even if I do have my personal favourites and personal disfavourites. And remember, 'innovative' and 'original' is only part of the story for an album to be really effective.
I mean, such things really bother me because people just try to present things in such a way - it's as if I actually like record so-and-so in my heart, and then use my icy rationalistic evil mind to suppress my natural heart urges. This is bullshit. I may praise a certain record even if it isn't my personal favourite, but I never put down a record if my heart tells me it's good - heck, if I were the cold rationalist put-downer, I would never have praised all those Monkees and ABBA albums, you twats.
Complaint # 3: Your reviews are too long.
This one I just don't get at all. If they're long, don't read them. Or save them on your local server and read them when you have more free time. As I see it, one of the major flaws of most reviews is their shortness: I agree that short reviews are easier to read and assimilate, but this is a case where enjoyability has to give way to a careful assessment. I hate making short, cutting statements without enough backing up, and, unfortunately, if you really want to let other people know why you rate a certain album the way you rated it, the review has to be long and carefully thought over.
Yes, I know that lengthy reviews are often hard to swallow, especially if you're not already familiar with the album the reviewer is discussing. But, after all, it's always possible to just quickly look through any selected review if you want to find out the main stuff, and you can always return to it later on. So, basically, I don't think that review length can constitute a serious problem. If you want compact shortness, go to the All-Music Guide or Wilson & Alroy.
Complaint # 4: You contradict yourself!
True. I do contradict myself from time to time. Especially when it comes to the oldest reviews on the site - the ones which I wrote while still not too aware of the future scope of the site. Essentially, it's a problem that can be easily understood: your opinions are bound to change as you expand your musical horizons, and certain controversial statements are pretty much inescapable on a site like this one.
However, I still think that so far, I've managed to escape any major controversies. Even when I look at my 'Musical Creed' page, which was written a really long time ago and in an apparently pissed-off state (I still do not rewrite it as it's fun), I find few things that are in desperate need of correction. My favourite period in rock music is still the Sixties, and I suppose it will always be that way; I still worship Clapton's style of blues-rock; I still think that art-rock/progressive rock is one of the most important musical styles in the XXth century, even if it has provided its significant share of stinkers as well; and I still think punk is gruesomely overrated as a genre and brought virtually nothing new or particularly worthwhile to the table. Try as I might, I still can't tolerate the Clash's debut album (for comparison: the Stooges' Fun House, released seven years before that, is a minor masterpiece).
And I still don't like musical genres that evolved after 1970, apart from New Wave (in this case, my respect for the genre has only grown through the past two years; please check out my review of Brian Eno's Before And After Science, if you haven't already done so). I did review some metal and glam rock on the site, most notably, Black Sabbath/Deep Purple and David Bowie/T. Rex, but all of these do deserve some respect as fathers of the genre - just as ABBA gets my respect as the father of Europop, a genre that hadn't had a good representative ever since. (Not to mention that Bowie only took a passable interest in glam, while Marc Bolan came to glam from a completely different field of work and wasn't your typical glam star like Alice Cooper or Gary Glitter; hell, his glam albums aren't even his most interesting ones).
Nevertheless, I do contradict myself - sometimes. All of us do. Please correct me each time you think there's a contradiction. So far, I haven't been able to find any myself. Not yet.
Complaint # 5: When are you gonna move on to the newer stuff?
This year. Gimme some time. I do plan on a moderate New Wave section - towards the end of the year, perhaps, as I have yet to build up my collection. This is, indeed, one of my main plans for the future.
Complaint # 6: What about these 're-writes'?
Yeah, I have already started revising and re-writing my older reviews, the ones that were short, immature and generally throwawayish. So far, I have rewritten quite a bit - just look around from time to time. I'll probably get done with this little 'unification' and bring all the reviews to a common standard by the end of this year.
Complaint # 7: You are a dork.
Oh, and one more last thing. I have wisely indicated all the places for you to add your comments, but I haven't yet indicated a place for you to mail your comments on the site in general - like, you know, telling me I'm the greatest, telling me this site sucks more than Ken Starr's homepage, or, what's most important, voicing your requests and wishes which I DO NOT promise to fulfil but at least promise to consider. Of course, you could have used my wretched XOOM guestbook where the counter is situated at the bottom of the index page, but hell, who needs a XOOM guestbook when XOOM is here today and gone tomorrow?
