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Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung: The Work of a Legendary Critic: Rock'N'Roll as Literature and Literature as Rock 'N'Roll Paperback – September 12, 1988

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Psychotic Reactions and Carburetor Dung: The Work of a Legendary Critic: Rock'N'Roll as Literature and Literature as Rock 'N'Roll + Main Lines, Blood Feasts, and Bad Taste: A Lester Bangs Reader + Let it Blurt: The Life and Times of Lester Bangs, America's Greatest Rock Critic
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (September 12, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679720456
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679720454
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (64 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #50,610 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Until his death in 1982 at age 34, Bangs wrote freewheeling rock 'n' roll pieces for Creem, Rolling Stone, the Village Voice and London's NME (New Musical Express. As a rock critic, he was adept at distinguishing the commercially packaged product from the real thing. Written in a conversational, wisecracking, erotically charged style, his impudent reviews and essays explore the connections between rock and the body politic, the way rock stars cow their audiences and how the pursuit of success and artistic vision destroys or makes rock performers as human beings. This collection (which includes no Rolling Stone pieces) covers "fake moneybags revolutionary" Mick Jagger, John Lennon ("I can't mourn him"), David Bowie "in Afro-Anglican drag," Iggy Pop, the Troggs, Lou Reed, Van Morrison, Chicago, the Clash, many more. Marcus, a music critic, is the author of Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock 'n' Roll Music.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

For rockers whose tastes demand more than Madonna and who remember back before Bruce, this is a gem. By turns insightful and hilarious, these collected essays by the late, legendary Banks (mostly accumulated from hard-to-come-by journals like Creem ) constantly astound. If your mind can embrace a shrewdly perceptive essay on the Troggs with the title "James Taylor Marked for Death," you also deserve to read the title essay on the Count Five's first album, some amazingly antagonistic love/hate interviews with Lou Reed, and so on. Add to all this a whacked-out sprung prose style (and vocabulary) that would make Gerard Manley Hopkins gasp for air, and you havewellwhat you have. For larger music collections, this is, like, highly recommended. Robert E. Brown, Onondaga Cty . P.L., Syracuse, N.Y.
Copyright 1987 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

He writes very well.
Carl Slim
A wonderful, extensive collection of writings by Lester Bangs, a great, dead rock critic from the 70's.
Mr. A. Pomeroy
Bangs writes with a passion for the music one rarely comes across these days.
Mark C. Hall

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

58 of 62 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 12, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is the chronicle of a great writer who never wrote a great book. Instead, Lester Bangs spent his unfortunately short life writing about rock music for magazines like Rolling Stone and Creem. He wasn't your average record reviewer, nor even your rarer thoughtful, analytical critic. He was a genius; he invented a new style of criticism, or at least brought it to its highest, most inimitable form. Casual, even sloppy; ragged, full of weird slang and weird mood swings, some obviously drug-inspired rambling, and some of the sharpest commentary any music critic has ever written. This book collects some of his work - a very small part of it - into something that may, perhaps, give us an idea of what kind of writer Bangs was, and why he mattered so much. He was one of the first rock critics to really delve into noise-rock, the art of not playing your instrument well. Bangs followed the underground (velvet) movement all through the Seventies, listening to old garage bands, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, the Ramones, free jazz, the New York Dolls, and everything else noisy and free and wonderful, while everyone else was snoozing to James Taylor and wondering when the next Beatles would come along. In 1977 the Sex Pistols tore apart the rock scene and Bangs was vindicated; but they left it in ruins and heading, inexorably, for the emptiness of New Wave and the decade-long winter of the Eighties. Lester Bangs, dead in 1982, is alive and well in this book, which opens with the title essay and his 'Stranded' review of Van Morrison's Astral Weeks, two of the greatest pieces ever written about rock.Read more ›
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By G.T. Tyson IV on May 17, 1999
Format: Paperback
I never actually met the guy. But I devoured every published word of his between 1974, when I first discovered his work in CREEM , to his untimely passing in New York in 1982. He was the last of a sorely-missed breed, a writer who played the English language like a honking saxophone, launching into soaring solo avalanches of prose and jamming all over the place like John Coltrane on a good night. Through his work in CREEM and later Rolling Stone and the Village Voice, he influenced and inspired me to create my words with a rock & roll attitude, with my mental amp turned all the way up to 10, operating with total disregard for the niceties of style and conformity and making a big noise on paper. Lester taught me that a guy with a typewriter can jam just as well as a guy with a guitar and a Marshall stack. I remember laughing my ass off at Lester's legendary "feud" with Lou Reed. I remember being slightly pissed at his negative reviews of ELP, but the sheer exuberance in his writing more than made up for it. He taught me how a tune by Miles Davis could be just as musically valid as one by the Sex Pistols. I remember snatching the latest issues of CREEM when they hit the newsstands, eagerly flipping through them for the latest anything from Lester. On two occasions they actually published my letters in the letters section, which just made my day and gave me a taste of what it was like to have one's words in a national publication. His witty replies to reader's letters were of Oscar Wilde quality, and he was largely responsible for the demystification of rock stars, providing my star-struck generation with our first clues that rock stars were fallible humans just like the rest of us. Lester claimed to have invented the term "punk rock".Read more ›
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27 of 30 people found the following review helpful By "lexo-2" on November 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
Some people discover Charles Bukowski when they're 18. With others it's Richard Bach, or Carlos Castaneda, or Scott Fitzgerald, or George Eliot. With me, thank God, it was Lester Bangs.
This, however, was in 1988, when this book first appeared and Lester's kind of music was about as unpopular as you can imagine. The late eighties were not really a time for howling guitars and yowling screech, unless you were buying import copies of Sonic Youth LPs for fifteen quid a time at the new Virgin Megastore on Aston Quay in Dublin, so reading that someone had charted this territory before, and had described it so well and preached it so fervently, was like discovering a cool older brother I hadn't known I'd had. (Not that my existing older brother wasn't cool in his own way.)
The main thing was not the music, however, so much as Lester's prose. He was, and is, one of the funniest writers I have ever come across. His fantasy about Lou Reed doing a version of "Rigoletto" set in a leather bar for Puerto Rican amputees made me cry with laughter, only a bit guiltily, and his surgical demolitions of an overblown Chicago album or a preposterous Bowie gig manage to combine great wit with a genuine, if subterranean, moral fervour. His Bowie piece, "Johnny Ray's Better Whirlpool", is for me up there with some of Swift's shorter works, as a bitterly amazed study of human folly.
He could do other things, too, of course; his hushed, radiantly attentive late essay about "Astral Weeks" almost (but not quite) persuades me that I like that album.
While I agree with Greil Marcus that Bangs was, on balance, better about writing about things he had a problem with than about things he flat-out adored, I quibble with the selection of pieces.
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