Robert Plant exclaiming “I am a golden god!” Well, wasn’t he?! (Found on the Web; all rights reserved.)
Rock’s Back Pages, a mammoth, pay-per-view “exclusive archive of 50 years of rock ‘n’ roll history,” ranging from articles to audio recordings of interviews, now offers (to paid subscribers, with a few freebies to bait the trap) some of my rockcrit and music journalism from the Early Years of Bitter Struggle.
My page is HERE.
Greatest Hits include stories on, or round-up features including, Laurie Anderson, Afrika Bambaataa, John Zorn, De La Soul, Negativland, Gary Lucas, Coldcut, The Cure, Digital Underground, Grandmaster Flash, Kraftwerk, Husker Du, The Orb, Sonic Youth, the unforgettable Sonny Sharrock, and the incomparable Shriekback (a personal favorite, whom I leapt at the chance to interview).
Lester Bangs, golden god of gonzo rockcrit and patron saint to all who toil in the leprous ghetto of music-journo hackdom. (Found on the Web; all rights reserved.)
My statement, from the site:
“As a freelance music journalist in the ’80s, I wrestled with the cognitive dissonance of writing critical essays for art magazines on highbrow subjects such as the video artist Nam June Paik, on one hand, and on the other grinding out music-journo hackwork like ‘Hellbangers! Some Call It Black Metal; By Any Name, It’s The Hard, Dark Underbelly Of Rock,’ a story I wrote for the late, utterly unlamented Hard Rock Video magazine.
Through my interviews with artists and New Music composers in what was then called New York’s ‘downtown’ scene, I discovered British cultural studies and French postmodern theory. Media theorists such as Jean Baudrillard and scholars of fan cultures such as Dick Hebdige offered object lessons in the intellectual rewards of trespassing in the forbidden zone between academic theorizing and pop-culture headbanging. My interest in this sort of philosophical and stylistic cut ‘n’ mix had already been piqued by intellectually omnivorous music writers such as Greil Marcus and Lester Bangs, and by the genre-hopping, quotation-crazy East Village composers, hip-hop deejays, and ‘appropriation’ artists I was writing about. Why couldn’t I do, in rockcrit, what Laurie Anderson and John Zorn were doing in music? Nothing remained, I decided, but to attempt the experiment in gene-splicing cultural criticism I’d been inching toward.
Regrettably, most rock magazines, especially the gear-porn, guy-ocentric trade rags I was writing for, were deeply hostile to such post-disciplinary promiscuity. Which is why I abandoned music journalism for the arts-and-culture beat.
The articles archived here are early, misbegotten attempts at a post-Bangsian, gonzo-theory rockcrit—fossil specimens of evolutionary dead-ends. But most have some obscure charm that makes them worth a glance, at least: insights into the artistic unconscious of artists seldom covered by the mainstream press; stylistic loop-the-loops and theoretical bungee-jumps that actually work, on occasion; or, absent other merits, comic relief—not always intentional, to be sure, but isn’t that the best kind?”
great post… man i wish they’d make another movie like Spinal Tap!
Thanks, Mark. As one who also came across Bangsspew (and Hunter Thompson, and Burroughs) at an impressionable age, I’d like to see a serious study of his influence on various younger writers. Ph.D. students, take note!
In November, I spoke with White Panther Minister of Information (revolution “by any means necessary, including rock n’ roll, dope & fucking in the streets!”) John Sinclair, who was for Michigan kids of the early ’70s–like artist Mike Kelley–another rhetorical fount of liberation. When I asked him about Bangs, expecting affinity, he dismissed him as a nasty drunk.