Low point: Michael Batty's review of the new Jon Spencer Blues Explosion album, Now I Got Worry (Recordings). I was looking for a review of the album and got: A) A review of Wesley Willis and/or the Wesley Willis Fiasco. Why? Isn't the point of an album review for that album specifically? At least half the article was spent on Willis. Perhaps some relation was supposed to be made between the two acts. Why? We get a monologue on freaks in the music industry and two lines on the album itself. B) An article demanding that any band who calls themselves "blues" to stick to just that. Must I, the general listener, remind the reviewer that Jon Spencer comes from a punk background, not a blues background? Having a punk background gives the artist license to joke about anything, even by calling his band "blues." I would expect that Batty would know this, given the proud display of his knowledge that Jon Spencer was a part of Pussy Galore. The album "fairly" smokes? It seriously smokes and deserves a better review than the one it received. How about naming a single song on the album? If Now I Got Worry is going to be compared to anybody, it's more likely the early Stones than Wesley Willis. This review just follows the ugly trend toward paying more attention to a band's personality than to the music itself.
Camp Fires Burning
Michael Batty's review of the recent country-western show at the Bottom of the Hill sweat far too much blood to gain the high ground of detached irony ("Rhinestone Cowpie," Music, Oct. 2). What makes Bay Area country bands like the Swingin' Doors (and Red Meat) exciting, at least to this transplanted Oklahoman (note: That was a claim of authenticity), is that they can be funny and fresh and no less passionate in a way that the current Nashville establishment does not encourage, but in a way that anyone who has listened to a George Jones song will recognize instantly.
The leers and smirks of the Kuntry Kunts, on the other hand, are often as tired as Batty's Dolly Parton joke. "Camp" is not necessarily "irony," and mean-spirited remarks about children are unwelcome windows into a rock critic's own personal demons.