Title: Christgau’s Consumer Guide: Albums of the ’90s
Author: Robert Christgau
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: October 2000
Since 1967, Robert Christgau has sat down with pen in hand and chronicled pop music history via his trademark rants. Freelancing for such magazines as Esquire, Rolling Stone, Spin and Playboy, Christgau has established himself as one of America’s premier rock critics. Currently Christgau is senior editor and chief music critic for The Village Voice. His fifth book, Christgau’s Consumer Guide: Albums of the ’90s, is a consistently honest documentation of popular music from a decade that is still too close for many to reasonably assess.
Christgau’s style – sometimes abrupt, other times loquacious – is always literary and makes for an interesting read, especially for those who obsess about what records to buy next. A lover of artists as diverse as DJ Shadow, Eminem and Badar Ali Khan, the 58-year-old music junkie proves that pop isn’t just for the kids. And his self-admitted need to listen to as much music as possible shows no sign of letting up. As long as records, amazing or pitiful, make their way to Christgau’s stereo, fans and casual readers alike can look forward to one of a kind anecdotes.
A lengthy introduction explains a lot about this unique collection of recommended musical purchases (and stinkers to avoid). At first the grading system – which includes a bizarre combination of letters, stars, turkeys, bombs, etc. – is a bit tough to get one’s head around. Equally perplexing is how certain albums are suspiciously missing. Regardless of your tastes, you are bound to yell at the pages a few times while reading this book. (Something along the lines of: “Where are the first two (insert great band here) albums?” or “Does he really think that (insert your number one album of the 90’s) is a dud? Maybe he got the CD mixed up with the last Limp Bizkit album.”)
Featuring nearly 4,000 titles, Albums of the ’90s remains true to the meaning of pop (as in popular), covering most of the mainstream. Independent artists are featured less frequently. Though a great number of the albums are your standard rock ‘n’ roll fare, other styles such as R&B, rap, techno, folk and “World” music are nicely represented.
Christgau’s Consumer Guide: Albums of the ’90s is the ideal book for anyone who ever walked into a record store and knew beforehand there was no way they were leaving empty-handed.