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September 16, 2023


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I love ATCQ, and "Midnight Marauders" is indeed a great album. (The first three and the last are, and I'll even vouch for the fourth even though it's a lesser album.)

To be fair, those concerns you raised back then are something I do think about now in relation to some of the hip-hop I listen to from the '90s, at least as it applies to the albums I do enjoy. Ice Cube's "Death Certificate" is one that immediately comes to mind. It has a lot of his best tracks, but it's always been a struggle trying to get around what I don't like about "Black Korea" and "No Vaseline" (the latter which is usually celebrated as one of the great diss tracks, and for much of the time, it does seem that way).


Joe Hagan's book alleges that Wenner sexually harassed men an women on the Rolling Stone staff.

With Wenner gone from the Hall of Fame board, maybe the Monkees can be inducted. I've read that Wenner used his clout to keep them out for decades.

A lot of Rolling Stone's problems came from its core readership. In the magazine's early decades, issues with women or POC on the cover sold poorly, compared to issues with white men on the cover. That steered who the magazine covered and idolized. The readers were also resistant to new kinds of music -- the 1977 Sex Pistols cover was the worst-selling issue up to that point.


Wenner epitomizes a certain kind of Boomer, forever fixated on the "classic rock" stars of their youth -- white guys playing guitars, who began their careers in the '6s or '70s. A lot of them (Jagger, Dylan, Springsteen, etc) are Wenner's friends, guys he often socializes with.

That's the RS "canon." Alas.


A Tribe Called Quest's "The Low End Theory" appeared in Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Rock Albums in 2003 at #154, but, of course, it was never reviewed when it was released in 1991. Wenner's interview last week was headline news on the BBC, so yes - jaw-dropping, even over the pond. But for a teenager in Europe reading rock magazines in the 80s-90s, Rolling Stone's and their critics' grasp of contempory music was completely out of touch, compared to, say, the British music press. The only thing Rolling Stone had going for it, were articles by P.J. O'Rourke and Peter Travers' film reviews. And they did get exclusive interviews with my pop idols of the time. The magazine has been unreadable and uninteresting for years. They try to compensate for their decades of ignoring anything that wasn't white men playing guitars, by remaking their "Greatest Albums Of All Time", in 2020 to suddenly look gangsta. But nobody is reading Rolling Stone anymore. And after 40 years of subscribing, I will finally be letting my subscription lapse. Smart move of Wenner to sell it to the Chinese, when he could.


I've read that when Wenner's younger staffers played punk records for him in the late '70s, the publisher said: "That's not music -- that's just noise!"

Just like his parents probably reacted to the first Elvis records.


This isn't much of a defense, but Wenner is hardly the first person guilty of having a fixation for the stars of their youth, especially among the cabal running the Hall of Fame. The recent trends for nomination and induction suggest a fixation on the '80s pop stars of their youth - Duran Duran? Pat Benatar? Lionel Richie? Stevie Nicks's solo career? They don't amount to much beyond nostalgia. When I think of music that really is timeless and of great value, I usually think of it as something that can inspire someone generations later to make great and innovative work of their own - it could be how the records were made, how the songs were written, how the songs were performed, but it's something worthwhile that's picked up by someone who discovers that music many years later, and it's got to be more substantial than, say, Benatar's well-meaning intentions. I can hear that in A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Eric B. & Rakim, OutKast, Beck, the White Stripes, the New York Dolls, Joy Division/New Order, Sonic Youth, the B-52s, Hüsker Dü, the Replacements, etc...they all sold less records, but they inspired far better music.


(I didn't list enough women, but Sleater-Kinney, X-Ray Spex, The Shangri-Las, Lucinda Williams, the Marvelettes, the Breeders and the Pixies for that matter among many, many others are up there too.)


I didn't intend it as a defense, MW. Just showing how Wenner had become as out of touch as his parents' generation. And Wenner was only 30 when he lost interest in new music, and burrowed into '60s nostalgia.


I should have clarified George - I meant ME saying "Wenner is hardly the first person guilty of having a fixation for the stars of their youth" is hardly a defense for Wenner.


(That is, he's not the only one, but it's still bad, especially when he was running the biggest music publication in the country.)

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