What happened
Maxim magazine apologized on Wednesday for presenting previews of albums by The Black Crowes and Nas as reviews—complete with star ratings—even though the writer hadn’t listened to all the songs. The Crowes’ manager, Pete Angelus, said the incident was "a disgrace to the arts, journalism, critics, the publication itself and the public.” Maxim editorial director James Kaminsky said, "I will be the last person to mince words here: This is a mistake." (AP via Google)

What the commentators said
This “fake review saga” certainly sounds like Maxim is “playing fast and loose with its standards toward reviewing,” said August Brown in a Los Angeles Times blog. The freelancer who wrote the items said they were supposed to be previews, but the way they were written certainly made it sound like he had “at least heard the records.”

The Black Crowes’ “ire” is “understandable, said the blog StereoGum.com, “but at this point it seems like The Black Crowes are just being smart about the publicity.” Many people who never would have even known their album Warpaint had been released are now wondering how it sounds.

The star rating was the first clue there was something wrong, said Stuart Heritage in Hecklerspray. Two and a half stars out of five for The Black Crowes? “That's a bit bloody generous by anyone's standards.”

Maxim did absolutely nothing wrong,” said Steven Wells in a London Guardian blog, “apart, perhaps, from assuming” that its readers cared about a “smelly beard band” like The Black Crowes. “Of course it's part of the Crowes' moldy old retro schtick that they cling to the fusty rockist concept of ‘the album’ as an indivisible work of art, rather than a collection of hastily slung together, speed-written and semi-improvised pop songs.” But any seasoned reviewer can listen to the first 30 seconds of an album’s first song and tell you whether the whole thing is awful.