Your worthy comments:
Josh Fitzgerald <email@example.com> (13.01.2000)
You go! Great job on your site! You REALLY have to have a lot of spare time on your hands in order to do so much so quickly! I just have a couple comments, not towards you Mr. Starostin, but towards the people who made the complaints on your site-
[Complaint # 1:] I don't get why you don't get the Band/Artist ratings! What's so confusing about it? Once you get the hang of it (which doesn't take much), it's simple. It has nothing to do with albums being better than other albums by other bands, but with other albums by the SAME band.
[Complaint # 3:] I agree. If they're too long, don't read them. Longer reviews certainly do give you a braoder view of the album/artist, and is very thorough.
[Complaint # 7:] You dork! (sorry, I had too)
Hope your site will someday outweigh the Wilson/Alroy site! Keep up the cool work!
Richard C. Dickison <firstname.lastname@example.org> (14.01.2000)
George, let me be the first to say, my god I remember you when .
It seems crazy but you have blown the doors out of this place.
I'm surprised the server your on has not blown a gasket from the amount of responses to your Pink Floyd reviews.
And although you have totally neglected Steely Dan(shame), you made up for it in your sudden appreciation for Eno.
You have labored through many hours of late Jethro Tull, you have listened to every note of The Who even that last album (Yech). What can I say George, you even found the time to resurect that stinker Rod Stewart and you actually listened without ear plugs, I know you had a trash can near by for possible accidents.
You have now outlasted Mark, who closed up shop promptly when he saw your site.
Well, Happy New Year, now get to work. Just kidding.
Your friend Richard
Mike DeFabio <email@example.com> (17.01.2000)
I like long reviews. The more somebody has to say, all the better I say. I like to hear why somebody likes something, what the good songs are, the pros and cons, the parts to listen for, and sometimes a joke or two on the way. The All Music Guide and especially Wilson and Alroy leave much to be desired in that respect. There are several nasty things I could say about both sites, but I won't, because you never know who's reading your comment. But if you've got a problem with length, then geez, go someplace else. If you'd rather read dentist brochures than Moby Dick, that's fine with me.
Ben Marlin <COSMICBEN@aol.com> (18.01.2000)
George, Ah, I can't believe it's been over a year since I followed the link from Brian Burks' site and came across a reviewing site with (gasp!) no pictures, (double gasp!!) no "band ratings," and (ditto) just a few classic bands... The fact that you've turned your site into such a behemoth (I think that's a good word, at least I mean it that way) in a little more than a year is an amazing accomplishment. I can't figure out how you write so many reviews each day, but we're all better off for it. Of course, part of me wishes you'd expand your Beach Boys collection instead of veering into Phil Collins territory, but that's just a minor quibble...
Your site remains the best source for individual song reviews, full discographies, and (I still maintain) consistent, unwavering opinions, which makes each individual opinion that much more valid. And your easygoing, humble nature (and genuine interest in other reviewers, even us fledgeling ones) makes your site really enjoyable. The fact that a humble guy such as yourself *has* to admit that you've got a great site says a lot.
Good luck in the year 2000 and beyond... May you get to reviewing XTC, the Replacements, more Stevie Wonder, and all the giants of 60's soul music. And recognize the erratic genius of Neil Young! Either way, I look forward to reading all you've got to share with us in the coming year. Keep up the great work!
Semen Shishkov <firstname.lastname@example.org> (29.01.2000)
Hello, George! I want to thank you very much for your very detailed reviews.
Especially, for Frank Zappa. He is very unpredictable and it's very difficult to choose an album from sixty ones.
And, I mostly agree with your ratings.
Thank you very much! Semen. Russia.
[Special author note: this one's very special for me - I rarely get E-mails by compatriots. Thanks a lot.]
