[Dixielandjazz] Instructions for reviewing jazz CDs.

Steve barbone barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Sat Dec 11 07:02:33 PST 2004

Wiggins and I are starting a school for wannabe CD Reviewers. Here is the
course information free to all interested DKMLers.

Steve Barbone


On  receipt of the CD, allocate a notational score of 20 points. (This is
to  acknowledge the fact that someone has gone to a lot of trouble to
make a CD and send it to you.

1.  Examine the packaging. If it is in one of those nifty little flexible
plastic  packs or the cardboard gatefold type, add 1 point. If it is in
one of those  so-called jewel boxes that crack and splinter when you look
at them, deduct  one point.

2. If the case is shrink-wrapped, deduct one point for the  fingernail you
are about to break. If, beneath the shrink-wrap, there is one  of those
sticky barcode thing gummies redundantly gluing the case shut, deduct  a
further point for stupidity.

3. Examine the illustration on the  front of the CD case. If there is a
picture of a person(s) and more than 10%  of the surface of the body is
naked, deduct one point. This is in order to  refute later allegations
that you were seduced by the implicit offer of  sexual favors. (NB: this
rule applies for males as well as females The previous ruling, that a
picture of a partially-naked man  was penalized two points, had been
withdrawn following allegations of  homophobia made by the San Francisco
Chamber of Commerce.

4. Examine  the information on the back of the CD case. If you do not
recognize the  titles of at least half of the songs listed, deduct one
point. (Folks who  insist on writing their own songs must be taught a
lesson. However, please  note the rider to Rule 15.)

5. Now open the case. If the CD promptly  falls out because (a) the sleeve
design is so bad you couldn't tell you were  holding it upside down, or
(b) too many of the little plastic fingers have  broken off because they
are made of the same duff plastic as the jewel  boxes, deduct one point.
Health warning: Remember to pause at this moment  and strain your coffee
in case one of the aforementioned plastic fingers  fell in your cup.)

6. Inspect the liner notes. If they are printed in a type size so small
that it requires 20:20 vision, plus a magnifying glass  and a bright
light, deduct 1 point. If the printing is in yellow on white, dark brown on
dark blue, pink on purple, or vice versa, or any similar combination,
including white on black, deduct one point. Black print on white, add one
point. If the general design is clearly the work of a second-year art
student with learning difficulties, deduct one point. (If the designer is
one of the singer's  younger siblings, deduct another point. Nepotism is not

7. At this point, you might wish to check the total of  points. So far, a
possible ten points might have been deducted. If this is  the case, you
may now discard the CD. No matter how good it is, there is no  way it can
make up a deficit of ten. Bin it, and move on.

8. If the  CD has survived, you must now read the liner note. All of it.
Sorry, but this  must be done. You are supposed to be carrying out a
public service here and  so far you have done nothing but sit there. If
there is no liner note,  deduct one point. How are you supposed to know
what's happening if no one tells you? If the liner note contains more
than 17 spelling mistakes and/or typographical errors deduct one point.
If the name of a composer and/or instrumentalist is misspelled deduct a
further point. If the singer's own  name is misspelled, bin it.

9. If the liner note actually tells you  something you did not already
know, add one point. (NB: Useful things, of  course. Telling you the name
of the band's tailor is not regarded as useful information.)

10. Count the number of people to whom the musos offers thanks. More
than ten deduct one point, deducting a further point for  every five
additional names. (This is to counter time-wasting attempts to  break the
World Record, currently believed to be held by Eve Cornelious in  the
liner for "I Feel Like Some Jazz Today", where 67 persons are named.
This trend must be stamped out. If more than four of the people
acknowledged are dead, deduct a further point. I mean, come on, they're
dead for God's sake, they can't read the damn notes can they. Or hear
the CD. Just because it makes the musos feel good is no excuse. Musos
are not put on this Earth to feel good. They are here to entertain those
of us who are too busy doing proper jobs to spare the time to play jazz
themselves. (NB: For these purposes, God counts as a dead  person.)

11. Now place the CD in your player and check the running time.  Less than
40 minutes, deduct five points. More than forty but less than  sixty,
deduct one point. More than sixty, add one point. More than seventy,  add
two points. Remember, we live in a commercial age. Quantity beats
quality every time. This might be a useful moment to re-check the points
deducted and apply the same rule as before. Bin any CD that does not
have a chance of getting into the black.

12. Sorry about this, but any CD that has survived so far, must now be
played. There really is no  possible alternative. Just grit your teeth,
take any medication prescribed, and press the start button. (NB: For
these purposes, as indeed for many  others, booze counts as medication.)
Play the CD all the way through (Yes, ALL the way)

13. There, that wasn't as bad as you thought it would be, was it.

14. If you were  able to sing (hum, chant, whistle, doo-de-doo), along
with more than half the tracks without losing the beat, award an A.

15. If you are able to  recall the melody and/or lyrics of any "original"
material for more than  seventeen seconds after the track ended, award an
A (and think of nominating  the writer to the Irving Berlin Hall of Fame).

16. If a singer lets the instrumentalists take solos, award a B.

17. If you fell asleep before the  CD ended, award a B. (This is just in
case it was really rather good and you  wouldn't want to look a fool just
because you took a hard-earned nap, now  would you.)

18. If the CD includes a so-called jazz singer and she/he scats, award a C.
(Billie Holiday didn't scat, so just who the hell do these people  think
they are?)

19. Anything that does not qualify for an A or a B  or a C, award a D.

20. If you feel an irresistible urge to play the  record again, don't.
This is hallucinatory. It's the medication (or the  booze) speaking.

21. You have now completed your review and all that is  left is for you to
write it. Please go to the website  http://www.tirofllefu.com from where,
if you follow the instructions, you  can extract boilerplate reviews,
clicking on A, B, C or D as appropriate.  You will note that there are no
really bad reviews, even the D is not  actually cruel. Partly, this is
because if you have followed these  instructions correctly, you should
have got rid of the truly duff stuff.  Chiefly, though, this is just in
case, one day, you happen to meet one of  these musos. You don't want a
poke in the eye with a finger, however well  manicured it might be, now
do you. (It has been known to happen.) Now  download, print and sign and
send off to the magazine/newspaper/whatever,  and you are now free to
spend the rest of the day doing something really  useful.

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