Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung by Lester Bangs

A collection of writings by the legendary rock critic Lester Bangs, on the likes of The Stooges, the Velvet Underground, Slade, Peter Laughner, the Count 5, and so on. I can't even begin to describe its greatness--sometimes sloppy, sometimes drug-addled rambling, sometimes spot-on, always genius. Whether writing reviews of nonexistent albums (see the title essay) or demythologizing so-called rock gods*, Lester Bangs changed the face of music criticism. Who else could have worked Idi Amin into a review of Metal Machine Music?**

*"John Lennon at his best despised cheap sentiment and had to learn the hard way that once you've made your mark on history those who can't will be so grateful they'll turn it into a cage for you. Those who choose to falsify their memories--to pine for a neverland 1960s that never really happened that way in the first place--insult the retroactive Eden they enshrine." --from "Thinking the Unthinkable About John Lennon"

"I played it for President Idi "Big Daddy" Amin of Uganda when he flew me and Lisa Robinson over there to interview him for upcoming cover articles in Creem and Hit Parader, and he absolutely loved it. I gave him a copy, and now by special edict he has it piped through the Muzak vents of every supermarket (all thirty-five of them) and doctor's waiting room (all eight) in his great nation, so that the citizens there may be inspired to ever fiercer heights of patriotism for his regime and all that it stands for." --from "The Greatest Album Ever Made"

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