This is kinda fun. Maxim Magazine reviewed the Black Crowes’ recent album Warpaint and did not give it a very positive review. The reviewer gave the album 2.5 stars out of a possible five and stated that “it hasn’t left (singer) Chris Robinson and the gang much room for growth.”
One problem: The reviewer hadn’t heard the album.
That’s right. The band has not yet released any advanced copies of Warpaint (due out March 4) for the press to review; they’ve only released one song which can be downloaded/stolen as a single. Now, I’m not a huge fan of the Black Crowes, and I haven’t paid any attention to them since their first album Shake Your Money Maker (Remember She Talks to Angels? That’s a beauty). I’m actually surprised that they’re still recording; I was sorta under the impression that they just live underneath the Beacon Theatre in NYC, popping up to play a concert whenever they run out of pot. But this is some nerve on Maxim’s part. The band is pissed, and they have every reason to be pissed. Imagine if your boss gave you a crappy performance review but s/he hadn’t even seen any of the work you’d done! Maxim is no NY Times or Paste, but it’s still read by lots of people with disposable income who like the rock & roll (and Maxim does appear to have more boobies).
Not cool on Maxim’s part. To make matters worse, the official apology was also stale and unsatisfying: “it is our editorial policy to assign star ratings only to those albums that have been heard in their entirety. Unfortunately that policy was not followed in the March 2008 issue of our magazine and we apologize to our readers.” Yeah, we screwed up, whatcha gonna do about it, huh? Maxim went on to say that they “always prefer to hearing music [sic], but sometimes there are big albums that we don’t want to ignore and that aren’t available to hear. It’s either an educated guess preview or no coverage at all, so in this case we chose the former.”
So let me get this right… it’s commonplace for “journalists” to write about stuff they haven’t heard/seen/experienced? Huh. That’s news to me. Something tells me that the Maxim writers are spending too much time “reading” Hustler.
Of course, this little snafu makes me wonder what else has been reviewed without having been heard first. The movie Dogma comes to mind – there were nationwide protests from hardcore Christian groups before the movie was ever screened (and on opening night, Kevin Smith joined one – he brought a banner that read “Dogma is Dogshit”). It also poses an interesting question: What else can we review prematurely? Maybe Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal