Burt Steel, Associated Press
Chris Robinson of the Black Crowes performs in 2005 in New Orleans. Maxim "reviewed" the band's new album without hearing it.

By now many music fans have heard the news.

A men's culture publication, Maxim, reviewed the Black Crowes' new album "Warpaint" without actually listening to it.

That's right. There were no advance or "review" copies of the album available when the review went to print last month for the magazine's new issue.

The review was a rated review — 2 1/2 stars. It said, "(The album) hasn't left Chris Robinson and the gang much room for growth."

When the band's management contacted the magazine, the editor said the review was "an educated guess."


It's these types of published or posted criticisms that give legitimate critics a bad name.

It's tough enough having to defend a critical review of an established artist, but to publish this sort of critique is a falsehood and unethical.

There are many people who don't trust the media because they confuse the paparazzi's exploitative rags with respectable news outlets. And even some of the respectable news agencies blur the line at times.

But is it too much to ask of critics to at least listen to the CD they are suppose to critique?

Is it too much to ask Deseret Morning News movie critic Jeff Vice to sit and watch the film "Norbit," in its entirety before he decided it really made him want to gouge out his eyes?

When our theater critic Erica Hansen writes a play review, she sees the performance from beginning to end before making any kind of assessment.

Deseret Morning News TV critic Scott D. Pierce wrote an article about the new "Knight Rider." The series wasn't available for review. So, he wrote in his story, "(The) series wasn't made available to critics for review ..." He didn't review it, but he did tell people when the TV station would be showing it.

As for the music critic (yours truly), I listen to a CD at least twice before I put my fingers on my laptop keyboard.

The reasons are simple.

On a first listen, it's easy to get caught up in new material from an artist that has either been talked up by publicists or other critics or has been heard all over the Internet and TV (via Old Navy commercials).

So, I take time to read the liner notes and really listen to the dynamics of the production. Then I take advantage of a second listen to see if I still get caught up in the material or if my emotions have dimmed. I review my own assessment of how the songs or collection of songs hit me the first time and see if there is any change the second time.

Funny thing is, I have found more times than not that a song I didn't like during the first run through sounds better during the second listen.

When I do decide to review a CD, I try to make it balanced. I try to find the good and bad. And even then, I make sure I support my opinions with written examples.

It would be so easy to make an "educated guess" about some musical artists.

For years I couldn't stand Marilyn Manson. I liked his first album, but didn't enjoy the others. When I received his latest nearly a year ago, I could have made an "educated guess," writing the album "hasn't given him much room for growth."

But I didn't. I listened to it three times and found that I liked the album as much as the first release. And that even surprised me.

E-mail: scott@desnews.com