It took me a month to read Geoff Edger‘s 5.11 Washington Post piece about Richard Goldstein‘s “scathing” pan of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper, which ran in the N.Y. Times on 6.1.67.

As it turned out Goldstein’s stereo system at the time had a busted speaker, so he hadn’t really heard the album fully or properly. But Goldstein’s primary complaint was that the album wasn’t proper rock ‘n’ roll, that the posturing tone and lack of raunch felt “precious” and cloistered behind the “electric sanctity” of the studio. (Where’s the hurly burly?) This complaint was tied, Goldstein now admits, to a strong affinity for masculine-sounding rock, which was tethered to his then-suppressed (or at least not publicly admitted to) homosexuality.

But if you re-read Goldstein’s 21-paragraph review, you’ll discover that nearly half of it — ten paragraphs — praises “A Day In The Life”, the album’s final track. If a so-so or underwhelming movie delivers a great, earth-shaking ending, a review that acknowledges this can’t be a “scathing” pan. Goldstein’s is a mixed-bag response that nonetheless urges a buy.

“The Beatles have produced a glimpse of modern city life that is terrifying,” he wrote. “It stands as one of the most important Lennon-McCartney compositions, and it is a historic Pop event.” Goldstein was particularly enthralled by the song’s mad orchestral crescendos — “an extraordinary atonal thrust which is shocking, even painful, to the ears [and yet] parallels a drug-induced ‘rush.'” The only odd part is Goldstein twice misquoting the “I’d love to turn you on” line as “I’d like to turn you on.” (Significant difference!)

The piece starts with two opening graphs about the production of the album, then segues into seven paragraphs criticizing what Goldstein felt was the ungenuine style and tone of it, and then ten paragraphs exhorting the glories of “A Day in the Life” followed by a final graph saying it’s too bad that the rest of the album isn’t as good.

I’ve heard over and over that Alex Garland‘s Annihilation (which won’t open until ’18 despite having been previewed two and a half months ago at Cinemacon) has a knock-out ending. If this is true any review that acknowledges this can’t be wholly negative, despite what the reviewer may or may not think about the rest of the film.