Rich Bunnell <email@example.com> (30.01.2000)
At this point, Wilson & Alroy have reviewed 2112 albums-- you've reviewed 806. They have two people writing reviews for them, yours are four times as long as theirs, and they've been going for five years while you've been going for a little over one.
HOW DO YOU DO THIS, GEORGE?!?!?!?
Not that that's bad at all-- though Prindle gets all of the credit because he has the monumental loads of reader comments, your page, I'd wager, is easily the best personal review page on the web right now. I was a little apprehensive at first that you stuck so heavily to the '60s, but though I still stand that there're several merits to later music, you've moved far enough into the '70s and early '80s for comfort, and what's this? New wave reviews coming up? I'm in heaven!!!
Anyway, keep up the great work and I'm looking forward to the surprises that lay in store for your page in the future. You're easily the most dedicated reviewer on the internet, and it shows.
Mark Wilkinson <VITALSTREET@aol.com> (08.02.2000)
Well First off, I have nearly every one you speak of, as for Ten Years After, Alvin was ahead of his time. I cherish every record/tape/cd I have beginning back in 1964 with deep protection for the avid collector I am. The Who, Stones, Beatles, Doors., Deep Purple, Yes, Ten Years After, Traffic, Zappa, Beck (jeff), Pink Floyd, Elton, Zep, and all of the great groups/acts have molded the history of music as we know it today, It will never happen that way again. Hats off to your web set-up, your right on the money!
Even the strange albums have meaning due to the elements of changing life of each artist and his time in life! There will never be another White Album, nor the first Zep Album, The first Hendrix record is unreplaceable! And so is the whole collection.
My kids today listen to crap. That will be the roots of tomorrow. What a shame!
Thank you, Mark Wilkinson, (writer/producer/performer/fan)
Chris <Subbaculcha@aol.com> (08.02.2000)
How can you claim to offer decent reviews when you almost openly admit to panning anything but pop? Music is art, and while it should be light hearted and humorous at times, it should also be treated as such. Including hendrix (you make it sound as if he wrote "hey joe" by giving criticism of the song writing) and clapton in your list and placing the velvets and stooges so low is tragic. Clapton is just hackneyed Robert Johnson rip-offs. "Tears in Heaven" makes me want to puke. Not to mention you don't even include Television or Joy Division ( yes, I know you only include stuff you own, but you should own this!). As far as reed's solo career, almost all of it that was worth while were recycled vu rarities, the originals being far superior. "Men Of Good Fortune" is the only one I can think of that the Velvets only played live, and they didn't do it much. And the Clash Sex Pistols thing? How can you place the Clash's first album above "Nevermind..."? Christ, it was good, but not that good. I mean, the Pistols are recycled C. Berry with decent lyrics (see lydon's work on the first three PiL albums for the real deal) but the Clash weren't better, they were more accessible.
Why did you even bother to include McCartney's solo career? Do you have a death wish for music? Also what's with the monkee's being the first to use a synth shit. Ever hear of the Silver Apples?
Please, bone up on your musical history, realize that not everything needs an immediatly discernable top40 hook to be worthwhile, then write on!
[after some personal correspondence has been shared:]
All things have been considered very much. I suppose the personal nature of one's favorite music (I adore the velvets, so to me a 3 is low, but I understand your point totally) can leaded to clouded statements/interpretations, and your voice on the page seems a bit defensive, at least as compared to your letter, so all bitterness from me should be ignored. Thanks for the silver apples/monkees note, that's definitely an fine, if intruiging bit of trivia. I'm not as familiar McCartney's solo career as yourself though I still feel lyrically he is lagging a bit, and that the work of each beatle in a solo sense is terribly not up to par, especially compared with how well they work together. I think one of the worst things the Beatles did was giving Paul more control over Sgt. Pepper, an album I wholeheartedly feel is full of filler with a few great songs ("A Day In The Life" is breath taking).
As far as the pop statements go, I really feel all music is pop (in the sense of a hook, not popularity). I suppose I just got the impression that you didn't care for bands like the Velvets as much as you did bands higher in rating because they did things like "sister ray" or "european son" as opposed to, say, "when I'm 64". I apologize again, this was a bad first impression. I think I responded far too defensively to what I saw as insults pointed at what I like. Keep up the good work, I look forward to more reviews as you get the time. I've my own music page, www.angelfire.com/pa2/moz/index.html, check it out if you get any time. I'd appreciate feedback, and though our opinions differ, I respect your input.
