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.
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.
“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.”
Okay, we’ll get to a full book review soon, but I just got my promo copy of BOMP! 2: Born in the Garage, and flipping through it last night I found this awesome bit from Lester Bangs in the Letters to the Editor section in Who Put the Bomp #7 (Summer 1971):
Lastly, I have just discovered a new taste treat: just take a 6-pak of Busch Bavarian, put it in the freezer until it’s almost entirely frozen, so when you pop one about half to 2/3rds of it’s like a beer popsicle inside, LEAVE IN THE CAN, then pour in as much good Jack Daniels Kentucky Sour Mash Sippin’ Whiskey as your heart whims, for the whoopingest boilermaker of your life, Jack. Guaranteed to make you hop and holler and riccochet off the ceiling just like Uncle Scrooge (hero of lifetimes!) diving through his tides of coin. Send this paragraph to Richard Meltzer if you don’t print it.
Anyway, for now I’ll just say that Bomp 2 is great (on first impression it looks way better than the original Bomp collection), and anybody who cares about the history of amateur rock and roll writing (and music obsessiveness in general) should by all means check it out.
“1969” featured the only use of wah-wah that I had ever liked on any record (mainly because Ron Asheton didn’t do anything with it, no flash bullshit, he just blanged out a chord and let the technology play its own self), and most importantly of all, THAT HE AND IGGY DIDN’T GIVE A SHIT ABOUT ANYTHING AND NEITHER DID WE. We knew that over in Michigan his lifestyle was identical to ours, just getting fucked up all the time and trying to find the girls who’d fuck us and usually failing. Fuck the establishment, fuck the counterculture, fuck the Beatles after that white atrocity, fuck rock ‘n’ roll for that matter, everybody being so goddam protective about it like it was some sickly child or something, fuck the government and fuck the war and fuck the college and fuck the hippies and fuck everything. Fuck you. I’m fucked up already. Listen, when one of your best friends is slumped in your room stoned just this side of death on Seconals, drooling on himself and mumbling “I dunno, man, lately I think I been turnin’ into a vegetable…” you really don’t want to listen to Abbey Road, much less “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes,” a title I can’t even type without sneering.
Note: we replaced the “—“s with ucks and hits, because…well, we can.
Some say Kill Your Idols but we all know that’s silly. We want to BE our idols, that’s the whole fucking point.
Well, now you can at least dress like your idols. Worn Free has some sweet reproductions of famous vintage tees seen on stars from over the years. No, these are not dopey vintage concert tee remakes, these are shirts that have graced famous photos of your favorite rock stars.
Not sure how some of these icons would feel about the monetization of their dirty clothes hamper (especially at $50 a pop!) but the site says “All of the t-shirts and images that we use are fully licensed from the estates and individuals concerned. We have clearance to use all the photo imagery that we use on our site.” Plus, I think they’re kinda cool.
Lou Reed once again proves that he’s a bitchy old queen. (As if we needed any more evidence.) When an audience member at the Tribeca Film Festival asked Reed what he thought of Lester Bangs‘ claim that Berlin was “the most depressed album ever made,” the humorless has-been rudely dismissed the question (“What does that have to do with anything?”) and feigned ignorance (“Who is Lester Bangs?”). Bangs biographerJim DeRogatiscalls him out:
Hey, Lou: You know who Lester Bangs was. The last time I interviewed you, when you were hyping your rewriting of Poe for “The Raven,” you asked me to mail you a copy of his biography, and you spoke quite warmly of him. The Catskill comedian shtick really gets old sometimes.
You know, Lester Bangs hasn’t produced anything good for over 25 years, but, unlike Lou Reed, at least Bangs has a decent excuse: he’s dead. Fuck Lou Reed.
Those are all great, of course, but Bangs really kicked his prose into high gear after Jann Wenner fired him from the Stone for being “disrespectful to musicians.” He moved to Detroit Rock City and took over Creem. Since today marks the 26th anniversary of his death, we’re honoring his memory by providing links to a bunch of his classic pieces for Creem…
Detroit’s Metro Times has a great two-part feature by Bill Holdship on the life, death and strange resurrection of America’s only rock and roll magazine, Creem. The first part, Sour CREEM, traces its origins from the Cass Corridor through its heyday at the 120-acre Walled Lake compound, “where all the staff lived communally on the farm in one big house,” and beyond…
[Lester] Bangs and [Dave] Marsh got into a fistfight so bad one day that Marsh ended up with a gash in his head. Seems the tidier Marsh, tired of Lester’s dog pooping everywhere, placed the dung on Bangs’ typewriter. Strangely, their relationship was much better from that day forward.
Part Two is up now: CREEMed, wherein a new CREEM anthology results in a battle over the magazine’s legacy between its original ’70s staffers and the crew that ran the magazine in the ’80s through its 1988 demise.
A while ago we uncovered a bunch of classic Lester Bangs reviews from the archives of Rolling Stone. It seems that the Stone is gradually adding more old reviews to their website, since helpful reader Diane recently found one we missed: Alice Cooper’s Killer. In addition to that fantastic piece of prose, we’ve dug up several more that we didn’t see the first time.
One of the great things about reading these reviews, especially when compared to some of Bangs’ more epic material that was compiled in Psychotic Reactions and Main Lines, is the chance to see his idea of a standard, straightforward review. Another great thing is to hear about bands he’s raving about who apparently have been lost in the mists of FM radio. Crabby Appleton? Zephyr? Um, who?
Since today is the 25th anniversary of Lester Bangs gobbling enough Darvon to kill a walrus, we thought it would be a good day to remind you why we’re all still talking about him: his rock and roll writing.