Yes, a Zagat Music Guide. It exists. I just plucked one out of the slush pile at my office. Why does it exist? Because pop music and restaurants really aren’t all that different: They are both ruled byy fads and ceaselessly commented on by fatuous, obstreperous critics whose whims and preferences are more or less entirely out of step with the general public. Beause both are simply amtters of taste, decorated with a lot of bloviation from writers with no real abilities to report but with a way with obscure, often florid adjectives. Because there are so many voices using so many different criteria, Zagat probably figured a survey approach could help music users cut through the B.S. and find out what they really want to know — what’s supposed to be good in whatevr genre they have decided to dabble in. That you might want to read criticism of an art form for its own sake is of course absurd. You want pragmatic, practical information you can use, on the fly, while you’re cruising the Borders CD racks or making a pit-stop in the electronics section at Target. And this way you can know what records are worth knowing about: if it’s in Zagat, it’s worth considering. If not, then rest assured a chorus of connoisseurs are telling you not to bother. Every album is ranked on overall quality, songwriting, musicianship and production values, so you can adjust to your own preferences accordingly. (I’m a big fan of production values myself. I won’t even think of an album with less than a 25 for P.) Maybe it’s best to treat records lik restaurants, new ones open up you dabble here and there, and you have certain meals you keep coming back for. Not much more to it than that, I suppose.