One of the things that inspired us to start Glorious Noise in 2001 was Jim DeRogatis’ biography of Lester Bangs, Let It Blurt. Our first big, multi-post project was to dig through a bunch of old copies of Rolling Stone magazine and liberate original record reviews written by Bangs but never republished.
Then sometime around 2006 the Stone finally put a bunch of their old reviews online. We linked to as many as we could find. And then after a year or so we found even more.
Since then, RS.com has undergone a redesign or two and none of those old links work anymore. The people who make the decisions apparently didn’t think it was worth the effort to make the old links redirect to the updated content, so they’re all effectively dead now. Additionally, some of the reviews that were up in 2006 and 2007 don’t seem to have made the transition (Tony Williams’ Emergency, for one example). And worse yet, they weren’t even captured by the Internet Archive’s wayback machine. So boo.
The Web taketh away, but the Web also giveth. Now there are several new Lester Bangs reviews online that I hadn’t seen before. Blessed be the name of the Web.
The Velvet Underground: The Velvet Underground (RS33, May 17, 1969)
“Can this be that same bunch of junkie-faggot-sadomasochist-speed-freaks who roared their anger and their pain in storms of screaming feedback and words spat out like strings of epithets? Yes. Yes, it can, and this is perhaps the most important lesson the Velvet Underground: the power of the human soul to transcend its darker levels.”
Alice Cooper: Pretties for You (RS37, July 12, 1969)
“I think simplicity and the imaginative use of the cliche are at the essence of rock; but the cliches have to hit you in a certain way, with a certain conviction and energy and timing, to get it on, to spark that certain internal combustion of good feeling and galvanized energies that lifts you out of your seat irresistibly and starts you dancing, balling, just whooping, or whatever — Black Pearl is the most stunning recent realization of this. And it is this that is lacking in Alice Cooper’s music.”
Captain Beefheart: Trout Mask Replica (RS38, July 26, 1969)
“The double record set costs as much as two regular albums, but unlike most of these superlong superexpensive items it’s really sustained, and worth the money, which is perhaps not so much to pay for 27 songs and what may well be the most unusual and challenging musical experience you’ll have this year.”
The Allman Brothers Band: The Allman Brothers Band (RS52, February 21, 1970)
“They look like the post-teen punk band rehearsing next door, and there is little in their music that we haven’t heard before. And both they and their album are a gas.”
Captain Beefheart: Mirror Man (RS79, April 1, 1971)
“Sounding like a slice of unusually authentic Delta blues run through a clattering steeplechase of staggered rhythms and wildly idiosyncratic vocals, this must have been mighty heady stuff in ’65, and I imagine the audiences were absolutely dumb-founded. Although it may sound better now than it did then, because psychedelia generally seems to improve with age as it takes on a somewhat quaint charm we couldn’t see in its heyday. The extreme length of the songs diminishes that charm a bit here, but the album is still worth getting if you like period pieces or vintage psychedelia or any kind of long blues jam.”
Captain Beefheart: The Spotlight Kid/Clear Spot (RS103, March 30, 1972)
“There comes a time in the career of every pop musician who also happens to be a serious artist when he realizes the need for a balance between the most intensely personal type of statement and music of mass appeal. If he can strike that balance without compromising his integrity, he is probably a greater artist than even his staunchest fans previously suspected, and with any exposure at all the public would pick up immediately on the truth and beauty of what he is doing. With this album, Captain Beefheart has struck that balance with total success, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he were a major star a year from now.”
Jefferson Airplane: Long John Silver (RS117, September 14, 1972)
“The night I got this album, I fell asleep on the couch while watching The Dick Van Dyke Show and dreamed that Paul Kantner was Dick Van Dyke and that “Alexander the Medium,” the second to last cut here, was a plate piled high with rotting fish heads, and in every head the eye was staring at me. I wish the cut was that compelling, instead of a typically dull Kantner social-mythic melodrama.”
B.B. King: The Best of B.B. King (RS131, March 29, 1973)
“B.B. plays Vegas now, no fault there, and hits both the colleges and TV talk shows. So he’s finally out of the scuffle, at late long last. Unfortunately, his music has also gotten less interesting with each successive album. Vintage King wasn’t just something for punks to prove they could tell a good blues guitar solo from a bad one; it was stark, evil stuff. Troubled and troubling.”
You can read our first and second collections of links or find what’s left of them directly on the Stone’s site. Get ’em while you can because they might not survive into the next content management system upgrade. The ephemeral web…