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]