Anyone who thinks that the snarky back and forth sniping about music that is so endemic in this blog-and-Pitchfork-fueled uber-critical present day of ours originated with the rise of the internet has probably learned the error of their ways over the many, many weeks of this blog series. No doubt the sheer amount and intensity of bickering has increased over the past few years, as discussion forums and blogs have popped up like dandelions, but we didn’t invent it. I imagine people have been arguing and one-upping each other over this artist or that since the release of the first piece of recorded music, whether it be in person over a few beers, in written screeds in magazines, or scrawled on little white labels stuck to album covers.
This week’s is really a prime example, though, as a reggae record by a man named Peter Broggs becomes a flashpoint for an intense debate between one man who is thoroughly versed in the genre in question, and believes he can see objectively the many flaws in an album, and some other DJs who just think “maybe I don’t know reggae, but hey, this is a pretty good record.”
I do regret that there are a few chunks of text I was unable to transcribe, between illegible writing, blurry photography on my part, and ripped labels. I think you get the general idea, though. This music stuff is serious, emotional business; don’t let anyone tell you different.
“Check out the stun [?] guitar on ‘Cease the War.’ This is a very good reggae disc.”
“‘Cease the War’ is reggae song of the year!”
“It’s OK. I’m not thrilled after my first listen.”
“Crucial Sound w/Family Man on Bass - check it.”
“First artist to be signed by RAS.”
“Now in this I simply will not hold back. Everything that has developed over the years in Reggae w/respect to both musical + lyrical lethargy + derivativeness has been slickly packaged into one pathetic record, namely this one. The inability of people at this station to _____ this is reflective of the majority of our listening _____ both a historical ____ on the Jamaican music scene as well as political sophistication. There are only two levels at which a record can be deemed to be worthless: the musical level + the message level. On both accounts this record is so boring + utterly worthless that enjoyment of this LP constitutes nothing short of the blind leading the blind!”
“Pardon me for not taking the historical implications of this record into consideration. Does this mean that I can’t like a reggae song if it isn’t historically correct? You ought to go through the library and let us know which reggae records will give eyesight to the blind.”
“Not to make this personal ___ but you’ve left me with no choice but to ____ further. You looked into my statements the same way you did this LP, without comprehending what’s going on. Firstly, I never spoke of being ‘historically correct.’ There is no such thing unless he’s claiming WWI started in 1913. In any case you made an inference from my statement which wasn’t there. My point is that without a background in Reggae . . . [one label's worth of writing is half-missing and illegible here] . . . your reply is that you’re much too defensive. I addressed a legitimate problem + your response didn’t address it. You should make a greater effort to understand my “thesis,” since I was ___ serious in this whole affair. As for pointing out for ‘you’ these records what ‘you’ should play, that is not really my responsibility. Nobody ____ me anything. I will ____ you are a ____ however. Take out the Lee Perry/Dub Syndicate LP from earlier this year. That was in H as well. It was a superb piece of Reggae vinyl the likes of which is becoming rarer these days. Now listen to that all the way through + then listen to this, which is also in H. If they’re both in H then they must be of relative equal places in terms of quality. If you’re not able to discern a ___ difference in quality between the two then you’ve got the problems ____ accused you of having. This is a less than average Reggae LP.”
“Pardon my misquote. Replace ‘historical implications’ and ‘historically correct’ with the terms ‘historical background’ and ‘politically sophisticated.’ Regardless, my comments stand.”
“This is unbelievable. Merry Christmas, fellas.”