Frequently Asked Questions
Questions on this page:
How does the rating system work?
= Classic (4% of our reviews). Most of it's excellent, and it either breaks new ground in general or epitomizes an important artist's career. A must-have.
= Really good (21%). All of it's good, some of it's great. Worth tracking down.
= Good (41%). Mostly good, but you might want to skip some tracks, and you might not remember what you just heard when it's done. Worth owning, if you can get it cheap.
= Lousy (29%). A couple good tracks, and possibly of historical interest, but sometimes unlistenable. Don't bother, unless you're already a fan and own all the artist's good albums.
= Worthless (6%). The performances are generally incompetent and unoriginal, and there isn't even one memorable tune. Perhaps worth one listen, just to prove how bad it really is - even the artist's devoted fans will most likely be disappointed. (JA)
NOTE: We don't give out "zero star" ratings. If you see a review with no star rating, that means we haven't finalized our opinion, usually because we haven't finished our third listen to the disc in question. (DBW)
You've got a point. Both of us reviewed 182 of the records on the site; our ratings for those records are about 58% similar. That's substantially better than flipping a coin, which would give you a zero percent similarity. We're not exactly proud, but on the other hand, at least you can be guaranteed that you'll often get completely divergent opinions on any given record, which can help you to figure out what's really going on. Also, there are certain artists we really, really agree about: the similarity value is 63% for Elton John, 72% for Stevie Wonder, 77% for the Beatles, 82% for Joni Mitchell, and an amazing 92% for Jeff Beck. For some reason we can't get it together on the Stones (55%) and particularly Led Zeppelin (19%), where the disagreement boils down to "consistently bad" vs. "consistently mediocre." Note to all the science and stats geeks out there: those figures are the r-squared values (coefficients of determination) between Wilson's ratings and Alroy's, after converting them to numbers on a 1-to-5 scale. (JA)
David Bertrand Wilson, born in 1967, is a college dropout, songwriter and interchangeable cog in the corporate machine. (DBW)
Dr. John Alroy, born in 1966, is the last person you would ever want around in the case of a medical emergency. He lives in Santa Barbara, and works every once in a while as a research biologist. His scientific work is in ecology, systematics, macroevolution, and paleobiology (yeah, that means fossils). (JA)
We do. This is a non-profit, amateur, tongue-in-cheek site, run in our spare time and lacking any rational justification whatsoever. We even once had to purchase a new hard drive to house it, and we really did shell out good money for all those lousy records in our motto. The price of intellectual freedom is steep, but it's all worth it because... (JA)
We do (see preceding). (JA)
"Alroy's Rock Reviews" sprang from the head of Zeus in August, 1995. Within a couple weeks, Wilson had signed up and convinced Alroy of the possibility that there is more to life than rock 'n' roll. Once we got started, we found ourselves trapped in a vicious cycle of review addiction that threatened to ruin our lives and reputations. Actually, it still does... (JA)
As mindlessly as possible. The reviews reflect our personal tastes in music, and that's just about it. As a result, we generally ignore the numerous requests we see to review this-or-that artist. However, once we have decided to cover an artist, we make every effort to review all of their records. (JA)
WE DON'T KNOW. We do NOT purchase discs from big Internet record dealers, so we do NOT know anything useful about these companies and do NOT want to; we do NOT buy or sell rare, collectible, or bootlegged records, or other music-related merchandise; and we are TOTALLY IGNORANT about record stores that deal in such items and PERFECTLY HAPPY to remain that way. Frankly, everything we know about music is to be found on these web pages. (JA)
No. NO. NO. Do NOT ask us trivia questions. We don't know the lyrics; we don't know how to get in touch with the artists, famous or obscure; we don't know anything about records and artists that we haven't reviewed; and most importantly, we don't give a damn whether you win your local radio trivia contest or finish your term paper. And if you think that sounds crabby, just wait till you make the fatal mistake of actually asking us a trivia question. (JA)
If you give it to us, and you're willing to be publicly humiliated if we don't like it, we'll review it. (DBW)
Generally speaking, we are happy to hear about web sites that relate directly to the artists we are reviewing. However, there are two exceptions. First, we are not in the business of linking up every fan site on the planet, so if we already have a few major links for, say, Prince, we reserve the right not to add any more. Second, this is an amateur, non-profit site, and we try not to advertise professional sites in general, and commercial sites in particular. We have no problem with you trying to sell your stuff on the 'net; just don't expect us to give you free advertising to do it. (JA)
Running a site this large is a real pain in the neck. Here's how you can help:
You mean besides the fact that we don't care what other people think? Because the whole point of our site is to provide a large number of reviews from two coherent perspectives. By reading Alroy's (or Wilson's) reviews of records you know well, you can decide how to interpret his reviews of records you haven't heard. One review in isolation means nothing: if Mr_Metalhed in Manhasset says Ride The Lightning is Metallica's best record, but you don't know what he thinks about any of your favorite records, that information just isn't useful. Every record ever made has someone who hates it and someone who thinks it's great - we try to provide enough information on our biases that you can filter our reviews and determine whether you're likely to agree with our assessment of a given disc.
Plus, we really don't care what other people think.
Mark Prindle and relative newcomer Brian Burks cover a lot of the same rock records that we do, but they do it with verve, and they've got a lot more on 80s and 90s alternative bands.
Another site with classic rock reviews is Federico Marcon's pseudonymous Sam Ulward's Record Reviews.
Readers of Italian will want to see Bruno Anastasi's Ars Gratia Artis, which presents incisive general criticism in addition to reviews.
Of on-line magazines, Ear Candy shares our power-to-the-people philosophy, and includes regularly posted reviews.
Most of these sites not only cover artists we've generally never even heard of, but have much cooler logos than we do.
However, some sites seem not to have survived the dot-com crash, including Donald X's site (current URLs, anyone?).
And Al's Review Archive and One Billion Robots are not being kept up to date. (JA)
Golly, thanks for asking. The most similar site on the web to this one is probably the Rough Guide to Rock, and believe us, "rough" is the right word. They're incredibly comprehensive, but they do this at the price of throwing together reviews by something like two dozen authors, and cutting corners on coverage and detail. If you're looking for longwinded pronouncements by reviewers who don't seem to have really researched their topics and rarely know how to write a grammatical English sentence, that's the place to go...
And while I'm bitching, I'll mention the innumerable on-line CD "stores," all of which are a massive ripoff: you can get the same stuff for half the price at your local used CD store. As for their reviews, the best you can hope to find is either overhyped ad copy pumping up Joe Has-been's latest product, or telegraphic quotes from that paragon of critical insight the All Music Guide (a.k.a. All Mushy Gibberish). As a matter of policy we don't provide links to any of these places - enter at your own risk. (JA)
Damned good question. (JA)
How can I escape from this loser page?