Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

Consumer Guide:
  User's Guide
  Grades 1990-
  Grades 1969-89
Books
Writings:
  CG Columns
  Rock&Roll& [new]
  Rock&Roll& [old]
  Music Essays
  Music Reviews
  Book Reviews
  Playboy
  Blender
  Rolling Stone
  Billboard
  Video Reviews
  Pazz & Jop
  Recyclables
  Newsprint
  Lists
  Miscellany
Bibliography
NPR
NAJP Blog
Web Site:
  Home
  Site Map
  What's New?
Carola Dibbell
CG Search:
Google Search:
Twitter:

Pazz & Jop Critics Poll

I received a total of 84 entries for the first and last annual Pazz & Jop Critics Poll. Fortunately or unfortunately, only 39 of these came from what by some stretch of the term might be called legitimate critics--that is, human beings with more access to print media than a lonely attack on Led Zeppelin III in a high school newspaper in Minnesota, which was one credential proferred. The thing is, I don't believe credentials make much difference either. I figure that a critic ought to have three qualities: interest, and arrogance, and writing ability. Many "legitimate" critics do what they can to fake that last one (not to mention the first), and when the subject at hand is a list, it becomes totally unnecessary. Since anyone with the temerity to enter a poll obviously had interest and arrogance, that made anyone who entered a critic.

On the other hand, there was no practical way to list everyone's preferences, so I was finally forced to make judgments and institute a hierarchy. This week's column is a list freak's delight. The master list is a compilation of everyone's judgments. Poll entries comprised 10 records with 100 points divided among them, with no record getting more than 30 or less than five points. (There were exceptions--a few people listed more or less than 10, or divided points among two records by the same artist, or gave less than five points to a record because my instructions were unclear. I made the necessary adjustments in such cases, but in general I did what people wanted to do.)

The master list printed here is the ultimate recounting of the 30 best records of 1971. Total points are indicated and then divided between critics, so-called, and treaders, or fans. For instance, the entry numbers next to Imagine read: 225 131(5) 94(9). That means Imagine received a total of 225 points, which placed it fifth in the master poll. It received 131 points from critics, who also placed it fifth, and 94 from fans, who placed it ninth. Fan and critic rankings were only computed to 20, and in cases of point ties, the record with the most mentions has been placed first. Simple? Well, simple for us list freaks, anyway.

Also for list freaks is a compilation of every critic's choices. As for what it all means, look in next week. Explanations and extrapolations will abound.

Ballots

Michael Acuna (Weekly Bull): Jethro Tull: Aqualung 15. Procul Harum: Broken Barricades 15. Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a Story 15. Bill Withers: Just as I Am 10. Janis Joplin: Pearl 5. Jeff Beck Group: Rough and Ready 5. Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers 10. Elton John: Tumbleweed Connection 5. Marvin Gaye: What's Going On 5. The Who: Who's Next 15.

Vince Aletti (free-lance): Sly & the Family Stone: There's a Riot Goin' On 20. Van Morrison: Tupelo Honey 10. Marvin Gaye: What's Going On 10. Gladys Knight & the Pips: If I Were Your Woman 5. Boz Scaggs: Moments and Boz Scaggs & Band 10. Laura Nyro: Gonna Take a Miracle 10. Joni Mitchell: Blue 10. Leon Russell and the Shelter People 5. Carole King: Tapestry 5.

Lester Bangs (Creem): Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers 20. Carole King: Music 20. Black Sabbath: Master of Reality 10. Alice Cooper: Killer 10. Charles Mingus: Presents the Charles Mingus Quartet Featuring Eric Dolphy and Better Get It in Your Soul 10. Mahavishnu Orchestra: The Inner Mounting Flame 8. Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a Story 7. Savage Rose: Refugee 5 Sly & the Family Stone: There's a Riot Goin' On 5.

Jim Bickhart (free-lance): The Move: Message From the Country 17 Fairport Convention: Angel Delight 14. Free: Highway 14. Steeleye Span: Please to See the King 12. Procul Harum: Broken Barricades 11 Kinks: Muswell Hillbillies 8. Bonzo Dog Band: Beast of the Bonzos 6. Beach Boys: Surf's Up 5. Byrds: Farther Along 5.

Mike Bourne (Downbeat): Art Ensemble of Chicago: People in Sorrow 20. Jeff Beck Group: Rough and Ready 20. Art Ensemble of Chicago: Les Stances a Sophie 10. Mahavishnu John McLaughlin: My Goal's Beyond 15. Mose Allison: Western Man 8. The Genius of Louis Armstrong Volume 1 7. The Allman Brothers: Live at the Fillmore East 5. Gentle Giant: Acquiring the Taste 5. Jack Bruce: Harmony Row 5. Laura Nyro: Gonna Take a Miracle 5.

Patrick Carr (Voice, Metropolitan Review): Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers 20. Grateful Dead 15. Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a Story 10. Electric Hot Tuna 10. Fraser and Debolt 10. Ry Cooder 10. Sly & the Family Stone: There's a Riot Goin' On 5. The Who: Who's Next 5. Bob Dylan: Royal Albert Hall Concert 1966 15.

Robert Christgau (Dean of American Rock Critics): Joy of Cooking 24. The Who: Who's Next 13. Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a Story 12. Joni Mitchell: Blue 11. John Lennon: Imagine 10. Sly & the Family Stone: There's a Riot Goin' On 10. Delaney & Bonnie: Motel Shot 5. Van Morrison: Tupelo Honey 5. Faces: A Nod Is as Good as a Wink . . . to a Blind Horse 5. Carole King: Tapestry 5.

Julian Compton (Great Speckled Bird): Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a Story 18. Janis Joplin: Pearl 18. Cat Stevens: Teaser and the Firecat 8. The Who: Who's Next 8. Carole King: Tapestry 8. John Lennon: Imagine 8. Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers 8. Van Morrison: Tupelo Honey 8. James Gang: Third 8. Bob Dylan: Greatest Hits Volume II 8.

Brian Cullman (free-lance): Randy Newman: Live 15. Kinks: Muswell Hillbillies 10. John Martyn: Bless the Weather 10. Nick Drake 15. J.J. Cale: Naturally 10. Beach Boys: Surf's Up 10. John & Beverly Martyn: Read to Ruin 10. Leonard Cohen: Songs of Love and Hate 10. David Bowie: Hunky Dory 5. Tom T. Hall: In Search of a Song 5.

Ben Edmonds (Creem): Van Morrison: Tupelo Honey 20. Alice Cooper: Killer 15. David Blue: Stories 15. MC-5: High Time 10. Smokey Robinson & the Miracles: One Dozen Roses 8. Sir Douglas Quintet: The Return of Doug Saldana 7. The Who: Meaty Beaty Big and Bouncy 6. Sly & the Family Stone: There's a Riot Goin' On 5. Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a Story 5.

Joe Frohlinger (UPI): Cat Stevens: Tea for the Tillerman 10. Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a Story 10. The Yes Album 10. Marc Benno: Minnows 10. Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers 10. Rita Coolidge: Nice Feelin' 10. Nils Lofgren & Grin: 1 Plus 1 10. Kinks: Muswell Hillbillies 10. Van Morrison: Tupelo Honey 10. Stoneground Family Album 10.

Aaron Fuchs (Action World): Al Green Gets Next to You 10. Ann Peebles: Part Time Love 10. Bill Withers: Just As I Am 10. Aretha Franklin: Live at the Fillmore West 10. Van Morrison: Tupelo Honey 10. J. Geils Band 10. James Brown: Revolution of the Mind 10. Persuasions: We Came to Play 10. Best of Clarence Carter.

Robert Goald (The Paper, Baltimore): Family: Anyway 10. The Who: Who's Next 10. Free: Live 10. Led Zeppelin: ZOSO 10. Syd Barrett: Madcap Laughs 10. Peter Kelley: Dealin Blues 10. Kinks: Muswell Hillbillies 10. Livingston Taylor: Liv 10. Shawn Phillips: Collaboration 10. The Move: Message From the Country 10. Cat Stevens: Teaser and the Firecat 10.

