Why did he say that?

Jerry Lucky Commentary October 2009

Copyright Jerry Lucky © 2009 All Rights Reserved


I’m sitting here wondering why we say the things we do. I’m sure this has happened to you…you read a review of your favourite

prog band and you can’t understand why the reviewer or critic said what he said. You ask yourself was he listening to the same

disc you were. That’s happened to me plenty of times. Hey, maybe you’ve had those thoughts reading some of my reviews.

Someone once said “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” That must be true about music as well.


I totally understand the concept of “beauty being in the eye of the beholder” but that still doesn’t answer why we say some of the things we say. Hey, I know everyone will like different things for different reasons. Still, if you read a lot of reviews, articles, and interviews relating to progressive rock you might get a sense that some in our relatively small music-appreciation-society like to “eat their young.”


What I mean is that I’ve read some who seem to quite casually or in some cases perhaps out of a sense of duty or obligation feel the need to discount the efforts or even belittle the work of those creating progressive rock music. More than a few times I’ve read a review that actually speaks quite highly or at least positively about a recording only to insert somewhere in the review a comment about something less than satisfactory and often times it’s about something picayune or miniscule, almost as if they feel duty bound to say something negative to balance the review, or perish the thought, convey a sense of intellectual superiority.


It got me wondering why we offer these left-handed compliments at all. What are you really trying to say? It’s seems to me writers feel they have to provide some warning under the guise of informing the reader that in the process really only allows the writer to push their own agenda. I admit to being a bit confused by this approach and wonder where it comes from.


Is it that they feel as writers it is their duty to write something that marginalizes certain artists?


Is it because, even though they personally may like the music, they fear their peers will consider them not-critical or thorough enough?


Is it because they sincerely feel the need to say something to prevent the artist from getting off scot-free?


Perhaps after reviewing hundreds and hundreds of CDs they’ve simply become jaded? (It happens!)


Or is it because they really don’t like the music they’re reviewing but feel the need to soften the blow?


Quite honestly I don’t know. Normally if I’m writing a review I see my goal as providing some description of the music and the disc. I just don’t see myself sitting here in judgement of the music to the point where I can in all honesty say that the disc would have been better had they done “this or that.”


I heard from a friend that the production was lacking on a certain new release. Really? I’d listened to that CD and honestly felt the production sound was intentional and was exactly what the band was going after given their musical direction. So who’s right? The guy who said the band had bad or muddy production or me who said that was the production style the band was going for. Not sure.


But tell me this, which is the observation that makes more sense to someone who’s never heard the disc? Which observation helps the artist? Which observation helps the listener make a choice? I don’t think there is a simple answer here that can in any way be enforced. What I do know is that I’ll be more careful about the things I say in my reviews.  At least that’s what I think.


Jerry Lucky