"...this essentially reactionary attitude became the prevailing orthodoxy in rock's critical establishment." And remains so to this day, I fear.
The dominant [critical] view came to be that of [Jon] Landau and Esquire's Robert Christgau, and it focused on two things: technical excellence and the primacy of the African American roots of the music. As Chrtistgau wrote, "the problem is that when poetry, musical complexity, and psychedelic basso-profundity come into the music, its original values - simplicity, directness, charm - are often obscured." This became code for limiting rock to three-minute songs with clever hooks, and the [Grateful] Dead clearly failed that test. That spring, Christgau wrote, "Most hippie rock and roll musicians exhibit the same in-group pretentiousness that characterized the folk and jazz purists who were their predecessors." Though Christgau himself would be more flexible in the future, Landau would not. In his defining critical manifesto, "Rock and Art," Landau declaimed, "Rock was not intended to be reflective or profound." Where this left Bob Dylan went unsaid, but this essentially reactionary attitude became the prevailing orthodoxy in rock's critical establishment.
- From A Long Strange Trip: The Inside History of the Grateful Dead by Dennis McNally
(Art by Bob Thomas)