Bob Grossweiner (Flash, Circus): J. Geils Band 20. Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers 10. Grin 10. The Who: Who's Next 10. Soup: The Album Soup 10. Jimi Hendrix: Rainbow Bridge 10. Janis Joplin: Pearl 5. Carly Simon 5. Procul Harum: Broken Barricades 5. Black Oak Arkansas 5.

Robert Hilburn (Los Angeles Times): John Lennon: Imagine 15. The Concert for Bangla Desh 15. The Who: Who's Next 12. John Prine 12. Elton John: Tumbleweed Connection 10. The Band: Cahoots 10. Kinks: Muswell Hillbillies 8. Kris Kristofferson: The Silver Tongued Devil and I 8. Van Morrison: Tupelo Honey 5. Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a Story 5.

Steven Hyden (Transition): Mahavishnu Orchestra: The Inner Mounting Flame 19. The Who: Who's Next 18. Spirit: The 12 Dreams of Dr. Sardonicus 15. The Move: Looking On 12. Kinks: Muswell Hillbillies 8. Blue Cheer: Oh! Pleasant Hope 7. Savage Rose: Refugee 6. Redbone: Potlatch 5. Mike Heron: Smiling Men With Bad Reputation 5. Flying Burrito Brothers 5.

James Isaacs (Cambridge Phoenix): Runt: The Ballad of Todd Rundgren 10. Loudon Wainwright III: Album II 10. Beach Boys: Surf's Up 10. Jimi Hendrix: The Cry of Love 10. Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a Story 10. Marvin Gaye: What's Going On 10. Bobby Short: B. Short Loves Cole Porter 10. Soft Machine: Third 10. Randy Newman: Live 10. The Who: Who's Next 10.

Tim Jurgens (Fusion). Kinks: Muswell Hillbillies 14. Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers 13. Savage Rose: Refugee 12. The Who: Who's Next 12. John Lennon: Imagine 11. Harry Nilsson: Nilsson Schmilsson 10. Randy Newman: Live 8. Taffic: The Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys 8. Delaney & Bonnie: Motel Shot 7. Alice Cooper: Killer 5.

Lenny Kaye (Cavalier). Alice Cooper: Love It to Death 10. J. Geils Band: J. Geils Band and The Morning After 10. The Who: Who's Next 10. Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers 10. MC-5: High Time 10. Sly & the Family Stone: There's a Riot Goin' On 10. Art Ensemble of Chicago: Le Stances Sophie 10. David Bowie: Hunky Dory 10. Mother Earth: Bring Me Home 10. Nico: Desertshore 10.

Patricia Kennely (free-lance). David Bowie: Hunky Dory 30. Fairport Convention: Angel Delight 12. Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers 19. Jethro Tull: Aqualung 16. The Who: Who's Next 11. Uriah Heep: Salisbury 5. Emerson, Lake & Palmer 7.

John Koegel (free-lance). The Who: Who's Next 10. Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a Story 10. The Yes Album 10. Grin 10. Elton John: Tumbleweed Connection 10. Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers 10. Poco: Deliverin' 10. Traffic: The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys 10. The Allman Brothers: Live at the Fillmore East 10. The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions 10.

Bill Kowinski (Boston After Dark). James Taylor: Mudside Slim and the Blue Horizon 14. Carole King: Tapestry 13. Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers 12. Firesign Theater: I Think We're All Bozos on This Bus 12. John Lennon: Imagine 12. Bee Gees: Trafalgar 11. Van Morrison: Tupelo Honey 6. The Who: Who's Next 5. Jimi Hendrix: The Cry of Love 5. Harry Nilsson: Nilsson Schmilsson 5. Yoko Ono: Plastic Ono Band 5.

Jim Lalumia (free-lance). Led Zeppelin: ZOSO 10. Grand Funk Railroad: E Pluribus Funk 10. Black Sabbath: Master of Reality 10. John Lennon: Imagine 20. Yoko One: Fly 10. The Motown Story 10. Beach Boys: Surf's Up 10. Supremes: Touch 10. Barry Drake: Happylanding 10.

Mark Leviton (Fusion). The Who: Who's Next 13. Beach Boys: Surf's Up 13. Kinks: Muswell Hillbillies 12. John Lennon: Imagine 11. Alice Cooper: Love It to Death 11. Fairport Convention: Angel Delight 10. Firesign Theater: I Think We're All Bozos on This Bus 8. The Move: Message From the Country 8. Procol Harum: Broken Barricades 7. Pink Floyd: Meddle 7.

John Lomax (Space City). Fleetwood Mac: Future Games 8. Grateful Dead 8. The Concert for Bangla Desh 7. Velvet Underground: Loaded 7. The Who: Who's Next 7. Joy of Cooking: Closer to the Ground 7. Traffic: The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys 7. Townes Van Zandt: High, Low, and In Between 7. Janis Joplin: Pearl 7. Mordecai Jones 7. Bob Dylan: Greatest Hits Volume II 7. New Riders of the Purple Sage 7. Mose Allison: Western Man 7.

Greil Marcus (Creem). Joy of Cooking 30. Sly & the Family Stone: There's a Riot Goin' On 20. Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a Story 5. David Bowie: Hunky Dory 10. John Lennon: Imagine 5. The Who: Who's Next 5. Brinsely Schwarts: Despite It All 5. Van Morrison: Tupelo Honey 5. Nils Lofgren and Grin: 1 Plus 1 10. Hackamore Brick: One Kiss Leads to Another 5.

Dave Marsh (Creem). Van Morrison: Tupelo Honey 16. Smokey Robinson & the Miracles: One Dozen Roses 13. Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a Story 13. Sly & the Family Stone: There's a Riot Goin' On 13. The Who: Who's Next 13. John Lennon: Imagine 10. MC-5: High Time 7. Sir Douglas Quintet: The Return of Doug Saldana 5. Nils Lofgren and Grin: 1 Plus 1 5. Grand Funk Railroad: E Pluribus Funk 5.

M.A. Meltzer (US). David Crosby: If I Could Only Remember My Name 10. The Concert for Bangla Desh 10. Mahavishnu Orchestra: My Goal's Beyond and The Inner Mountain Flame 10. Grateful Dead 10. Boz Scaggs: Moments and Boz Scaggs & Band 10. Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a Story 10. Van Morrison: Tupelo Honey 10. The Pentangle: Reflection 10. Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young: 4-Way Street 10. John Prine 10.

John Morgan (Rock). Ry Cooder 10. Gordon Lightfoot: Summer Side of Life 10. The Band: Cahoots 10. Jerry Lee Lewis: Live at the International 10. Kris Kristofferson: The Silver Tongued Devil and I 10. Bill Monroe: The Country Music Hall of Fame Album 10. Doc Watson: Ballads From Deep Gap 10. Merle Haggard: Someday We'll Look Back 10. John Hartford: Aereo-Plain 10.

Jeff Mesin (free-lance). Leon Russell: NET bootleg 5. Jimi Hendrix: The Cry of Love and Rainbow Bridge 10. The Allman Brothers: Live at the Fillmore East 5. Marvin Gaye: What's Going On 5. Nico: Desertshore 5. David Bowie: Hunky Dory 10. Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers and Live in Europe bootleg 10. Alice Cooper: Killer 10. J. Geils Band: The Morning After 5. The Who: Meaty, Beaty Big and Bouncy 5.

Richard Nusser (Voice). The Concert for Bangla Desh 30. George Harrison: All Things Must Pass 5. John Lennon: Imagine 10. Sly & the Family Stone: There's a Riot Goin' On 5. Peter Kelley: Dealin' Blues 10. T. Rex: Electric Warrior 5. Cat Stevens: Teaser and the Firecat 10. Marvin Gaye: What's Going On 5. Jimi Hendrix: The Cry of Love 5.

Bill Reed (free-lance). Stevie Wonder: Where I'm Coming From 10. Beach Boys: Surf's Up 10. Ellen McIlwaine 10. Beach Boys: Live in London 10. Firesign Tehater: Don't Crush That Dwarf, Hand Me the Pliers 10. McGuinness Flint 10. Badfinger: No Dice 10. Randy Newman: Live 10. Van Dyke Parks: Song Cycle 10.

