|Variety, March 26, 1986|
Yes, Leo sometimes gets bad reviews of his performance and this is one of them. In some cases, I'm sure they are deserved -- professional musicians have bad days at work like the rest of us. Recognizing this, and the fact that not everyone likes Leo Kottke's music, I try to resist my natural tendency to defend Leo and I avoid inserting comments into reviews with which I disagree.
However, this review particularly irked me, and I can't stop myself from making some comments. It wasn't only the pretentious analysis of Michael Hedges' compositions ("textural portraits of often abstruse emotional conditions" and "vital abstract impressionism in the aural realm") that bothered me, but also the absurdly unfair attack on Kottke's music rather than his performance.
First of all, a reviewer who doesn't even bother to confirm the spelling of the name of the performer who he is criticizing hardly invites credibility. Secondly, this reviewer has obviously not bothered to do any background research into Leo -- as evidenced by stating that Leo has found a "new audience in the New Age crowd" (like he somehow misplaced his old one) and by implying that Leo is best known for sometimes appearing on public radio.
More significant, however, are the reviewer's uninformed comments about tunings -- that "Joni Mitchell long ago wrung the...potential out of open tunings" and that Leo's compositions are in "open E tuning." Both demonstrate an ignorance of the history of acoustic guitar and of music in general.
Finally, a dismissal of Leo's compositions as "unrefined," "cluttered," and "noodling" so clearly shows this reviewer's lack of appreciation for acoustic guitar music that I have to conclude that he was sitting in the audience doing his taxes rather than listening to Leo's music.
Either that or he is a trombone player. -- BH.
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