1) What song or album did you have to listen to multiple times before deciding whether you liked or disliked it:
I don't think it was ever a question of not liking it, but I remember being so surprised by Paul's Boutique by the Beastie Boys when it came out. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but it seemed a quadrillion light years away from the comparatively slackjawed License to Ill. I vividly remember sitting in the studio of W.F.U.V. with my pal Rob B. (he, like myself, had landed a d.j. gig at his college radio station, in this case Fordham University in the Bronx) and we dropped the needle on the 12" of "Hey Ladies" (which predated the album by a few weeks). Between the Commodores samples and the cowbells and all those layers, it was so dense -- we were blown away. It was light years ahead of the stentorian stomp of "No Sleep `Til Brooklyn." When the album came out, I ended up immersing myself in it (I remember driving with my friend Tim back to visit the college we'd just graduated a few months earlier from, and listening almost exclusively to the tape of Paul's Boutique the entire way). I now count it as one of my favorite albums of all time (as do many), but I didn't quite know what to think of it when it first appeared.
2) Inaugural entry into the Academy of the Overrated:
Sorry, but I simply don't get the Arcade Fire. I've listened, and despite the purple-prose and lavish praise from Bono and Bowie and everyone else, as far as I'm concerned, they're crap. COME AND GET ME, INDIE-ROCK DORKS!
3) Favorite sly or not-so-sly reference to another song within a song:
I love how the Professionals' "The Magnificent" apes the staccato guitars of Public Image Ltd.'s "Public Image," given that the song is basically a bitter kiss-off from ex-Pistols, Steve Jones and Paul Cook to their then-former lead singer, John Lydon.
4) Favorite Stax/Volt song:
"Soul Finger" by the Bar-Kays
5) Your favorite music video:
There are several that I love simply because the songs themselves are so great, but in terms of the perfect marriage of sound and visual, I'd have to go with "All That I Wanted" by Belfegore. I've still yet to see it bettered.
6) Nas or Jay-Z?
I'm not an especially huge fan of either of them, honestly. That said, Jay-Z has made more singles I'm fond of (notably "99 Problems," "Dirt Off Your Shoulder" and "Big Pimpin'") than Nas has, although Nas' track "Made You Look" is better than anything Jay-Z's ever done, if you ask me, but….y'know, what the fuck do I know? Also, Jay-Z has released a lot of stuff that I cannot stand, so I'll go with Nas.
7) Song or album that, despite being from a genre you don't typically follow, led you to appreciate that genre's possibilities
Being a NYC boy, I've never felt a great affinity for any of that so-called Americana stuff, but Feast of Wire by Calexico (who arguably belong in that category) is simply a great, great album regardless of how it's pigeon-holed.
8) Favorite Rolling Stones song
I'm actually a massive fan of some of the `Stones' later tracks, like "Where The Boys Go" from Emotional Rescue and "Too Much Blood" from Undercover, but if I had to pick a single song from the band, it would have to be "Monkey Man" from Let It Bleed. There's no arguing with Keef's guitars on that.
Oooh. Toughie. But I gotta go with my hometown heroes, the Ramones.
10) What song can make a shitty day seem less shitty?
"She Sells Sanctuary" by the Cult
11) Conversely, what song can make you wish you were deaf, at least temporarily, whenever it comes on the radio/TV/grocery store PA?
"Lovin' You" by Minnie Ripperton. It makes me want to rip off my ears and feed them to jackals.
12) Favorite James Brown song:
"Get Up Offa That Thing"
13) Beck or Bjork?
Oh, please -- it's not even a contest. Bjork EVERY. DAMN. TIME. I've never understood the adoration Beck enjoys.
14) What is the most inventive usage of a sample you've ever heard?
Probably the seamless meshing of the "Jaws" theme with the stabbing shower-scene strings from Bernard Herman's score to "Psycho" used in "Egg Man" on the afore-mentioned, Paul's Boutique.
15) Robert Christgau once wrote that "All good rock and roll risks fascism simply by generating mass energy, and much of it flirts with sexism simply by exploring the music's traditional subject matter. Sometimes the risks are worth it, sometimes they aren't." What are your favorite examples of the former and the latter?
Christgau talks so much shit, he needs a mouth-diaper.
16) Favorite Miles Davis song:
Can't say I'm familiar enough with the man's work beyond the odd Honda scooter commercial.
17) Favorite song about comic book characters
18) Betty Davis or Millie Jackson?
19) Your favorite, or most despised, lyrical cliché:
Anything involving the word "crazy"
20) Guns 'n' Roses' Appetite for Destruction -- yes or no?
It's a fine album, but I don't remember thinking it was as revolutionary as it's been made out to be. Regardless of the fact that the band wore CBGB and T.S.O.L t-shirts in the video for "Sweet Child O' Mine," I've never heard anything especially "punky" about the album that spawned said single. Again, there are great songs here, but there were great songs on that first Faster Pussycat album too.
21) Favorite Wu-Tang verse:
I picked up Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) on the strength of "Method Man," which I still love, but I'll be damned if I could recite any of it from memory.
22) Inaugural entry into the Academy of the Underrated:
Talk Talk. Cursed by their skinny-tied origins, their final two albums, Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock (which owe absolutely nothing to their synth pop beginnings) are absolutely sublime (especially the former), yet they get such little respect. Boggles my mind.
23) Your favorite rock song to not use guitar (or favorite jazz song to not use piano, or favorite rap song to not use samples/scratching)
Any number of early selections by the mighty Cop Shoot Cop (two basses, one drummer, one sampler, no guitar, no apologies). They added a guitarist much later on (namely former Swans-roadie, Steve McMillen), unwittingly scuttling their gimmick.
24) MF DOOM or Madlib?
I honestly don't have a dog in this race, but I know MF Doom put Brak and the Aqua Teen Hunger Force on one of those albums he did with Danger Mouse, so I'll go with him. I also like that he wears a creepy metal mask.
25) Your favorite live album
There are many to choose from, but I'd have to go with It's Alive by the Ramones, which is essentially their first three albums played harder, faster and sloppier. Honestly, everything you really need from the boys is right there.
26) What alternate take/demo version/remix do you like more than the original version?
I much prefer the b-side version of "Wild Eyed Boy from Freecloud" by David Bowie (available on the Sound + Vision box) to the version on Space Oddity. Likewise, the German version of "Heroes' (that being "Helden," also on the Sound + Vision box) completely wipes the floor with the original version.
27) Favorite song on which Duane Allman plays guitar
I dunno. "Whipping Post" maybe? I was never a fan.
28) Portishead or Massive Attack?
As much as I love Dummy, I'll have to go with Massive Attack here.
29) Your favorite Captain Beefheart song title
"Old Fart at Play"
30) As a music fan, what do you want from a music critic, or from music criticism? And where do you see music criticism in general headed?
Oh cripes, who could care? My favorite music critics have always had an informed voice, but they didn't lord their knowledge over you or bury you in needless esoterica. All I ask is for them to write well and convey what's interesting and exciting about music. The best music criticism, to my mind, is the kind that piques your curiosity to hear what's being written about. That's really all I want. Whet my appetite.