Before his untimely death in 1982, Lester Bangs was inarguably the most influential critic of rock and roll. Writing in hyper-intelligent Benzedrine prose that calls to mind Jack Kerouac and Hunter S. Thompson, he eschewed all conventional thinking as he discussed everything from Black Sabbath being the first truly Catholic band to Anne Murray's smoldering sexuality. In Mainlines, Blood Feasts, Bad Taste fellow rock critic John Morthland has compiled a companion volume to Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, the first, now classic collection of Bangs's work. Here are excerpts from an autobiographical piece Bangs wrote as a teenager, travel essays, and, of course, the music pieces, essays, and criticism covering everything from titans like Miles Davis, Lou Reed, and the Rolling Stones to esoteric musicians like Brian Eno and Captain Beefheart. Singularly entertaining, this book is an absolute must for anyone interested in the history of rock.
For fans of one of the most vocal and irreverent critical voices in rock and roll, this newly issued Bangs reader will be a boon. Serving as a companion to the 1987 collection Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung, this volume is a selection of 54 pieces, some of which have been recently uncovered. In his introduction, Morthland, a writer-at-large for Texas Monthly, offers a paean to Bangs, who died in 1982 of a drug overdose, describing him as the "best-known bull-in-a-china-shop... who was always dangerously loaded, who could be so insulting and malicious as well as self-destructive... who had an expansive lust for life and a sense of humor and (sometimes even, and for no apparent reason) cheerfulness to match it." Within these pages, the acerbic Bangs takes on Dylan ("Dylan merely used Civil Rights and the rest of the Movement to advance himself in the first place") and encourages the Stones in a 1973 Creem article ("I challenge those lazy, sniveling, winded mothermissers to PRODUCE"). There's plenty here to entertain music fans and inspire today's critics of rock and roll.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
August 11, 2003
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from Main Lines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste by Lester Bangs
DRUG PUNK: from Two Assassinations and a Speedy Retreat into Pastoral Nostalgias. Today Andy Warhol was assassinated-well, I shouldn't say "assassinated," he was shot by some chick who wanted to murder him, and right now he's in critical condition, 50-50 chance or so they say. I was over at my girlfriend Andy's today listening to my new William Burroughs album for the first time (it just came in the mail) when suddenly they shouted for me from the bedroom. When I went in Andy's mother told me the news. Somehow I got the feeling they were expecting me to get distraught or something, so I faked this bunch of guffaws. Actually the news had no effect on me, at least no kind that could be measured positively or negatively, except that kind of vibration that sudden real-life surrealism sets off in you. It blew my mind is what I meant to say. When you say "Blow my mind," you don't mean anything to do with sadness or happiness, you mean WHAM!, the sudden impact of something outrageous, incredible, unthinkable, and I guess you could say that that's a positive feeling. Andy's mother went on to say blandly: "Some New York woman art critic shot him. Blew his whole head right off." "What?! Is he dead then?" Andy started to laugh. Her mother corrected her own surrealism (Burroughs had just been saying on the phonograph, "Trak news service. . . We don't report the news we write it"): "No, he's just in the hospital in critical condition." I went back into the living room and wrote on the paper slipcover from inside my Burroughs album: "June 3, 1968-Day Andy Warhol was assassinated." It looked better that way than if I'd wrote "Day Andy Warhol was shot." Maybe I should be more concerned. Warhol used to be one of my heroes. Of course, I didn't know a damn thing about him, hadn't seen any of his movies or very many of his paintings, but I'd seen a TV show on him with the Velvet Underground playing that blew my mind, and I read what I could here and there in the magazines. Somewhere along in there I bought a giant poster with his face and sunglasses on it, and kept the thing up for months. It's not much to look at, or rather it wasn't, it's dead now. . . . I mean it wasn't one of these psychedelic-rococo things you can stare at for hours. As a matter of fact it was ugly, downright, and after a while the only reason I kept it up was that I wanted pictures on my wall and it was big. Back when I first got it I kept it right across from my bed and at night in the darkness I would stare at the face, trying to simulate perceptual drug experience, until it changed. But the changes never had much definition, not much showed in that face, it was just a famous face, incredibly blank and perhaps that was its claim to fame. Without the sunglasses he looked like a typical fey faggot, but with shades he achieved this rubbery cement look, a cement wall. Gradually over the months I began to find out that Warhol had little or nothing to do with the movies under his name. Roger met Warhol (or an imposter, as has been rumored since) and Paul Morrissey, who seems to be the real man responsible for the films, when they came to lecture at San Diego State. I wasn't there, but again Warhol came across as a catatonic if anything. When I moved to Broadway the poster went up in the living room there, and one night when they were all on acid and all equally bum-tripped, Jerry Luck fastened his paranoia on the Warhol poster: "I can't stand that guy, he's always looking at me! Ugh, that face!" "The cat hassling you?" I sympathized. "Man, I can't stand it! I'd like to rip that fucker into a million pieces! All the time I feel him staring at me, every motherfucking time I look around I see him staring at me like that, an' I hate the fucker, I hate 'im!" I was in a very ironic/sarcastic mood that night, so I said: "We