Everything old is new again

Crawdaddy, the first American magazine to promote the idea of serious rock music criticism, has been revived again as an online magazine. This time the resurrectionist is Wolfgang’s Vault, which offers everything from vintage tickets and posters to streaming audio of various bands.

I didn’t read the original incarnation of Crawdaddy, but I did get the regular slick paper magazine-size format edition that ran for most of the Seventies. It wasn’t bad. It was way ahead of Rolling Stone in covering reggae and the political overtones of those catchy songs by Bob Marley and his colleagues. It also had a semi-coherent column by William S. Burroughs, and a cabal of reviewers as distinctive as any found in Rolling Stone, or later on, Spin. The magazine evaporated when some genius had the idea of throwing away the Crawdaddy banner, which at least had some history to it, and renamed the magazine Feature. Briefly.

Fans of His Bobness will recognize the founder of Crawdaddy, Paul Williams, as one of the early critical champions of Bob Dylan, and one whose enthusiasm for Dylan frequently tips his articles and reviews into inane fanzine gushing. I first heard of Williams through Myra Friedman’s 1973 book Buried Alive: The Biography of Janis Joplin, in which Friedman amusingly razzed him for using the term sprechstimme in a review of a Supremes album. Williams’ brand of seriousness, sorry to say, is a big part of why it’s hard to take most rock criticism seriously.

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