Rick Remsnyder (Middletown Times Herald Weekly). Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a Story 10. Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers 10. Carole King: Tapestry 10. The Who: Who's Next 10. Jethro Tull: Aqualung 10. Black Oak Arkansas 10. The Yes Album 10. Humble Pie: Rockin' the Fillmore 10. Janis Joplin: Pearl 10. T. Rex: Electric Warrior 10.

J. Greg Robertson (Hartford Courant). Jeff Beck Group: Rough and Ready 30. Bonnie Raitt 15. Harry Nilsson: Nilsson Schmilsson 10. Miles Davis: Live/Evil 9. Joni Mitchell: Blue 8. Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks: Where's the Money? 7. Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a Story 5. Ben Sidran: Feel Your Groove 5. Crabby Appleton: Rotten to the Core 6. Van Morrison: Tupelo Honey 5.

Mike Saunders (Who Put the Bomp). Black Sabbath: Master of Reality 10. David Bowie: The Man Who Sold the World 10. Flamin' Groovies: Teenage Head 10. Van Morrison: Tupelo Honey 10. Alice Cooper: Love It to Death 5. Daddy Who? Daddy Cool! 5. Detroit 5. Doors: L.A. Woman 5. Marvin, Welch & Farrar 5. Ian Matthews: If You Saw Through My Eyes 5. MC-5: High Time 5. Mother Earth: Bring Me Home 5. Randy Newman: Live 5. Siren: Strange Locomotion 5. T. Rex 5. T. Rex: Electric Warrior 5.

Bud Scoppa (free-lance). The Who: Who's Next 10. Cat Stevens: Tea for the Tillerman and Teaser and the Firecat 10. Van Morrison: Tupelo Honey 10. J.J. Cale: Naturally 10. Wings: Wild Life 10. Crazy Horse 10. John Lennon: Imagine 10. The Flying Burrito Brothers 10. Faces: A Nod Is as Good as a Wink . . . to a Blind Horse 10.

Michael Shain (Broadcasting) and Sarah Safford. The Who: Who's Next 21. Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen: Lost in the Ozone 20. Joy of Cooking 13. Grateful Dead 11. Procol Harum: Broken Barricades 10. Harry Nilsson: Nilsson Schmilsson 5. Laura Nyro: Gonna Take a Miracle 5. Jim Post: Colorado Exile 5. Van Morrison: Tupelo Honey 5. Fleetwood Mac: Future Games 5.

Tom Smucker (free-lance). Carole King: Tapestry 19. Joni Mitchell: Blue 19. Joy of Cooking 14. The Who: Who's Next 9. Janis Joplin: Pearl 9. Hound Dog Taylor 9. The Concert for Bangla Desh 6. Beach Boys: Surf's Up 5. David Bowie: Hunky Dory 5. Kinks: Muswell Hillbillies 5.

Fred Trietsch (Villanova student paper). Jack Bruce: Harmony Row 15. Jack Bruce: Things We Like 15. Emerson, Lake & Palmer 11. Miles Davis: Live/Evil 10. Traffic: Welcome to the Canteen 8. Larry Coryell: Barefoot Boy 7. Alice Coltrane: Journey to Satchidananda 7. Colosseum: Daughter of Time 5. Pharoah Sanders: Thembi 5. Gary Wright: Extraction 5. The Fourth Way: Werewolf 5. The Yes Album 5.

Ellen Willis (New Yorker). The Who: Who's Next 18. Joy of Cooking 17. Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a Story 16. John Lennon: Imagine 9. Joni Mitchell: Blue 8. Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers 8. Crazy Horse 7. Alice Stuart: Full Time Woman 6. Janis Joplin: Pearl 6. Cat Stevens: Tea for the Tillerman 5.

Village Voice, Feb. 10, 1972

What Does It All Mean?

The Pazz & Jop Critics Poll has convinced me--for the first time really--that I have an audience. I'm not sure how we relate to each other--that is, the central mystery of all popular culture, even a modest rock and roll column--but that we do relate is obvious. For one heady period, eight of my own selections were also in the Pazz & Jop Top 10. In the end that figure went down to seven, with nine of my nominees in the Pazz & Jop Top 30. Still, no other entry in the poll was so representative. Spiritual synchronicity? Authority tripping? I don't really know, but it feels good, and for the moment I'll settle for that.

It's interesting that three of the half-dozen critics who had almost as many "right answers" as I did are very close friends. Not coincidentally, these three entrants gave Joy of Cooking a total of 61 points, which added to my 24 a healthy head start towards its sixth-place, 194-point tally. Let us not kid ourselves. The old Jazz & Pop Poll was ridiculously kind to Frank Zappa because the people who ran Jazz & Pop were ridiculously kind to Frank Zappa, thus attracting that kind of friend. I much prefer my own friends, but it has to be admitted that only in a Rock & Roll & compendium will Joy of Cooking place sixth.

Still, the record did receive a lot of votes from readers I've never met. In fact, even those three critics discovered it more or less independently. Individual preferences always reflect sensibility. In general, I like rock and roll, straight and avant, and nurture a lot of active sympathy for the women's movement. Likewise my audience. Among the big-time male folkies, only Cat Stevens received any sort of support, and the jazz-rock horn bands were almost completely shut out. But female folkie Joni Mitchell did surprisingly well (ninth place, 163 points), and John McLaughlin's electric jazz-rock band, the Mahavishnu Orchestra, pulled off the major coup of the survey. The 11th-place, 152 point finish of The Inner Mounting Flame was the most impressive grassroots showing of the Pazz & Jop Poll--a tribute, I suspect, not only to McLaughlin's daring synthesis but to his energetic touring in the Northeast. McLaughlin is clearly just beginning, and I suspect he might go anywhere, which is exciting--I'm not even troubled by that guru shit any more.

I suppose the other really interesting piece of data to emerge was the overwhelming triumph of Who's Next, which outdistanced its nearest rival by 208 points, a lead of 65 per cent. Once the original critics' rock band, the Who has now passed beyond criticism. They are classic, and they offer something food for everyone. As a reaction to the factionalism of the rock audience, surface eclecticism (also known as broadmindedness) is quite fashionable, so that even the most diehard rocker will dig Bob Dylan or Joni Mitchell and even the most diesoft folkie will put in a good word for the Stones or the Who. Everyone calls Who's Next a great hard rock album, even though it contains several ballads and some arty-type violin and synthesizer stuff. Whatever else, it was clearly the only popular masterpiece of the year.

As I've said, I am reluctant to enforce the tenuous distinction between fan and critic. I thought two readers, Ken and Roberta Kistler, put their case nicely when they listed as credentials: "Native intelligence; common sense; 500 albums, 300 singles, all of which we pay for; love of music (platonic but active)." Yet the results indicate obvious distinctions between the fan spectrum and the critic spectrum. Because critics have access to free records, they hear more, and this showed up in the ballots. Even though more fans voted, they selected fewer records and were less subject to a common temptation--praising albums no one else likes or has even heard of to establish what a cool person you are. Not that bizarre choices are always willful, but sometimes . . . One guy recently spent 20 minutes trying to convince me that the finest album of 1971 was Home Is in Your Head, by Jackie Lomax. If so, nobody else knows about it yet, which is doubtless the way the guy wants it to stay until he can come up with something weirder. Hipper-than-thou, it's a curse.

In general, the records that fans liked much better than critics (The Inner Mounting Flame, Grateful Dead, The Allman Brothers Live at the Fillmore East, Lost in the Ozone) were by bands that build loyalty through personal appearances, although how I fit The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys, Cahoots, and Motel Shot into that scheme I don't know. Critics often cited albums that are still obscure as to either existence (David Bowie's Hunky Dory, which ought to make him a star, eventually) or worth (Sly's Riot, perhaps the most significant record of 1971, but unpleasant to listen to), but they were also victim to a malady I call creeping auteurism, in which the fave raves of yore (especially the English ones--interesting to note that 16 of the 30 top albums were by English artists) are trotted out like so many Frank Tashlins to receive a great art award for their annual wheeze. I am asserting a prejudice, I know, but it's so strong that I'd like to reassert it: Muswell Hillbillies is a weak, self-indulgent record, and Broken Barricades and Rough and Ready aren't so terrific either. By the way, I think the Beach Boys benefitted from both creeping auteurism and touring popularity.

