The 10 Worst Rock Critics (1982)

1. Albert Goldman
Closet rock-hater and formerly slick phrasemaker for Life, Goldman is now at work on the “definitive” biography of Elvis Presley. Look out, fans.
2. Rory O’Connor
Much worse than the Boston Real Paper scene-maker, much lower than the rock-crit type depicted in the film Between the Lines. O’Connor’s radical chic makes him much lower, in his sleazy way, than the cretinous performers he promoted.
3. Ellen Sander
Star of the pages of the old Saturday Review, if you can believe that. So much of a star, in fact, that in her last days she took to signing liner notes with her first name only.
4. Chris Van Ness
Out of the pages of the preporno Los Angeles Free Press, and America’s number-one sucker for sensitive singer/songwriters.
5. Legs McNeil
Avatar of Punk magazine. Precisely what Creem had in mind when, way back in the early 1970s, it predicted something called “Sopor Nation.” (Sopors, for those unfamiliar with prepunk drug usage, are Quaaludes.)
6. Ritchie Yorke
Canadian-based, international hustler. Author of a book on Van Morrison that is to rock criticism what The Prophet is to philosophy.
7. Don Heckman
The New York Times jazz fan and rock know-nothing.
8. Mike Jahn
When appearing in the New York Times, the first pop critic with his own publicist.
9. Jonathan Eisen
Responsible for (in Robert Christgau’s words) the worst rock column “in the history of Western Civilization” (it appeared in Circus), Eisen is best known for his now out-of-print Age of Rock anthologies and their various spinoffs, each of which was, in its own special way, a triumph of merely snobbish one-upmanship.
10. John Leonard
On the cultural pages of the New York Times, the arch defender of high culture against the subversion of the masses.

From The Book of Rock Lists, 1982 (edited by Dave Marsh and John Swenson)

Also-ran Max Arloff, rock critic at ‘The Back Bay Mainline’


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3 thoughts on “The 10 Worst Rock Critics (1982)

  1. If there’s ever an update to this list, I hope that Hardeep Phull the current reviewer/”critic” at The NY Post, whose reviews are usually indistinguishable from record company press releases (are there still record companies?), is on the list.
    How much critical integrity is it fair to expect from a daily reviewer at a paper not known for its coverage of the arts?
    If this is what he has to do to make a living, and he doesn’t expect anyone to take him seriously – well that’s another story.

  2. Certainly makes sense, Kevin, but the list reached me via someone posting a jpeg of it on Facebook, undated, and looking up the source (the first ed. of the Dave Marsh-edited -‘Book of Rock Lists’) it is listed as a 1982 publication. Could be that there was a long time lag between Greil’s submission to the book and its eventual publication (with his Goldman review published in the interim), or my (Amazon) source is false: https://www.amazon.ca/Book-Rock-Lists-Dave-Marsh/dp/044057580X

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