James Mann – do your homework for the readers’ sake! The review of The Contender [by the Royal Crown Revue, September 1998 issue –Ed.] was ludicrous! Your feelings about the songs are how you feel — that’s fine, except the tempo of “Stormy Weather” is more true to the 50’s doo-wop version, which you probably aren’t aware of, having played in a high school jazz band. Oh yes, and “Crazy” must be up around 110 clicks (really flyin’!). But to say that the band jumped on a bandwagon is just ignorant. RCR was one of if not THE first band to do this back in 1989. Yes, the band started as a rockabilly band, but went to swing (only months later) only because a sax player joined the band, which changed the sound enough to influence the members to get into something that was actually making LESS money than rockabilly was. This band didn’t set out to replicate old swing. We’re not into Glen Miller or Kenton as much as we are Red Prysock or Louis Prima (RCR is the only “new” swing band Sam Butera would be seen playing with). Do your homework and READ the BIO! Hopefully you haven’t successfully shown readers that you don’t need a fully-functioning brain to be a critic.
James Mann responds: Dear RCR: Thanks for taking the time to read my review of your new record. I’ve already been taken to task about your lineage, and in my defense, I had no bio to go by, so if I inferred that you “jumped” on the swing bandwagon to make some cash, I’m sorry. If you have been doing this since 1989, then I hold you totally to blame for zoot-suited slackers who think life is a Gap ad. I was going to listen to the record again, but since you have alerted me to the fact that my brain is somewhat damaged, I doubt I would be advanced enough to hear anything new. The reason I write music reviews (for free) for papers like Ink Nineteen (which is free) is to turn people on to new, good music that they might have missed. Or, as in your case, to help people actually spending money on product to make better choices, and not come home with crap. Which, in my humble opinion, your record is. Instead of slavishly attempting to recreate an era that is long past, why not attempt to come up with an original thought? I dare ya.
Parade of Controversy
Dearest Julio Diaz,
I do believe you were a little harsh with your words about The Ska Parade: Running Naked Through the Cornfield [August 1998 issue]. When you work as hard as Tazy and Albino, you pretty much have the right to “go on about” your success. And yes, they have played an important part in keeping ska alive. To be honest, I love to hear their stories and all the “inside scoop” about the people they have met. It’s very interesting and it’s probably very inspiring to young folks that may want to get into that line of work. So don’t be such a critic about such little things. Maybe you’re the one who thinks you’re “all that.”
Over and out,
Friend of Ska Parade
Julio Diaz replies: If you read the review, you’d note that I do have a lot of respect for Tazy and Albino. As I mentioned, they deserve a lot of credit for helping to pioneer ska radio in America (along with shows like Ska’s The Limit at KDHX in St. Louis, and Chuck Wren’s work at various stations in the Chicago area, among others). As to having “the right to ‘go on about'” their success, though, I’m sorry, but I don’t believe anyone has the right to be a braggart. While they may have some great stories to tell, there are ways to tell them without making it sound like hype. To many people, that isn’t “inspiring,” it’s just boorish. You say I shouldn’t be “such a critic,” but the whole point of writing a review is to intelligently criticize — unlike others, I’m not here to hype, I’m here to give an honest analysis. While I do respect Tazy and Albino, I’d take anyone to task for some of the stuff they do. For example, I don’t see a need to give away time on one of the nation’s only high profile ska radio shows to live performances from, nor compilation time to, non-ska bands like Marshall Law and Thee Spivies. I’m sorry, but I don’t believe having these bands play live on a ska radio show is going to help ska grow — rather, I believe it limits ska’s potential audience by taking away valuable airtime. Most ska bands get little or no radio airplay, especially on commercial stations. Further, when the mainstream media sees things like that, it only encourages them to give bands like 311 and Sugar Ray the “ska” label that obviously doesn’t fit them. If the show wasn’t called The Ska Parade, I’d have no problem with the mixing of varied genres, but if you profess to be a ska show or comp, you should play the ska. In the end, though, what really matters is the quality of the record, and as I said in the review, this one is wildly uneven. I wouldn’t have wanted my name attached to it. Others may disagree, but that’s the nature of criticism. I do find it suspicious that this anonymous e-mail came in three months after the review was published, yet only a few days after Tazy complained about the review to members of our editorial staff at the CMJ conference, but that’s another story.
What Year is This?
To Whom this May Concern:
This note is in regards to something that was printed in the November issue of Ink Nineteen. Your show listings for the month of November listed Sunny Day Real Estate as playing on the 11th [at the Masquerade in Atlanta]. I also referred to your miniature calendar as a reference to which day of the week that was — a Thursday according to the calendar [but it was actually a Wednesday]. To my knowledge, this magazine was my resource of information, until now. The opportunity of a lifetime to see this band, and now I have to deal with your inconsiderate untactful error, that more than likely fucked a few, or who knows, a lot of people and caused them to miss out on a show. I know you don’t really give a shit about what happened, but I hope this letter makes a difference to your editors. Fuck off!
We’re really sorry this simple mistake caused you to miss out on a show. In our defense, it was an honest screw-up, and incidental to the listing — we said the show would take place on the 11th, and it did. We said the 11th would be a Thursday and it wasn’t — but that could have been easily verified elsewhere. And while we’re at it, though we say this right on the calendar, we’d like to repeat that you should confirm shows (especially shows as important to you as this) with the venue or promoter; while we make every effort to make sure our calendar’s information is accurate and up-to-date, the nature of the business dictates that these things change often and unpredictably. If it’s any consolation, we’ve decided to do away with the little calendars (which seem to be just another thing that can go wrong) and are instead telling our team of Y2K programmers to change our calendar database to list the day of the week with the date on the main calendar. Again, our sincere apologies. n