All in all, Pazz & Jop was a pain in the ass and a joy. If this list freak ever attempts something similar, he will buy some graph paper and devise a list freak system first, instead of recounting all the votes the night before deadline. But getting that mail was worth it. I wish I could reprint many of the letters, but instead I'll select with a little Consumer Guide number based on the poll.

The Who: Who's Next (Decca). "They're the only old favorites who really maintained." (Celestial.)

The Rolling Stones: Sticky Fingers (Rolling Stones). "I played Sticky Fingers more than any other record this year, and sine I think the Stones remain just about as strong as they ever were, their upcoming double album will probably head next year's list." (Lester Bangs.)

Rod Stewart: Every Picture Tells a Story (Mercury). "I can't believe the vulgarity and subtlety of his sensibility, his grace, his crudity, his eye, his ear, the stories he's telling." (Greil Marcus.)

Van Morrison: Tupelo Honey (Warner Bros.). "The perfect album for Van: he does everything he does so incredibly well. There isn't a bad cut on it, of that I'm really sure." (Dave Marsh.)

John Lennon: Imagine (Apple). "Regardless of whether John and Yoko are sincere, their political efforts in the past year, culminating with the John Sinclair benefit, have kept the average record buyers interested in current events." (Jim Lalumia.)

Joy of Cooking (Capitol). "Doesn't anybody like this but you and us? Incredible." (Ken and Roberta Kistler.)

Grateful Dead (Warner Bros.). "Beautiful, even spiritual, great! (Dennis Sullivan.) "Even not the best Dead is better than anything else." (Celestial.)

The Concert for Bangladesh (Apple). "The Bangla Desh album grows on me--I'm beginning to feel the excitement I felt before the concert again." (Dominique Avery.) "For the crowd reaction as well as the music; especially to Dylan; for the live B.D. cut; for all the Dylan; and in spite of Leon Russell; and where was this on your list? (Charles Sitler.) "I was there, beieve me it was one of the greatest experiences of my life." (Tom Thompson.) "This is the only album on the list that I haven't heard--gets points as the best concept album of the year." (Tom Smucker.)

Joni Mitchell: Blue (Reprise). "New in terms of women's inside view of pop world. Seems honest. Both satisfied my gossip column interest with what it's like to be a star, and also seems to mirror feelings us lesser types have about our scenes." (Tom Smucker.) "For some stupid reason I feel I must apologize, but damn it, I like this record!" (Art Horowitz.) "For a girl she has a lot of balls." (George L. Guttler.)

Carole King: Tapestry (Ode). "This is obviously the best album of the year, except that it's so popular maybe it has been escalated to Cultural Fact, and isn't an album at all--like for instance was Sergeant Pepper best album of the year or was it so significant it wasn't anything. Still, Carole gets my number one slot for: two hit singles off of one album, having a million people black and white record the songs, creating the new myth of 'great old pre-Beatles songwriter re-appearing as contemporary superstar'--the first big symptom of the soon to emerge Early '60s vival." (Tom Smucker.)

Mahavishnu Orchestra: The Inner Mounting Flame (Columbia). "John McLaughlin is the most important guitarist making records right now, a profoundly far-reaching musician whose influence may ultimately surpass that of Hendrix and Clapton." (Lester Bangs.)

The Beach Boys: Surf's Up (Brother). "Brian should get out of the house a little more, but this one's still head and shoulders above most of the heavy metal and dead flowers." (Ben Edmonds.) "Even though it is not a good album, I still haven't gained enough objective distance not to relate to them in an extra-musical manner." (Bill Reed.)

Janis Joplin: Pearl (Columbia). "Puts Janis together in the right way--neither freak-out energy mind-fuck, super vagina, or imitation black. Shows she was a great white woman rock and roll singer. Weird that an album showing her as someone who wouldn't burn out (that is, solve the old Janis problem of how can each energy output top the last one)--came out after she actually had killed herself. Makes her suicide seem horrible, as a public phenomenon--unlike Jim Morrison's--which, divorced from whatever it meant for him and his friends, publicly was an act of over-the-hill persona, I think. Or maybe they were both accidents." (Tom Smucker.)

