June 24, 2005


The problem with paid articles is that the terms of payment generally revolve around the article being about something; as a result, interesting threads get dropped willy-nilly (and, in a systemic irony, the more interesting the writer, the willy-nillier the thread-dropping). And so I won't be too disappointed that Nothing Formerly Painted Blue leaves unseamed an issue that seems about-to-be-addressed in the midst of this article: the cultural differences regarding copying (I'm using that word to stand in for a lot of fancier terms) that divide hip-hop and rock. To put it another way: how come, as a general rule, when one writes about cover albums, one is writing about white artists? I can tell that, had the editor offered our hero the same money for twice the word-count, he would have waded into this river twice over, and shall look forward to the next opportunity.

Perhaps more vexing is the stance toward the relationship between covering and sampling. There's no right answer to that question, I suspect, but one generally doesn't want to see anyone lining up with the race and culture-effacing positions of Chuck Eddy annd Frank Kogan on this topic, and I would argue that there's much more to be gained from attending to the ways sampling and covering are fundamentally different than not (for example, one comes from Radio Shack and one comes from Guitar Center; or, again, one confounds the issue of who the author is, and one doesn't).

Well, there are always things to disagree about. It's not always a pleasure, but in cases like this, it is. Just as with his new book, when one reads Doc Bruno one is always in the presence of legit intelligence; a survey of some of the other single-album (or single-film) monographs reminds me not to take this for granted. It's one of the real stakes and powerful pleasures of reading; indeed, it oughta be the ante. Besides, the present article has a superb last line, incisive, emotionally canny, and true. For this, one is always grateful.

Posted by jane at June 24, 2005 03:45 AM | TrackBack