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There are a few handfuls of folks who read CREEM magazine back in the late 70s/early 80s who think this guy was one of the best music reviewers/pop culture decoders/plain old 20th Century humourists in the history of the world and portions of Cleveland.
Rick Johnson's gone now, and it seems rugged that he didn't get recognition even fractionally commensurate with his talent and originality during life, but at least there's finally a collection of his work available to remind us how good he was, during the cold Johnson-less years to come.
I should also mention, because Ranger Rick probably would at around this point - lest the tight formal-hire collar of funeral atmosphere choke us into pious reflection - that the funniest thing in the book is probably when his former editor mentions the time Rick was so whacked out, he not only fell down his own stairs, but continued right on and fell down his neighbours' stairs as well.
Rick Johnson had a unique use of language, and I mean completely unique to the point where sometimes it seemed like he'd invented Esperanto in reverse; file cards full of lines from TV and advertising to wield out of context (and yet strangely perfectly IN context) in reviews of albums that never knew what hit them; also used typeface, punctuation and all other print medium tools as weapons; and had the greatest, most genial take on the whole pop/mass culture "flow" - TV, movies, celebs as dingbats, music, packaged supermarket foods, video games - it was all the same to Ranger Rick, and it seemed like it was all fun.
What this book contains is a handful or two of his CREEM articles, and a large amount of stuff he wrote for some sort of free press type publication (I think) called the Prairie Sun.Read more ›
The contents of this book will be unfamiliar to most Brotish readers (like myself)and, inevitably, some of the allusions Johnson makes - and even some of the TV programmes he reviews - will carry no cultural clout this side of the pond. However, that really doesn't matter a great deal. What we're left with is a sharp, if skewed, sense of humour and a refusal to take high or low art too seriously. It's sad to think that, for nmost of his last 25 years, he wrote very little at all but this compilation does hios memory justice.
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