The Kinks: Muswell Hillbillies (RCA Victor). "Instead of Muswell Hillbillies as Album of the year I'd prefer to abstain. Not that I don't still love it, but too many people have told me I must be getting senile." (Tim Jurgens.) Muswell Hillbillies is by far the worst Kinks album ever, just like Surf's Up is close to The Beach Boys' all-time worst, second only to Surfin' Safari and Surfin' USA (first two); for the same reasons too: incredibly rotten production, poorly recorded vocals, little group singing from two of the best ever, million more reasons. No rock and roll ei|ther. Basically they just stink." (Mike Saunders.)

Randy Newman: Live (Reprise). "He's great. Even by himself without Ry Cooder." (Charles Sitler.)

Additional Pazz & Jop News

Artists productive enough to release two albums in one year get cheated on polls. Nils Lofgren contributed to three major albums (two as leader) in 1973--Crazy Horse (47 points), Grin (41 points), 1 Plus 1 (40 points)--and is obviously going to be a star, may his innocence survive. Cat Stevens received 43 points for Tea for the Tillerman and 28 for Teaser and the Firecat. Three poll groups scored significantly with second albums: the Mahavishnu Orchestra's My Goal's Beyond (30 points), the Move's Looking On (36 points), and Alice Cooper's Love It to Death (46 points). . . .

"Maggie May" and "Won't Get Fooled Again" ran neck-and-neck in the sporadic balloting for best single of the year, with "Brown Sugar" third and "It Don't Come Easy" fourth. Other popular choices included "So Tired of Being Alone," "Inner City Blues," and "I'm Eighteen" . . .

The only artists who received more than one vote for Musician of the Year were Rod Stewart, John McLaughlin, and George Harrison. . . .

More than a few entrants went out of their way to mourn or complain about the downfall of Jefferson Airplane and the poor quality of Grunt Records. I don't say that to be nasty, you folks out there in Frisco, but only to suggest that perhaps some shaping up is in order. . . .

There were also many complaints about the WPLJ program changes. . . .

Vinnee DeLorenzo asks this question of John Lennon: "Are you on the top 40 of the Lordy, Lordy, Lordy?" and comments: "Yes, John, there is a God, and he reads The Voice just like you do, and he saw that letter you wrote. By the way, the war ISN'T over (sorry to disillusion you)." . . .

Craig Corson suggested five awards for rock critics. Lester Bangs: "It's awful, but it is good rock n roll" Award. Jon Landau: "Corporate Bore of the Year." R. Meltzer: "Best Drunk Writer." John Mendelsohn: "Two reds and a dexie" Award. Robert Christgau: "Rock criticism should hurt" Award. . . .

I have three awards of my own. To Tom Smucker, the "Thanks for writing half my column for me" Award. To Michael Smith, James Stoller, and Bob Williams: Pazz & Jop Proofreading Award. To Judy Zander, 14 of Roslyn Heights, New York, the only female fan who is not my girlfriend to enter the Pazz & Jop Critics Poll, the George L. Guttler/Joni Mitchell Award. Don't let us get you down, Judy. . . .

Finally, I am happy to announce that Steve "War is not healthy for children and other living things" Ciano has finally won the Rename David Crosby contest. His suggestion, which induced me to laugh aloud in the Stuyvesant Town Key Food: "Jesus Crosby, Superstar."

Village Voice, Feb. 17, 1972

Postscript Notes:

In this, the first (or zeroth?) Pazz & Jop Critics Poll, Robert Christgau's essay was split over two Village Voice issues. The first issue had the introduction (top above), the ballots (last above), and the totals. The second issue has an interpretive essay, "What Does It All Mean?," sandwiched in the middle above. Robert Christgau's year end list (in later years dubbed "The Dean's List") originally appeared in the earlier Consumer Guide (23).


       Critics Poll | Dean's List 1974