Eugene Bentley <BENTLEY769@aol.com> (12.02.2000)
I think your reviewing system is fine and makes perfect sense. You really can't treat every artist with the same degree of importance. After all, all ideas are NOT of equal value (contrary to to Einstein all the Determinist lot). By the same token that doesn't mean that artist of a lower rating didn't put out good music. The same rating could also apply to decades in music. The 50's and 60's are more important in rock history than the 70's and 80's because the artists in the 50's and 60's developed most of the sub genres of rock that followed in the succeeding decades. But that doesn't mean you should ignore rock artists of the 70's, 80's, 90's and beyond.
I'll probably piss off some people by setting precedence on the early decades of rock, but it's a fact of life in any kind of artform. I've seen this happen in art history where a renaissance of style or styles occur and that succeeding generations refer to that period when the renaissance occurred after a manneristic period. Rock has a 45 year history now and the only way to break that chain is to create an entirely new genre of music (which I think is Rap,unfortunately).
Well, anyway, a good job of reviewing.
From a new reader (as of December '99)
You are an idiot. With that said, this will be short. It seems to me that you basically despise every piece of rock music ever produced. Your reviews are sad, pale attempts at sounding like you know what you're talking about. And though I certainly agree with a number of your off-beat comments, you trash incredible pieces of work on your site (ex. Tales From Topographic Oceans), and 98% of your reviews are nothing more than rants by a wannabe rock star. You never even discuss the actual MUSIC in most of these albums. You leave out time signatures, key changes, harmonics, chord progressions, in fact, reading most of your reviews would not give someone who has never heard the album the slightest clue about what the music on it sounded like. That said, you've obviously heard worse, so I have left out the obscene remarks that some people think makes their comments important. Trashing someone's piece of music (unless its by an act like the Backstreet Boys) is a privaledge that no one should have, but if your gonna do it, you should at least be a person who actually LIKES ROCK MUSIC.
Oh and one more thing, Where are your U2 and your RUSH reviews??????????? Or do they both suck too???
Colin Liversidge <firstname.lastname@example.org> (19.04.2000)
Being 49 and a music nut ( I think i'm addicted to buying cd's - is there the equivalent of AA for us ) i just love your site. I can't believe the amount of effort you have put into it. Like you I am a bit rooted in the 60's and I often think am I missing out on classic current stuff. But how can anyone compare rap to the beatles? One observation on the 60's / 70's - where is Joe Cocker? With a Little Help.... is a classic album with some great Dylan covers and Mad Dogs and Englishmen is a great live album.
I suppose everyone who writes to you tries to nominate some of their "classics" so I'll be no exception, but not from you area of expertise. Try Siouxsie and the Banshees' Peepshow album. Trust me , its not just punk. Also, from the same group Siouxsie and Budgie formed a side group called The Creatures and their album Boomerang is also a classic. BUt where does one stop, there is just so much music to enjoy.
Anyway, just thought I would say that it's fantastic to have a site like yours and while away the hours browsing.
B Hughes <email@example.com> (21.04.2000)
1. I much prefer your site to Prindle`s since his 'objective' views can sometimes be little more than personal rants. Sometimes, you let your own views take a hold of you . For instance, I`m not a big Yes fan but you start every review by saying how shit/pretentious/insane etc... Anderson is, and you really do know by that time that there`s little that can change your mind (6/10 for Close to the Edge is harsh.) Also, it`s never good to start reviewing Floyd by saying you really hate them! How does that guarantee objectivity?
2. Could you please review the Van der Graaf Generator? They were a great British prog-rock band that didn`t ride the coat-tails of Yes etc.. like Camel/Rush but started in 1969. Plus, they`ve got great lyrics.
