We have an idea of a classic album—a collection of music that holds sway of a section of society for many years and fulfils the criteria of quality, contextual resonance and intrigue. And having written that I realise that I've just said something that I never got around to writing up, so let me explain what I mean.
In my thinking, the quality of something is not related to preference; I am able to dislike something without faulting the particular skill, knowledge and effort with which it was made. The contextual resonance is to do with how the object connects with us, and does tap into our preferences: does that album remind us of a special time? Did that sound fire an emotion that was not felt before hearing it? Similarly the intrigue—that which compels us to engage and then go back to find something else—is tied with our tastes. I think the way these three work together is involved and possibly worth exploring.
Anyway, the idea of a classic album is there. But what of the classic review? I'd like to posit some of these, from the short-lived Jazz Review. Within most of the writing there is knowledge, skill and effort in the writing—regardless of any agreements with the conclusions of the review; an ability to conjure the environment and time in which the review was written; and an allure to read it again, and to explore what was then new music again and again.
If you've seen any current music writing that does that to you, please post a comment below!