Robert Christgau’s Consumer Guide Lives


We’d be remiss, after noting with some sadness its momentary demise, in not mentioning the contingent return of Robert Christgau’s Consumer Guide to MSN. This time around, it’s called Expert Witness — “Forty years ago I dubbed myself the Dean of American Rock Critics,” writes the Dean of American Rock Critics, over at his new home. “That was a joke with legs. The blog title Expert Witness is not a joke. It’s a boast that in criticism, knowledge counts, and that I have a load and a half.” Bob’s always admirable lack of false modesty is actually the least of the selling points here.

And though some might find the transformation of a column that’s now been running for over forty years (many of them spent in this newspaper) into a, gasp, blog, to be a depressing turn of events, we don’t — in 2010 that’s what critics do, pretty much, and our guess is he’ll find his way into the larger conversation more often this way. He describes the work here:

The way the blog will work is this: two posts a week, Tuesday and Friday most of the time, usually comprising reviews of two A records. Since that would require me to find 16 or 18 A new records a month when there are seldom more than a dozen, I’ll augment these with reissues, older records new to me, the occasional live report, maybe a book review, and occasionally one of those flights of fancy that make blogging the inchoate free-for-all it is.

This differs from the old Consumer Guide in that it’s stripped of old categories Honorable Mentions and records graded below a B+, and also of course in that it’s updated in real time, which is after all how the rest of us have been responding for a while now. We should say here that in our opinion, inchoate flights of fancy are underrated online commodities — when written by real writers, anyway — and so we hope Christgau takes that last bit as seriously as we will. So far he’s covered Arcade Fire, M.I.A., Shad, and Tricky; no sign yet of an RSS feed but hopefully they’ll get to that part of the 21st Century soon, too.

This Blog — The Whats, Whys, and Wherefores [Expert Witness]