Thursday, 15 December 2011

Rating Van: Robert Christgau's List

The Self-proclaimed "Dean of American Rock Critics"

Robert Christgau has been listening to, discussing and writing about music for a long time so it's interesting to see his take on some of Van's early albums.  After 1990 his system of rating albums become a little complicated.  In his later reviews he claimed Keep Mediocrity at Bay was a 'choice cut' on the Magic Time album which seems a strange choice.  He also labeled You Win Again a 'bomb' which is probably more accurate.  His website has a lot of interesting stuff and includes some of his best writings over the years.

His Band and Street Choir (1970) - A
Moondance (1970) - A+
Tupelo Honey (1971) - A-
Saint Dominic's Preview (972) - A-
Hard Nose the Highway (1973) - B-
It's Too Late to Stop Now (1974) - A
Christgau back in the day
Veedon Fleece (1974) - B+

A Period of Transition (1977) - B
Wavelength (1978) - B+
Into the Music (1979) - A
Common One (1980) - B-
Beautiful Vision (1982) - A-
Inarticulate Speech of the Heart (1983) - B-
A Sense of Wonder (1985) - C+
Live at the Grand Opera House Belfast (1985) - B
No Guru, No Method, No Teacher (1986) - B-
Poetic Champions Compose (1987) - B+
Irish Heartbeat (1988) - C+
Avalon Sunset (1989) - A-
Enlightenment (1990) - B+
The Best of Van Morrison (1990) - A
There seems a lot here I agree with.  However, there are a couple of issues as I see it.  I think albums like EnlightenmentA Sense of Wonder and Common One are slightly underrated.  I also think No Guru No Method No Teacher and Veedon Fleece are classics that deserve "A" ratings.  Conversely, I'm surprised His Band and Street Choir and Tupelo Honey have been given "A" ratings.  Both are good albums but in my mind they seem worthy of only "B" ratings.       

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