I first noticed his writing with this excellent review of Keith Richards autobio, back in 2010 at Slate, written from the perspective of Mick Jagger. It was an amazing, eye-opening work. His focus on some practical, essential, and very neglected points in the bio (the money troubles, for instance) was instructive.
In the same vein, it is worth noting his review of another Martin Scorsese music doc, the George Harrison documentary released in 2011. Somehow I forgot to post about it when it was released. The doc is flawed but very interesting, and this harsh review is an important companion. It is hard to choose which paragraph to quote, I ended up with this:
Finally, the film really never investigates the real mystery of Harrison: What was he so morose about? Now, Ringo Starr is one who appreciates the cosmic joke life played on him. He has a cheerful acceptance of life’s whimsy, hiding what no doubt has been his daily prayers since circa 1963: “Please, God, I don’t know what a goofball like me did to deserve this life, but thank you very much, and please let me know if I’m doing anything that would cause you to end it.” Harrison, by contrast, has always had a sense of the aggrieved about him. I just don’t know what the source of it was. In Harrison’s mini-autobiography at the front of I Me Mine, the unasked-for collection of his song lyrics, he seems mostly unhappy about … the travel indignities he suffered during the Beatles years. In the documentary, Scorsese plays the price-of-fame card heavily. “It’s fun,” Starr says, “early on. But then you want it to stop, and it never does.”