Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Wo Fat Rating System

Ok, here we go. This is the rating system, mentioned in the previous blog,that I have devised for my record reviews. I have 5 factors that will have a number from 0-10. Of course this is all subjective and completely my opinion, so do with it what you will. Not having actually used this system yet, I may have to make some changes, but let's just see how it works.

The 5 factors are:

Riff Density, Riff Caliber, Post-Blues Factor, Groove Factor, Dig it Factor

Riff Density is just what it says. How full of riffage is the album. Does it only have 2 songs that are rockin or is the entire album chock full of riffy goodness?

Riff Caliber
is basically quality of the riffage. The album may only have 2 rockin' songs on it, thus giving it a lower Riff Density, but those 2 songs may be composed of pure unadluterated genius riffs, thus giving it a higher Riff Caliber number. There are plenty of classic must-have albums that are completely worth owning even though they contain only a few killer songs. In fact a lot of the late 60's and early 70's, especially 1970 and '71, albums can be very hit and miss. The style was still being defined at that point. These first 2 factors hopefully address that fact.

Post-blues Factor
This one's a bit nebulous. This factor will try to place the music somewhere in the rock and roll spectrum in relation to it's blues influence. In the middle is straight up blues at 5. John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers would get a 5. The higher you get, the more evolved yet still highly blues based(not necessarily structurally based, but definitely conceptually and melodically ,i.e. blues scale/minor pentatonic) . Black Sabbath Paranoid and Master of Reality would both be around a 10 because they are fully realized post blues/proto metal derived directly from the blues. Below 5 we are moving away from the blues. Now why would you want to do that? I dunno. Let's put a good amount of the Beatles catalog below 5. Yeah, I know they played some blues, but for the most part they pushed Rock and Roll in the other direction.
Hopefully my bizarre logic makes some semblance of sense and will be helpful to some of you.
Again, this scale isn't necessarily a reflection of quality. I'm just trying to help describe the difference between Master of Reality, Jeff Beck-Truth and Yellow Submarine.

Groove Factor -
This too is a nebulous ephemeral cloudlike formation that probably only makes sense to me. I'm thinking of it basically like this: how much does the record jam or rock or groove. Is the band just slamming? Is there some indescribable intangible something that makes this album work? Can you feel the electricity emanating from the grooves or does it feel cold and stifled? I guess you could say this is partly execution or delivery. This is maybe the least helpful factor, but there are some albums that are great because the delivery is so heavy even though musically it maybe wouldn't rank quite as high.
I suppose I just wanted a way of highlighting the instances when I feel a real chemistry; when it feels like the stars have aligned for certain albums and bands at certain times more than anything else. Led Zeppelin IV is a good example. Not only is the groove that is being laid down by John Bonham and John Paul Jones throughout just sick, but the album as a whole is otherworldy genius. The stars aligned and everything fell into place perfectly for that album.
The first 3 Cactus albums have some serious groove and chemistry goin' on. They have a very live feel to them.
Yeah I know, this is a very subjective category.

and lastly:

Dig It: This is simply how much I like the album.

Here's a few well known albums rated with the system to give you some insight into my thinking:

Black Sabbath - Paranoid
Riff Density 10

Riff Caliber 10
Post Blues Factor 10
Groove Factor 9
Dig It 10

Led Zeppelin - II
Riff Density 6
Riff Caliber 9
Post Blues Factor 8
Groove Factor 8
Dig It 9

Led Zeppelin - III
Riff Density 4
Riff Caliber 7
Post Blues Factor 7
Groove Factor 6
Dig It 6

ZZ Top - First Album
Riff Density 9
Riff Caliber 10
Post Blues Factor 9
Groove Factor 10
Dig It 10

Free - Tons of Sobs
Riff Density 6
Riff Caliber 7
Post Blues Factor 6
Groove Factor 7
Dig It 8


Zischkale said...

Iron Claw - S/T

Riff Density 8
Riff Caliber 7
Post Blues Factor 10
Groove Factor 7
Dig It 8

Wo Fat said...

Hmm... I just recently got a copy of the Iron Claw, but haven't given it full attention yet. Let me get back to you and see if we're in agreement.

Zischkale said...

Haha, I might have rated it a little high, but I really was blown away by the early tracks. They work pretty well, despite zero production (the liner notes state the band kept being denied the volume they wanted).

The album as a whole spans a few years, so that provides some good variety, but there are some pretty bad timing issues in a few places. Fun listen, though, and many worth revisiting.

That opening riff to "Pavement Artist" kicks.

Rockspeny said...

OK, goddit, cool system, my mind has been opened...

Liquidgreggy said...

You have to Check out/Rate the first self titled 'Kamchatka' Album. I am sure there is a 10 for post Blues and Groove factor in there.

Wo Fat said...

Hmm...I don't have the Kamchatka album. I am intrigued. I will have to search it out.