What do you want in a review?

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by Brian Bowen, May 3, 2004.

  1. Brian Bowen

    Brian Bowen Active Member

    In another thread, some folks have taken issue with a recent concert review on 4barsrest. I wonder what you want to hear about when you read a concert or CD review?

    Among other things, I look for balance and fairness, evidence that the reviewer knows what he/she is talking about (and here it helps to have read other reviews by the same writer), and not simply a list of items performed.
  2. Maestro

    Maestro Active Member

    My main bugbear about reviewers is that they too frequently think that their opinion is all that matters.

    I would just like to see for once, a reviewer say' "This wasn't totally to my taste, but that's just my opinion", instead of something along the lines of " This is rubbish!"

    After all, isn't a review supposed to be a balanced and fair criticism, giving help and an insight into either a concert or a recording that someone else may be inerested in, and not an analytical review that is used as an exercise or an assignment?
  3. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    Taking Kev's point first, I am always conscious when writing a review that my view may be very different to someone else's. If anything, I tend to find I am erring on the side of caution, saying such things as "some may feel . . .", or "this may concern some people more than others" etc. This can apply both to the musical content of a recording or concert and also to the way the music is played, whether this be in respect of style, technique or other aspects of musicality.

    Any reviewer or critic immediately lays themselves open to the question: "Could you do any better?" In most cases, the answer is clearly "No", but one is still entitled to give your own honest opinion - so long as it is clear that that is all it can ever be.

    I see no point whatsoever in a review that does nothing more than list the programme items without giving any personal reaction whatsoever - all that does is to give a free advert to whoever has produced the recording. Equally, I have often been prompted to explore a recording even when the reviewer has not been particularly impressed by it, because he or she has given enough background to indicate that it may appeal more to me than it did to him.

    I think a review should also be able to supply some additional background to the music or performers, putting things in context, and should also take into account the circumstances regarding the recording or concert - for example, a recording produced by a band and primarily intended for their own audiences and contacts should be treated somewhat differently to a purely commercial venture from one of the "big name" bands.
  4. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    I can't find it. Which review of which concert, please?


  5. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

  6. TheMusicMan

    TheMusicMan tMP Founder Staff Member

    Hey Brian

    You can always write a review yourself and post it here - we'd love to read reviews of the concerts, gear, events and happenings over your side of the globe... :)

    Please post if you have any.
  7. Dave Payn

    Dave Payn Active Member

    Ah, yes, I commented on this one! I didn't comment on the knowledge of the reviewer, but the fact that it looked like a contes t adjudicator's crit rather than a concert review! The reviewer admittedly didn't go overboard in praise of Kingdom Triumphant as a piece of music. I thoroughly disagree, as I think it's a magnificent work, but I suppose each to their own.

    Well, as for what I would look for in a review? I think most people recognise an informed reviewer when they see his or her write ups (or 'writes-up'??) and on that count (no deliberate sycophancy here) I think most recognise that Mr Bale is one of that crowd. He writes clearly and with a deep knowledge of brass in all its performable formats as a background. He also isn't afraid to be thoroughly 'independent', i.e. not just praise a recording or concert simply because a 'name' is being reviewed. Alas, some brass reviews I've read in print over the years haven't always APPEARED so independent.
  8. ScrapingtheBottom

    ScrapingtheBottom Active Member

    When I read a review (as with any other piece of journalism) I am always aware that it is one person's opinion. I like to see that that person knows what they are talking about, but with music being such a subjective and emotive issue one cannot expect a bias-free note by note clincal dissection of events (plus that kind of review is pretty boring). I like reading pieces that provoke a response whether it be positive or negative as it gets me thinking about the thing being reviewed. Strangely I seem to buy most of my "pop" music albums on the basis of bad reviews in the NME because my musical tastes appear to be diametrically opposed to the music journalists that write for said publication.