3. Keep up the good work! Many thanks for an intelligent and interesting site.
I have been looking at your site for a couple of weeks and I think it is great, but I do request that you should have Aerosmith in the ratings too.
olga (sunnytravel) <firstname.lastname@example.org> (15.05.2000)
Well, the whole imression is very positive. I liked your work. But my suggestion is to insert links for music of the group or at least for music¬es (I play guitar and Deep Purple really hits my roof). Please, do something about it. Thank you!
ERIK <email@example.com> (01.06.2000)
Well its been 21 years since I here my first song and I've never been the same since. Thank you for the wind that seems to come from my mouth but no one listens ,but here and only here do I find my liknesses apon our web.
I have been looking through your site for a few months now, and i'll tell ya, i really love it. Your site covers all the music i listen to. I must say that i must be one in about 5 American 16 year olds that refuses to listen to anything but classic rock and blues. You were right. The majority of the new music is crap. Have you heard Brittney (Gag) Spears' cover of "Satisfaction"? Its wrong, George, WRONG. I'll admit that, being a guitar player and all, i didnt agree with some of your ratings. I think Jimi deserves more than what he got. BUT besides that, hey, its great man and keep up the good work. You're the man. All those New-Age Cyber Hippies who think you're too (Damn them) old can all go to Hell my friend. Tell em to bite it. Keep it up.
John McFerrin <firstname.lastname@example.org> (07.09.2000)
(about <PopMart42@aol.com>): This person is an absolute moron. A gripe that the actual music isn't discussed in pain-staking detail is simply ridiculous due to one elementary fact - WHO THE FUCK WOULD CARE BESIDES MUSICIANS? While it is nice to have a music theory background when listening to pop and rock, most people who listen to and enjoy music couldn't care less about the specific time signature in measure 65 of 'Baker Street Muse' or the chord progression in some random King Crimson song. Now, granted, sometimes the overall complexity of the piece can add to the appeal, but to break it down would be tedious, dull, and a waste of everybody's time. What _can_ be reviewed and discussed is the general vibe that one takes away from an album, how fresh it sounds compared to its contemporaries, whether the artist is copying itself, etc etc etc.
Of course, I don't really know what the point is - this elitist prick probably hasn't visited this site in months, and he probably thinks that he is a great, open, more intelligent person than the rest of the world (or, at least, the frequenters of this site). Good for him.
Nick Karn <email@example.com> (23.09.2000)
I'm not sure if I ever wrote to you on this page before, but it doesn't appear that I have, so I'm going to anyway.
Congratulations on the great work you've done here, transforming this site into something special. It's probably the site I'm most frequently visiting right now, and that's saying something, considering how addicted I am to the Internet right now (someone shoot me!) In retrospect, even though I had reservations about it in the beginning, your idea of band ratings has turned out to be the most intelligent and extremely clever idea in album reviewing I can think of that John McFerrin took to even greater heights by combining your scale and the Prindle one. It certainly helps to keep everything organized, and emphasizes the importance of certain bands/albums. I have to give you tons of credit for that.
Another thing I have to give you credit for is helping me realize that in time a band-oriented site would probably be more effective than an album-oriented one, as ultimately fragments of the careers of a lot of bands/artists seem to pale in comparison to comprehensive reviews of all the albums from a select few bands. As a result, which you've probably realized recently, I'm trying to assemble thorough collections of the bands/artists I'm most interested in or have more recently gotten introduced and addicted to (The Who, Yes, and Genesis, for example).
One thing that does kinda bug me somewhat though is your apparent disregard for Rush, which is understandable given that they are a second-generation prog band and you're probably very irritated by Geddy Lee's voice. But while, for instance, the names Styx and Kansas are widely regarded as a joke, and Gentle Giant and Van Der Graff Generator haven't even begun to carve a reputation as household names, Rush has continued to survive, becoming a respected influence for many bands. [I'm editing the further comment, but Rush reviews are certainly coming up. Eventually - G. S.]
Boyd Jackson Jr. <firstname.lastname@example.org> (30.09.2000)
I just wanted to say that I took three hours of my time to explore your site thoroughly, and I'm glad I did. This is a very good (the best, actually) site I have ever seen for reviews! I appreciate the long reviews, as grasping every possible aspect of an album is very important, and you are doing a tremendous job! This is one of those sites where I can come back to once in a while (about twice a week) to check out either what is updated, or take a few hours (that's probably how long it will take me) to read through an entire artist. I'm not complaining in any way. The longer the review, the more I'll love to read it, especially if it's bands I love like the Beatles, the Who, and Black Sabbath (yes I love Black Sabbath). Since you get about 80-100 emails a day, I'll stop now. I don't want to bother you too long. Bye-Bryan
Sergey Zhilkin <email@example.com> (15.12.2000)
Hi! I wanted to write on this page long time ago but didn't have even a free minute for this. Well, I like your site very much and rate it about 4.5 out of 5 stars. Firstly, I'd like to mention that your long reviews improve my English much and even my mother noticed it so by now I get about half an hour access to I-net every day. Another great plus of your site is that George Harrison got (at last! Thank you, God. And you, George, too.) fair mark. In my opinion George is the most underrated artist in the post-Beatles period. Then another plus - you try to be as unbiased as possible which is surely good... Ah, it seems to me that I'm starting to praise you very much so here comes the flaming part of my letter.
Firstly, one of the bad things that I face on your site is that you never review bootlegs (even if you have them). What are you afraid of? Secondly, sometimes the resolution of many album covers isn't satisfactory (though, I understand that it's taking too much space and, in fact, it's better for readers themselves). Third, where have all the good times gone? I mean your index page. Where's the old good colorful index? It was much better. Then, it seems to me that even if you change you opinion on album from 'very bad' to 'very good', you'll never (or almost never) change your review. Plus, I don't like your mp3 reviews much. Why? I'll try to explain you one thing. CD-audio is more listenable than mp3. If you are working on computer and Winamp is playing mp3, you can easily change the track to another one if you don't like the beginning of the song. Besides, there are lots of songs on even one disc (And we don't talk aboutbands that occupy 2 CD's or more (The case of The Beatles, actually. In Russia they are issued on 7 (!!!) mp3 discs. The first two discs contain all their 1963-1996 albums while the others host bootlegs (it's about 40 hours of music))). So you can easily get lost in the sea of sound. Plus, I won't believe you if you say that you take speakers from you music-center to your computer to improve the quality of mp3 sound. Though, I understand that mp3 is the cheapest way to buy all band's albums.And last note: where's the info about some brilliant groups (you can even open new page with info about famous artists (plus, some readers could supply info on such pages))? But again I understand that there's a great lack of time and space, too.
P.S. Nevertheless, thank you for such a good site. Happy New Year!!!
P.P.S. Your English is so good that sometimes I forget that you're Russian.
Michael and Priscilla Bloom <firstname.lastname@example.org> (04.02.2001)
Just stumbled upon your site (during a Yahoo search on Damo Suzuki, hoping someone on the net has successfully transcribed at least some of his utterances). I am very impressed at your enthusiasm, your erudition, and (let's be honest here) your ability to appreciate prog *according to the same standards* with which you consider the Beatles et al. (I got to meet Banks and Rutherford, just about the time Selling England was released, and they astonished me by saying the Beatles were their major influence, and I had to grow up a lot before I understood that.)
I'm also impressed at how much you sound like me and the people I went to college with, despite that college for me was almost 30 years ago, and (to say the least) a different culture. I always felt there were some universals about music, but before I saw your writings I had to take it on faith.
Not that I agree with you all the time, and as I get deeper into your reviews I'm sure I'll have occasion to argue with you (I can already imagine a five page letter I want to write you about Van der Graaf Generator), but at least I can see where we have a basis for argument. Right now I just send my admiration and best wishes (and the hope that you make enough money to buy all the records you want :-)
Ulrich <Hannepampel@t-online.de> (04.02.2001)
I've been coming to your site by chance, searching for the wording of a special song. After only a few minutes I've forgotten everything about my search and went on for a "journey" through your reviews and comments. It's incredible what you've managed and I have to express my very high respect for your work!
A short message to all who have complained/think of complaining about your site/it's contents:
MAKE IT BETTER FOLKS, BUT YOU WON'T SUCCEED!
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